Yi Jianlian's Busy Offseason Just Beginning

We mentioned yesterday that Yi Jianlian returned to action on Friday with a rusty 8 point, 7 rebound performance in China's 65-60 exhibition win over Croatia, his first game action since injuring his knee April 2 in Washington. Well, it seems like some of the rust is off, as Yi came back Saturday with 18 points (4/10 fg, 10/15 ft) and 13 boards in 28 minutes as China dispatched Croatia for a second time 76-66 in Shanghai. The two teams will play for a third time on Monday. Here's his remaining pre-Olympic schedule, per the good people at Yao Mania:

Jun 16 vs Croatia NT
Jun 22 vs Lithuania NT
Jun 24 vs Lithuania NT
Jul 4 vs Australia NT
Jul 6 vs Australia NT
Jul 17-20 Borislav Stankovic Continental Cup
Jul 29-Aug 1 Diamond Ball Cup
August 5 vs Argentina NT
August 6 vs Argentina NT

The Stankovic Cup will feature Russia, Iran and Angola, while the Diamond Ball Cup will bring Argentina, Australia , Serbia, Iran, and Angola to Nanjing, China. All told, China will play at least at least three games against Andrew Bogut's Australian team this summer, though Bogut is likely to miss the first two encounters as he waits to resolve his contract situation with the Bucks. Though the Bucks have picked up his $6.29 million team option for next year, Bogut has said he won't suit up for the Aussies until his contract extension is signed, which if you believe the Australian press is something of a foregone conclusion. I'd guess a deal happens, though the numbers being throw around by the Australian media seem rather inflated. However, the contract can't officially be signed until July 9 when the NBA's free agent moratorium ends, after the Boomers' first two exhibition games against the Chinese.

Depending on how China fares in the two tournaments, Yi could play up to 16 or so more games before the Olympics, which kick off August 9. That's a lot of basketball,  and the obvious concern is that it could leave him once again worn down by the latter half of the NBA season. But at least Yi should get the end of August and September off--a luxury he didn't have last year when he played about 30 games during the summer and joined training camp a day late because of national team commitments. It'd be nice if Yi had time to lift weights and just take a few thousand jump hooks a day, but for now the Bucks can only hope that he stays injury-free and
works on his post skills and finishing in game conditions.

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