Friday, August 31, 2007

Bell Considering Euro Offers?

Charles Gardner reports that restricted free agent Charlie Bell is now considering European offers given the stalemate he's reached with the Bucks. Gery Woelfel reported something similar earlier this week on WSSP. Bell's agent Mark Bartelstein has made an absolute fortune off the Bucks, getting Mo Williams, Bobby Simmons, Jake Voskuhl and Awvee Storey favorable deals in recent years, but he's clearly hit a roadblock with Bell.

Bartelstein would not reveal the European clubs but said Bell had received "a couple terrific opportunities with very high-level teams."

"It's the Bucks' prerogative. They've got to do business, and Charlie's got to do what is best for Charlie," Bartelstein said. "The reality of it is, if the Bucks wanted him, they have the ability to sign him."
I've yet to hear any rumors about what the Bucks' current offer is, though they were required to make him a one-year tender offer worth just under $1 million to retain his early Bird rights. I'd guess they've offered something in the range of three years, $8-10 million, which is far below the deals Jason Kapono and Matt Carroll got. While Bell's a valuable utilityman who can defend both backcourt positions, he's also not a starter nor is he going to get much better. So why overpay Bell just because other teams overpaid Jason Kapono? Clearly other teams believe the Bucks' intentions to match any offer sheet he might receive, so upping the ante now would likely only be a case of the Bucks bidding against themselves. And given that's basically how Dan Gadzuric got his six year, $36 million deal, I'd like to applaud Larry Harris for learning from his mistakes. Here's my favorite line from Bartelstein:
"He's going to play his heart out, whoever he plays for," Bartelstein said. "If anything, it (a one-year deal) might enhance his performance because he would have something to prove."
There's something beautiful about an agent admitting that his client will play better if he doesn't have a big contract already. So note to Larry Harris: Charlie Bell will not be as good if you reward him with a long-term deal. Thanks, Charlie. Of course, the real beauty of this quote is that Bell was already coming off a contract year, but apparently his performance this contract year will be better than the last contract year. The bottom line is that while Bell could take the one-year deal and be a free agent next summer, it would be a huge risk. So Bartelstein is getting antsy. As a 28-year old who's never had a big payday AND who is coming off a career year (13.5 ppg in 35 mpg), Bell clearly would prefer to lock up a Matt Carroll-like deal (a vaguely reasonable $4.5 million per season, but for an incomprehensibly long six years) and be done with it. But Bell is never going to get those kinds of minutes this year unless the Bucks are again ravaged by injuries, so his numbers are bound to take a hit. That might not make him less valuable a year from now, but that's the reality of free agency.

The inclusion of the Arenas rule in the 2005 CBA fundamentally changed the nature of the negotiating process for top-name restricted free agents, but this year even sub-MLE type guys like Bell are having an awfully hard time getting deals done. Steve Aschburner at SI had a really good piece a couple weeks back about this, and since that time the big RFAs continue to sit and wait.

I'm not exactly clear what kind of money Bell could get overseas, but I still have a hard time seeing him go that route; it might take a little while longer, but Bell still seems a very good bet to be a Buck in 07/08. And if you're thinking it's getting a little late, remember that Michael Redd's offer sheet from the Mavs in 2002 didn't come until October 1, and the Bucks didn't actually match it until October 14. Pretty interesting to read about that situation now and think how the franchise might be different had Redd left. If Redd had left, Ray Allen probably doesn't get traded to Seattle...and who knows what else. In the meantime, who would have thought two months ago that Yi Jianlian would be easier to sign than Charlie Bell?

Friday Bucks Notes

  • Charles Gardner looks at when Yi will actually get to Milwaukee.
    "Yi is anxious to get to Milwaukee and start training," Harris said. "Those are points we're continuing to iron out. Our intent is to have him here when camp opens if not sooner."

    The Bucks open training camp on Oct. 2 at the Cousins Center in St. Francis, but Yi could be miles away on that day. The Chinese national team is competing in a three-day tournament in Kunshan from Sept. 30-Oct. 2, a tourney dubbed the CBA-Euroleague Challenge. Other teams competing are the Sydney Kings of Australia, Benetton Treviso and CSKA Moscow.

    While Yi should be in good physical condition given he's been playing off and on for the CNT since the draft, he's never even been to Milwaukee before, so the off-court adjustment will add a degree of difficulty to his first training camp.

  • Gardner also writes that Charlie Villanueva's recovery from surgery on his labrum (read: shoulder) is going well. This isn't anything new, as it's been expected he would be ready for training camp, but it's always nice to hear, isn't it?

    Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva says he's about 95% in his recovery from right shoulder surgery and may be cleared for full-contact drills next week.

    Villanueva will head to New York for a Sept. 6 appointment with orthopedic surgeon David Altchek, who performed the procedure to repair a torn labrum. The former Connecticut star hopes to get the go-ahead for contact when he visits Altchek, who is the New York Mets team doctor.

    "My progress is going great," Villanueva said. "There's a little bit of pain, but nothing major, nothing I can't play through."

    Villanueva has been able to shoot, run, lift weights and even is dunking.

    "I have no problem shooting with my right hand; I've been shooting NBA threes, no problem," Villanueva said. "It really, really, really feels good.

    "The reason I say it's 95% is because I don't know when I play with contact how it's going to feel."

    Just as interestingly, he weighs in a little on the Yi signing. He sounded upbeat about the drafting of Yi in July, so I wouldn't expect him to say anything controversial now. One thing I've noticed about Charlie is that he's generally a positive guy who is very good at saying what people want to hear, but you know that he realizes the Bucks may have just drafted his replacement, which has to screw with his head a little given he was also deemed the odd man out in Toronto.
    "I think Coach K (Larry Krystkowiak) is not going to give anything to nobody," Villanueva said. "Everything is going to be earned. The guys that deserve to play are the guys who should play.

    "I think Yi is going to be fine. He's a rookie; he's going to have his mistakes here and there. He's a good player. He knows how to bounce back from that.

Team USA Redux

USA v. Uruguay: LBJ

While I was busy brushing up on my Mandarin, some guy named Redd helped the USA remain perfect at the FIBA Tournament of the Americas. Well, "helped" might be a little generous, given Redd had his two quietest games of the tournament. On Wednesday the USA downed Uruguay 118-78. Redd scored 9 points (3-6 fg, 2-4 3fg, 1-1 ft) along with a rebound, 2 assists and 2 steals (box score). LeBron James had 26 points (on 11/11 from the field) in just 14 minutes, which is downright silly.

