Yi is Staying Stateside

So all of the talk about Yi Jianlian missing preseason games and possibly the season opener in Minnesota so he could play in the Chinese national games has been rendered moot. The Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro is reporting that Yi will not play in the Chinese national games later this month, despite considerable pressure from China to do so.

Earlier this month, the Nets had conceded that they were going to lose Yi for at least a portion of the preseason, most probably between October 13-18. Then the dates of the Chinese games changed from October 16-28, Dave D., an apparent dealbreaker for the Nets who are breaking an agreement originally inserted into Yi’s contract by the Bucks by not allowing him to go.

D’Alessandro warns that this issue among the Nets, Yi and China, may not end with this decision:

Case closed? Maybe. Just don’t count on it. When he goes home again, Yi is probably going to hear about it. What the ramifications will be remains to be seen. But if he can say that he wasn’t the one making the decision, maybe they go easy on him. It could be a very sensitive situation.

Personally, I’m happy to hear this is the outcome. If Yi was coming off a strong, injury-free season, I might be more willing to lose him for a week or two in training camp. But the fact is, there are great expectations on Yi’s shoulder this year, despite having proven very little on the court in his first two seasons to warrant it. The Nets are a young team with potential, and the only way they’re going to reach that potential as a team and individually is if these players spend every possible minute on the court together, working in an NBA environment. I understand that it’s difficult to stand between a man and his national pride, but his growth as an NBA player is more important, especially when it’s the NBA that’s paying your bills.