This paper considers the use of loan loss reserves (LLRs) in the banking production process and treats it as one variable with a dual role. We establish a three-stage network Data Envelopment Analysis model to address this issue. Using a sample of 43 Chinese commercial banks over the period 2011-2019, the results show that the banks with the ratio between LLRs and total loans less than 1% have higher level of efficiency compared to the ones holding the ratio greater than 1%. The results show that when excluding LLRs in the production process, the efficiency scores are significantly inflated. We find that small and medium sized banks are more efficient than their big counterparts, however, the results show that big banks hold more than enough amounts of LLRs than the one required by the regulatory authority. When LLRs are excluded from the production process, it shows that big banks perform better than small and medium sized banks. Our findings show that less liquid banks perform better than the ones with higher levels of liquidity no matter in which way LLRs are treated. Finally, we find that lower capitalized banks, compared to the ones with high levels of capitalization, are less efficient. however, it shows that higher capitalized banks consistently keep more than 1% LLRs out of total loans.