Marc Spears at Yahoo is reporting that Yi Jianlian may miss a number of preseason games and the season opener October 28 against Minnesota because of committments to play for his native uandong in the National Games of the People’s Republic of China.
The Nets are reportedly backing Yi’s decision to play in the China games from October 16-28 and are working with Yi’s agent Dan Fegan, about determining an appropriate timetable for his absence.
Nets GM Kiki Vandeweghe said, “We’re trying to make a good decision, make sure we abide by the rules and make sure we are always accommodating in supporting our players and their home countries.”
This has always been the dual-edge sword of having Yi in the NBA. Yes, he brings with him the attention of a basketball-crazy nation with more than 1 billion people, but his native country also seems to maintain a high level of control over him.
Personally, I would be incredibly disappoitned if Yi did not start the season on the team, even if it’s just one game. After two struggling seasons, he seemed to bring a level of excitement to his game this summer when he bulked up and averaged a double-double in the FIBA Asia Championship. Granted, it was not high-competition, but it was still a positive step. To miss two weeks before the season starts for this tournament, with a young team that is going to need all the time they can muster to gel and mature together, just seems detrimental to the team. If he ends up missing all this time, it just drives home exactly who is pulling the strings behind Yi and it’s not the New Jersey Nets.