Some of Jennings' European highlights for your viewing pleasure
Gardner: Childress in town, Sessions talk
As planned, Josh Childress was in town to visit with the Bucks yesterday, but what happens next is tougher to figure out. If you use the MLE on Childress and don't make any other moves, then Sessions is gone. There simply isn't the money available to sign him for a reasonable deal and stay under the tax. And as much as I like Chill's game--he's smart, efficient, and versatile--I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable with that tradeoff (Curak and MTH had some good comments in yesterday's notes to the same effect). Why go for Sessions over Childress? For a few reasons:
Let the kids play. It's not to say the Bucks' small forward position is going to scare anyone, but I'd like to give Mbah a Moute and Alexander a chance to play this season. Mbah a Moute in particular could be a long-term keeper, though both guys can also get minutes at the 4.
Expiring deals give flexibility to add depth. The contracts of Luke Ridnour, Kurt Thomas, and Bruce Bowen (though it might be better used to shave $2 million off the Bucks' cap number) could also be used to deal for more depth at the swing spots in the near term. You're probably not getting a player of Childress' caliber, but you can't have everything.
Betting on Jennings is still a risk. As much potential as he might have, there's simply no guarantee Brandon Jennings will ever pan out, and expecting him to be a major contributor next year would seem unrealistic. Given the importance of the PG position, I'd much rather be betting on two young guys than just one--especially when the guy who's under contract is 19 and a long ways from being a sure thing. Could it create some awkwardness? Sure. But the point is to get as many good players as possible, and the Bucks' best chance of getting a quality player at a good price is by re-signing Sessions.
Gardner specifically mentions the possibility of a sign-and-trade with Atlanta, and a couple points bear mentioning here. First, it's not technically possible to extend an offer sheet, have it matched, and then S/T for the player. If the Bucks want to S/T for Childress, they'd have to come to an agreement with Childress and then agree on a trade with the Hawks. The Hawks could then sign Childress and immediately trade him for whatever the Bucks were offering. However, if the Bucks have an offer for Childress matched, they have to wait a calendar year before trading for him. Them's the rules.
Unfortunately, expiring deals by themselves aren't of use to the Hawks, since they can also just let Childress walk and be no worse off cap-wise. And though a S/T makes sense in general from a Hawk perspective--get something for a guy you probably aren't re-signing anyway--I'm not sure there's an obvious fit given the Bucks' assets. Atlanta would have cap space if Mike Bibby and Marvin Williams weren't re-signed, but I'm guessing those are their top priorities, and Williams in particular makes Childress expendable.
But what would the Bucks offer? Luke Ridnour could be useful as a backup, but I'm not sure any teams would take Ridnour off the Bucks' hands for anything of value. Assuming Chill's deal is around the MLE, the Bucks could offer a package of Joe Alexander along with some smaller expiring deals, which would seem to give Atlanta at least something for their troubles. However, Bowen and Thomas couldn't be included in a deal immediately. Per the CBA, the Bucks have to wait until late August before they can deal those guys in a deal that aggregates their salaries (they could be traded straight up). You could however use the less attractive Allen and Elson contracts to try to make something work. The good news is that sending salary out for Childress would free up dollars to potentially bring back Sessions as well, but it wouldn't be easy.
Gardner also got some good quotes from Sessions' agent Chubby Wells, who offers a bit of intel on where Ramon's head is at.
"I talked to John Hammond, and we both want to see the process play out," Wells said. "We'll see what's out there."
"I really think they do (want to retain Sessions)," Wells said. "John has always been a straight shooter, and I think they definitely have an interest."
To be continued. As Wells alludes to, the UFA point guards will probably go first, so the longer it takes for Jason Kidd, Mike Bibby, and Andre Miller to sign deals, the longer Sessions will probably have to wait as well. The main reason for that is the semantics of restricted free agency. If a team signs Sessions to a deal now, their cap dollars could be tied up for a week while the Bucks decide to match or not, meaning they could miss out on other guys in that period. Practically speaking, I'd guess the Bucks would match immediately if the deal was reasonable, but they could let the other team squirm as well. That means there's a risk to going after Sessions which doesn't exist with UFAs, and for that reason things tend to move in slow motion for RFAs...especially if it looks like their own team wants them back.
