Contracts in the NBA can be very interesting. According to CBS Sports, Yi Jianlian will make anywhere from $1.2 million to $8 million this upcoming season. That is a pretty wide gap, but the Chinese star decided to take the deal so that he could get another chance at playing in the National Basketball Association.
Now that he is 28 years old and has much more seasoning, Yi Jianlian should be much more prepared to play in the NBA than the last time that he was in the United States. The game has also changed, so Yi might be even more valuable than before.
Due to the success of the Golden State Warriors, the NBA is now leaning towards playing smaller lineups. Traditional centers are not nearly as valuable as they used to be. Instead, teams are looking for really tall guys that can shoot from beyond the three-point line and stretch the floor.
Yi Jianlian scored the third-most points in Rio (20.4 per game) prior to his return to the NBA. https://t.co/0zv6fsWast
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 23, 2016
The Los Angeles Lakers are not expecting a ton from Yi Jianlian. Management handed out a contract worth approximately $64 million to former Cleveland Cavaliers backup center Timofey Mozgov, as reported by USA Today. Yi will not be pressured to start because Mozgov will be the one that faces that pressure because of the size of his contract.
With his shooting range and quickness, Yi Jianlian can also play power forward. However, the Los Angeles Lakers have that position reserved for Julius Randle. They are hoping that he can become their next version of Lamar Odom, a big man that can facilitate the offense.
The main competition for frontcourt minutes with the Los Angeles Lakers for Yi Jianlian will come from Larry Nance Jr. Despite being an afterthought as a late first round draft pick, Nance ended up winning the heart of Lakers fans by showing a ton of energy when he was given minutes.
Ivica Zubac has shown potential and could someday be the starting center of the future for the Los Angeles Lakers. However, he is just 19 years old at the moment. Luke Walton would be wise to take the long approach with Zubac to make sure that he develops properly.
Towards the end of last season, former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott experimented by having Julius Randle running the offense from the power forward position. Management liked what they saw. With Yi Jianlian being able to shoot from the perimeter, Luke Walton might be able to exploit NBA teams with Randle and Yi.
In addition to what he might be able to bring them on the court, Yi Jianlian should be able to help the business side of things for the Los Angeles Lakers. Southern California has a large population of Asian people, and they might be more drawn to the team because of Yi.
Yi Jianlian could also help to keep fan interest from China at a high level. The Los Angeles Lakers were very popular overseas because of how committed Kobe Bryant was to the country. That popularity can continue with Yi.
Another positive side effect of having Yi Jianlian on the roster is the fact that some of the younger players may receive more All-Star votes. When Yao Ming was with the Houston Rockets, Steve Francis would often find himself with a whole lot of extra votes because fans were exposed to him because they tuned in to watch Yao.
The Los Angeles Lakers are not expecting Yi Jianlian to become a superstar. They are simply hoping that he can work his way into the rotation and provide a few points off the bench. It is a good low-risk signing.
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