LAS VEGAS -- The Milwaukee Bucks met with draft pick Yi
Jianlian for the first time in Las Vegas at the NBA's Summer League
starting there this week.
Yi, Bucks general manager Larry Harris and Bucks coach Larry
Krystkowiak met for about an hour at a hotel Thursday to get to
know the 6-foot-11 power forward and begin lobbying him to sign
with the team.
Yi scored 23 points and grabbed four rebounds in 28 minutes of
an 86-77 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. He had a
stretch in the second half where he hit seven straight field goals.
The 7-foot, 242-pound Yi had a two-handed dunk over Rudy Gay early
in the second quarter, a powerful move to the basket that brought
several fans at the Cox Pavillion to their feet.
"I felt better about today's game," Yi said through an
interpreter. "It was a matter of becoming more familiar."
Yi finished with seven fouls -- summer league games allow 10
fouls before disqualification -- and seven turnovers. Still, it was
an improvement from earlier in the week when he struggled against
the Dallas Mavericks, only scoring 11 points in a loss on Tuesday.
"After a slow start [earlier this week], he is finally starting
to show he is a player with great potential," China coach Jonas
Kauslaukas said through an interpreter. "I don't want to say that
this was his best game, but he played better and stronger."
Yi has not visited Milwaukee. In Dallas, where the Chinese
National Team played a series of exhibitions earlier this week, he
declined to talk about the draft or even the prospect of playing
for the Bucks.
Agent Dan Fegan did not return messages left Friday at his
office or cell phone.
Fegan had pushed for the 19-year-old Yi to go to a city with a
heavy Asian influence, and Yi's handlers did not allow the Bucks to
watch him participate in a predraft workout in Los Angeles.
But Harris said he planned to take the best player available and
told Fegan he would not shy away from Yi, even though Milwaukee has
only about 1,200 Chinese residents.
In the meantime, Bucks owner and Sen. Herb Kohl has written a
letter to Yi, which was delivered by Harris on Thursday, to
establish a dialogue with the star.
"We'll see what happens," Kohl said. "We're all in the
process of reaching out to try and establish a constructive
dialogue with him and his family and representatives."