USA v. Argentina Highlights

Then last night the USA faced their biggest test of the tournament so far, squeezing by Argentina 91-76. Redd played just 13 minutes, scoring 3 points (1/4 fg, 1/3 3 fg) with a rebound and a steal (box score), but Kobe Bryant scored 27 to pace the States. Boeder Bucks has been all over Team USA's performances, so head over there for more.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Yi's Playing Time

Channel 12 on the Yi Signing

Chris Mannix at CNNSI tackles the Yi signing. He has a couple Redd quotes but mainly argues the Bucks shouldn't be guaranteeing Yi a specific amount of PT:

"I'm glad we got it knocked out," said Redd. "I didn't want it to be a distraction during training camp and I'm glad he signed on to be part of our team."

"Training camp is war and he is going to have to fight for his minutes," said Redd. "All I know is that he is going to have to come in and battle. If he comes in with the mindset to work hard, he will be fine."

Like any rookie, Yi should have to earn his playing time. If Milwaukee coach Larry Krystowiak is under orders to play Yi, say, 20 minutes per game it will impact his overall game plan. Suppose a game is close in the third quarter and Krystowiak has to sub out a Bogut and insert an inexperienced Yi into a game just so he meets his predetermined minutes total. What if as a result, the game slips away? Is getting Yi on the roster worth sacrificing games? This isn't CYO basketball where all the kids are supposed to play. This is a professional league with high stakes.
While I agree Yi shouldn't be promised anything, Mannix's hypothetical is rather severe and overlooks the fact that the Bucks won't have many other options outside of Yi. First off, even if Harris/Kohl asked LK to give Yi 20 mpg, are they really going to be enforcing this on a game-to-game basis? Of course not. Mannix also seems to assume that the Bucks' assurances of playing time mean they'll force Yi into the rotation when he doesn't necessarily deserve to be there. But given the Bucks' lack of depth at PF outside of Yi and Charlie Villanueva, they really have no choice but to give Yi significant playing time. Harris and company clearly approached free agency with the assumption Yi would contribute, as they let Brian Skinner, Ersan Ilyasova and Ruben Patterson walk. While Villanueva's injury was a large part of it, that trio combined for 61% of the Bucks PF minutes according to 82games. I'm not terribly worried about Yi beating out Jake Voskuhl and Damir Markota for PF minutes. Over at the JS Garry Howard argues Yi should start:
Today, pencil in Yi, mainly because I believe the Bucks want desperately to have a confident first-round pick and general manager Larry Harris indicated in this morning's conference call from Hong Kong that the team has made assurances to Yi and his representatives that he will be a big part of their season.

Having said that, I still believe Villaneuva is the better player and will not let a depth chart keep him from reclaiming his place in the starting lineup for the 2007-'08 Bucks. But he has to prove that his shoulder is fine and that his stated desire to be a major contributor to this team's success has not waned.

Believe me, Yi will get his minutes.

The fact that Yi WILL get minutes regardless of whether he starts is precisely what makes starting him not terribly important. The Bucks don't need to start Yi for him to be a contributor, and I think it's nonsense to say Yi needs the confidence boost of starting. Couldn't Charlie Villanueva also use that confidence boost as well? It seems unlikely to me that Yi beats out Villanueva in camp simply because of the experience gap between the two, and giving Yi the starting job anyway won't win him any fans among his new teammates. Larry Krystkowiak has stated his desire to implement a disciplined system where all players are held accountable, so gift-wrapping the starting PF spot to Yi seems to only undermine the young coach's authority. Yi faces a steep learning curve guarding NBA PFs, so it also makes sense to have him playing against second units early on as he adapts to the way the game is played/officiated. Villanueva might be a defensive liability, but forcing Yi to line up against Howard, Garnett, and J. O'Neal might do both Yi and the Bucks more harm than good in the short-term.

Clearly the writing is on the wall that the Bucks want Yi to be their PF for the future. So what about Villanueva? Even in Toronto he played most of his minutes at PF rather than SF, and his lack of perimeter foot speed makes him even worse defensively at the 3 than the 4. So while the occasional Bogut/Yi/Villanueva lineup might make it on the court, it's more of an NBA Live lineup than something that will work in the long term. With the end of his rookie contract on the horizon (his last team option will be in 08/09), Villanueva will be facing plenty of pressure to bounce back from an injury-riddled second season, and I think the Bucks have plenty of incentives to give him the opportunity to prove his worth. Ideally Villanueva has a strong season and puts up 15/8 while Yi becomes a valuable third wheel in the 4/5 rotation. Then the Bucks can explore their trade options for Villanueva and perhaps acquire a more defensive-minded big man to complement Bogut and Yi.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wednesday Bucks Notes

  • Mike Redd didn't have his three point touch for the second straight game, but the US throttled its favorite self-governing unincorporated territory (read: Puerto Rico) 117-78. Redd had 15 points (6/14 fg, 1/8 3fg, 2/2 ft) in 20 minutes (box score). The US plays Uruguay tonight.
  • JS has some video (in English) from the press conference in China. FYI, "Ah Lian" is a common nickname for Yi, so Kohl isn't replicating his performance during the Terry Stotts press conference two years ago--when he continually referred to his new head coach as "Stott."
  • Marty Burns at SI gives the Bucks' offseason a B. I've always liked Burns' work a great deal and unlike many at ESPN (cough, Chris Sheridan, cough) he seemed to "get" the Yi situation from the start. Giving the Bucks a "B" might be slightly generous given they probably overpaid Mo, Mason isn't an impact player, and agreeing to pay Jake Voskuhl $3 million is just odd. Assuming Bell is back their key guys are back in the fold and they added a potential star player in the draft despite the odds being stacked against them.
  • Gery Woelfel reported on WSSP this afternoon that Mark Bartelstein told him the Bucks appeared to have no interest in re-signing Charlie Bell. But don't worry Bucks fans, Bartelstein is being dramatic. Larry Harris and Larry Krystkowiak both re-stated the Bucks desire to bring Bell back today, and the lack of action is primarily an artifact of Bell's status as a restricted free agent. No team is willing to give Bell an offer sheet because they expect the Bucks to match, and the Bucks as a result see no reason to up their offer (unfortunately I don't have any info on what that might be). Keep in mind Bell could just take the Bucks' required tender and play for about $1 million next year and then be unrestricted in '08. But at 28 years old and coming off a career season that he's unlikely to match, you can bet Bell wants to sign a long-term deal and secure his financial future while his stock is reasonably high.
  • Ruben Patterson has signed a one-year deal with the Clippers. In spite of playing well amid the Bucks' injury chaos last year, Ruben was rumored to have worn out his welcome in Milwaukee for undisclosed reasons and as of last week seemed desperate to sign with anyone. Good luck Ruben, keep your nose clean in Hollywood.

