Nets could open season without Yi

Marc J. Spears

Yi Jianlian(notes) could be wearing a different uniform when his New Jersey Nets play their season-opening game, Yahoo! Sports has learned.

Yi has committed to playing basketball for his native Guandong in the National Games of the People’s Republic of China from Oct. 16-28. The Nets, however, have three preseason games and also their Oct. 28 season opener at Minnesota scheduled during China's National Games. Travel, practices and recovery time could cause Yi to miss even more time with the Nets.

For now, the Nets are backing Yi’s decision to participate and are working to determine an acceptable timetable for his absence. Yi's agent, Dan Fegan, could not be reached for comment.

"We’re looking at it very closely,” Nets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe told Yahoo! Sports. “We’re trying to make a good decision, make sure we abide by the rules and make sure we are always accommodating in supporting our players and their home countries.”

Held every four years, the 33-sport National Games is the biggest multi-sport event in China and includes athletes from nearly 50 delegations. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and the 50th anniversary of the National Games. Yi was born in Shenzen, Guandong, and played four years in the China Basketball Association prior to being selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Yi, a member of the Chinese national team, averaged 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in 61 games in his second NBA season with the Nets last season.