Yi Jianlian joined his new teammates for the first time Tuesday for the Dallas Mavericks’ morning shootaround in preparation for tonight’s game against the Detroit Pistons. Afterward, coach Rick Carlisle was promptly asked for his thoughts on the 7-foot Chinese center.
“I’ve only seen him for like an hour,” Carlisle said. “We’ve just got to get him involved with whatever practice time we have. And tonight, before the game get a group out there and start going through our offensive and defensive stuff, and pretty much on the fly is how we’re going to have to do it.”
Yi, signed last Friday to a one-year deal, burned up the D-League in two games with the Texas Legends, the Mavs’ affiliate in Frisco. Yi posted 17 points and 11 rebounds in his debut and then 29 points and 13 rebounds in his second and final game. His game won’t translate as easily or quickly on the big club.
His assignment to the D-League was to get some instant conditioning. Yi Jianlian had been playing in China and sustained a minor knee injury, so he had not played in some time. Whether he sees action tonight might depend on the score or perhaps potential foul issues or simply how curious Carlisle is to see his new player.
“We like him as a prospect,” Carlisle said, using similar language when the team signed 6-10 forward-center Sean Williams, who remains with the Legends. “I like his size, skill, he’s a hard-playing guy which is something that will always help any team. We’re going to work with him.”