More Yi

Lots of stuff out there on the Yi signing:

  • Listen to an audio conference with Herb Kohl, Larry Harris and Bucks VP Ron Walter.
    • While Kohl admits they weren't sure what would happen when they got to China, he notes they were feeling positive after the extensive discussions they had with Dan Fegan, Yi and Guangdong owner Chen Haitao.
    • He also talks about how at the end of the day the discussions were essentially all basketball-related and had little to do with Milwaukee the city. Then again, you'd expect them to say that, given neither side wants to look like Milwaukee the city was a sticking point.
    • Harris steers clear of discussing the buyout issue, though Kohl references the standard requirement of having to buy out contracts with foreign teams. In other words, they gave Guangdong $500,000.
    • Kohl describes David Stern as "elated" when he heard the news.
    • Harris and Kohl side-step the age issue, playing the "we go by what FIBA says" card, but I don't buy it really. Remember the Bucks have plenty of experience with international age issues because of Ersan Ilyasova.
  • JS Editor Garry Howard and Charles Gardner talk about how the story developed. Funny how Howard admits that they didn't break the story, but that the Bucks broke the story to them. Is that a good thing? I will say I appreciate Gardner's work, as he's gone from being a part-time hoops writer to clearly being the most interested and hard-working hoops guy at the JS. As a relative newcomer he doesn't seem to break stories as often as Gery Woelfel, but he has a pulse, which is more than you can say of Tom Enlund. Howard also talks about starting a Bucks blog at the JS, so hopefully that means more timely coverage.
  • Sean Deveney reads between the lines of the Yi press conference:
    That brings us back to the assertions made here yesterday, which are that Yi's mini-holdout has worked out nicely for him, because he has guaranteed himself playing time in the Bucks' crowded frontcourt situation. If he had simply signed a rookie contract in early July, it might have been easy for him to get lost in the shuffle as a rookie.
    I have to say I disagree with this to some extent. How many 4s are on the Bucks roster? I see Charlie Villanueva and, gulp, Damir Markota. To think that Jake Voskuhl was going to be seeing tons of time at PF because the Bucks forgot about Yi doesn't make sense. Drafting Yi in the first place showed how highly the Bucks prized him, but where he might have helped himself is that the Bucks could have been hesitant to add a starting caliber PF (like Darko Milicic or Andres Nocioni) if they feared it would make signing Yi more difficult. I never heard the Bucks showed serious interest in Milicic or Nocioni, but it's not to say they would have had Yi signed early.
  • Don Walker at the JS acknowledges Julie Lee, a Milwaukee lawyer who played a key role in helping the Bucks deal with the language/cultural barriers in the Yi deal.

Yi Signs!

Confirming our earlier reports, Charles Gardner of the JS confirms Yi Jianlian has signed with the Milwaukee Bucks. The press conference in Hong Kong began with a Bucks logo as a backdrop, so that was a pretty good hint which way it was going to go. Watch Chinese video of the press conference here.

Yi is expected to join the Bucks for the open of training camp October 1st. The Chinese National Team plays the Magic on October 18th in Macao, but I haven't seen anything definitive about whether Yao and Yi will be asked to leave their NBA teams to play in that game--hopefully Yi can stay stateside for that game. It's interesting that Kohl and Harris managed to get to China and meet with all the relevant parties without anyone knowing anything about it. Only when Guangdong announced this press conference a couple days ago did it become clear something might be going on. Some notes from the Gardner article:

After Bucks owner Herb Kohl made a trip to Hong Kong to conduct personal negotiations with Yi's representatives, the young Chinese star signed a multiyear deal with the Bucks, ending a saga that began on draft night when he was selected with the sixth overall pick by Milwaukee.

Kohl, Bucks general manager Larry Harris and team vice president Ron Walter met with Yi, Chinese Basketball Association officials and Guangdong Tigers owner Chen Haitao on Wednesday in Hong Kong.

In a statement, NBA Commissioner David Stern said, "We are happy that Yi will be playing with the Bucks to further develop his skill and his contribution to both the Chinese national team and the NBA. This is another great example of cooperation between the CBA and the NBA."

So David Stern gets to breathe a sigh of relief that his Chinese audience will see their newest star in the NBA next year. Fittingly, has gotten the requisite Yi makeover (above). Some choice quotes from the official press release:
Bucks owner and team president Senator Herb Kohl, General Manager Larry Harris and Bucks Vice President Ron Walter were able to meet with Mr. Chen, as well as Yi and his family, as part of the process.

Yi Jianlian is expected to join the team for training camp that begins on Monday, October 1 at the Bucks Training Center in St. Francis, WI.

“There has been a genuine excitement throughout our city and state, as well as internationally, following our selection of Yi in the NBA Draft,” said Senator Herb Kohl. “We all anticipate Yi’s arrival and welcome him and his family to Milwaukee. We look forward to a successful relationship for many years to come.”

“We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge and thank Mr. Chen for his assistance and support in the negotiating process,” Kohl added.

“We were thrilled to be able to draft Yi Jianlian in June and are equally excited to sign him to a NBA contract as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks,” said Harris. “We drafted Yi with the expectation that he would be a part of our franchise for a very long time and this is the first step in that process. Yi is a skilled and versatile young man who we have seen play numerous times over the last few years including this summer in the NBA Summer League. Our players and coaches look forward to working with Yi and I know our fans will enjoy watching him compete with the many talented, young players on our roster."

Give Larry Harris and Herb Kohl plenty of credit--they've been a collective lightning rod for second-guessing since the draft, and they knew that their reputations were on the line when they made the pick. And while Yi still has to perform on an NBA court to justify his selection, he showed flashes of his potential in Vegas and in the last month has further improved with a string of impressive performances in international competition. It's not likely Yi will be a star performer as a rookie, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to argue that the Bucks gambled unwisely on June 28th.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Yi Watch: Day 63

Yi could be donning a Bucks hat again very soon. He might even smile!

An end to the Yi Watch? It's looking increasingly likely. I mentioned the other day that Chinese fans were talking about a supposed press conference being held by Yi's club team Guangdong on Wednesday that would address the Yi situation, but it wasn't clear what would be announced--a reiteration of trade demands, or a willingness to negotiate with the Bucks? Gery Woelfel then speculated--perhaps based on inside information, perhaps not--that Bucks' owner Senator Herb Kohl had become directly involved in the negotiations and that Yi would be in a Bucks uniform come the open of training camp. Then Sean Deveney at the Sporting News broke the story tonight that a contingent from the Bucks including Kohl and Larry Harris had flown to China with an eye on moving the negotiations forward.

Two contingents are scheduled to be at the meeting. One will be from the Bucks and will notably include Kohl, the team's owner. General manager Larry Harris and two lawyers representing the team also will be there, but Kohl's involvement in the negotiations is expected to be the key to unlocking the Yi stalemate. As the weeks have passed, Kohl has gotten more involved in finding a way to bring Yi to Milwaukee.

Scheduled to meet with the Bucks is Chen, who received a letter two weeks ago from Kohl, paving the way for this Yi summit. Representatives from the Chinese Basketball Association are expected to be in the meeting, too. Yi's agent, Dan Fegan, will be there.

