On paper, Chinese center Yi Jianlian made a lot of sense for the Lakers, especially in Luke Walton’s system — he was the only floor spacing big on the roster. Watching Yi at the Olympics, it was easy to imagine it working out for him in the NBA this time around.
In practice, he was struggling to find a consistent role with the team. He had averaged less than 11 minutes a game in the preseason, shooting 35 percent overall and 16.7 percent from three. His defense wasn’t good, and he remains a player who doesn’t exactly have a high motor. With Julius Randle, Larry Nance, Timofey Mozgov, and Tarik Black, Yi wasn’t finding a consistent niche.
So he has asked out of his contract and the Lakers are going to oblige, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
Yi has a strong and lucrative international career to return to. Whether this was Yi asking out or a mutual split is moot, it’s done.
Signing him was a smart gamble by the Lakers — he had about the most team-friendly contract imaginable, and this was not a big financial hit. It’s a little disappointing it didn’t work out, but both sides will move on.