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Yi Jianlian reportedly has signed with Lakers

By : China Daily | Published: 2016-August-18

[InKunming--China]Yi Jianlian shoots over Cameron Bairstow of Australia in a group preliminary round at the Rio Olympics. Jim Young / Reuters

China's Yi Jianlian reportedly has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers and will return to the National Basketball Association after four years, according to online portal Sina, which cited sources close to Yi.

Yi's reported decision has been supported by the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association, where he spent the past four seasons.

"In order to help Yi seize this opportunity to play at the highest stage of (the basketball) world and unfold his capability, and in order to help Yi fulfill his dream and goal, we are offering our unconditional support and cooperation to Yi to make sure he joins the Lakers. Best wishes to Yi for his bright future in the NBA," Guangdong said in a statement on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old forward averaged 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds for China in its five games in Rio, including 25 points and six rebounds in the match against the United States.

According to ESPN.com, the Lakers tried last summer to sign Yi and have renewed those efforts in the wake of his fourth trip to the Olympics as a cornerstone player for China.

When a chronic foot injury forced Yao Ming to retire in 2011 after eight All-Star seasons with the Houston Rockets, Yi became China's only NBA player. He played for four teams between 2007 and 2012.

Yi was the sixth overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2007 draft and also has played with the New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks.

Besides Yi, Chinese centers Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin were picked up by Houston and the Memphis Grizzlies, respectively, in the draft in June.

But rather than go to the lower-level NBA Development League next season, Wang and Zhou might opt to remain with their current CBA teams.

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