Saturday, July 7, 2007

Yi Watch: Day 9

Dan Fegan v. Larry Harris: It's looking like Fegan will blink first

Charles Gardner reports Larry Harris is sounding optimistic following his first meeting with Yi Jianlian, but it appears there's still some work to be done. Which makes sense, because as dumb as all this is, it's still going to be a process. Yi and his people have made themselves look rather arrogant in all of this, so even if they're resigned to signing with the Bucks they likely will try to build up some warm fuzzy feelings and make the situation seem more like a misunderstanding before signing on the dotted line. And of course that can't happen before they clarify the situation with his club team Guangdong in China, who officially have to sign off on his release.

"We talked about the opportunity in Milwaukee," Harris said. "He was very respectful and, I thought, very engaging."

"We encouraged him to come to Milwaukee and meet our civic leaders, the people of Milwaukee, our owner and our fans," Harris said. "And just to see what Milwaukee is all about."

No date has been established for such a meeting, and Yi plans to be in Las Vegas with his Chinese team until late next week.

"We made it clear we are not going to trade him," Harris said. "I thought he was a tremendous kid. We got a sense he was excited about playing in the NBA, and we extended the invitation."

Harris said he was willing to go to China to meet with representatives of the league and the team.

"There was a lot of good dialogue," Harris said. "We will continue to talk. It was very promising."

Harris acknowledged that a further step would be direct talks with Yi's representatives, American agent Dan Fegan and his Chinese representatives. No progress has been made, even though Harris has said adamantly that he does not want to trade Yi.

"It just shows you how much respect they have for Yi as a player, how much potential they see in him, and how intriguing he is as a young prospect," Harris said.

Oh, and Yi also played a game on Friday. With disappointing performances from Greg Oden (6 pts, 2 rebounds, 10 fouls) and Kevin Durant (5-17 from the field), Yi and Rudy Gay decided to put on a bit of a show in the Memphis-China matchup. They traded posterizing dunks while Yi ended up with 23 pts on 7-15 from the field and 9-12 from the stripe. He only managed 4 boards and 1 block to go with 7 TOs and 7 fouls (as you can tell, the 6 foul rule doesn't apply in Vegas), but clearly got more comfortable as the game went on. It might be a little rough right now, but the kid's got game. You can watch some highlights here. Gery Woelfel reports Harris was pleased with what he saw.
“I was very impressed,’’ Harris said in a telephone interview. “He’s got a chance to be a very, very good player. I like what he did on the offensive end, but I was more impressed by what he did on the defensive end of the floor.

“His lateral quickness was good, and he showed on pick and rolls and screens. He did a very good job defensively.’’

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