Yi Jianlian, who is reportedly receiving high levels of interest from top flight European teams, including Real Madrid, is committed to playing in the NBA next season.
Speaking to NetEase on Sunday, Lu Yu, a member of Yi’s representative team, said that although there has been communication with European teams, Europe is at this point a secondary option.
“For now, we’re not considering playing in Spain,” said Lu. “I can only say that Yi’s first choice is to return to the NBA.”
But after averaging career lows in points and rebounds last season for the Dallas Mavericks, it appears unlikely that there is a market for the seven-footer’s services in the NBA this year. Another issue is a strained MCL, which Yi suffered in the Olympics against Australia, which may be another major reason why teams have cooled their interest. Yi has struggled with staying healthy in the past, having never played more than 66 games in any of his five seasons.
With what looks to be a tough road back to the NBA, Europe may be Yi’s only choice. Yesterday, Spanish site Encestando reported that Yi is looking for a US $2.5 million salary from Real Madrid next season. That figure, however, looks to be too high for the Spanish giants, who like many other teams in that region, are dealing with a spiraling European economy. Yi’s salary, in addition to the considerable taxes that the club will have to pay on top of it, appears to be too much of a financial burden to carry, reports Encestando. In combination with his MCL, the exact severity of which is unknown at present, and Yi to Spain appears to be far from a done deal.
French outlet, BasketNews, is reporting that Real Madrid have cut off negotiations after considering Yi’s salary demands.