He’s tall (7-foot-2) and long (7-foot-6.5 wingspan). He has a nice feel for blocking shots. His touch with the ball adds intrigue.
But he’s reportedly signed in China for five more years.
At least there’s now a solution to that problem.
Seven-footer Zhou Qi has reached an agreement with his Chinese team, the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, that will allow him to buy out his contract and join the NBA in 2017, his agent, Alex Saratsis, told The Vertical.
After much back and forth, Zhou’s representation in China and the U.S. secured a buyout that will allow him out of his contract at the conclusion of next season for the maximum league mandated amount permitted, which is $675,000. With that hurdle now past him, Zhou will look to find an NBA team that will guarantee to select him in a favorable spot, likely in the first round, with the knowledge that he will join the franchise after an additional year of seasoning in China.
Zhou is rail thin. He needs to add so much strength, anyway, teams probably won’t mind stashing him for a year. Some might prefer he progress under their trainers and nutritionists, but it’s probably not a deal breaker.
He’s a borderline first-round pick, though that’s a range with a lot of variance this year. Someone could snag him in the teens, or he could fall well into the second round.
A team with multiple draft picks might even prefer his delayed timeline for joining the NBA. Looking at you Celtics, 76ers and Suns.