Injuries and a stacked forward rotation prohibited Yi Jianlian from having much impact in his one season with the Wizards.
But it all seemed to click for Yi on one night in Dallas, when he came off the bench to score a season-high 14 points, match his season-high with 11 rebounds and notch a career-high four steals in a 102-92 loss.
The defending champion Dallas Mavericks probably had that in mind when they agreed to terms with Yi on a one-year deal. A league source confirmed the agreement, first reported on ESPN.com, adding that Yi is expected to arrive and sign with the team on Monday.
The 7-foot Yi was a one-year rental that the Wizards touted mostly because his salary was practically paid for by his former team, the New Jersey Nets, following an opportunistic trade. The Wizards declined to pick up the $5.3 million qualifying offer on Yi after he averaged 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds.
After helping the Chinese national team earn a spot in the London Olympics, Yi signed with his former team, the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, during the lockout. He averaged 16.7 points and 10.3 rebounds in three games with but sustained an injury in November in the same knee that caused him problems and cost him 19 games with the Wizards last season.
Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Aaron Brooks all signed with the CBA during the lockout, but they are prohibited by FIBA from playing in the NBA until the regular season in China ends in March. But since he is a Chinese national, Yi has been given clearance to play in the NBA whenever he is ready.
Yi has been recuperating from his injury in Florida for the past month, according a source, and ESPN.com reported that he would first report to the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, for a rehabilitation assignment. Yi also received interest from the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs.