Days after it was reported that Yi Jianlian was asking to be released from the Los Angeles Lakers roster due to a disappointing preseason debut, the team waived the Chinese professional basketball player. The move then allowed the Lakers to retain Metta World Peace.
Yi officially joined the Lakers in August of this year after signing a one-year contract worth $8 million. This marked the first time that he returned to the NBA after playing for the Dallas Mavericks in 2012.
Given his towering height and professional experience, Yi was expected to be a dominating force for the Los Angeles franchise. However, this did not happen due to the limited playing time he received during the preseason games.
Yi only played in six preseason games and had an average playing time of only 7.6 minutes. He was also only able to make an average of 3.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Although he had an impressive shot percentage from the field at 66.7, he was only 40 percent at the free-throw line.
These stats certainly do not reflect the performance that Yi was expecting to execute for his NBA comeback. As a result, he approached the Los Angeles front office and asked to be released in order to explore other opportunities.
"Yi was productive in practices and games with us, and was a consummate professional both on and off the court," Mitch Kupchak, the general manager of the Lakers said. "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," he added.
On Oct. 24, the Lakers officially waived Yi along with Anthony Brown, cutting down the team's roster from 17 to 15. This allowed the team to retain Metta World Peace and Thomas Robinson. Prior to Yi's release, Metta World Peace was expected to be cut from the team if not for the Chinese player's request to be waived.