Everything You Need On Mavs' Yi Jialian
According to multiple reports, the Dallas Mavericks have agreed to a one-year deal with Yi Jianlian. For those that don't remember, Yi was chosen with the sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft by the Bucks where he played for one season before being sent to New Jersey with Bobby Simmons for Richard Jefferson.
Yi is a 7-footer with rare athleticism for his size that has shown flashes of success in the NBA, but has not lived up to the hype that surrounded him on draft day. A portion of this lack of success may be attributed to injury, something that has plagued Yi's slender frame since his arrival in the US (he has never played more than 66 games in a season), but he has also shown little in the way of mastering the feel of the American game.
While not a great defender, he does provide nice quickness and the ability to block shots (note that he did block six shots in a game last season, and posted three double-doubles). His shot is smooth but he fails to get the most out of his size and skills by rarely attacking the rim, thus rarely earning trips to the free-throw line.
There were some signs of growth in the 2010 FIBA World Championships, where Yi was leaned heavily on by the Chinese National Team and responded by averaging the fifth most points-per-game in the tournament (20.2) on 53.7 FG% and was the sole player to average a double-double. While this was impressive, it's hard not to then note that he returned last season to the NBA with the Wizards to average 5.6 points with a 41.8 field-goal percentage and 3.9 rebounds in only 17.7 minutes per game … as injuries again held him back for much of the year.
For those looking for a hint of intrigue, ESPN lists Yi as being 24 years old, born Oct. 27 1987. However, he was once listed as being born in 1984 for a Chinese tournament, though this was later explained as a mistake, it has left many continuing to question his listed age.
At either 24 or 27, Yi represents another young, lottery-talent player the Mavs are picking up with little to no risk. (What Fish likes to call "LIBB,'' or "lightning in a bottle boys.'')If he can find a way to capitalize on his bountiful skill set he would represent a steal. If not, he likely never leaves the bench and maybe fills a few extra seats in Frisco for the Legends (where he will likely spend some time as he works back into shape after a knee injury suffered recently in China, assuming his D-League eligibility).
This move puts the Mavs roster at 15, which would lend to one believing they are out of the race for Kyrylo Fesenko, however, Stein later reported that is not the case.
What does this mean for the Mavs? As they stand, no further moves must be made for this signing. If Fesenko is signed, Dallas will have to clear a roster spot to bring him in, which would mean either trading or cutting a player.
One thing to keep in mind when working your own armchair GM machinations, the players signed as free agents cannot be traded until three months have passed from the date they signed their deal. For example, this means Brandan Wright cannot be dealt in the immediate future to create space, though he could be waived.
One more thing to keep in mind: Dallas has not been shy in their desire to shed as much cap space as possible for next season. If you're looking for end-of-the-bench guys who will be owed money next season, you're looking at Roddy Beaubois (due $2.2 million next season) and Dominique Jones (due $1.27 million next season).
The highlight package to whet your appetite:
If you are wondering why Yi was able to get out of his contract in China to sign with the Mavs while American players like J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Aaron Brooks are not, you need wonder no more. Yi was able to include an opt-out in his contract as the rule Chinese leagues put in place to disallow such a practice did not apply to Chinese-born players and was only implemented as a deterrent for American players seeking temporary employment during the lockout.
To sum it up, this is another low-risk, high reward move by the Mavs being used to fill the 15th spot on the roster. In comes another young, lottery pick with plenty of talent and a lot of potential. You may not think much of Yi as a player, or you may love him, but it's hard to find fault with such a deal from the Mavs perspective.
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