- Sean Deveney at the Sporting News offers probably the best summary yet of the Yi situation.
Sources tell me that Yi did not pick his own agent -- instead, the Tigers did what the Sharks tried to do to Yao Ming and pick his agent for him. Yao resisted. Yi did not (or, at least, if he tried to resist, he was not successful). The Tigers picked Fegan and he became Yi's agent, a source told me, without ever having met Yi.
Just imagine the scenario, then. The Tigers interview agents, and one of their first questions is sure to be, "So, how much of a buyout can you give us?" The team is mostly owned privately, and they knew they could make some real money off of Yi. Fegan is a very slick and accomplished agent. It would only make sense that he would assume he could manipulate the league and promise the Tigers to deliver Yi to a big market with a large Chinese community, where he could make serious endorsement dollars. The Tigers, of course, would get a big slice of those endorsements.
Milwaukee is the fly in the ointment for Fegan and the Tigers. That's why Fegan did not allow Yi to work out for the Bucks -- if the Bucks actually liked Yi and drafted him, how would Fegan explain that to the folks in Guangdong? That also explains why Fegan has been vocal about trade possibilities.
- The salary cap was officially set at $55.63 million for 2007/2008, meaning the Bucks have slightly more cap room than my previous estimates suggested. Also of note is that the MLE is slightly lower than expected, about $5.356 million. That means Miami's MLE offer for Mo Williams would be about $17 million for a three year deal and $31 million for a five year deal. It would seem likely that the Heat would offer a five year deal with a player option to leave after three, since at that time the Heat could re-sign him regardless of their cap situation. (EDIT: teams can't offer an early termination option after 3 years on a 5 year deal, but it could be a 3 year deal with a player option for the fourth year)
- It's also worth noting that because the free agency moratorium is now over, any verbal agreements immediately count against the cap. This is significant, because if Mo announces today that he's re-signing with the Bucks they will effectively be unable to pursue any of the remaining big name free agents with their $8 million in cap space. That said, Gerald Wallace and Darko Milicic are the only guys who fall into that category and neither appeared likely to be coming to Milwaukee. Still, it's an interesting quirk of the salary cap. Two years ago the Bucks reached a verbal agreement with Michael Redd to re-sign for the max during the moratorium, meaning that the deal did not count against the cap until the paperwork was officially submitted (Redd's comparatively small $6 million cap hold did count until then). The Bucks then used their space to sign Bobby Simmons. Because the Bucks did not reach an agreement with Mo during the moratorium, the same rules don't apply. One thing I'm not clear of is whether the NBA would care if Mo simply didn't say anything until the Bucks were done free agent shopping. I'm guessing that would be a way around the situation, so if Mo doesn't make an announcement in the coming days it might actually be a good sign. Oh, and I'll stick to my prediction of Mo re-signing for five years, $45 million.
- Chinese fans are on the Bucks' side in the Yi mess.
- Yi was a complete non-factor against the Knicks' summer league team last night, scoring just 3 points in China's 88-65 loss. He was 0-6 from the field and 3-4 from the line along with only two rebounds. The lone highlight was when he swatted consecutive shots in the paint, though for some reason the box score didn't credit him with any blocks. That's summer league for you.
- The Bucks play the Sonics in Vegas tonight at 8:30 ET/7:30 CT