The Bucks could not be reached for comment Tuesday for an update on the negotiations, but the discussions are expected to go all day Wednesday. The chief topic will be Yi's development. Salary, marketing agreements, endorsement opportunities -- a source says that all will be secondary to the basic problem of playing time. Yi has gotten accustomed to the fact that he will be playing in a cold-weather city with few citizens of Chinese descent. He didn't have much choice. The Bucks, barring a trade, would hold his NBA rights as long as he continues playing professionally overseas.

Deveney stops short of saying a deal is imminent, but it's important to remember that contractually there's not much to negotiate. The Bucks will certainly offer Yi the maximum allowable 120% of his rookie salary scale for the next two years ($2.78 million in 07/08 and $2.99 million in 08/09), after which the Bucks would have team options for two additional seasons. Assuming those options are picked up and Yi doesn't sign an extension, Yi would be a restricted free agent going into his fifth season, at which point he could sign a long-term deal with the Bucks, sign an offer sheet with another team that the Bucks could match, or play one year at the qualifying offer and then be an unrestricted free agent. It would also seem obvious that the Bucks are further willing to offer Guangdong the maximum $500,000 buyout allowed by the NBA's collective bargaining agreement. Deveney rightly notes that Guangdong and especially Chinese basketball officials will want assurances about Yi's role with the Bucks and his availability to the national team, but that shouldn't be a hard sell given the Bucks' lack of depth in the frontcourt and their experience with international players. Beyond that Guangdong might further want to negotiate some sort of agreement whereby they get to send some of their coaches to work with the Bucks and vice versa, but the important pieces of the negotiation simply aren't very negotiable.

Some Chinese friends over at RealGM have been working overtime to translate Chinese press articles about the situation, some of which are going so far as to say that Guangdong has finished their negotiations and the deal is all but done. Take that with a grain of salt considering the inaccuracy of previous Chinese press reports, but it's certainly promising. After all, Guangdong currently has Yi under contract, meaning that their approval is the first and most important step in getting Yi to Milwaukee.

Guangdong's press conference is scheduled to take place in the early morning hours on Wednesday (a couple hours from now) in Hong Kong. Why Hong Kong and not Guangdong for the press conference? Well, one Chinese source pointed out that Harris and Kohl wouldn't need visas to travel to Hong Kong. I also have to wonder why they'd have a press conference if they're still going to need weeks of negotiations as Deveney suggests. So it might be that Guangdong--the owner of which is effectively acting as Yi's Chinese agent going forward--will use the conference to endorse the Bucks as Yi's next destination, pending an official signing in the coming days. Or perhaps they'll delay the press conference until they've had a chance to iron out the details. Either way, who said the offseason had to be boring?

Redd and USA vs. Mexico

Another game, another blowout for the US. The US stayed perfect at the FIBA Americas Tournament, beating Mexico 127-100 in what turned out to be their closest game of the tournament. Michael Redd was again a major contributor, scoring 15 points (7/13 fg, 1/6 3fg) to go with 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 21 minutes (box score).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Redd and Team USA Down Brazil

  • Facing their first real test, Team USA blew out Brazil 113-76 on Sunday (box score). Michael Redd had another good game, chipping in 16 points (6/10 fg, 4/7 3fg) along with a rebound and a steal in 22 minutes. On Saturday the US torched Canada 113-63, with Redd scoring 19 points (6/14 fg, 5/10 3fg, 2-2 ft) along with 3 rebounds and an assist in 22 minutes (box score).
  • Croatia beat Turkey in the final of the EFES Pilsen World Cup 77-69. Damir Markota had 2 points and 6 rebounds in 14 minutes for Croatia, while Ersan Ilyasova had 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in 18 minutes. Overall it was a disappointing tournament for Ilyasova, who found his minutes somewhat limited by the presence of both Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur.
  • Gery Woelfel has a couple quick thoughts on Bucks-related issues:
    Have you noticed how the silence has been almost deafening in contract negotiations between the Milwaukee Bucks and their top draft choice Yi Jianlian? It tells me two things: 1) Bucks owner Herb Kohl is now heavily involved in discussions, and 2) Yi will be under contract before the start of training camp Oct. 1. ... I guess it’s high time I become the arbiter in the stalemate between the Bucks and unsigned free-agent guard Charlie Bell and award the latter a three-year, $13 million contract.
    While the Bucks seem intent to quietly seek resolution to the Yi situation, Guangdong's owners have been more than willing to negotiate through the press, so perhaps the silence from both sides is what makes Woelfel think there's actually something happening behind the scenes. There's a rumor that Guangdong will be holding a press conference this week where the Yi situation could be discussed, so stay tuned. As for Charlie Bell, it's looking increasingly unlikely that an MLE-type deal comes floating his way. When Michael Redd was a restricted free agent five years ago, he missed the start of training camp before the Bucks finally matched his offer sheet from the Mavs.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

More International Action

  • Michael Redd and Team USA play Canada today in Vegas (2 ET/1 CT, ESPN2 / replay 10 ET /9 CTpm, ESPN Classic).
  • Boeder Bucks has more details on the Celtics' reported interest in Ruben Patterson. Ruben had a career year last year amid the Bucks' injury chaos, which has made the Bucks' complete lack of interest a little interesting. The speculation is that "something" happened behind closed doors which might have shut the door on a possible return, though given Herb Kohl's usual philosophy of avoiding guys with rap sheets it might simply be a lack of interest in him for that reason. Of course the truth is that for as well as Ruben played, he's also a disruptive player on both sides of the ball, gambling defensively and needing post touches offensively. Those things work much better on an injury-depleted team that needs someone to step up, and less well on a young team that has offensive weapons but needs discipline defensively. Given the Celtics' depth issues, Ruben could be a valuable player off the bench.
  • China dropped to 0-3 in the EFES World Cup with a 100-78 loss to Latvia today. Yi Jianlian scored 24 points (9/17 fg and 6/7 ft) along with 5 rebounds in 26 minutes. Andris Biedrins was the star for Latvia, dropping 29 points and 18 rebounds, while Wang Zhizhi had 28 for China. China was again dominated on the glass, 47-19. Watch first half highlights here. Yi finished with a tournament high average of 23 ppg along with 8 rpg on 58.3% shooting from the field (28-48) and 81.3% from the line (13-16). I'll be posting a longer review of Yi's summer performances next week.
  • Croatia cruised into the tournament final with a 99-53 destruction of Poland in the first semifinal today. The Damir Markota Experience had its best game of the tournament, scoring 9 points (2/4 fg, 1/2 3fg, 4/4 ft) with 10 rebounds, two assists and a block in 26 minutes. Ersan Ilyasova's Turkish team takes on Serbia in the second semifinal.
  • The legendary Ha Seung-Jin wants back in the NBA.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Yi, Ilyasova, and Markota in Turkey

Yi held his own against the Serbs, but the same can't be said for the rest of the Chinese team

China fell 96-76 to Serbia in their second game of the EFES World Cup 6, with Yi Jianlian once again the best player on the court for the Chinese. Yi talled 17 points and 9 rebounds on 8/12 shooting from the field and 1/2 from the line. The two losses mean the Chinese are eliminated from the tournament. UPDATE: my mistake, there's a consolation game for the last-place teams from each group. China plays Latvia tomorrow.

