Monday , Jul , 02 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Milwaukee Bucks Must Consider If Yi Jianlin Is Worth Hassle

The Bucks and Chinese prospect Yi are continuing to butt heads … The latest: Milwaukee owner Herb Kohl is trying to arrange a meeting with the forward … Should the Bucks simply cut ties with Yi and trade him for a point guard? … Click here for news and analysis …

ESPN reports on Milwaukee reaching out to Chinese prospect Yi Jianlian:

In theory, Yi Jianlian is a Milwaukee Buck, but the team wants to see if its first-round draft pick is at all committed to the program.

Via letter, Bucks owner Herb Kohl has requested a meeting with Yi, who has made clear his desire to play in a city with a heavy Asian influence. His agents are seeking to force a trade.

"We’re going to try to establish personal contact with him and his family," Kohl said, according to a story in Monday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I wrote him a letter yesterday [Friday]. I requested a meeting with him and his family.

"Our basketball people, our general manager and coach, we’re all in the process of reaching out to try to establish a constructive dialogue with him and his family and his representatives," Kohl said.

Agent Dan Fegan pushed for the 19-year-old Yi to go to a city with a larger Asian-American population, and Bucks general manager Larry Harris said Fegan was shocked that Milwaukee selected him with the sixth pick. According to Census data, Milwaukee has a little more than 1,200 Chinese residents among its population of nearly 600,000.

"We feel that the Bucks are not the best fit for Yi Jianlian," Yi’s Chinese agent, Zhao Gang, told SportsTicker. "Our team will make contact with other teams who have watched Yi’s training and games to see if there is any possibility of a trade."

Harris has said he does not want to trade Yi. The forward does have the option of returning to his team in the Chinese Basketball Association, the Guangdong Tigers, but the Bucks would retain his NBA rights.

My Quick Take: This entire situation is odd. Larry Harris, ’s GM, drafted without having watched him play in person.

Sure, Harris’ scouts had seen him. And Harris’ father, Del, a veteran NBA coach, mentored Yi when he worked with the Chinese basketball program.

Harris is the GM, so he’s responsible. International prospects aren’t easy to scout. But other teams manage, so Harris has no excuse for not doing his due diligence and watching Yi live in person.

There’s much more to this saga. Yi doesn’t want to play for Milwaukee because the city has such a small Chinese community. The forward hasn’t spoken with the Bucks and is trying to force a trade to another franchise.

Recently, Herb Kohl, Milwaukee’s owner and an American senator, asked to meet with Yi and his representatives. Yes, the world has officially gone mad-a member of government has to request  a sit-down with a teenage basketball star.

Here’s the question: is Yi worth the trouble? Mo Williams could leave as an unrestricted free agent, so the Bucks have to consider trading Yi for a point guard. , Golden State’s lightning-quick guard and the NBA’s Most Improved Player, would look good in Milwaukee. There’s also Toronto playmaker Jose Calderon.

Bottom line: Harris might not know if Yi’s worth the trouble. Remember, he’s never seen his prospect play in person.

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