ESPN: Villanueva gets five years, $40 million from Pistons. Well, that didn't take long. On the first day of free agency, the Pistons have reportedly reached an agreement to pay Charlie V an average of $8 million per season over the next five. Especially considering they are also on the verge of giving Ben Gordon five years and $55 million, the Pistons' decision to sell off Chauncey Billups for cap room is looking...well, interesting. With Stuckey, Prince and Hamilton still in the fold as well, the Pistons certainly have some talent, but it's tough to figure out what direction the team is going. If you trade Billups for an expiring deal like Iverson's, then why give the less valuable and similarly aging Rip Hamilton a big extension the same week? And then why use most of your free agency dollars on an exceptional shooting but undersized guy who plays the same position as Hamilton? I guess a Hamilton trade is imminent, but neither CV nor Gordon are the types of franchise-changing guys you'd hope to snag with all that cap room.
You could say this somehow validates the Bucks' decision to let CV walk. After all, they'd understandably never throw that kind of coin at CV. However, if the Bucks had made their intention of re-signing CV clear and given him a QO it's unlikely he would have gotten nearly that much--RFAs just don't generate the same interest in the open market. Still, I think it's understandable, if a bit regrettable, that given the tax situation they let Villanueva walk. He'll probably put up good numbers next year, but I don't think anyone ever questioned his ability to put up stats. One thing's for sure: we wish Charlie the best of luck in Motown.
Woelfel: Childress visits, Sessions getting attention. The idea of pursuing outside free agents was basically a foreign concept to me for the past few months, so I haven't really even been talking about it. But now that the Bucks have some luxury tax breathing room it's once again an option--especially with Charlie V gone and Ramon Sessions' future up in the air. One intriguing possibility is former Hawks' swingman Josh Childress, whom Woelfel reports was in town today. It seems like ages ago that I harbored vague and in retrospect comical dreams of using Jamaal Magloire as bait to pry Childress from the big man-starved Hawks, but in reality that was just three years ago. Hey, Magloire wasn't that bad at the time.
Combining efficient scoring with the length to be a disruptive defender, Childress could either start at small forward or be a killer sixth man at both the big guard and three. He's still technically the Hawks' RFA, but with Bibby and Marvin Williams also in free agency it's possible the Hawks could let him walk for a full MLE deal (the most the Bucks could offer) or more. Or he can play another year in Greece. As for Sessions, he's getting plenty of attention:
James "Chubby'' Wells, Sessions' agent, said his client received four calls within a half hour of the start of free agency. One of them was from Bucks general manager John Hammond. "There were between 10 and 12 teams that contacted me today,'' Wells said. "And I still have two other teams that I know who are interested in Ramon that will be contacting me.''I'd guess most of the big name UFAs to come to agreements in the next week or so, at which point restricted guys like Sessions will get more attention from the remaining teams with cap room. As a sidenote, Sessions is Wells' only NBA client as far as I know, which could be either a good or bad thing from an ease-of-re-signing perspective.
Gardner: Hammond calls Sessions, Ilyasova. Echoing Woelfel's column, Charles Gardner writes that Sessions and Ersan Ilyasova both got calls from John Hammond as soon as free agency started. As a Sessions fan, I'm hoping the Bucks start to make their interest a bit more overt, as it would help ward off other teams interested in giving him an offer sheet. That might be wishful thinking, though.
Hammond confirmed that he also made a call to 6-9 forward Ersan Ilyasova, a restricted free agent. Ilyasova played the past two seasons for Regal FC Barcelona in Spain.The JS has been playing up the possibility of Ilyasova returning for a couple weeks, which has been a clear signal of the Bucks' interest in bringing him back. After all, the JS almost never speculates on this stuff.
It is thought that Ilyasova is genuinely interested in returning to the Bucks, who drafted him in 2005.
BUCKS.com: Vegas roster out. No big surprises on the Bucks' summer league roster, which will be headlined by rookies Brandon Jennings and Jodie Meeks as well as sophomores Joe Alexander and Luc Mbah a Moute. Salim Stoudamire will also be there, playing for the first time in over a year. Notable free agents include Marquette's Dominic James, former Flordia and T'Wolves big Chris Richard, and (gasp) Szymon Szewczyk! In case you'd forgotten, Szewczyk was drafted by the Bucks in the second round waaaaaay back in 2003, ahead of such notables as Mo Williams and Kyle Korver. He's bounced around Europe since then, but is technically still Bucks' property.
I'll be credentialed in Vegas for the first two games and should be liveblogging them as they happen. Hopefully they will all be streamed on NBA.com again as well. Obviously the big story will be watching Jennings make his debut in a Bucks' (practice) uniform. Given the way little guys like Nate Robinson and Jerryd Bayless have dominated Vegas in past years, Jennings could put on a show--even if he's not quite ready to do so come November. Just as interesting to me will be keeping an eye on Alexander, who has been working out diligently at the Cousins Center in the hopes of rebounding from a difficult rookie season. He wasn't a major factor last year in Vegas, which turned out to be an early warning sign of what was to come.
Thursday Notes: Villanueva heading to Detroit, Sessions and Ilyasova get courtesy calls, Jennings headlines Vegas roster
By Frank Madden
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