"Yi was productive in practices and games with us, and was a consummate professional both on and off the court," general manager Mitch Kupchak said in the team release. "However, he felt that the minutes and opportunities he'd be afforded here were not in line with his goals and ambitions, and that he'd be better off in a different situation. We appreciate his efforts and wish him great success as he goes forward with his career."
Marc Stein of ESPN was first to report Yi's request.
Per Stein: "Sources told ESPN that, with the Lakers facing roster cut-down decisions by 5 p.m. ET Monday, Yi and his representatives requested that the Lakers let him go to pursue other opportunities, largely because the role he envisioned in L.A. didn't materialize."
The Lakers granted Yi's request just months after signing the Chinese star to a one-year, $8 million deal that included $6.8 million in potential bonuses. Yi last appeared in the NBA in the 2011-12 season for the Dallas Mavericks, but after a strong 2016 Rio Olympics, he decided to leave the Guangdong Southern Tigers to make an NBA comeback.
But he never impressed with the Lakers, averaging 3.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 7.6 minutes per game and shooting 66.7 percent from the field over six contests. Ultimately, he found himself buried behind Julius Randle, Timofey Mozgov and Larry Nance on the depth chart.
Yi's future in the NBA remains unclear. As Stein reported, "It was not immediately known whether Yi would try to catch on with another NBA team or look to return to the Chinese Basketball Association."
In his five-year NBA career, Yi averaged 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. With his pending release, the Lakers will likely decide between Thomas Robinson and Metta World Peace for the final roster spot as they trim down to 15 players.
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