Saturday , Jul , 07 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Don’t Be Fooled: Milwaukee Bucks Keeping Options Open With Yi Jianlian

The Bucks recently met with Yi and tried to convince him to report …. Milwaukee apparently has little interest in trading their prospect … Is this stance a ploy by the Bucks to maintain Yi’s market value? … Click here for news and analysis …

The Associated Press reports on Milwaukee meeting with Yi:

The Milwaukee Bucks have met with draft pick Yi Jianlian for the first time in Las Vegas at the NBA’s Summer League starting there this week.

Yi, Bucks general manager Larry Harris and Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak met for about an hour at a hotel on Thursday to get to know the 6-foot-11 power forward and begin lobbying him to sign with the team. Yi played with the Chinese National Team on Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies‘ summer league team in their opener.

Yi has not visited Milwaukee. In Dallas, where the Chinese National Team played a series of exhibitions earlier this week, he declined to talk about the draft or even the prospect of playing for the Bucks.

Agent Dan Fegan did not return messages left Friday at his office or cell phone.

Fegan had pushed for the 19-year-old Yi to go to a city with a heavy Asian influence, and Yi’s handlers did not allow the Bucks to watch him participate in a predraft workout in Los Angeles.

But Harris said he planned to take the best player available and told Fegan he would not shy away from Yi, even though Milwaukee has only about 1,200 Chinese residents.

In the meantime, Bucks owner and Sen. Herb Kohl has written a letter to Yi, which was delivered by Harris on Thursday, to establish a dialogue with the star.

"We’ll see what happens," Kohl said. "We’re all in the process of reaching out to try and establish a constructive dialogue with him and his family and representatives."

My Quick Take: is handling this situation the right way. They’re protecting the franchise’s brand by insisting that Yi report. But they aren’t provoking a confrontation. In fact, the Bucks continue to defuse the situation, leaving the door open for to join the club. This is smart. Everybody saves face. Nobody gets embarrassed.

Milwaukee, if they’re forced to trade Yi, wants to avoid a buyer’s market. Worst case scenario: NBA clubs know the Bucks have to deal their prospect and try to acquire him on the cheap. Other teams would offer Milwaukee everything except equal value.

By publicly refusing to deal Yi, the Bucks are maintaining leverage and can then privately field more reasonable offers from other franchises. Again, a trade is a last resort. Milwaukee really likes Yi. But they should keep all options open.

I’m interested to see how this situation ends up.

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