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Monday Notes: Villanueva not returning, more on Jennings

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  • Gardner: No qualifying offer for Villanueva.  As we've assumed for a while, Charles Gardner writes that the Bucks are officially moving on without Charlie Villanueva. John Hammond confirmed today that the Bucks would not make a qualifying offer of $4.6 million to Villanueva, meaning he will become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. I think I speak for most Bucks fans when I wish Charlie the best, though it will certainly be harder to root for him if he ends up in Cleveland.  The Bucks have already make QOs to Ramon Sessions and Ersan Ilyasova, but that's understandable since their QOs are only around $1 million each. The problem with CV's offer is that it wasn't completely unrealistic for him to accept the QO if he couldn't find an attractive offer in free agency (probably not likely, but not impossible). In that scenario he could have played another year in Milwaukee and then been an UFA next summer.

    However, with at most $8 million of room under the luxury tax this summer, the Bucks would have had a hard time matching an offer for Sessions if CV took the QO--and I'd guess they might prefer a cheaper deal for the more defensively capable Ilyasova anyway.   Not extending a QO to Villanueva could also help the Bucks' efforts in re-signing Sessions--we've talked a bit about the importance of scaring off potential suitors for Sessions, and the Bucks suddenly look a lot more serious about bringing back Sessions now that they've officially cut bait on CV.  What we haven't heard is a forceful statement by the Bucks that they will match offers for Sessions. One positive is that a bunch of teams that might have been interested in Sessions just drafted young PGs--notably Minnesota, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.  That still leaves the Knicks and Portland as potential threats, though the availability of unrestricted free agents like Jason Kidd, Mike Bibby, and Andre Miller might be more immediate targets.  The Knicks might also still be in the hunt for Ricky Rubio.

  • Enlund: Busy weeks brings options.  With RJ gone and Villanueva now set to follow, the Bucks will be losing a fair bit of scoring punch.  Then again, Scott Skiles didn't sound too concerned last week...after all, it's early:

    "I'm not (concerned right now) because we're in June. I don't think you can ride that wave of looking four months in advance. You always have to have a concern what your roster is looking like. But we'll see as we keep moving on this summer and what opportunities we have."
    Sure, it's possible the Bucks use their expiring deals to add a scorer between now and the start of the season, but the best we can probably hope for from free agency is re-signing Sessions and bringing back Ilyasova. Ersan has developed into a good spot-up shooter from the shorter international three point line, and if he does return he'll be expected to offer similar defense-stretching skills next season. Right now the Bucks are desperately short in that department, as Joe Alexander is their only forward capable of hitting threes with any regularity. However, Ilyasova isn't going to create his own shot, a skill decidedly lacking among the Bucks' wing players right now (with the exception of Michael Redd).  That means more of the offensive load will fall upon Andrew Bogut's shoulders, and Sessions' ability to get to the rim would also be a major bonus should he return.   Still, I'm a bit worried about their lack of perimeter shooting, which would only encourage teams to sag down on Bogut and beg Sessions to beat them from the outside.
  • Jennings Press Conference.  Jim Paschke brings you video from Brandon Jennings' introduction to the Milwaukee media. I can only assume he's sick of explaining the virtues of his year abroad in Rome, which is starting to remind me of Joe Alexander's constant rehashing of Bob Huggins' importance after last year's draft. Needless to say, I don't envy players having to answer the same question 800 times. By the way, I love the fact that John Hammond says that as much as Jennings was a risky pick, they were also "scared to death" of not taking him.  That was my reaction as well, though I'm also plenty nervous about whether he actually lives up to his sizable potential.  Then again, I haven't spent inordinate amounts of time scouting the guy.

  • Gardner: Johnson's fresh start.  Gardner has a bit more on Amir Johnson, the guy who at the moment is slated to get a big chunk of the minutes at PF.

    Bucks coach Scott Skiles said the plan was for Johnson to practice with the Bucks' rookie league squad in its minicamp next week, although the four-year veteran is not eligible to play with the team in Las Vegas.

    "He has the length to guard the big guys," Hammond said, "but he doesn't have the strength yet. He is getting stronger; he's got a good body. But you give him a chance to play that power forward position and you put a legitimate center next to him like Andrew Bogut, I think it will give him a chance to really excel and show his true strengths."

  • Givony: Jennings' Euro TripOne of the best reads on Jennings' experiences in Rome comes courtesy of DX's Jonathan Givony, who had the chance to watch Jennings play and practice in Europe in May. The whole thing is worth a read, but I'll cherry pick one of the more promising parts to start:

    What separates him from the Aaron Brooks’ and Monta Ellis’ of the world, though are his playmaking instincts. His talent and creativity with the ball were always evident in the games, scrimmages and practices we saw, as he sees the floor and is capable of making incredibly difficult passes look easy, in a way that no point guard in this draft not named Ricky Rubio can. Over the course of our three days in Rome, we saw Jennings make a handful of mind-blowing plays that hint of an incredible future that is in store, particularly in transition or running the pick and roll.
    It's interesting how Jennings is widely lauded by scouts for his playmaking, despite the fact that he was often forced to play off the ball in Rome and was more of a scorer in his last year at Oak Hill. One concern I've had is that Jennings at his best might fancy himself too much of a scorer, which based on his shaky outside shot doesn't seem like a very good thing.
  • Sporting News: Jennings unplugged...unfortunately.  Well, it didn't take long for Jennings' brashness to cause a bit of controversy. Chris Littmann has more on Jennings' friend/rapper Joe Budden recording of Jennings' occasionally off-color comments, which it didn't sound like Jennings was aware of.

    And really, none of the comments should come as a shock, because if you don't know Jennings for his swagger at this point, what do you know him for?
    I was actually expecting something much worse when I first heard about this, and went back and forth about posting it in the first place. Still, it is interesting that Jennings alludes to the Bucks using their remaining dollars to re-sign Charlie Villanueva rather than Ramon Sessions--when the opposite seems to be true.
  • FanPosts: How the Bucks Drafted for Need  Mitchell makes some good points over in the fanposts.   Also check out his initial response to draft night.