Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bucks, Harris Still Pursuing Bell

Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that GM Larry Harris remains interested in resigning guard Charlie Bell.
“Harris said he spoke with Bartelstein on Friday, and the general manager indicated his desire to keep working toward an agreement.”

Hearing this is very disappointing from an organizational standpoint, Harris said. We understand what Charlie meant to the team last year.

It's an emotional time, for him as well as for us. We still want him to be part of this team this season."
This news comes after Bell’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, vowed that Bell would not be back with the Bucks.
"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."
The fact that Bell might remain in Milwaukee shouldn’t really surprise anyone, particularly drawing on the Yi saga from earlier this summer. Just like most rookies don’t effectively force their way out of town because they would rather play in a more diverse market, most respectable restricted free agents don’t spurn the NBA for Greece. It’s just not how things work.

Unfortunately, the news updates we clamor for, and get regarding these situations tend to come from sources like agents and general managers. This information is useful, but we must recognize that it comes within a certain context. And that context is one of negotiation, illustrated dramatically in this case when negotiations had supposedly ended.

Keeping that in mind, Harris’ comments must also be judged with a certain skepticism. But it’s evident that negotiations are in fact ongoing, because if Bell were really gone, Harris wouldn’t bother playing these media games. Harris’ comments also might indicate that none of the guards the Bucks recently worked out were sufficiently intriguing.

A while back, I wrote:
“Retaining Bell is a key for the Bucks because as encouraging as the offseason retooling has been, they need Bell’s valuable minutes at both guard positions coming off the bench. Management knows this, and I’m confident Bell will remain in Milwaukee as a result.”
Harris’ most recent comments attest to the fact that management does recognize Bell’s importance. And while I’m not nearly as confident that he’ll resign now as I was a month and a half ago, it certainly remains a possibility.

Still, Bell’s previous success in Europe shouldn’t be overlooked. The potential to both get paid and be a superstar naturally holds a lot of intrigue. It’s not like he would lose the glitz and glamor of being an NBA player. The top teams in Europe have intense followings, as Bell proudly talked about in a recent Dime interview.
“When I was in Spain and leading the league in scoring, I was really popular there. People would come up to me like, ‘Charlie Bell, you’re the greatest.’ Everybody called me ‘Santo Dios,’ which is like a saint. I was the Michael Jordan of Spain at the time. I’d go downtown and have crowd of kids following me around.”
That might not happen in Milwaukee anytime soon, but after working his way into an important role on an NBA team, you have to figure he prefers to stay. If Bell does end up in Greece, it'll be an interesting moment in NBA history. We've already heard Stephon Marbury's plan to play in Italy in a few years. Ten years from now, don't be surprised if there are legitimate bidding wars for good basketball players among clubs around the world. The NBA will always be the premier league, but as basketball continues to grow in popularity, European leagues will grow financially and in ability. Also down the road, like in soccer, we may eventually see elite international club teams compete against one another.

For now however, the NBA, and in this case the Bucks, have the upper-hand. Bell could slip away, but there is reason to be optimistic that he'll stay in Milwaukee.


Ricky - Sixers4guidos said...

I don't know which is funnier, Bell's comments about his stint in Spain or the idea of Marbury playing here, LOL !!

(Euro2007 ended few hours ago, Russia is the champ)

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