Yi Jianlian in D.C.? Bring it on. | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Yi Jianlian in D.C.? Bring it on.

Updated: June 29, 2010


Mere minutes after the introductory press conference of 2010 draft picks Trevor Booker and Hamady N’Diaye ended, rumors began to surface that Ernie Grunfeld had another trade up his sleeve to absorb the Wizards’ cap space while gaining misspent potential in the process.

The team has officially announced that they will acquire 2007 sixth overall draft pick Yi Jianlian from the New Jersey Nets in exchange for Quinton Ross. New Jersey will also send Washington “cash considerations,” estimated to be $3 million.

Ross recently exercised a player option that will pay him $1,146,337 next season. Jianlian is set to make $4,050,499 in 2010-11 with a qualifying offer of $5,403,366 for 2011-12.

The Nets obviously swing this trade because Yi has been a disappointment and they’re hungry for cap room to acquire a top tier free-agent or two (aka The Race for LeBron). The Wizards gain a player who is still a prospect, one who certainly has more promise than Quinton Ross, for essentially nothing since they are getting cash from New Jersey.

Acquiring Jianlian doesn’t necessarily strap the Wizards’ cap space for the Summer of 2011 either. His contract will be in the same qualifying offer situation that Al Thornton ($3,914,547) and Nick Young ($3,695,857) will face next summer. If none of those three players perform up to snuff, the Wizards can elect not to extend any one the qualifying offer, as the team appears to be doing with Randy Foye this summer, potentially clearing nearly $13 million off the books.

But why Jianlian?

He’s soft, not quick or athletic, and could be three or four years older than his “documented” 1987 birthday. His shot, supposedly one of his strong points as a “stretch four”, has not proven to be consistent. As far as Nets fans are concerned, Yi is a bust … even if he was a conduit to them being able to get rid of Richard Jefferson.

Why not? With only Al Thornton currently slotted at small forward, the Wizards are in need of a SF/PF (or “stretch 4″/”wing big”) with the ability to shoot from the outside, keeping John Wall in mind. They have the cap space and the time/patience to look at a once highly thought of prospect, if only for a year.

The Wizards also just got a lot more international. They drafted Hamady N’Diaye from the Senegal (more on him soon), are expected to get Kevin Seraphin out of French Guiana from the Bulls as part of the trade for Kirk Hinrich, are rumored to have China’s Sun Yue (who once worked out for the Wizards in 2007) on their Vegas Summer League roster, and have now acquired another Chinese player in Jianlian.

Makes one wonder if the low-risk foray into the Chinese market has anything to do with Leonsis & Co. wanting to get a lot more exposure for the team and their “Great Wall” face of the franchise … which could also be seen as an investment.

Darren Rovel of CNBC’s Sports Biz tweets, “With Yi Jianlian leaving the Nets, will their 6 Chinese sponsors follow him to the Wizards?”

Who knows, but millions of Chinese will surely tune their basketball focus toward the capital of America next season. Have I mentioned that the Wizards play in Chinatown?

However, Devin Kharpertian of NetsAreScorhing.com isn’t so high on the potential of Yi and Wall on the court together. “Now John Wall can have his soul slowly sucked out of him as he throws beautiful alley-oop passes to Yi that he can’t finish,” Kharpertian writes, also opining, “Today is a great day in Nets history.” Well then.

Seems like the Grunfeld and the Wizards have now helped both the Bulls and Nets acquire LeBron James so they can dominate the world while taking no prisoners … even if Bron ends up in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Overall I like the move to get Yi … finding time for six young bigs to play be damned. This is a ‘throw the ball out and see who wants it more’ type of team. Having a roster chock-full of promise is exactly where the Wizards need to be. It’s good problem to have.

And if someone falls behind the pack, send them to the D-League for seasoning. Imagine that, the Wizards using the D-League for player development. Yes, the previously unimaginable can happen under the reign of Leonsis.

The Yi Jianlian era in D.C. … bring it on.


Kyle Weidie on EmailKyle Weidie on GoogleKyle Weidie on InstagramKyle Weidie on LinkedinKyle Weidie on TwitterKyle Weidie on Youtube
Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.

  • Incandescent Rex

    I like the trade. Like you said, not much risk to see if a change of scenery and expectations is what he needs. Having said that my only Yi exposure was the recent Olympics and he did not show a lot of heart. I felt bad for Yao Ming who showed a ton of heart with the way he played on a bad foot.

  • UnkleWheez

    I like this move. Only upside, no downside! I am concerned with how we fil out the rest of the roster, but I will wait and see how the rest goes.

  • dan

    The last thing the Wizards need is another soft big man. I’m tired of Grunfeld, and I think he’s worn out his welcome in DC. If Kevin Pritchard is available, I think he could be the most important pickup of the offseason.

