Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ersan Officially Gone; Desmond Officially Back?

Desmond Mason will likely be flying in Milwaukee next year

So no less than twenty minutes after I write about Ersan probably leaving and Desmond Mason being a strong possibility of returning, Gery Woelfel gives official word that Ersan is gone and Desmond is all but a lock to be back. While it would have been nice to see Ersan develop in Milwaukee, the terms of his reported Barcelona offer would have been difficult for the Bucks to match and they will retain his RFA rights so long as they don't renounce his $945k qualifying offer, which will continue to count against the cap. There have also been rumors that the Bucks might have first suggested Ersan go to Europe, as his opportunity to play would be increased while the Bucks would retain his NBA Early Bird rights.

As for Desmond, the PR angle is very valuable to the Bucks, as the casual fan will no doubt appreciate the return of an exciting player who was also a great citizen off the court. Most of us on the RealGM board think Desmond's defense was always overrated, perhaps in part due to playing more at SF than SG, but it looks like the Bucks will play up Desmond's defensive abilities if/when he does sign:

Mason, 29, was a highly-popular figure during his time with the Bucks. He is one of the league's most athletic and entertaining players. His biggest asset as a player, though, is his defensive abilities. The 6-foot-5 is capable of guarding shooting guards and small and big forwards.

Jimmy Eyen, a former Bucks and current Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach, said he regards Mason as one of the premier defenders in the game.

"He brings a lot to the table, especially with his defense,'' said Eyey, who was at the Las Vegas summer league. ''I consider him to be one of the best defensive players in the league.

"He plays hard every night; he brings it every game, and that's a big part of being a good defender.''

On a team that was arguably the worst defensive team in the NBA last season, Mason instantly igures to be the Bucks' best defender. But while Mason is held in high regard for his defense by league officials, he is also a competent offensive player.
Of course, Desmond's respectable scoring numbers obscure that he's become an increasingly inefficient player, as John Hollinger recently pointed out:
Finally, it wouldn't be free-agent season without agents' making crazy proclamations about their players' value. So today, let me bring you this gem from Desmond Mason's agent, Roger Montgomery, courtesy of John Reid in today's New Orleans Times Picayune: "Montgomery said he was seeking a deal assuring that Mason would be paid his market value, which he said is more than the $8 million he made last season."

Um, 8 million what? Pesos? Ringgit? Hungarian forints? Surely he didn't mean U.S. dollars, did he?

Mason is a good athlete but he shoots like he's been handcuffed and has slumped badly the past two years -- he's put up PERs of 9.26 and 10.85. Also, he's entirely dependent on his athleticism and he's about to turn 30 ... historically, that's been a terrible combination. But by all means, let's pony up over $40 million over the next five years for the guy.

Sorry, but I'd be shocked if Mason got half that amount, even in this wackadoo market.
Let's hope the Bucks' offer for Desmond doesn't shock Hollinger too badly, though given the Bucks' cap space they unfortunately have the ability to do just that. The sentimentalist in me can't help but smile at the idea of Desmond returning to Milwaukee, but let's hope it's for no longer than three years at no more than $5 million or so (notice in the span of an hour I've already become more tolerant of Desmond getting overpaid by the Bucks).


As the Yi Watch reaches day 19, Woelfel also notes that there is increasing speculation that Dan Fegan could be out as Yi's agent, which would be welcome news to the Bucks. It's been roundly speculated that Fegan was chosen to rep Yi by promising to deliver him to a "desirable" location, but clearly his pre-draft strategy of freezing out teams like the Bucks failed. I'm not sure his firing would immediately pave the way for Yi to sign with the Bucks, but it would certainly seem a step in the right direction given Yi, the Guangdong Tigers, the CBA and the Chinese public all want Yi in the NBA next year.
The Bucks may take another step toward enhancing their relationship with Yi Jianlian, their No. 1 draft choice in the next couple of weeks. There has been talk that Harris and player personnel director Dave Babcock may fly to China to meet with the talented 7-footer, along with his family and officials of the Guangdong Ducks. ... Speaking of Yi, some league people believe Dan Fegan's day of representing Yi are numbered. The scuttlebutt in Las Vegas Sunday was that Chinese officials involved with Yi's situation are becoming increasingly unhappy with Fegan's role in not being able to get him placed with a team in a major market with a large Chinese population.

And oh yeah, the Bucks' summer league squad lost to the Wiz 79-67 in their final game in Vegas. Ramon Sessions started in place of Lynn Greer (who sat out) and put up 10/3/3, while David Noel had 12. The Damir Markota Experience (which no doubt brought Vegas to its knees these past couple weeks) added 8/5/3 with a healthy 5 turnovers.

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