Croatia topped host Turkey 70-62 in the second game of the day. Ersan Ilyasova scored 8 points on 2/6 fg, 2/3 3fg, 2/2 ft to go along with 3 rebounds and an assist in 20 minutes. The Damir Markota Experience played only 3 minutes and was scoreless with two rebounds.

Redd and Team USA

Redd and Co. took apart the US Virgin Islands on Thursday

Michael Redd scored 22 for the USA in their 123-59 dismantling of the Virgin Islands. As in their opening game against Venezuela, Redd tied Carmelo Anthony for the team scoring lead--not bad for a bench player who wasn't even a lock to make the team. Redd shot 7/12 fg, 4/9 3fg, and 3/3 ft while also adding three assists and a rebound in just 19 minutes (box score). While Redd's gunslinger act is just what Team USA needs, let's hope he doesn't bring *quite* the same attitude to the Bucks. That being said, it's hard to be negative about Redd getting this sort of recognition:

"He's one of the few guys that I've seen in coaching in over 30 years where guys are just so happy that he is shooting the ball," U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Everybody on our team, we have great scorers on our team, they're all happy when he shoots the ball."

Redd replaced Bryant early in the first quarter and hit a flurry of 3-pointers to turn the game into a rout, and the United States beat the U.S. Virgin Islands 123-59 on Thursday night.

"He's ready to come in at any time," Krzyzewski said of Redd, who couldn't play in the worlds because he was getting married. "Most shooters need time to find their rhythm. He's ready right away and he knows he's subbing for Kobe. Obviously he's a key guy for us and that's something we did not have last year."

Team USA next plays Canada tomorrow but Chris Mannix writes their first real test should be Sunday against a Brazil team featuring Leandro Barbosa, Nene and Anderson Varejao. Truman Reed at has more on Redd's selection to Team USA. So was Redd worried about making the team? Apparently not.
He never looked over his shoulder nor anyone else's, and he felt no tension.

"No, not at all," Redd said. "I didn't even know it was a cut-type situation. I basically just came here and played basketball, man. That's it.

"And I didn't hear any of the other guys talking about it."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday Bucks Notes

  • Michael Redd pumped in a game-high 17 points in Team USA's 112-69 annihilation of Venezuela in the American's opening game of the Tournament of the Americas. Redd shot 7-12 from the field including 3-5 3fg along with three assists and two rebounds in 20 minutes. Carmelo Anthony also scored 17. Here's the box score.
  • Ersan Ilyasova didn't score in Turkey's 74-68 victory over Latvia. Ilyasova, who last month signed for FC Barcelona, shot 0-2 from the field with one assist and one block in just 16 minutes.
  • Charles Gardner writes that Mo Williams is working on his game in Vegas. While Mo's numbers were very impressive last year, his decision-making and ability to control a game still needed refinement, and it sounds like Mo is well aware of that criticism:

    As the Bucks' starting point guard last season, he played in 68 games and averaged 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.1 assists a game, all career highs.

    But he eventually wants to be considered among the league's top point guards, moving into a class with his friend and U.S. national team guard Chauncey Billups of the Detroit Pistons.

    "That's my ultimate goal," Williams said. "I talk to Chauncey a lot and pick his brain on a lot of situations.

    "I want to know I'm making the right decision every time and get to the point where instinctively it's the right decision. That's where my game is trying to take another stride."

  • Check out some pictures from the Mo Williams/Monta Ellis charity game in Mississippi.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bucks Playing Internationally

Yi torched the smaller Poles for 28 and 10, but had little help

This is a big week for Bucks-affiliated players and their national teams, with no less than five players with Bucks ties donning their countries' jerseys in the coming days. Of course most notably will be Michael Redd playing for Team USA, which begins its Tournament of Americas against Venezuela tonight.

Meanwhile in Turkey, Yi Jianlian (China), Ersan Ilyasova (Turkey), Damir Markota (Croatia) and Szymon Szewceck (Poland) will be participating in the EFES Pilsen World Cup 6 tournament featuring Turkey, China, Poland, Latvia, Croatia, and Serbia. It looks like each team will play two games and then the top four will advance to the semifinals, but I haven't been able to find a good English-language news story on the tournament, so bear with me.

In any case, Yi scored 28 along with 10 rebounds and two blocks in 35 minutes (video) in China's 83-66 loss to Poland this morning. Yi shot 11/19 from the floor and 6/7 from the line, scoring on an array of post moves, dunks, layups and a mid-range jumper. I missed the game but judging from the highlights the Poles really didn't have the size or athleticism to defend a guy like Yi. The loss will make it hard for China to advance to the tournament's elimination rounds, given they face a stiff test tomorrow against a Serbian team that will feature Darko Milicic among others. Long-forgotten 2003 Bucks second rounder Szymon Szewczyk is on the Polish roster, though I haven't heard whether or not he played. UPDATE: Szewcyck scored 9 points along with 3 rebounds and 1 assist.

Ilyasova's host Turkish team is playing right now against Andris Biedrins and Latvia and face Markota's Croatian team tomorrow. Croatia also plays Latvia on Friday. Unlike last year's World Championships when Ilyasova benefited from the absence of Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur, Turkey will field a full-strength side which could limit Ilysavoa's minutes somewhat.

I'll keep you posted on the results, and if you want to check out the action most of the games are being carried by Chinese television, which you can stream via Sopcast.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Redd Makes the Cut

Michael Redd survived the last cuts for Team USA and will be on the 12-man roster that competes in the Tournament of the Americas starting on Wednesday. Mike Krzyzewski opted to keep both Mike Miller and Redd, dropping Nick Collison and Kevin Durant.

Redd said the closer international 3-point line is like a free throw for him, but cautioned that it's too early to say that this U.S. team is a better shooting one than last year's.

"We haven't played the games yet. We've got to go out and hit some shots first in the games," he said. "I like the fact that Mike's here. I do what I do -- shoot the basketball.

"It adds an element to the team and opens it up for our penetrators, for LeBron and Jason, Chauncey, Kobe, 'Melo and those guys. More than making shots, I think it's going to hurt other teams by opening up the floor."

Alex Boeder has been keeping track of Redd's play in the Team USA training camp.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Yi vs. Germany Video

Following up on the earlier post about the China-Germany game, here's a video clip of Yi throwing down a couple dunks vs. Germany today. The second one is especially nice. Complete highlights of the game can be downloaded here.

