Wizards' Yi headed back to China

Washington Wizards free agent forward Yi Jianlian is returning home to China, agreeing to a deal with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

The contract features an out clause that will allow Yi to return to the NBA as soon as the lockout ends.

The CBA has required its teams to sign only free agent NBA players that will play the entire season in China, and Yi is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins after the Wizards declined to extend his $5.4 million qualifying offer for next season. However, since Yi is a local player, the CBA will allow him to leave whenever he signs once the NBA lockout ends.

"Yi has signed a one-season contract with Hongyuan with an option to leave once he accepts an invitation from NBA teams," Guangdong Hongyuan's team manager Liu Hongjiang told the Xinhua News Agency.

Yi previously played for the Southern Tigers from 2002-2007, winning four consecutive championships with the club before departing for the NBA where he was selected sixth overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by Milwaukee.

Over four NBA seasons with the Bucks, New Jersey and Washington, Yi averaged 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds. The 7-footer averaged career lows of 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds in 63 games with the Wizards last season when he was limited for much of the campaign with a hyperextended right knee.