Khem Birch has crisscrossed North America and Europe during his basketball odyssey.
He attended college in Pittsburgh and in Las Vegas, played for an NBA D-League team based in Sioux Falls, S.D., and took the court for a professional teams in Turkey and Greece.
He now hopes he’s found a home in Orlando.
Birch, a 6-foot-9 center, signed with the Magic on Thursday. Team officials would not disclose the terms of the deal, but Birch said his contract is for two years.
“This has been my dream for a long time, since I was a kid,” Birch said. “I went overseas for a couple of years, and then I realized I’m ready right now [to play in the NBA]. I wasn’t ready a few years ago, but that experience has helped me a lot, has made me a more mature person. And now I think I’m ready.”
If Birch makes the regular-season roster, he would join a crowded frontcourt that includes centers Nikola Vucevic, Bismack Biyombo and Marreese Speights.
Birch, who will turn 25 in late September, showed skill as a rebounder and distinguished himself as a defender in recent years, especially during his stint last season with the Greek club Olympiacos.
“Khem is a player that we felt a lot of NBA teams have had their eye on,” said Jeff Weltman, the Magic’s president of basketball operations.
“He’s developed. He’s become a smarter, more mature player since going overseas. To get a guy at this stage of his career once he’s back from Europe, which often is a good place to develop players, is almost like adding a first-round draft pick. So we’re very eager to have Khem in and let him show us how he’s improved since the league last saw him at UNLV and the D-League.”
The NBA has changed since Birch played for the D-League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce during the 2014-15 season. These days, it’s even more important for big men cheap jerseys China to be able to switch adeptly on pick-and-rolls and guard shorter, speedy players.
In recent years, Birch has added 20 pounds to his slender frame, but he said he’s still able to switch onto point guards.
“Coming out of high school, I was highly recruited, highly ranked,” Birch said. “Then I had to start from scratch, and now I’m happy that I’m here. Two years ago, I didn’t think I was going to be here.”
Now he intends to prove he deserves to stay here.