Yi Watch: Day 52

Dirk Nowitzki's 30 points propelled Germany to a 76-71 win over Yi Jianlian's Chinese team this afternoon in Mannheim, Germany. Yi scored 23 before fouling out late in the game, while Wang Zhizhi led China with 28. While it was the second loss in three days for the Chinese, they acquitted themselves much better than in their 88-55 loss on Friday, when they were playing less than 24 hours after flying halfway around the world.

In other news, the latest (probably false) rumor from the Chinese media is that Yi at one point was wearing a gray Bucks shirt on the Chinese team's flight to Germany. Yi and his teammates were all wearing their national team gear by the time they landed, so take it with a grain of salt, but there you go. Larry Harris and Larry Krystkowiak presented Yi with a bunch of Bucks gear at their meeting in Vegas in July.

Yi and company next head to Turkey for an eight team tournament starting August 22. Ersan Ilyasova will be playing for the hosts.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday Bucks Notes

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday Bucks Notes

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bucks Preseason Schedule

The Bucks released their preseason schedule. Training camp kicks off October 1st, followed by eight games between October 9-26, highlighted by the MACC Fund game against Minnesota October 20. The regular season begins October 31 in Orlando.

Date Opponent Location Time (CT)
Tues., October 9 Chicago La Crosse Center (La Crosse, WI) 7:00 p.m.
Wed., October 10 @ Utah Energy Solutions Arena 8:00 p.m.
Sat., October 13 Utah Bradley Center 7:00 p.m.
Tues., October 16 Denver Resch Center (Green Bay, WI) 7:00 p.m.
Sat., October 20 Minnesota Bradley Center – MACC Fund Game 7:30 p.m.
Tues., October 23 @ Denver Pepsi Center 8:00 p.m.
Thurs., October 25 @ Chicago United Center 7:30 p.m.
Fri., October 26 @ Minnesota Target Center 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Michael Redd Likes to Bowl has a feature on Michael Redd's love of bowling. As much as this is a non-story, it's kind of an interesting insight into what NBA players do when they're not playing. Or doing unsavory things (OK, less relevant for someone like Redd). Turns out Redd and Desmond Mason used to bowl all the time during Mason's first stint in Milwaukee. Redd's pretty good too.

“My highest score ever, I think, was 254," he said. "I love playing. I average between 170 and 180.”

"There are a lot of NBA players who love to bowl," Redd said. "Whenever Rasheed (Wallace) is in town, he usually calls me up and we go bowling. He’s pretty good, too.”

New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul, one of Redd's colleagues in Team USA camp this summer, is another bowling buff. He even became a spokesman for the United States Bowling Congress this year.

“Chris and I are teammates on the national team," Redd noted, "so we’ll have to go out and get it crackin.’”

Paul's passion for bowling has roots with his family. He has been bowling since he was a youngster, and during the offseason, he joins family and friends to bowl as often as twice a day at AMF Major League Lanes in Winston-Salem, N.C.

During the basketball season, the former Wake Forest University All-American tries to bowl once a week. He even toured USBC Headquarters in Greendale during the Hornets' visit to Milwaukee last season.

In an interview with USA Today, Paul was asked, "What would you rather do - score 50 points or bowl a 300 game?"

Paul's reply was, "I said a 300 game because once I got to 11 strikes in a row, I'd be way more nervous than trying to hit a free throw in front of 18,000 people."

Like Paul, Redd takes his bowling seriously. But he readily admits that he has watched the movie "Kingpin," which does not quite portray the sport in the same vein.

"I saw it a long time ago," Redd said with a chuckle. "It's one of the funniest movies. Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray ... and Randy Quaid.

"It was hilarious.”

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday Bucks Notes

  • Beijing-based blogger Jonathan Ansfield offers a great summary of the Yi Jianlian situation here.
    Alas Team Yi’s fighting a losing public relations battle. Virtually everyone, save Yi’s American agent and his Cantonese team – his biggest and most powerful stakeholders – thinks Yi should sign and suit up with the Bucks this season. NBA rules dictate that if he is to play in the league next year, he must. The 2008 Chinese Olympics squad clearly needs him, as well and Chinese basketball authorities granted him unprecedented permission to join the entire pre-draft road show, fully anticipating that he would. The vast majority of Chinese fans, Internet polls and bulletin board have shown, are vehemently pushing him to go to Milwaukee.
  • Andrew Bogut did a radio interview in Australia. Listen here. He talks a little about coming back from his foot injury and also mentions that at this stage of his career he'd prefer a gold medal with Australia to an NBA title.
  • In his latest mailbag, Bill Simmons assigns Yi Jianlian his new nickname: The Chairman.
    Q: I know it's pretty obvious, but Yi Jianlian's nickname has to be "The Chairman," right?
    --M. Filion, Montreal

    SG: Has to be. There hasn't been a more effective nickname in years. Not only does it sound like the right nickname for him ("Chairman Yi"), but the joke-trapped-inside-the-joke (during ESPN's lottery show, there was video of Yi posting up actual chairs and spinning around them for layups) will never stop being funny. And when you think about it, we haven't been able to call anyone "The Chairman" since Sinatra died. So it's done -- we're calling Yi "The Chairman." This meeting is adjourned.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Another Bogut Sighting

Here's a new video of Andrew Bogut on the "The Footy Show" in Australia a week or two ago. He talks a little bit about following Aussie rules football, a general discussion of coaches and teammates, and but not a whole lot of substance. More importantly, it's another chance to look at his interesting summer haircut. His shaved head has grown in a bit since a month ago when he first debuted his new look on "The Nation," another Aussie TV show, but he's still got the Jedi tail that we first discussed back then. In both shows he laughs off the new 'do by saying he "lost a bet." The look is something of an homage to Aussie boxer Kostya Tszyu.

With his hair filled in a bit I don't think he'll be able to supplant Drew Gooden as the king of bad NBA haircuts, but there's always time to shave it again or make the tail longer.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Tuesday Bucks Notes

Awvee Storey: Please don't pull one of these on Mike Redd in practice

  • Awvee Storey's signing has finally been made official. We've already discussed his good times with Gilbert Arenas and one-man fight with Marty Andriuskivicius, but I also just found a clip of him breaking a dude's rib while boxing out in a German league game earlier this year. I don't think you'd want to run into Awvee in a game down at the Y.
  • The Bucks now have 12 players officially under contract, with Charlie Bell, Ramon Sessions and Yi Jianlian remaining unsigned. The Bucks exhausted their cap space by signing Desmond Mason and Jake Voskuhl and they also don't have the Mid-Level or Bi-Annual exceptions because they were renounced to free up cap space, so the Bucks can now sign additional outside free agents for no more than the veteran's minimum. Bell (Early Bird exception), Sessions (rookie exception) and Yi (rookie exception) can be signed regardless of the Bucks' cap situation. But don't expect any "name" free agents to sign.
  • Teams are required to have 12 players active for each game, and can additionally have up to three inactive players on the roster. Should the Bucks sign Bell, Yi, and Sessions they would be at the roster maximum of 15, but could bring in additional players to camp and then cut down the roster before the season starts. It's also possible they could open camp with 15 players and cut a player like Storey if his contract is non-guaranteed (I'm not sure if it is, however). Last year the Bucks cut Ha Seung-Jin and his NG'ed contract and went into the season with 14 players on the roster. It's likely that Sessions (assuming Bell re-signs) and Markota (because he's not very good at basketball) will both start the year in the D-League, so I'd be surprised if Storey wasn't kept. The Bucks had him in the summer league, so theoretically they should have a decent idea of what he can do.
  • The Bucks' Energee dancers might not be quite as, uh, talented as the Heat dancers, but they try. And they don't get paid, so you won't see me giving them a hard time. has pictures and video from their recent tryouts. They also recently went to China (not to woo Yi Jianlian unfortunately) and blogged about it.

