Friday, September 14, 2007

Bell Gone...?

Charles Gardner reports Charlie Bell's days as a Buck are over, though where he's going hasn't been confirmed.

"A lot of frustration has built up throughout the summer," Bartelstein said. "The Bucks are certainly entitled to do what's in the best interest of the franchise.

"He feels the Bucks have sent him a message about how important he is to them. The waters have become poisoned at this point, and he doesn't want to be in Milwaukee any more."

"We're not sure what we're going to do, but he will not sign a contract with the Bucks," Bartelstein said. "Charlie has a lot of pride, and he has to do what's best for him and his family.

"Charlie wants to feel wanted and appreciated, and I don't see any way to repair it at this point."

Bartelstein said he spoke with Bucks general manager Larry Harris and conveyed Bell's feelings.

"There's no ill will," Bartelstein said. "I have great respect for Larry Harris. Each player wants to feel he's important to that organization's success."

There's no ill will? Actually it sounds like there's only ill will, but you can understand that Bartelstein himself doesn't want to embarrass the Bucks too badly in public given how much money he's made off them. Seemingly Bell's only other option would be to take Olympiakos' offer in Greece, though agent Mark Bartelstein's anywhere-but-Milwaukee stance does leave open the possibility of playing elsewhere in the NBA. The only problem with the latter being that the Bucks can match any offer for Bell, and even now I doubt they'd allow Bell to sign elsewhere just because he was angry at their lowball offers.

Still, that shouldn't obscure how big of a blow this would be. While Bell is likely never going to be a starting-caliber player and his statistics are pretty mediocre, his versatility and willingness to defend are going to be very difficult to replace at this point in the summer with only minimum contracts to offer. [ETA: as discussed in the comments, it's the timing which is the biggest problem in my mind. It's one thing for the Bucks to decide at the beginning of the summer they want a different guy, but doing so now leaves them very few options. The Bucks probably didn't think it would come to this, but at the moment Bell doesn't sound like someone who is simply posturing] But instead of giving Bell a reasonable deal, the Bucks appear to have been burned by overestimating their own leverage. You also wonder if this will leave a bad taste in the mouths of the other Bucks, many of whom openly campaigned for Bell's re-signing.

Not everyone will be sad to see Bell go: Lynn Greer, David Noel and even Awvee Storey just saw their chance for real minutes skyrocket given Bell was a critical part of the backcourt rotation. We'll see if the Bucks make a move for a player like Dee Brown, Mike Wilks or even Troy Hudson in the coming days, or whether it's still possible for the Bucks and Bell to kiss and make up (after Yi and Mason, never say never). Either way, it's hard to imagine the Bucks just helped their chances of returning to the postseason.

UPDATE: Charlie Bell's MySpace page no longer has any of his blog posts. Also, in a breakfast meeting with season ticketholders today, Larry Harris supposedly said the Bell situation is not over. Stay tuned...

4 comments:

ruffian96 said...

Fuuuuckk. Just when I thought Harris was turning the learning curve corner as a GM, he has another brain fart.

Gregg said...

Frank,

I know you post a lot on the realgm message board and the feeling over there is that Bell is VERY important to this team. Personally I don't get it. He is a limited player in the NBA, has a nice shot, can play some defense but yet shoots way to much and his distribution as a backup pg is inconsistent at best. I don't by this as that big of a blow to the team IF he is gone.

Also Bartlestein is not embarassing the Bucks in public because "he made so much money off of them" but more likely because he realizes that he has other clients and keeping a good relationship with an NBA team is a good thing not a bad thing. Also he also probably realizes that the Bucks still have all the leverage when it comes to Bell playing in the NBA this year. Bell has no leverage, if he wanted to go to Olympiacos he already would have signed with them. I think Bell will probably sign the 1 year tender and hope to have another good year.

frank said...

Gregg,

I agree that Bell has a lot of limitations--and he also isn't going to get any better at his age. I think the mistake perhaps isn't so much that the Bucks didn't re-sign him--it's that they put themselves in a position where they really can't replace him very easily. Even if you don't think that highly of Bell, he can play the 1/2 and even some 3 if needed. If they decided at the beginning of the summer to part ways with Bell then I think they'd be in OK shape as far as finding another combo guard to replace him. As it stands the pickings are slim. So my frustration is somewhat short-sighted, but it also wasn't like we were offering him a fat contract that would be a huge burden down the road.

I don't disagree with you about Bartelstein...it goes hand in hand. He has had a good relationship with the Bucks and he clearly doesn't want to endanger that. The weird part to me about this is that Bell didn't just take the Olympiakos offer...I don't see much of a S/T market for Bell and the Bucks would be idiots to let him sign elsewhere and not match, even after all this.

Gregg said...

Frank,

The overpaying of Voskuhl (and signing in general) was a huge mistake and that short term that is really going to hurt the team. Obviously we will see the problems if Bell doesn't sign since all we have is a minimum offer at this point which won't bring anyone of his caliber in.

At the same time I find it hard to believe that Charlie Bell would make the difference in the team making the playoffs this year. Either Bogut, Yi and Villanueva will perform and get them into the 6-8th seed range or they won't and we will be out of the playoffs again.

Anyways I really enjoy the blog Frank. Keep up the good work.