Agent Chubby Wells told the JS and Gery Woelfel yesterday that he was expecting to get an MLE deal from either the Knicks or Clippers, and today he tells the New York Post's Marc Berman that he expects a four year, $26 million offer to come from the Knicks today or tomorrow. As I mentioned yesterday, Wells is essentially dictating the way the story is being reported at this point, so it's not clear if an offer has actually been made, if the teams are considering S/T options, etc. Keep in mind that once Sessions signs an offer sheet, he can't be signed and traded. So the only options at that point for the Bucks would be matching or not matching the deal, and they wouldn't be able to deal Sessions until December 15 if they did match.
For a guy who has only one client, Wells (like Sessions a South Carolina guy) seems to be handling the situation pretty well. He has every incentive to make it sound like a deal is near and thus create some urgency for the other teams that might be interested, so his latest posturing is understandable. And he also has every incentive to give other teams the impression that the Bucks won't match an MLE offer. Teams only extend an offer sheet if they think the other team won't match, otherwise they have their cap dollars tied up for a week before the other team has to make a decision on whether to match. So if I'm Chubby Wells then I'd be telling everyone the Bucks aren't going to match a max MLE deal, in the hope that someone believes me and drops a five year, $34 million offer sheet in my lap. If the Bucks match then so be it, but the most important thing is getting Sessions the biggest deal possible.
Unfortunately, my initial reaction is that he's probably right about the Bucks. I've been saying for a while that the recipe for getting Sessions is to offer him a five year MLE deal and dare the Bucks to match, and a four-year deal might also be long enough that the Bucks opt against matching. John Hammond has been very quiet on how interested the Bucks are in bringing Sessions back, and it stands to reason they became less interested after drafting Brandon Jennings. And when Jennings looked really promising in Vegas...well, that probably didn't do much for Sessions' stock either. Still, the Bucks have the cap flexibility to both re-sign Sessions at the MLE and stay under the tax, so that shouldn't be the issue. Hey, Larry Harris can't be blamed for everything.
While re-signing Sessions would give the Bucks a logjam at the point, my first preference is always to retain young, talented players at reasonable salaries. Sessions is most certainly young (23) and talented. But is a long-term MLE deal a reasonable salary? Probably, though less so given the presence of Jennings. Sure, Sessions hasn't proven he can deliver as a full-time starter, though that's largely because he has yet to get the chance. He should have been the starter over Ridnour a year ago, but even then Skiles seemed somewhat hesitant to give Sessions the keys to the car for whatever reason (OK, it was probably defense and veteran bias).
And while a four year deal is longer than I'd prefer, it's a manageable situation. Luke Ridnour can be dealt. More importantly, having two young points with upside is better than just one, especially given Sessions can provide some minutes at SG as well. I know Jennings just had a very promising week in Vegas, but the kid's still got a ways to go. And if the Bucks are serious about stockpiling young, affordably-priced assets, then Sessions would seem to fit the bill. It's not a slam dunk, but at the end of the day I'd probably match.
Gery Woelfel did tweet last night that the Clippers could try to swoop in and use a trade exception (from the Zach Randolph deal) to sign and trade for Sessions, but it seems like the Clips are more of a longshot now. A trade exception would provide little value for the Bucks since the deal would only create a trade exception in the value of Sessions' BYC value (around $3 million). And that's not generally the kind of dollars you can use to pick up a serious player. Sessions would also no doubt prefer New York to L.A.--a starting job and a vastly superior coach shouldn't be underrated.
At New York's Newsday, Alan Hahn suggests the possibility of a sign-and-trade involving Chris Duhon, but I'd just as soon not bother. I realize Skiles previously overplayed Duhon in Chicago, but if the Bucks want a mediocre starter with an expiring contract, they need look no further than Ridnour. Besides, like pretty much every other sign-and-trade deal I've seen suggested, a Duhon/Sessions deal wouldn't work under the cap because of Sessions becoming a BYC player as soon as he signs.
It seems like most people don't see the Bucks matching the proposed deal, but it's not unanimous.
- Hahn at Newsday says the Bucks initially planned to keep Sessions even after Jennings was picked, but "things have changed."
- Andrew Marchand of ESPN Radio in New York says the Bucks won't match.
- Gery Woelfel suggested on WSSP last week that he didn't expect the Bucks to match a big offer.
- HoopsWorld suggests the Bucks will match.
- Dan Needles from WISN inferred from his recent discussions with Hammond that the Bucks would match a deal for less than $30 million.