Mo Williams Redux

Not to beat the Mo Williams signing stuff to death, but I stumbled across the full transcript from the press conference announcing his signing and thought a couple parts showed some interesting insight into the negotiating process. You can watch video highlights here as well. You never know how much BS is in these press conferences, since no player is going to say they wanted to go to another city, but they just couldn't turn down the money. Still, the discussion about how Mo was involved in the negotiations (namely that he wasn't really) is kinda interesting. Especially when there's nothing else going on.

Did you catch a lot of flack for saying that Miami was your favorite city in the Bucks Media Guide?
Mo Williams: I guess you should watch what you say sometimes I guess. Miami is a beautiful city especially when we go because it is cold in Milwaukee at the time. On terms of when I said that it was kind of a vacation spot. I will tell you a funny story about Miami. Coming out for the draft, I was working out for a lot of teams. It was three days before the draft and my second-to-last workout was for Miami and I cancelled it. That was the only workout that I cancelled during my workouts for the draft.
Interesting tidbit.
Did you get to talk with Dwyane Wade and Shaq O'Neal when you were down in Miami?
Mo Williams
: No, neither was in town. I never was involved with the negotiations at all. My agent did a great job of that, keeping me away from it (and) keeping my emotions out of it as much as possible. He just brought me the information that I needed to know but as far as a lot of other things I wasn’t involved in it.

What do you think about Pat Riley?
Mo Williams: He’s an interesting guy. He’s a legend obviously. If you sit down with Pat (Riley) you’ll appreciate him. He’s a great guy. But I really don’t know him that well. I just know him from the 24 hours I spent with him. You kind of hear what other people say about him but I don’t know him personally. It was fun when we went down there. We had a nice conversation. But at the same time I had to make a decision that was best for me, my career and my family. I had to do the best thing that would make us happy.

It's interesting how media reports played up the role of Wade and Shaq in recruiting Mo, yet here Mo is suggesting he was basically divorced from the negotiating process aside from visiting Miami and talking to Riley. You also get the feeling he wasn't totally sold on Riley for whatever reason.
Was there a time when you thought you were going to lose out on Mo?
Larry Harris: Oh yeah. It’s funny and again Mo can tell you I didn’t speak to him during this time. Only one time did we speak and it was more of a group thing. When you get into that you don’t want it to be personal and it is a business. He has to understand that that’s where you have to kind of separate yourself and it becomes agent representatives and myself and (the) organization. We take the player out of it because it’s too emotional for him. It’s beyond anything you can imagine. Money is important, but (it’s really just) the whole magnitude of all of it, being it is his first time in free agency and everybody is pulling him in all different directions. Players will talk and tell him to go here and go there. They’re telling him I’m hearing they’re offering this I’m hearing they’re offering that. The one thing that was going to be a problem for us was that if there was a team that could recruit him, if there would be a team that felt like they were a step away and (that they needed) a point guard. There were two teams that I feared the most and they were Cleveland and Miami.
Often times negotiations are portrayed as the GM sitting down with the coach and player and hammering something out, but here we see a very different picture (probably due in part to Mo being familiar with the team/city). The player stands back and essentially leaves the entire process to the agent and GM. Definitely a good tactic for the player, as it allows the agent to create uncertainty over the player's intentions, without the player himself having to play the part. It worked out very well for Mo and Mark Bartelstein, as the Bucks' fears of losing Mo led to them giving Mo a much better deal (both in dollar terms and opt-out flexibility) than anyone else could have offered.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Redd Talks About Team USA, Bucks

Charles Gardner spoke to Michael Redd about competing for Team USA as well as (more importantly IMO) what he thought of the Bucks' offseason:

Redd has been spending time at home with his wife, Achea, and son, Michael Redd II, born earlier this summer. But he also has been watching the Bucks' off-season moves, including the drafting of 7-foot power forward Yi Jianlian and the free-agent signings of Desmond Mason and Mo Williams.

"I'm happy to see Desmond come back," Redd said. "That's my buddy.

"We were a pretty good tandem while he was there (from 2003-'05). He's explosive and athletic, a very high-energy guy. I just love playing with that type of guy. Plus, we became good friends off the court; we did everything together.

"And I'm glad to see Mo back. I talked to him and he's excited about coming back."

Williams, in a way, has emulated Redd as a second-round pick who has earned a lucrative long-term contract. The 24-year-old Williams was signed to a six-year, $52 million deal after playing the past three seasons for the Bucks and starting 68 games at point guard last season.

Redd, the 43rd overall pick in the 2000 draft, signed a six-year, $91 million maximum contract in the summer of 2005.

"I told him the challenge now is to get better, not to just sign a contract and get relaxed and get comfortable," Redd said. "But take it to another level now."

Redd said Yi had a chance to make an impact if the Chinese star decides to sign with the Bucks.

"It's good for the city of Milwaukee," Redd said. "You see what happened to Houston once Yao Ming got there. Plus, the kid can play.

"He can help us out immediately. He's going to compete for that job; that job is wide open."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Weekend Bucks Notes

  • Gery Woelfel writes the Awvee Storey signing is close to being done. Of course, most of us heard last week that the Bucks were close to signing Storey, but perhaps not surprisingly it took almost a week to get into the "real" press. Fortunately being a real journalist Gery did manage to get some quotes from agent Mark Bartelstein:

    “He really enjoyed the summer league with the Bucks,’’ Bartelstein said. “He liked his teammates and coaches and felt comfortable being around them.’’Storey, 30, is a veteran journeyman. He had brief stints in the NBA with New Jersey in 2004-05 and with Washington in 2005-06. Last season, Storey played with the Dakota Wizards before being suspended and then dismissed from NBDL after punching teammate Martynas Andriuskevicius in practice.

    The7-foot Andriuskevicius suffered a skull fracture and concussion and was placed in intensive care in a Bismarck, N.D. hospital.

