Chinese basketball star Yi Jianlian’s return to the NBA via the Los Angeles Lakers has come to an abrupt halt even before the regular season even started.
Yi had reportedly asked the Lakers management to free him from the $1.4 million-minimum contract he signed back in August. According to NBA.com, the Lakers have since obliged, cutting short his NBA comeback after just playing a few pre-season games.
OFFICIAL: The Lakers have waived Yi Jianlian
The roster now stands at 16.https://t.co/jyq00rG42S
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 24, 2016
“Yi was productive in practices and games with us, and was a consummate professional both on and off the court,” General Manager Mitch Kupchak was quoted as saying.
“However, he felt that the minutes and opportunities he’d be afforded here were not in line with his goals and ambitions, and that he’d be better off in a different situation. We appreciate his efforts and wish him great success as he goes forward with his career.”
The provisions of the signed deal included additional incentives that may be worth up to $8 million upon reaching certain target benchmarks, reported CBS Sports. Yi would have earned an extra $2,286,959 just by playing up to his 20th, 40th and his 59th game. Since he won’t be able to do that, Yi is set to receive only $250,000 from the contract.
Yi Jianlian caught the Lakers’ attention for his amazing performance in the Rio Olympics. While winless in the Olympic games, Yi led his team in stats with 20 points and almost 7 rebounds per game.
The Lakers also expressed interest with his improved overall skills and physique since his last NBA appearance.
However, Yi’s preseason numbers with the team left a lot to be desired, averaging 3 points and 2.5 rebounds in 10.7 minutes per game over six contests. Some observers believe that Yi is just trying to save face by seeking to be let go before inevitably getting axed.