China’s Yi Jian­lian leav­ing NBA’s Lak­ers

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - ByHENGWEILI in New York and ASSOCIATEDPRESS

The Los An­ge­les Lak­ers have waived Chi­nese for­ward Yi Jian­lian at his re­quest.

The 7-foot, 250-pound Yi had re­turned to the Na­tional Basketball As­so­ci­a­tion last month af­ter a four-year ab­sence in an at­tempt to make the Lak­ers’ ros­ter.

“Yi was pro­duc­tive in prac­tices and games with us, and was a con­sum­mate pro­fes­sional both on and off the court,” Lak­ers General Man­ager Mitch Kupchak said in a state­ment.

“How­ever, he felt that the min­utes and op­por­tu­ni­ties he’d be af­forded here were not in line with his goals and am­bi­tions, and that he’d be bet­ter off in a dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion,” Kupchak said. “We ap­pre­ci­ate his ef­forts and wish him great suc­cess as he goes for­ward with his ca­reer.”

Yi, 28, the sixth over­all pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Mil­wau­kee Bucks, av­er­aged 3 points and 2.5 re­bounds in 10.7 min­utes per game in six ap­pear­ances with the Lak­ers this pre­sea­son. Yi, born in He­shan, Guang­dong prov­ince, once was touted as the next Yao Ming.

ESPN.com re­ported that the clear role Yi ex­pected when he agreed to leave the Guang­dong South­ern Tigers in the Chi­nese Basketball As­so­ci­a­tion, play­ing both power for­ward and cen­ter, didn’t ma­te­ri­al­ize.

“In or­der to help Yi seize this op­por­tu­nity to play at the high­est stage of [the basketball] world and un­fold his ca­pa­bil­ity, in or­der to help Yi ful­fill his dream and goal, we are of­fer­ing our un­con­di­tional sup­port and co­op­er­a­tion to Yi to make sure he joins Lak­ers. Best wishes to Yi for his bright fu­ture in NBA,” the Guang­dong team had said in state­ment in Au­gust.

The Lak­ers had been pur­su­ing Yi the past two off sea­sons. Af­ter his strong play for China in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where he av­er­aged 20.4 points and 6.6 re­bounds in five games, he was signed by the Lak­ers in Au­gust to a one-year deal worth $1.14 mil­lion. If Yi had man­aged to reach cer­tain in­cen­tives, the deal could be worth as much as $8 mil­lion.

Shang­haist.com re­ported that ac­cord­ing to the terms of the deal, Yi would have made an ad­di­tional $2,286,959 for play­ing in his 20th game, his 40th game and his 59th game. Now, Yi will get only $250,000 from the con­tract, the web­site re­ported.

Yi’s de­par­ture will leave the NBA with­out any Chi­nese-born play­ers this sea­son, Shang­haist. com re­ported.

Zhou Qi and Wang Zhe­lin were se­lected in the 2016 NBA Draft at 43rd and 57th, re­spec­tively. Nei­ther has been signed by their teams yet, the Hous­ton Rock­ets and Mem­phis Griz­zlies.

The Lak­ers also waived for­ward An­thony Brown, their sec­ond-round pick out of Stan­ford last year, on Mon­day and ap­par­ently kept Metta World Peace on their open­ing night ros­ter. Thomas Robin­son also has likely made the open­ing ros­ter.

XIN­HUA

Yi Jian­lian launches a free throw for the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers in a pre­sea­son game with the Den­ver Nuggets on Oct 7.

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