The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly in “advanced discussions” per ESPN’s Marc Stein to sign China’s Yi Jianlian. The former 2007 lottery pick is now playing in his fourth Olympics as an integral part of China’s team. In five games in Rio Jianlian has averaged 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds.
A deal is not yet in place but the Lakers organization is hopeful they can add him to the roster before training camp in September. The Lakers wanted sign Jianlian in 2015 but he refused their offer to stay with China. The Lakers have refreshed their efforts to snag the 28-year-old due to his performances at Rio.
Jianlian was drafted to the NBA by the Milwaukee Bucks sixth overall in 2007. He had stints with the New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards, and finally the Dallas Mavericks in 2011-12. When in the league the 7-footer was 40.4 percent from the field, averaged 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds a game.
Since Jianlian left the NBA he has performed exceptionally well in the Chinese Basketball Association. He’s averaged at least 20 points and nine rebounds in all four years with the Guangdong Southern Tigers. In 2016 he averaged 26.7 points and 9.2 rebounds.
If the Lakers sign Jianlian while he is playing at a high level he will make their frontcourt much more formidable. He is young enough to continue to improve and be productive for years to come. He also has enough professional experience that the Lakers won’t have to focus too much on his development; a plus for a team trying to rebuild around its youth.