Lakers forward-center Yi Jianlian tries to score against Trail Blazers power forward Ed Davis during a preseason game Oct. 11. (Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)
Throughout the preseason, Lakers Coach Luke Walton praised one thing most often about Yi Jianlian: He was the Lakers’ best shooting big man.
His small sample size in the Lakers preseason games, though, didn’t indicate much of a role with the team this season. As such, ESPN reported Yi asked for his release from the Lakers after a discussion with the team on Sunday.
During the preseason, Yi averaged 10.7 minutes a game. He only made 35% of his shots, but it’s important to note he only averaged 3.3 shots a game.
It was often assumed that three players were competing for the final Lakers roster spot — Yi, Thomas Robinson (who was a Kings lottery pick in 2012) and Metta World Peace. It’s possible, though, that the Lakers would have found a way to keep both Yi and Robinson on the roster while waiving World Peace and another player.
Had Yi made the team, his incentive-filled contract could have been worth up to $8 million, depending on how long he remained on the roster.
Robinson has impressed the Lakers during this preseason. He was the last player on the court after Saturday’s practice. He stayed to shoot free throws for at least 30 minutes.
He played in six preseason games, averaging 7.6 minutes, 3.7 points and 3.7 rebounds. He shot 66.7% from the field but only 40% from the free-throw line.
The Lakers have until 2 p.m. Monday to trim their roster to 15 players. Walton and General Manager Mitch Kupchak met with Jim Buss, vice president of basketball operations, and Glenn Carraro, assistant general manager, over the weekend to discuss the roster. Walton said last week those discussions would continue into Monday.