The NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers announced Monday (Aug. 22) that they have signed Chinese power-forward Yi Jianlian.
The Lakers didn’t reveal the details of the contract, but Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported the terms:
“We’re excited to have a player of his worldwide accomplishments,” said the Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchak in a statement. “We look forward to bringing him to training camp and hopefully having him make an impact on our team.”
Since Yao Ming’s retirement in 2011, China’s men’s basketball team has been in dire straits. During the Rio Olympics, the 28-year-old Yi averaged 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds in five games during the group stage, where China lost all five games, including a 62-119 loss against the US. China also failed to win a game in London in 2012.
Yi, who was drafted as the 6th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2007, last appeared in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011-2012 season. Over his five-year NBA career, the 6’11’’ Yi averaged 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
After leaving the NBA, Yi rejoined his home club Guangdong Hongyuan in the Chinese Basketball Association and had been playing for the team since.
Yi becomes the third Chinese player to compete in the NBA in the new season. Earlier in the 2016 NBA draft, young Chinese centers Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin were selected by the Houston Rockets and the Memphis Grizzlies as the 43rd and 57th pick, respectively.
In June, Chinese businessman Jiang Lizhang, who runs a little-known Shanghai-based marketing firm, bought a 5% stake in the the Minnesota Timberwolves, becoming the NBA’s first Chinese minority-owner.