Yi, the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, averaged 3.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 10.7 minutes per game in six games with the Lakers this preseason.
After his play with China at the Summer Olympics, Yi was signed by the Lakers in August to a one-year, $8 million deal. He averaged 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds for China in its five games in Rio.
Yi and his representatives asked the Lakers to let him go so he could pursue other opportunities.
"Yi was productive in practices and games with us, and was a consummate professional both on and off the court," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. "However, he felt that the minutes and opportunities he'd be afforded here were not in line with his goals and ambitions, and that he'd be better off in a different situation. We appreciate his efforts and wish him great success as he goes forward with his career."
The Lakers still had to release one more player to get down to the league maximum of 15 by the 5 p.m. ET Monday deadline.
The team later waived forward Anthony Brown, who appeared in six games this preseason and averaged 3.2 points and 1.7 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per contest. As a rookie with the Lakers last season, Brown averaged 4.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in 29 games (11 starts).