The Los Angeles Lakers announced Monday that they have waived Chinese professional basketball player Yi Jianlian. Rumors are swirling that the Yi is considering his possibility of returning to his mother ballclub the Guangdong Southern Tigers.
If Yi decides to return, this will be his fourth time to play for the Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). Yi first played for the Tigers from 2002 to 2007 before he started his NBA career with the Bucks, New Jersey Nets, and Wizards.
Los Angeles Lakers have waived Chinese forward Yi Jianlian, per the request of Yi and his agent pic.twitter.com/qrACwfveNf
— Xinhua Sports (@XHSports) October 25, 2016
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The Wizards was not able to extend Yi’s contract in 2011 that marked his return to the Tigers. But his return to CBA was short-lived as he signed with the Mavericks the following year. Then he got assigned to the Texas Legends, the D-League affiliate of the Mavericks to help him to gain more experience. Yi got recalled by the Mavericks to play against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs wherein they eventually lost the series.
Yi was then released by the Mavericks making a return again to the Tigers’ lineup. He played in the CBA from 2012 to 2015 before he got signed by the Lakers to an $8 million contract last summer. Now, he got waived by the Lakers together with Anthony Brown and it is another possibility that Yi would return to play for the Tigers once more.
Lakers News Lakers waive Yi Jianlian, Anthony Brown before season opener (The Associated Press… https://t.co/kb0NwmxzmU Lakers Tickets
— doug muraski (@cheapnbatickets) October 25, 2016
Lakers coach Luke Walton feels that Yi would have better opportunities elsewhere and thus granted his release from the team. According to ESPN, the Lakers are looking to give Timofey Mozgov much of the playing time since they signed him to a hefty contract than Yi. The Lakers have been pursuing Yi for two seasons and got impressed with his performance in the recent Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro.
“Coming in, we knew we had a few young guys that we really like and want to develop and we had just signed [Timofey] Mozgov to a pretty big deal,” Coach Luke Walton said. He [Yi] proves that he belongs in this league. But I don’t think at the end of it that he was happy with the minutes that it looked like, at least, he was getting. So they asked for the release.”
With his release, Yi is likely to return home and play for the Tigers again and help them win another championship title. Aside from that, Yi could also help China prepare its national team for the 2018 Asian Games which will be held in Jakarta and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Photo Courtesy: Keith Allison/Flickr