Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Yi Watch: Day 34

Chinese Basketball Association head Li Yuanwei will be paying the Bucks a visit in the coming week, according to reports from the always-reliable Chinese media. Supposedly Li and Guangdong Tigers owner Chen Haitao are getting antsy since the Bucks haven't visited China yet, which they were under the impression Larry Harris had promised.

"I will go to the United States in the coming days to help Yi solve the problem," CBA director Li said.

"I will have a talk with Yi at the Stankovic Cup to see what he thinks.

"The Bucks side didn't send their officials to China this time as they promised, so I will take some time to get this resolved."
While there have been reports that the Bucks wanted to visit China once their free agency to-do list was complete, they are still negotiating with restricted free agent Charlie Bell, whom the Bucks have given every indication they are hoping to retain. So it would seem odd for Harris to fly to China now when other matters would seem more pressing.

Chen's comments about not knowing what the Bucks want are perhaps the most laughable, given the Bucks have made their wish to keep Yi abundantly clear and beyond that there's really nothing to negotiate. Yi's rookie contract will be 120% of his rookie salary scale as defined by the collective bargaining agreement--rookies can sign for 80-120% of the scale, but almost always sign for the max. Moreover, the NBA's rules prevent its teams from offering anything more than $500,000 to buy out a foreign contract. Whether Chen is concerned about getting less than the max buyout is unclear, but there's no chance the Bucks would allow such a small buyout sum to prevent them from bringing Yi into the fold.

China lost this morning to Angola in the third game of the Stankovic Cup. I caught the first half and Yi looked very good, scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds while showing excellent mobility on both ends. However, the Chinese scored only 8 in the third quarter and wound up losing for the second time in three games. Yi finished as the game's leading scorer with 19 points.

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