Sources told ESPN.com that, with the Lakers facing roster cut-down decisions by Monday at 5 p.m., 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 will formally waive Yi later Monday, sources said, and will still have to release one more player to get down to the league maximum of 15. But Yi's departure would appear to increase the odds that former All-Star forward Metta World Peace makes the opening night roster as he did a year ago, with fellow veteran Thomas Robinson another strong contender for a roster spot.
The Lakers signed Yi in August after his strong play in the Olympics with China to a one-year, $8 million deal that was uniquely structured, featuring $6.8 million in what the league deemed "likely" bonuses.
But the defined role Yi expected when he agreed to leave the Guangdong Southern Tigers in his native China -- with minutes at both power forward and center -- didn't pan out as he had hoped this month, prompting the 28-year-old to seek his release.
The Lakers have been pursuing Yi for the past two offseasons before they finally managed to sign him to a deal and bring him back to the NBA.
It was not immediately known Sunday night whether Yi will try to catch on with another NBA team or look to return to the Chinese Basketball Association.
The 7-footer was the sixth overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2007 draft and also had stints with the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks in parts of five NBA seasons. Yi spent the past four seasons with Gunagdong and averaged 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds for China in its five games in Rio.