Lakers Sought Yi Jianlian

The Lakers made a recent run at former No. 6 overall pick Yi Jianlian, who’s been playing in his native China, a source tells international journalist David Pick (Twitter link). Pick’s tweet indicates that the Lakers were unsuccessful in luring Yi from the Guangdong Southern Tigers, with whom he reportedly signed a five-year, $16.1MM extension in June. The Lakers wouldn’t have been able to sign him at that point, since NBA teams can’t ink outside free agents between the end of the regular season at the start of July.

It’s unclear what level of interest the Lakers had in the 27-year-old who hasn’t appeared in the NBA since the 2011/12 season. He’s been putting up impressive numbers for Guangdong, having averaged 27.7 points and 10.9 rebounds in 37.2 minutes per game this past season. Still, the level of competition in China isn’t particularly high. Yi’s best NBA season came in 2009/10, when he put up 12.0 PPG and 7.2 RPG in 31.8 MPG for the Nets. The Bucks originally selected him in the 2007 draft but traded him to the Nets a year later. He also appeared in the league with the Wizards and Mavs.

It doesn’t appear as though the Lakers still have any plan to go after Yi, but if they did, they could offer him only the $2.814MM room exception, which limits the team to giving out no more than a two-year deal worth $5,754,630. The composition of the team’s regular season roster is still murky, with only 12 players possessing fully guaranteed deals.

Do you think we’ll ever see Yi Jianlian in the NBA again? Comment to let us know.

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