China star Yi Jianlian and LA Lakers in advanced talks, says report

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 4:12pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 4:14pm

China’s best player, Yi Jianlian, is in advanced talks to make a return to the NBA – this time with the LA Lakers, according to ESPN.com.

The 2.1-metre forward was the sixth overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2007 draft and also had stints with the New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks.

Yi, 28, returned to China and has spent the past four seasons playing for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association. It is understood he has one-year contract.

Yi led from the front at the Olympics in Rio, but had little back-up and China lost all five games. They were hammered 119-62 by the USA. China also failed to win a game at London 2012.

Not since Yao Ming, who played nine seasons in the NBA and was considered responsible for jump-starting China’s passion for basketball, has China produced an elite level player.

Two Chinese players were selected in this year’s draft, with Zhou Qi going 43rd to the Rockets and Wang Zhelin 57th to the Memphis Grizzlies.