Mavericks sign Chinese forward Yi Jianlian

Updated: 2012-01-07 05:16


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The Dallas Mavericks officially signed 6-foot-10 Chinese forward Yi Jianlian to a one-year deal contract on Friday.

Yi is expected to begin his stint with the Mavericks on the team's D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends in Frisco, when the club returns home on Sunday to play the Maine Red Claws.

"Time will determine that," coach Rick Carlisle said in regards to when Yi will join the Mavs. "It's going to take him awhile to get used to what we're doing. I can't give an accurate answer right now as far as when exactly he's going to be up and on the roster."

Yi, 24, has spent the past four seasons in the NBA, but he was still available in free agency thanks in part to a knee injury Yi suffered during a brief stint playing for the Guangdong Southern Tigers, after helping the Chinese national team clinch a spot in the 2012 London Olympics earlier in the summer.

Yi averaged 16.7 points and 10.3 rebounds in three games with Guangdong but has been recovering from a knee injury after a teammate fell on him during a game.

Playing in the D-League will reunite him with Legends coach Del Harris, who coached China to an eight-place finish at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

In 2011 with the national team under American coach Bob Donewald, Yi averaged 16.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks and earned tournament MVP honors while leading China to the championship.

Yi was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft, thanks to Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson's longstanding connections to China.

Dallas was the first NBA team to successfully sign a Chinese player, drafting Wang Zhizhi with the 36th overall pick in 1999 and ultimately bringing him over during the 2001-02 season.

Yi spent last season with the Washington Wizards and has career averages of 8.5 points and 5.3 rebounds.