Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Yi signs deal with Milwaukee

After a long standoff between the Milwaukee Bucks and Yi Jianlian, the seven foot Chinese superstar has signed a multi-year deal with the Bucks. It sure seemed like a lengthy ordeal, but in reality it wasn't all that bad, considering all the moving parts that had to line up. Bucks fans may remember the Glenn Robinson holdout back in 1994; every body's ass was sore after that marathon session at the negotiating table.

The deal was announced a little after 2:00 am Wednesday morning local time. Senator Herb Kohl, General Manager Larry Harris and Bucks Vice President Ron Walter went to Hong Kong to meet with Yi and Guangdong Tigers owner Mr. Chen Haitao to hammer out a deal.

The Bucks deserve credit for sticking to their guns; they've claimed since day one Yi was drafted to wear a Milwaukee Bucks uniform and they had no intention of trading him to a fancier NBA market. It's never been frankly clear who was really behind all the posturing coming from the Yi camp, but the smart money puts his Los Angeles based agent Dan Fegan (who was chosen by the Guangdong Tigers, not Yi himself) at the center of it. Sending Yi to a large NBA market with a strong Asian population would have certainly brought more marketing opportunities, which directly translates to a fatter payout for both Fegan and the Tigers.

One thing has seemed fairly obvious to me all summer; there was no way Yi wasn't going to be part of the NBA this year. The bottom line is he will be in Milwaukee to start training camp on October 1st.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Awvee Storey, Journeyman Baller

The Bucks latest roster addition to the 2007/08 squad is Chicago native Awvee Storey. And he's got quite a back story. Storey played his freshman season at the University of Illinois before transferring to Arizona State (he didn't play ball anywhere in 1998/99), where he led the PAC-10 in rebounding in 2000/01 with 9.1 per game. The runner-up that year was none other than Dan Gadzuric of UCLA at 8.6 per game. One fact that speaks to Awvee's tenacity; Gadzuric is five inches taller.

Although Storey went on to have a decent career at ASU, he was not chosen in the NBA draft out of college. He did make it to the NBA as part of the Nets in 2004 and he saw action in 25 games last year with the Wizards. He's also played ball for the Dakota Wizards of the NBA Development League, the Idaho Stampede of the CBA, Braunschweig of the German League, the Wonju TG Sambo Xers of the Korean League, as well as stints in Venezuela and the USBL. This guy has rebounds in every time zone on the planet.

Here's what Larry Harris had to say after signing Storey to a deal; “Awvee is a hard-nosed, aggressive player who brings depth to our roster at the guard and small forward positions. He's an excellent athlete and a solid defender who will be a good addition to our team.”

Storey is not without controversy. Over Memorial Day weekend in 2006, Storey and teammate Gilbert Arenas were arrested and charged for disobeying the police in Miami Beach. The charges were later dropped after Storey made a $250 donation to charity. In a more serious incident, Storey was involved in an altercation with teammate Martynas Andriuškevičius while playing with the Dakota Wizards of the Development League. Storey punched Andriuskevicius in the head during practice. The blow left Andriuskevicius with a fractured skull and a severe concussion. Although Andriuskevicius did not file charges, Storey was suspended by the league and on January 5, 2007, the Dakota Wizards terminated Storey's contract. The next stop on his long and storied career is Milwaukee.