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Kings said to be a favored destination for Bucks' Yi

LAS VEGAS -- The stalemate between the Milwaukee Bucks and Yi Jianlian enters its third week amid emerging details that the Sacramento Kings would be one of the preferred destinations for the lottery-pick forward if he is successful in forcing a ...

LAS VEGAS -- The stalemate between the Milwaukee Bucks and Yi Jianlian enters its third week amid emerging details that the Sacramento Kings would be one of the preferred destinations for the lottery-pick forward if he is successful in forcing a trade, The Sacramento Bee has learned.

Whether any talks between the Kings and Bucks have taken place is not known -- Sacramento co-owner Gavin Maloof declined comment last Wednesday night before watching courtside as Yi and the Chinese national team played the Boston Celtics in summer-league action at UNLV, and Milwaukee officials could not be reached. Yi's agent, Dan Fegan, also said he did not want to comment, hoping to avoid further inflaming a difficult situation.

Yi's future has been the source of constant speculation on two continents after the Bucks drafted him with the sixth overall pick June 28 despite previously being told they would not be allowed to attend a private workout in Los Angeles, an obvious signal that the intriguing prospect and the people around him did not want Yi to end up in Milwaukee. The Bucks selected him anyway, and immediately faced a public-relations problem as it became apparent the stance had not changed.

The reasons go much deeper than the common perception that Yi does not want to deal with the Wisconsin winters and live in a city with a very small Asian population. Although the lifestyle concerns are formidable, it is known he would have been excited to be drafted by other cold-weather teams and that the basketball issues are likewise pressing: the aggressive 6-foot-11 forward with an aggressive offensive game would join a roster that already has depth on the young frontline and therefore might not have as many opportunities to rapidly develop.

The Kings also are big-man heavy, with two established players at power forward, Yi's natural position. But Shareef Abdur-Rahim turns 31 in December, and Kenny Thomas turns 30 on July 25, and neither would appear to have a long-term role in the rebuilding plan.

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Sacramento actually fits most of Yi's desires. It's a warm-weather city with a diverse population, a welcoming fan base and a short drive to the comfort of the Bay Area and a major Asian market. That, naturally, is important to opportunities his business advisers hope to develop.

The Kings' style of play also would be an attraction, or at least the style of uptempo play new coach Reggie Theus says he hopes to install. Yi is known for his mobility and smooth shot.

Sacramento faces major hurdles, though, in the possibility of a trade even coming close to reality. Most notably, the Kings have very little to offer that Milwaukee would want. The Bucks already have a skilled shooting guard (Michael Redd), so Kevin Martin doesn't hold the same lure as for other teams, and a heavy investment in a center (Andrew Bogut), so rookie Spencer Hawes isn't a great temptation.

Beyond that, Milwaukee general manager Larry Harris said he would not trade Yi, increasing the sense of a standoff that could last at least through the summer and very possibly into training camp in October. If the time does come that the Bucks change their stance, many teams with more to offer will show interest.

-- Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune

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