Yi Jianlian, who is trying to make a comeback to the NBA after five seasons in China, faces a risk of being cut from the Los Angeles Lakers roster, per several reports.
Entering the 2016-17 regular season, the Lakers have decided on a 14-man roster with only one spot left.
Luke Walton, coach of the Lakers, has a decision to make between one of either Yi Jianlian, Metta World Peace and Thomas Robinson.
The Lakers have until the Oct. 24 deadline to finalize its roster and submit the same to the league office.
According to Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet, the team has confirmed that it will take 15 players into the new season but still torn on its final decision.
Luke said Lakers would keep 15 players. Two will go, one will stay: Yi Jianlian, Metta World Peace and Thomas Robinson.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) October 17, 2016
Yi Jianlian returning to China?
Earlier this month, there were several reports that the Lakers were willing to give the Chinese star the final roster berth since he could prove to be a critical trade chip later in the year.
Since Yi and the Lakers agreed to an incentive-based contract, Los Angeles owes him only $250,000 if they were to cut him prior to the regular season.
However, if the Lakers hold onto Yi, the big man’s guaranteed salary would rise depending on games played.
If Yi plays through the entirety of the season, he will have the opportunity of getting the entire sum of $8 million. At this stage, it’s highly unlikely that the 7-footer lasts that long as a Laker.
After Yi agreed to a training camp deal with the Lakers, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders explained how teams teams could decide to trade for the 7-footer as a salary dump measure.
“If Yi does not play in 20 games and is traded on Dec. 15, the Lakers would be able to bring back up to $12.1 million in salary. The incoming team could then waive Yi immediately at $341,737, shaving off $11.8 million off their cap.”
This is a good reason why it makes financial sense for the Lakers to hold onto Yi Jianlian.
However, it also makes sense for them to pay Yi Jianlian the guaranteed sum of $250,000 and avoid future transactions.
The following 14 players have guaranteed spots on the Lakers roster:
1. D’Angelo Russell
2. Julius Randle
3. Jordan Clarkson
4. Brandon Ingram
5. Timofey Mozgov
6. Luol Deng
7. Nick Young
8. Lou Williams
9. Ivica Zubac
10. Anthony Brown
11. Jose Calderon
12. Marcelo Huertas
13. Larry Nance Jr.
14. Tarik Black
According to Bill Oram of OC Register, coach Walton is undecided on who to cut.
There's a reason we're all guessing on Lakers final cuts. Luke Walton: "Honestly I have no idea right now who those two will be."
— Bill Oram (@billoram) October 17, 2016
If the ongoing preseason is anything to go by, Robinson could get the final nod since he’s been getting the most playing time. Does Yi Jianlian deserve another chance?