Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Woelfel Rips Bucks for Bell Situation

Gery Woelfel is going after the Bucks management for the handling of the Charlie Bell situation.

For more than two months, Bucks negotiators didn’t seem compelled to present Bell with at least a legitimate contract offer or attempt to quickly seal the deal on what should have been a relatively-simplistic contract.

It wasn’t until Bell and his wife recently traveled to Greece and received a two-year, $8 million offer from Olympiacos officials that the Bucks’ negotiating team finally woke up and made Bell a sound offer of three years for $9M.

But by that time, the damage had been done. They had thoroughly alienated Bell, who has been nothing but a model employee the last two seasons.

Until Charles Gardner at the JS started covering the Bucks more closely this summer, Woelfel's been easily the most informative mainstream media source for the Bucks, and because he has free rein at the Journal Time he actually can be opinionated from time to time, which is a nice contrast to Gardner's just-the-facts style. Still, it's times like these where Woelfel can also go a little far. Nowhere does Woelfel mention Bell's petty "sabotage" threats in the last week, nor does he point out that protracted, lowball tactics are part of the game when you're a restricted free agent--just ask Anderson Varejao, Sasha Pavlovic, or Mickael Pietrus. Woelfel's been a reliable mouthpiece for Mark Bartelstein all summer, and while you can understand he might have some personal loyalty to a likable player like Bell, he's also shirking a bit on his objectivity here. It's easy to forget that even Michael Redd had to wait until October to get an offer sheet from Dallas (four years, $12 million with a player option the last season) in 2002. It's not to say the situations are the same, but given Bell's lack of leverage it's also understandable that he wouldn't be a priority.

If the Bucks really did wait until only two weeks ago to offer their three year, $9 million deal then you can't fault Bell for feeling somewhat neglected. It's certainly on the low side in general for a player of his abilities, but far from insulting given his age, role, and status as a RFA, so had it been offered immediately Bell would perhaps have felt a little better. But the Bucks evidently erred in thinking that they could use their leverage without turning the negotiation into a highly personal affair; Bell had been a good soldier the past two seasons, he would understand, right? Well, clearly not. It's also interesting that Woelfel points the finger less at Larry Harris and more towards the "three lawyers" involved in the Bucks' negotiating, which could be code for Bucks VP Ron Walter and other associates of Herb Kohl.

Lastly, did Woelfel really need to take a shot at Gov. Jim Doyle for meeting Yi Jianlian while in China?

By the way, with the myriad of problems we have in this state like the frightening inner city violence in Milwaukee, high unemployment, exhorbitant taxes, etc., doesn’t Gov. Jim Doyle have anything better to do than spend time posing with Yi for the paparazzi in China?

Let's be clear--Doyle didn't fly to China merely to rub elbows with the Bucks' newest pick. If that was the case, then you could legitimately complain, but Doyle is actually in Far East leading a Wisconsin trade mission to China and Japan that was scheduled before the Bucks even drafted Yi. I don't see how anyone can have a problem with the Governor of Wisconsin promoting the state with a visit to its fastest growing trade partner. And if he can capitalize on the state's newfound connection to China's newest basketball star, he'd be a fool not to do it. More info on the trip:

China is Wisconsin's fastest-growing export market and the third-largest export market overall, up from fourth-largest in 2005. The state's exports to China in 2006 totaled $870 million, representing a 29 percent increase over the previous year. Important export commodities include industrial machinery, up 35 percent to $338 million; electrical machinery, up 48 percent to $121 million; and paper/paperboard up 80 percent to $12 million. During the first quarter of 2007, Wisconsin's exports to China grew by 75 percent compared with 15 percent for the United States' as a whole. As of March, Wisconsin ranked #14 among the 50 states in exports to China.

Japan is Wisconsin's fourth-largest export market overall. Last year the state's exports to Japan totaled $739 million, representing a 6 percent increase over 2005. Leading categories include medical and scientific instruments, up 4 percent to $281 million; industrial machinery, up 17 percent to $181 million; and electrical machinery, $60 million.

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