Yi Jianlian, the second best player to come to the NBA out of China and who played last season for the Washington Wizards, is headed home.
Yi has signed a deal to play in China during the lockout. That in and of itself is not a shock — he’s a star over there and had offers. Yi is an NBA free agent right now but in a twist this deal is supposed to have an NBA opt out so he can return after the lockout — something the Chinese Basketball Association said it was not going to allow. But rules are made to be broken everywhere.
Jarinn Akana, one of Yi’s representatives, confirmed that his client has signed a contract with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association which will have an NBA out for whenever the labor dispute is settled.
The CBA allowed its teams to sign only free agent NBA players, and Yi is an unrestricted free agent after the Wizards declined to extend his $5.4 million qualifying offer for next season….
Akana explained in a telephone interview that since Yi is a local player, the CBA and the Southern Tigers have both afforded him the privilege of leaving whenever he signs another deal in the NBA.
Yi played for Guangdong before coming to the United States and was a four-time All-Star and led the team to four consecutive titles.
Yi averaged 11 points and 8 rebounds per game for the Wizards when healthy last season but shot just 41.8 percent from the floor. He is one of those guys who is more athletic than he shows and people keep waiting for him to break out, but it just has not happened.