Gery Woelfel, easily the best thing to ever happen to the Bucks Twitter universe, is reporting that the Knicks are now the front-runners to pry Ramon Sessions away from the Bucks. Woelfel writes that Donnie Walsh will first explore possible sign-and-trade offers for Sessions, but in case that doesn't get anywhere New York is prepared to use their $5.85 million MLE to sign Sessions to an offer sheet. Unlike other suitors like the Clips or Thunder, the Knicks don't have anyone blocking Sessions from starting (sorry, Chris Duhon) so the fit makes sense.
Woelfel doesn't mention the possible length of an MLE offer to Sessions, which could be the determining factor in whether or not the Bucks match an offer sheet. The Bucks have been pretty mum on what they'd be willing to do, but I really don't see them matching a four or five year MLE deal, and three might be stretching it as well. The absolute maximum amount the Knicks could offer would be $34 million over five years, which factors in 8% annual raises off the first year salary. But even in that scenario the Bucks could match and avoid the luxury tax by waiving Bruce Bowen, cutting Salim Stoudamire, and buying out Kurt Thomas. The real issue becomes whether they want to commit long-term dollars to Sessions when they also have Brandon Jennings on the roster.
As for sign and trades, I can see two major stumbling blocks. One, there's that annoying collective bargaining agreement. Given both teams are above the cap, the whole base year compensation issue I mentioned yesterday would make it difficult for the Bucks to actually construct a deal with the Knicks unless some big contracts were involved. Then there's the further problem of who the Bucks would want in return. The Knicks surely won't be giving up on Danilo Gallinari or Jordan Hill just yet, and David Lee is still an unsigned RFA. Wilson Chandler isn't bad, and would give the Bucks yet another cheap young combo forward. Considering the Knicks can just sign Sessions to a contract and dare the Bucks to match, John Hammond doesn't have all the leverage here.
The Bucks could also try to unload a contract on the Knicks, but on first glance it just doesn't seem like the Knicks will want to risk adding an albatross deal like Gadzuric's when they're trying to have cash available for the summer 2010. We can dream though, right? Charlie Bell could also be unloaded, though his deal isn't as bad as Gadzuric's and he can actually give you some productive minutes from time to time. At the moment the Knicks have maybe $25 million committed in 10/11, giving them plenty of latitude to sign Sessions, make a run at a big free agent next summer (maybe two) and then fill out the rest of the roste with scrubs. If they do sign Sessions to an offer sheet, don't be surprised if Ramon asks the Bucks not to match--a big city, Mike D'Antoni's attractive system, and a lack of Brandon Jennings as long-term competition probably looks like a pretty good gig.