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Yi Will Lead China in Worlds, But Will He Be a Net?

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Team China's American coach, Robert Donewald Jr.said Wednesday that with Yao Ming still uncertain for the FIBA World Championships, Yi Jianlian will be the team's big hope.  "As soon as he's ready to hit the floor, he'll come back to Team China, probably in the middle of July," Donewald said of Yi, noting he is still rehabbing his shoulder in the U.S.

But Yi was also in the news on this side of the Pacific Thursday, with both Julian Garcia and Dave D'Alessandro suggesting the seven-footer may be gone before free agency. "In the next few weeks, more than a few rivals with cap space will be offered a free second-round pick (or two) next season for the privilege of taking Yi Jianlian’s $4.05 million salary along with it," wrote D'Alessandro.

Both Mikhail Prokhorov and his US representative, Irina Pavlova, have said Yi is a centerpiece of the plan to make the Nets a global brand, but Prokhorov has also said a power forward is the team's biggest need.  With the Nets likely to take Derrick Favors  in the draft and pursue Amare Stoudemire or Carlos Boozer, Yi will be left with few minutes.