    “It was really unfortunate,’’ Bartelstein said. “It was a reaction type of thing. He reacted at the moment. He felt terrible. He was very, very remorseful.’’

    Bartelstein, who represents a slew of NBA players with top-notch reputations, said Storey’s punch was totally out of character.“He is as good of kid as you’ll find; he’s a terrific person,’’ Bartelstein said of Storey, who wound up playing last season in Germany. “I would stand behind him any day of the week. He’s right there at the top with any of my guys as a good person.’’

    His deal would be for the minimum, which for Storey will be $770k in 07/08 and, assuming the original suggestion of an 08/09 team option, $826k in 08/09.
  • Woelfel also talks about the Charlie Bell negotiations
    Bartelstein said there weren’t any new developments concerning Bell ’s situation. However, he wouldn’t disclose whether Bell , a restricted free agent, had received an offer sheet from another team. Bell is regarded as one of the best guards still available in free agency.

    “I don’t want to get into that,’’ Bartelstein said.

    If Bell received an offer sheet from another team, the Bucks would have one week in which to match it and retain his services.
    Of course, Woelfel's phrasing is a little screwy, because it makes it sound as though "receiving" an offer sheet is the same as actually signing one. While they may not want to talk about whether Bell has actually received an offer sheet, if Bell actually signs an offer sheet you'll be sure to hear about it.
  • Charles Gardner also chimes in on the Bell negotiations. With the Celtics signing Eddie House it would appear another team can be crossed off the list of potential Bell suitors. Alex Boeder has some more commentary as well.
  • Bucks Diary looks at the latest statistical evidence showing the Bucks were really, really bad defenders last year.
  • Lots of people at the JS are getting in on the Yi situation, and now Vikki Ortiz is laying out the benefits of being Asian in Milwaukee.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Yi Watch: Day 36, continued

Yi vs. D-Leaguers: The kid can play

Yi Jianlian had 28 points and 15 rebounds in China's surprise 82-67 thumping of the NBDL Ambassadors this morning in the final game of the Stankovic Cup (Yi highlights above). In his best performance of the summer, Yi buried a number of perimeter shots in addition to showing off his arsenal of spin moves and turnarounds in the post. He finished 10-13 from the field and 8-12 from the line (box). In five games Yi averaged 18.4 ppg and 10.4 rpg, both tops in the tournament.

According to one of the Chinese posters on RealGM, in his post-game interview Yi was asked about the chances of his club team Guangdong next year and he prefaced his answer by saying something to the effect of "Even though I won't be with them anymore..." It's no secret Yi wants to be in the NBA next year, but hey, every little bit of confirmation is encouraging.

Bucks 07/08 Schedule Released

The NBA schedule is out and as usual the Bucks will start on the road and have their home opener on the first Saturday of the season. The Bucks will open in Orlando on Wednesday, October 31st before heading to Charlotte two days later. The home opener will be on Saturday, November 3rd against the Bulls.

Similar to the past couple seasons, only three games will be broadcast nationally, one one ESPN and two on NBATV. The Rockets game was likely picked as a possible showdown between Yao and Yi Jianlian.

Friday, January 11 @Lakers - ESPN
Saturday, February 2nd vs. Rockets - NBATV
Saturday, March 22nd vs. Cavs - NBATV

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Yi Watch: Day 36

Yi vs. Angola

Here are some video highlights of Yi Jianlian at the Stankovic Cup, showing off some of the skills that made the Bucks so eager to pick him. Aside from the first game I haven't been able to get his complete stat lines, but he's been blocking shots here and there and rebounding better than he did in Vegas, where his (and the rest of the Chinese team's) aggressiveness on the glass was notably missing. Offensively he's been showing off his repertoire of 18-foot jumpers, turnarounds in the post and fluid moves around the hoop. In the second game he was saddled by foul trouble and only had 12 points, but otherwise he's been pretty consistent, netting 18, 17, and 17 in the three other games.

Yi vs. New Zealand

Bucks to Sign Awvee Storey

The Bucks will reportedly be signing guard Awvee Storey to a two-year contract (second year team option) in the coming days. The source on this was also the first to break the Blake/Magloire trade last year and the Voskuhl signing this year, so you can pretty much bank on this one happening. The 30-year old Storey has bounced around a lot, including short stints with the Nets and Wizards and played well for the Bucks' summer league team in Vegas last month, averaging 11 ppg and 4 rpg on 51% shooting. He's a tough, physical shooting guard who led the PAC-10 in rebounding as a junior at Arizona St. despite standing only 6'6", 200 pounds. From what I saw in Vegas he had developed a pretty decent shot and played as hard as anyone on the court. Whether he'll see much time on the court for the Bucks is another story.

Storey is however most known for a couple of off-court incidents that should help fill the sketchiness void left by Ruben Patterson. In May 2006 he was arrested along with former teammate Gilbert Arenas in Miami. Then in December 2006 he wrecked the face of D-League teammate Martynas Andriuskevicius, though the enormous Lithuanian was polite enough not to press charges.

Wednesday Bucks Notes

  • China annihilated New Zealand 93-63 for their second victory in the Stankovic Cup this morning. Yi Jianlian finished with 17 points to lead all scorers. I caught the first half before leaving for work and China was up 46-24, with Yi contributing 8 points and 6 rebounds at the half (by my count at least). Wang Zhizhi returned after missing the previous couple games, and was leading the way offensively, while Yi was playing more of a garbage man role. Perhaps most importantly for the Chinese, their erratic guards were actually playing quite well. The Chinese play the NBDL Ambassadors tomorrow morning in their final game of the round-robin tournament. NBATV has been showing the Ambassadors' games on tape delay, so look for that on Thursday afternoon most likely.
  • Keith Brewster has posted an email interview he did with Andrew Bogut. Probably the most important thing from the interview:
    KB: How is the recovery from your foot sprain progressing?
    AB: The foot is 100%. It's been great to have a proper offseason to get in the weights and other on-court things that need work.
  • As first speculated on RealGM, the Celtics are reportedly talking to a number of free agent PGs, including Charlie Bell.
    Presently, agents and league sources confirm that the Celts are looking at four point guards and five big men as they try to find the right players to support their talented trio.
    Eddie House, Troy Hudson, Brevin Knight and Charlie Bell are reportedly on the point guard list. Bell is a restricted free agent, which makes his situation a little different (Milwaukee can match any offer he gets). Hudson had his contract bought out by the Timberwolves yesterday, making him a free agent. And while the C’s were previously steering away from Knight because of alleged locker room issues, a source said, “Hey, just about everyone that’s out there now has (a few) spots.”
    While Bell might be the most attractive of those options given his versatility and the fact that the Celtics aren't looking for a starter, his restricted status could be a major sticking point.
  • In addition to the Bucks Diary which has been around for a few months, Alex Boeder has also started a Bucks blog. Looks good so far, and so far he's also covering some more general NBA issues.