The Los Angeles Lakers is reportedly close to finalizing its deal with Chinese player Yi Jianlian. According to reports, he is expected to get a one-year contract from the team that's worth $8 million.
News about Jianlian joining the Lakers came as a surprise for most fans especially since he hasn't played for the NBA since 2012, back when he was still with the Dallas Mavericks.
In addition, during his tenure in the U.S. professional basketball league, Jianlian was not known as a standout player. Sure, he's very tall at almost 7 feet, but he didn't have the skills to become a dominant player in the NBA.
But, it seems the Lakers see something in Jianlian that others can't since they're apparently ready to shell out $8 million for a year with the Guangdong Southern Tigers power forward, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.
Given his background in the NBA and the terms of his deal, giving Jianlian this type of contract doesn't seem fair to other active NBA athletes. As noted by The Ringer, Dion Waiters of the Miami Heat, who was the fourth overall pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2012, currently has a two-year contract worth $6 million.
But, with this amount of money, it seems the Lakers are looking to give Jianlian a lot of playing minutes on the court. Although it is not yet clear if he will be a starter like Jordan Clarkson or D'Angelo Russell, the Chinese athlete will certainly spend more time off the bench than on it.
As speculated by The Ringer, another possible reason that might have influenced the Lakers' decision to offer Jianlian a contract is the financial aspect of the deal. According to the site, now that Kobe Bryant is no longer on the team or the league, the Los Angeles organization needs another athlete who could bring in financial support from a foreign market. This time though, it appears that athlete would be Jianlian.
The Lakers and Jianlian have not yet signed the contract since according to the Los Angeles Times, this will still go through a lengthy process. First, Guangdong Southern Tigers will still have to sign off on the deal before forwarding it to the Chinese Basketball Association. It will then head to the international basketball competition organization FIBA before ending up in the hands of NBA officials for approval.