With the Lakers facing roster cut-down decisions by 5 p.m. ET Monday, Yi and his representatives requested that the team let him go to pursue other opportunities, largely because the role he envisioned in Los Angeles didn’t materialize.
“Yi was productive in practices and games with us, and was a consummate professional both on and off the court,” general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “However, he felt that the minutes and opportunities he’d be afforded here were not in line with his goals and ambitions, and that he’d be better off in a different situation. We appreciate his efforts and wish him great success as he goes forward with his career.”
This will mark NBA season No. 17 for World Peace, who will turn 37 in November. He averaged 5.0 points over 16.9 minutes in 35 appearances for the Lakers last season.
After his strong play with China in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Yi was signed by the Lakers in August to a one-year, $8 million deal that was uniquely structured, featuring $6.8 million in what the league deemed “likely” bonuses.
But the defined role Yi expected when he agreed to leave the Guangdong Southern Tigers in his native China — with minutes at both power forward and center — didn’t pan out as he had hoped this month, prompting the 28-year-old to seek his release.
The Lakers had been pursuing Yi for the past two offseasons before they finally managed to sign him to a deal and bring him back to the NBA.
It was not immediately known whether Yi would try to catch on with another NBA team or look to return to the Chinese Basketball Association.
The 7-footer was the sixth overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2007 draft and also had stints with the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks in parts of five NBA seasons. Yi spent the past four seasons with Guangdong, and he averaged 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds for China in its five games in Rio.
Brown, a second-year wing, played sparingly in 2015-16 and throughout this preseason.
The Lakers open their 2016-17 season Wednesday when they host the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.