YI Jianlian will have to prove he belongs in the Purple and Gold.
“He’s going to have to earn his way on this team,” said Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak on Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time).
The Lakers currently have 20 players in their training camp in Santa Barbara. The 7-foot center is expected to battle with the likes of three-year veteran Tarik Black, 2016 second-round pick Ivica Zubac and undrafted Zach Auguste for a roster spot.
New coach Luke Walton plans to implement an up-tempo offense that would rely on wide spacing on the floor and outside shooting.
One thing going for Yi is his size, versatility and deft touch from the outside. Playing for China in the Rio Olympics, Yi averaged 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds coupled with a 46.7% three-point field goal, an impressive performance that prompted the Lakers to sign him to the veteran’s minimum and an opportunity for the 7th pick in the NBA 2007 Draft to return to the league after a five-year absence.
Yi earlier said his skills allow him to play comfortably in the 5-4-3 positions, an advantage he would need to exploit for a spot in the team’s rotation in training camp and the preseason and a return to the big leagues.