  • steve

    you have to be kidding me when you said yi is not quick or athletic. yi is super fast for a 7 footer, thats why he plays forward not center, second yi busted his *ss and has a ton of meat packed on him. he is ripped. as far as consistancy goes, he doesnt have it. he goes on great defensive and or scoring spurts, but it always follows by a couple of poor games. to be very honest, i dont think you qualify to write an article on yi jianlian. seems like you hardly know the guy. yes im a yi jianlian basher, ive started bashing him for his inconsistancy and what not, but he def belongs in the NBA, and is a far better PF than many PFs out there. he has been a disappointment because he has not met everyones expectations of him becoming the next Dirk. Yi will be a great additions to the wizards especially since andray blatche will be out for 3 months.

  • Mike

    Seems like a move with little risk but I’m doubtful it will pan out.

    I would love to see the wizards try to get Beasley from Miami in a similar trade. I’ve read that Miami is looking to off load Beasley and create a little more capspace for themselves. Of course it’s just a rumor but if true Beasley would be a great big man complement to Wall and Arenas.

  • mmm

    Why didn’t they do the same deal for Michael Beasley instead? No one has mentioned this possibility and everyone (ESPN) says he can basically be had for free so the heat can sign 3 free agents. I know he has a horrible attitude but hes a hometown guy, the second overall pick, and less of a bust that Yi. You would think it would be worth putting up with his shit to give him a free rental

  • Tom Cruise

    I saw him a bit with New Jersey. He’ll go through good stretches, like he’ll put together 3-4 20+ point games, but then he’ll go through stretches of ‘what happened?’, where he would get 3 or 6 points and like 4 boards. he did average 12 and 7, but that was a median of these wildly inconsistent games. If he improves his understanding of off the ball movement and rebounding positioning it would do a lot for his consistency.

  • Eric

    Yi’s gonna laugh when he sees DC’s Chinatown

  • Ben

    Eric, you said it. He’ll walk a block and say, “wait–did I just miss it? All I see is that dumb arch!”

  • john

    i agree with dan, just look at his supposed strenghts coming into the league

  • szr

    Uh, this qualifies as good news? Sure, we traded one of the worst players in the league in Quiton Ross, but we got one who is only marginally better in exchange,

    Jianlian shoots just a bit over 40 percent and averages 16.3 shots per game. He is a below average rebounder for his position. In fact, the only thing he seems to do more of than the average PF is foul.

    Next year is going to hurt. A lot. I think we will be lucky to win 20 games.

  • Rockets’ Red Glare

    I’m originally from China and live in Houston, Texas where Yao Ming plays. For those of yall that think they’re both Chinese 7-footers so they should play the same, soft, slow and unathletic game.

    Those are true for Yao. However Yi is one of a new breed of Chinese bball players that model their game with American approaches. Yi is more ripped & more aggressive than Yao, except I don’t think Yi ever got the right people around him to instill the NBA mentality in him in order to get that consistency he sorely needed. I’ve observed him since 2007 with the Bucks, once in a while Yi could have an electric game, even dominate the outcomes of a few games in his rookie season. However, he has barely improved in 3 years, I think it’s mainly because he did not have the right support group to pound some NBA sense into him that Yao’s got.

    I would compare Yi with Tracy McGrady, different positions but both were immensely talented, once in a while have an electric moment, just either don’t have the heart or work ethic to get that consistency night in & night out.

    When he decides to be aggressive, he can just do one dribble from the 3 point line and dunk it home. I have no idea why he’s timid for like 5 games then super aggressive for 1 or 2 games then back to that cycle…… Lacking consistency is Yi’s biggest problem, hopefully John Wall can exploit Yi’s upside in the new season.

  • Rockets’ Red Glare

    And Yi is NOT slow or unathletic, like one thread said, he’s SUPER fast for a 7-footer, just check out the videos on YouTube.

  • Mr. Wayne

    I totally agree with Rocke’ts Red Glare. I have followed Yi before he got to NBA, when he played for the Bucks, he was very impressive with his speed. He got better with the Nets with his defense, but got to deal with not having the ball while Lopez & Harris got the tag team going on all the time… With the true point-guard that Wall brings to the table, Yi would be great this year! I am going to buy his jersey again, I didn’t buy it when he was with the Nets because I didn’t see that Yi would fit that team at all. I truely believe Wizards could bring out the best of Yi.


    Yi usually played well when the point guard passed him the ball. No one can play well when your teammates are blaming you not missing a shot. New Jersey didnt have a horrible atmosphere but they didnt have a very nice one either. Its especially tough for a player to play well when the player is foreign to U.S. and your teammates dont really care about you. You see Devin Harris or Lopez making fun of or even yelling at Yi all the time. Hopefully, Wizards are nicer to Yi than the other duchebags Yi played with.

    BTW, find a 7 footer that sprints faster than Yi!?