Chinese basketball star Yi Jianlian is reportedly "finalizing" a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers as the former Milwaukee Bucks standout is closing in on an NBA return next season.
ESPN reported that the Lakers are "finalizing a deal to bring" the 28-year-old stretch four, who was drafted sixth overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Bucks, "back to the NBA".
The negotiations between Yi and the Hollywood squad is said to be already in the advanced stages and it is only a matter of time before the five-year NBA veteran officially signs a contract that will move him back to the United States.
Yi last played in the NBA almost five years ago, during the 2011-2012 season, when he suited up in 30 games for the Dallas Mavericks. He averaged 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in only 6.8 minutes of playing time per night that time, his fifth season in the league.
Dallas was his fourth NBA team as he also played for the New Jersey Nets and Washington Wizards after his rookie stint with the Bucks.
The report noted that it was the second time the Lakers had approached Yi for the possibility of coming back to the NBA as Los Angeles also reached out to him last summer.
Mitch Kupchak and company were rumored to have been impressed by Yi's strong showing in the recent 2016 Rio Summer Olympics group stage with the Chinese national team, where he led the squad with 20.4 points and 6.6 boards per game, and thinks that he can still contribute at the highest level for a big market club.
While the agreement is not yet official, Yi's current Chinese Basketball Association squad, Guangdong Southern Tigers, is already proceeding "as though the deal is done".
"The Hongyuan club supports Yi's decision to return to the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. We are glad that Yi has another chance to show the world his skills and game in the world's best league. We wish the best future for him," the CBA club said through an official statement, as per Xinhuanet.
The amount of the deal is not yet disclosed, but according to the report it is worth around $8.5 million for the next season.