Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak announced that Chinese superstar Yi Jianlian signed a contract with the purple and gold. However, per team policy, the terms of the deal were not released.
“We’re excited to have a player of his worldwide accomplishments,” said Kupchak. “We look forward to bringing him to training camp and hopefully having him make an impact on our team.”
Yi Jianlian, 28, was selected sixth overall in the 2017 NBA draft by Milwaukee Bucks. The 7-foot-0 center/power forward has been considered as a draft bust after failing to show an impressive performance in his rookie year.
Yi Jianlian made a good impression playing for the Chinese National Team in the recent Rio Olympics men’s basketball tournament. The 28-year-old superstar was the main man of his team, averaging 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 46.7 percent from the three-point range.
Marc Stein of ESPN first reported that the Lakers intended to bring back Yi Jianlian in the NBA. There were conflicting reports regarding his contract saying that he will sign a veteran minimum deal. Also, some report said that the Lakers will sign him to a one-year deal worth $8 million.
NBA source calls Yi Jianlian's contract "very creative." Non-guaranteed vet's min deal for $1.1 mill can increase to $8 mill w/ incentives.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) August 17, 2016
except that's not legal
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) August 17, 2016
Now that he is officially part of the Los Angeles Lakers, Yi Jianlian will be battling for playing time against Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. for the power forward position. While for the center position, he will be vying minutes against Ivica Zubac, Timofey Mozgov, and Tarik Black.
Yi Jianlian’s past achievements helped him to revive his NBA career. Before leaving the NBA, the Chinese superstar had short stints with the Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards, and the Dallas Mavericks.
Yi Jianlian is expected to be a good fit with the Lakers, especially on Luke Walton’s system. Walton will be adapting the small-ball offense of the Golden State Warriors so he needs a big man who can stretch the floor.
The Chinese superstar has proven in the international games that he can dominate inside the basket and be a threat on the perimeter. Now that he is officially back in the NBA, Yi Jianlian has the chance to remove the label of being an NBA draft bust.
Photo courtesy: kris krug/Wikimedia Commons