Krystkowiak won't guarantee playing time for rookie Yi
"It would be unfair to Yi, unfair to Charlie Villanueva, unfair to a lot of people because nothing is being handed to anyone coming into training camp," Krystkowiak said during the Bucks' annual media day. "I think what happened was that after he was signed, there was such pressure that he wouldn't play here after the draft, that a certain amount of face had to be saved."
Bucks general manager Larry Harris, who took part in the negotiations with Yi and his representatives from China in August, confirmed there "were no commitment or promises made about minutes."
"The only commitment made was that we would develop him," Harris said. "He did not want to come to a team where he would languish on the bench. You make a pick that high, of course, we had visions of him playing. We knew the talent he had and we knew the kind of upside he has."
Harris said Yi's representatives understood the significance of him agreeing to play for the Bucks.
It would be unfair to Yi, unfair to Charlie Villanueva, unfair to a lot of people because nothing is being handed to anyone coming into training camp. I think what happened was that after he was signed, there was such pressure that he wouldn't play here after the draft, that a certain amount of face had to be saved.
--Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak
"It is much different than most any other country in the world," he said. "We promised that we would make him the player we think he can be, he thinks he can be and his whole country, all 1.3 billion of them can be proud of."
On the other hand, Krystkowiak expects Yi to be a big part of the team this season because of his basketball skills.
"We wouldn't have taken him if we didn't want to develop him to be a major part of our team," he said. "We are going to do what we are supposed to do and that is make him as good as he can become."
Yi, who arrived in Milwaukee for Thursday's practice after a 15-hour flight from Shanghai, was followed around the court at media day by a pack of reporters and photographers. His every move was captured and recorded by a group of Chinese journalists, who had followed him to Milwaukee.
Yi said he was anxious to compete against NBA players.
"I am looking forward to beginning my NBA career and learning how to play in this league," he said through an interpreter.
Krystkowiak and several players said they are not concerned about being able to communicate with Yi because he already understands a lot of English. Krystkowiak said he initially was going to learn some Chinese or put a translator on the team's bench.
"It was [Yi's] decision that he wants to learn more English," Krystkowiak said. "He's the one taking the bull by the horns."
Krystkowiak said the team may use more hand signals to call plays or use play cards to ensure there is no chance for a misunderstanding.
Guard Michael Redd said Yi is already pretty good about communicating on the basketball court.
"We were in the locker room yesterday and he said, 'What's good Mike,' " Redd said. "He's got a little bit of style and swagger already."
Guard Mo Williams said the increased national and international spotlight because of Yi's presence would help other players on the team.
"Being a small market, we are never on television and never get publicity," he said. "But now the spotlight will be on us. We have to come out and compete and show the world that we're a good team."
Added Redd: "I'm glad to have him on the team. I gave him a big old hug when I saw him yesterday. He's a joy to be around so far. He learns quickly."
"This is the most talented team we have had in my five years as general manager," he said. "I expect us to be good this year and for many years to come."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press