After a long standoff between the Milwaukee Bucks and Yi Jianlian, the seven foot Chinese superstar has signed a multi-year deal with the Bucks. It sure seemed like a lengthy ordeal, but in reality it wasn't all that bad, considering all the moving parts that had to line up. Bucks fans may remember the Glenn Robinson holdout back in 1994; every body's ass was sore after that marathon session at the negotiating table.
The deal was announced a little after 2:00 am Wednesday morning local time. Senator Herb Kohl, General Manager Larry Harris and Bucks Vice President Ron Walter went to Hong Kong to meet with Yi and Guangdong Tigers owner Mr. Chen Haitao to hammer out a deal.
The Bucks deserve credit for sticking to their guns; they've claimed since day one Yi was drafted to wear a Milwaukee Bucks uniform and they had no intention of trading him to a fancier NBA market. It's never been frankly clear who was really behind all the posturing coming from the Yi camp, but the smart money puts his Los Angeles based agent Dan Fegan (who was chosen by the Guangdong Tigers, not Yi himself) at the center of it. Sending Yi to a large NBA market with a strong Asian population would have certainly brought more marketing opportunities, which directly translates to a fatter payout for both Fegan and the Tigers.
One thing has seemed fairly obvious to me all summer; there was no way Yi wasn't going to be part of the NBA this year. The bottom line is he will be in Milwaukee to start training camp on October 1st.