LAS VEGAS - For the fans still hoping that the 76ers can get involved in potential bidding for Chinese forward Yi Jianlian, here's some advice: Don't hold your breath.
The Bucks selected the 6-foot-11 forward with the sixth pick of the NBA draft, even though his agent, Dan Fegan, had said that Yi did not want to play in Milwaukee.
The Sixers failed in their attempt to trade up on draft night for the right to acquire Yi. Since the draft, the Sixers have monitored his situation closely.
Yi is competing with the Chinese national team in the Las Vegas summer league. Although he refused to visit Milwaukee after he was drafted, the Bucks have met with him in Las Vegas.
"We're very encouraged, very optimistic things are headed in the right direction," Bucks general manager Larry Harris said. ". . . The chance to sit down with him while we were here was very beneficial."
SI.com reported Sunday that NBA commissioner David Stern could intervene in the talks between Yi and Milwaukee.
"The commissioner is monitoring the situation through conversations with the Bucks," Tim Frank, the NBA's vice president for basketball communications, said in an e-mail.
The bottom line is that Yi is very likely to be playing for the Bucks, and now the Sixers have to move on.
The Sixers still have their sights on re-signing forward Joe Smith, an unrestricted free agent.
They could offer Smith ample playing time, but the Chicago Bulls, whom Smith visited last week, could assure him of a place in the postseason. Houston and Boston are among others that apparently have shown interest.
Fegan is also Smith's agent, but he has been mum about the negotiations.
There are other big bodies that the Sixers have inquired about. Unrestricted free agent Darko Milicic of Orlando is looking for a big payday, even though he has not averaged more than 24 minutes a game in any of his four NBA seasons.
One of the few teams with salary-cap room, Memphis, is interested in Milicic, according to an NBA source.
The Sixers will have fallback options, but the question remains: Would they be better off not throwing money around now and waiting until they are expected to be under the cap in 2008-09?
"We're going to keep working and keep talking to a lot of people," said Billy King, the Sixers' president and general manager. "And we will make a deal that is right for us and the free agent."
Teams can sign players beginning tomorrow.
Notes. The Sixers fell to 1-2 last night after a 94-87 loss to the Golden State Warriors. Lou Williams had 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Sixers. He also woke up the crowd with a fourth-quarter tomahawk dunk over 7-foot Brian Cusworth. "I had to take to it the basket because they weren't calling fouls," Williams said. . . . Thaddeus Young had 15 points and 11 rebounds. He shot 7 for 20. Fellow Sixers first-round pick Jason Smith added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Golden State's top pick, Italian guard Marco Belinelli, had 23 points. . . . The Sixers play the Los Angeles Lakers tonight at 8.