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Thursday Notes: RJ's availability, lottery countdown, Ilyasova's weekend, draft mockery

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  • I'm not sure if this is news per se, but Bob Finnan of the Cleveland News-Herald says the Bucks will be shopping Richard Jefferson this summer.  Well sure, if you're dangerously close to the luxury tax and you have a good-but-not-great $14.2 million small forward, this is the kind of thing you do.  The Bucks purportedly shopped RJ pretty extensively before the deadline, but ended up standing pat.  The interesting part is that the Cavs reportedly offered the Bucks Wally Szczerbiak's expiring deal for RJ at the deadline, so it seems the Bucks could have swiftly freed themselves from luxury tax hell a few months ago. 

    Now, the easy answer is that they messed up, and dealing RJ now probably won't help as much as it could have four months ago.  Maybe you can get the Spurs to send Bruce Bowen and Fabricio Oberto's non-guaranteed deals plus a rotation guy like Matt Bonner (or better yet, Kurt Thomas), but in general it doesn't seem like Jefferson will have much value given his inflated contract. Otherwise you're pretty much stuck taking on equivalent salary (maybe saving a couple mill) for players who will either be no good but expiring or decent but on longer deals.  And even if the Bucks dump Jefferson for expiring deals, it won't really pay off until next summer. 

    Of course, if you were John Hammond does your pride let you do a deal with Cleveland like that?  Logically it shouldn't matter if a team is in your division or if you've already handed them a starting point guard.  If it makes the Bucks better, then you do it.  But...well, there's the hypothetical world and there's the real world. 
  • Tom Enlund has a blurb about the Bucks once again playing in Vegas this summer.  John Hammond is setting the bar high for Joe Alexander...if he's around:
    "I don’t think there’s going to be anyone that’s going to work any harder than Joe in this off-season," said Hammond. "We have complete confidence in that and we know that. It’s a great opportunity for Joe to get back on the floor and get more experience and playing time and continue to develop that feel for the game. As that improves, he got a chance to be a special player in this league."
  • The Euroleague Final Four starts tomorrow in Berlin, with Ersan Ilyasova and Barcelona set to square off against defending champs CSKA Moscow. gives a brief preview.  DX also breaks down the NBA prospects in Berlin.
    We chronicled in some depth a few months back how well Ilyasova has been playing this year with Barcelona, and that has been especially true in the Euroleague, where he’s had some monster outings. Ilyasova is one of the few legitimate/realistic targets NBA teams will be looking at this weekend—he’s a restricted free agent and property of the Milwaukee Bucks, and likely to get some huge offers on this side of the ocean, but an intriguing enough offer sheet from an NBA could lure him back to the States from what we’re told. Ilyasova has his limitations, but athletic 6-9 guys with length and upside who can space the floor and rebound at a great rate don’t grow on trees.
    I'm forgetting where I heard it, but I believe John Hammond will be there as well.  Check out an interview with Ersan (and his Eddie Munster haircut) here.  You can tell he learned much of his English in the States given how often he says  "You know" and "I mean."
  • Charles Gardner chats with assistant GM Jeff Weltman about the draft and the workout process. The Bucks can officially start working out players tomorrow, so we'll keep you posted as information becomes available.
    "It's never as good as the real thing, but it helps," Weltman said. "What you really try to do when you bring guys in for these visits is put them in the most competitive situations you can. As Dave Babcock is calling around trying to put these things together, he'll try to get two bigs, two wings, two point guards, really try to make it as much a game situation as he can.

    "I do think to evaluate without any kind of 5-on-5, which has now been removed, will present more of a challenge for us."
  • DX has the complete early-entry list here, and you can also listen to Jonathon Givony's podcast about it.  Plenty of lottery to mid-first rounders are headed back to school, which means that next year should bring an exceptional draft class.  Among those returning for another year: Kansas center Cole Aldrich, Oklahoma combo guard Willie Warren, UNC (skinny) big Ed Davis, OSU's do-it-all forward Evan Turner, and Wake's young PF Al-Farouq Aminu and Georgetown's Greg Monroe.  In other words, while the Bucks might have to use this year's pick in order to have cover for their rotation in 09/10, smart teams will likely be looking to stockpile first rounders for next year's loaded draft.
  • Chad Ford reviews the early-entry list here.  I'm firmly in the "keep Sessions" camp, but one reason the Bucks might not be coming out saying they'll match any offers is because of the draft's strong point guard crop.
    Currently, we have a whopping 11 point guards ranked as first-round prospects, with five of them -- Rubio, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Eric Maynor and Holiday -- ranked in the lottery. But given how different all of the point guard prospects are, every executive I talk to has them ranked differently based on their own philosophies about what makes a great point guard.

    So while Rubio, Curry and Jennings look like locks for the lottery, other players like Teague, Ty Lawson and Jonny Flynn could all work their way up. Head-to-head workouts between the point guards will be huge in determining the final order.
  • Draft mockery: DX and Ridiculous Upside still have the Bucks taking Louisville combo forward Earl Clark.  I'm all about BPA, but another combo forward?
  • Ty breaks down Blake Griffin, Ricky Rubio, and Jordan Hill.  
  • Via Twitter, Charlie Villanueva is in the Dominican Republic to finalize the details of getting his Dominican passport.  Though he represented the US at the junior level, CV will be joining Francisco Garcia and Al Horford on the Dominican national team.
  • I called Charlie Bell a man of the people the other day, so fittingly he's now on Twitter.