On the good news front, Portland is reportedly signing Hedo Turkoglu to a $50 million deal, which by my math would eliminate the Blazers' ability to be a player for Sessions. Now we just need the Knicks to sign someone else.
- Let the kids play. It's not to say the Bucks' small forward position is going to scare anyone, but I'd like to give Mbah a Moute and Alexander a chance to play this season. Mbah a Moute in particular could be a long-term keeper, though both guys can also get minutes at the 4.
RealGM: Ilyasova decision by July 15?
Over at RealGM, there's a translation of a Spanish article reporting that Ersan Ilyasova has to decide whether to opt out of his Barcelona deal by July 15th. His Barca deal is 1.5 million net of taxes, so an equivalent pre-tax NBA salary would be in the $3 million range. That's probably a bit rich if the Bucks want to keep Sessions as well, but it's very possible the Bucks get him at a slight discount--he certainly seems to want to come back to the NBA, and the Bucks can offer both an excellent opportunity to play (heck, he could even start) as well as familiar surroundings (his wife is from Milwaukee).
Bucks Diary: Why the NBA's salary structure is so whack.
Ty hits the nail on the head with this one.
So, from almost any financial perspective, the Bucks appear to have set themselves on a saner path... one that offers at least the hope for a better tomorrow. But what has been the national media's interpretation of the aforementioned moves? In a nutshell: The Bucks can't afford to compete and are giving up and/or "rebuilding" (media speak for "preparing to lose a lot of games").I think a lot of this is simply the media not really caring enough to look at the Bucks' situation in greater detail. For example Chad Ford--who actually broke the RJ deal--also claimed the Bucks would target CV over Sessions in free agency. That was news to everyone who actually follows the Bucks, and we all know how things have turned out.
Of course, John Hammond has seen first hand the value of letting players leave if the price is too high--Ben Wallace being the prime example. The Pistons also allowed Memo Okur to take huge dollars from Utah in 2003, and it didn't prevent them from continuing to win 50 games and go to the conference finals every year. Now the Bucks have done something similar with Villanueva, and the Pistons are ironically on the other side. We'll see how it works out. I'm sure Charlie will put up better numbers than anyone the Bucks have at PF next year, and his high-volume, lower efficiency scoring could have been useful to take some of the burden off Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut.
WSSP: Lots of Bucks' audio
Living on the East Coast, I barely listen to sports radio since they never talk about teams I care about. And even in Milwaukee it's often tough to find Bucks talk with the Packers and Brewers around. Fortunately, WSSP not only talks a lot of Bucks (thanks Sparky, Gery, Doug, Mike and Gary) but puts it all in their audio vault. There's a ton of stuff to listen to there, including interviews with Brandon Jennings' legendary high school coach Steve Smith, Scott Skiles, and lots of Gery Woelfel.
Fact of the day: According to Smith, Jennings once hit 14 threes in a single game in high school (NBA.com says it was 13, but same difference). Given he couldn't hit 30% last year in Europe, I'm guessing he's kinda streaky, eh?
540 ESPN: Bucks audio
Not to be outdone, ESPN 540 also has a bunch of Bucks-related podcasts up. John Hammond's chat with Homer the day after the draft was interesting in that it confirmed the Bucks presumed starting lineup given the current guys under contract: Ridnour, Redd, Mbah a Moute, Johnson and Bogut.
Gardner: Meeks meets Milwaukee
Jodie Meeks is in town and getting used to his new digs. Charles Gardner also uncovers a good hint as to why the Bucks liked him so much despite not bringing him in for a workout. Take it away, Dave Babcock:
"I went to see him and Patrick Patterson, and he moves so well without the ball and obviously he's a very good shooter," Babcock said of Meeks, who will turn 22 in August. "Couple with that he's physical, strong and a good defender, for him to be at 41 was sort of shocking."
DX and Chad Ford both had him as a late second-rounder, so "shocking" is probably an exaggeration. But it never hurts to pimp your second rounders, does it?
When in Rome: Brandon Jennings' blog
I alluded to this on draft night, but Jennings has an active blog over on Under Armour's website. Apparently when a shoe company gives you a $2 million contract, they'll also host your blog. Surprising, eh?