LAS VEGAS -- It took three days for Yi Jianlian to do something that impressed me, and he finally came through Sunday by scoring 17 fourth-quarter points and hitting a 10-foot bank shot at the buzzer that gave the Chinese National Team an 85-84 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Granted, Yi was matched up primarily against undrafted rookie free agent Ryvon Covile during the fourth quarter, but he played his best ball of the summer league over the final 10 minutes after entering the final quarter 0-for-7 from the field with five fouls and three turnovers.
On Saturday, Yi shot just 2-for-14 in a 26-point loss to Sacramento, and on Friday he had seven fouls and five turnovers in the first half of a loss to Memphis before playing better in the second half and finishing with 23 points.
After three games, Yi is averaging 17.3 points per game on 30 percent shooting with far more fouls (20) than field goals (12).
Meanwhile, there have been only the faintest signs of a thaw between Yi's camp and the Milwaukee Bucks, whose general manager, Larry Harris, is vowing to do anything and everything he can to convince Yi to come to Milwaukee.
If the stalemate continues, the only way Yi could make himself eligible for the 2008 draft would be to sit out an entire season. If he were to return to his pro team in China for the 2007-08 season, the Bucks would retain his NBA rights.
At this point, if I had to say whether I thought Yi will ever play a game for the Bucks, I'd have to say no. Yi's camp seems extremely determined to force the Bucks to trade his rights, and at a certain point I believe Harris and the Bucks owner, Sen. Herb Kohl, will simply throw their hands up and decide they don't want the headache anymore.
Here's a bunch more of what I'm seeing and hearing out here: