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Thursday Notes: Amir in Vegas, Sessions talking to Bucks, Ilyasova waiting game

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  • Paschketball: Amir Johnson added to Vegas roster
    Jim Paschke's got a ton of good video from this week's practices, and in his latest upload he reports that Amir Johnson has been named today as a last-minute addition to the Bucks' Vegas team. I just got into Vegas an hour ago, so I'm pretty pumped to hear that another rotation guy--and potential starter--is going to get some burn out here. Given he's adapting to a new system and his game could still use a lot of refinement, it makes perfect sense. The addition of Johnson also means the Bucks could roll out a starting five of actual roster players: Brandon Jennings, Jodie Meeks, Luc Mbah a Moute, Joe Alexander and Amir Johnson. Add in Salim Stoudamire and the Bucks look to have a pretty good squad--though in the crapshoot of summer league it's tough to handicap these things. Last year the Bucks looked like garbage the first few games before Ramon Sessions took over during the last weekend.  UAB guard Paul Delaney was also added to the final roster as a last-minute replacemet for former Marquette guard Dominic James, who sprained his knee in practice this week.  Get better soon, Dom.

  • Paschketball: Meeks signs three-year deal.
    More Paschketball!  Second-rounders typically get two-year deals for the league minimum, with the main difference being the amount of guaranteed dollars in the deal. But for the second straight year the Bucks have done things a bit unconventionally, giving Jodie Meeks a three-year deal (terms not yet known).

    Last year the Bucks gave Luc Mbah a Moute a deal starting at $750,000--a few hundred grand over the rookie minimum--in exchange for a non-guaranteed third year at the minimum. That's looking like a stroke of genius at this point, since the Bucks will get an extra year of Mbah a Moute for next to nothing and he'll still only be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2011.Still , the specter of the luxury tax means that every dollar spent this season could matter, so paying Meeks more than the rookie minimum of $457,000 could be kinda dicey. It also would cut into the Bucks' MLE, though they don't need that to sign Sessions or Ilyasova.


  • Gardner: Sessions update
    In some ways, no news is good news when it comes to RFAs, and there's not much happening as of yet on the Ramon Sessions front.  Charles Gardner spoke with Sessions' agent Chubby Wells (I'm not even putting it in quotes anymore), who was in town today to meet with Bucks officials:

    "We understand that it's just the process," Wells said.

    "Ramon does like Milwaukee, but we really haven't talked numbers. We'll start doing that in the next couple days."

    Among potential Sessions suitors, the Blazers are now supposedly targeting Utah RFA Paul Millsap, though my impression has been that the Jazz are unlikely to let him walk--matching any Millsap offer sheet and then trading Carlos Boozer (and his expiring deal) seems like a better long-term option.  We haven't seen any of the talented young RFAs sign an offer sheet yet, but with the pickings getting slim among UFAs we might see a team with cap space like Blazers take a chance on Millsap, David Lee or perhaps even Sessions.  The Knicks have also been mentioned as possible players for Sessions' services, but giving Grant Hill a healthy chunk of their MLE would effectively end any chance they'd have at signing any notable FAs other than their own guys (Lee and Nate Robinson). 

    The best case scenario for the Bucks is that teams like New York and Portland find alternate ways to spend their dollars, giving the Bucks all the leverage in their negotiations.  In that case it wouldn't be shocking to see Sessions get something on the order of two or three years at $3-4 million per--he's certainly worth more than that on the open market, but it's not easy coaxing an MLE offer sheet out of team when you're a RFA. 
  • Woelfel: Free agent update.  Gery Woelfel was fighting the good fight and manning the phones this week, and got this nugget from Ersan Ilyasova's awesomely-named agent:

    "Maybe Wednesday,'' Tolga Tugsavul, Ilyasova's agent, replied when his client might sign a contract. "We'll know his number on the salary cap. Then we can start negotiations.''

    Tugsavul said two other NBA teams and three European teams are courting his client. He declined to reveal the teams.

  • The Boys of Summer. 
    Truman Reed breaks down the Bucks' summer league roster with some detailed bios.

  • Hunt: Bucks ahead of curve?
    Michael Hunt has a pretty good take on the Bucks' current situation--though I'm not sure throwing Brandon Jennings to the wolves immediately is the best tactic.

    "Do I see a light? Yeah," general manager John Hammond said Thursday. "The little light is the numbers we are out from under. What kind of growing pains we'll have (next season), we don't know. Next season at this time, we'll have even more opportunities. In 2011-'12, we'll be a team with significant room. Two years from now, the sun will be shining."
  • Gardner: LRMaM, Alexander looking to up their games.
    Mbah a Moute has apparently added about 10 pounds, which could help him better defend PFs as well as finish more consistently around the hoop.  That said, he's penciled in as the starting SF right now so I'm not sure I'd want him to get too bulky.  Kelvin Sampson had some tidbits about what they're going to do with Alexander's touches in Vegas.

    "We're going to try to run more isos for him when we get to Vegas," Sampson said, referring to isolation plays.

    "When he's not scoring it or attacking the basket with the dribble, we want him to get where he can keep balls alive on the offensive glass. And when we're transitioning from defense to offense, 'sprint, rim run,' take advantage of his athletic gifts."

  • Bucks Diary: Ersan's improvement
    A few days ago I thought an Ilyasova deal was definitely, it's unclear.  Either way, Ty found some encouraging statistical developments in his game last season.

    All of a sudden last season his numbers surged. His Win Score efficiency average went from 9.12 per 48 minutes in 2007-08 (which jibed exactly with the 5.88 he posted in his one NBA season, because European players, similar to college players and D Leaguers, experience about a 35% decrease in efficiency when they move to the NBA) to a 2008-09 WS48 of 17.07. That's a huge improvement. Basically he became a much better rebounder -- both offensive and defensive -- and a much better three point shooter. Normally I would be skeptical of such numbers, but he maintained them over 55 games. But do they genuinely signal a permanent leap forward in his production?