Right before Yi Jianlian got injured in early January this season, he finally looked like he’d turned the corner. He was scoring about 12 points a game and was playing anywhere from 25 to even 38 minutes a game.
Because he was producing. It was a reward.
After he came back a month later, he wasn’t the same player and his playing time diminished significantly. Now, it appears his agent is miffed about it.
As TNA superstar James Storm says, “Sorry bout your damn luck.”
“His agent is supposed to represent Yi’s interest, and that’s his job, that’s his loyalty. With Yi … we wish post-injury he had more success, but he didn’t,” Nets coach Laurence Frank told the Associated Press. “And the difference between an agent and a coach, the coach’s loyalty is to the whole team, not to an individual player. Whereas the agent’s job is to be loyal to his clients.
“We feel with Yi, look at it as a simplistic model—he’s a good person, a very hard worker, and he has talent. You put those three things together, he’ll be as good as he possibly can be because of those three factors.”
That my friends is a nice way of saying that Yi’s agent doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
By the numbers alone, it’s fair to say that Yi’s agent has as much bargaining power in this situation as Ike Turner would have in a domestic violence case.
Before the injury, Jianlian reached double digits in scoring 20 times and recorded more than 10 rebounds three times. After the break, he failed to get more than seven rebounds in a single game and has broken double digits in scoring a measly three times, despite playing for over 20 minutes in seven games.
After Jason Collins was allowed to revel in mediocrity for years, Frank has finally learned his lesson and won’t allow another player to do the same thing. Yi has averaged only 5.9 points per game since the All-Star break and in those 23 games he’s played, he’s been far from the player the Nets had before then. He can say that the Olympics and his training for them caused him to peak earlier in the season and run out of gas later on, but let’s be fair here, this is a professional athlete that gets paid millions of dollars to make sure he can play a sport to the best of his ability all season. If anyone is to blame for Yi’s demise this season, it’s not Frank and his decision not to give him playing time.
It’s his own.
Sorry bout your damn luck kid.
Photo by Bill Menzel.