Visit to McCarthy's Hometown...........Kenny Mayne

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Yi Circus Continues

Chen Haitao, the owner of the Guangdong Tigers, was quoted in Tuesday's Beijing News as saying Yi would "definitely not" play for the Bucks next season.

"This is not - as media reports have said - because Milwaukee, as a city with very few Chinese people, is not good for Yi's commercial development," Chen said. "Rather we want to find a team suitable for Yi's growth. That's the root of the problem."

Chen said he was concerned that that the 7-foot Chinese national team player would have trouble getting into the lineup with the Bucks.

Yi plays as a power forward, a spot where the Bucks struggled with injuries last season and at times had undersized Ruben Patterson playing the position.

Returning at power forward is 6-11 Charlie Villanueva, who is coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Seven-footer Andrew Bogut, the top pick in the 2005 NBA draft, is now firmly entrenched at the center position and plays a much different game than Yi, who is more perimeter-oriented and often faces the basket.

Bucks general manager Larry Harris would not comment directly on Tuesday but indicated Bogut, Villanueva and Yi are versatile players and could be on the floor at the same time.

Harris and coach Larry Krystkowiak met with Yi in Las Vegas earlier this month and tried to assure him he would get plenty of chances to play in the team's young frontcourt.

Now they may have to do more convincing.

"The national team and the Olympic Games are now our key considerations," Chen said. "If Yi goes to a team where he can't compete, that would be being irresponsible to the national team."

The 2008 Olympic Games will be played in China, and Yi and Houston Rockets center Yao Ming will play together on the Chinese team's front line in the basketball competition. The Chinese team placed eighth in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

It is important to Chinese officials that Yi receive significant playing time in his first NBA season. Both the Guangdong team and CBA officials would have to approve Yi's release to the NBA.

Yao was the first pick in the 2002 NBA draft and averaged 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds as a league rookie with Houston. He played in all 82 games and averaged 29.0 minutes per game.

Yi's Guangdong team won three straight Chinese Basketball Association championships before being dethroned by the Bayi Rockets this year. During the past CBA season, Yi averaged 24.9 points and 11.5 rebounds, and he was selected sixth overall by the Bucks in the June draft.

An NBA spokesman said the league would have no new comment on the situation. He said NBA Commissioner David Stern was still monitoring the situation with Bucks officials.

I think it's time for Commissioner David Stern to step in and help the Bucks. No player should be able to reject playing for a team. This has visions of Elway, and even most recently Eli Manning. Players do not get to pick where they want to play, and this circus needs to end soon.

Read more here from Charles Gardner and Don Walker's article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here:


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