Saturday, August 21, 2004
Utah has two Olympians available at point
ESPN.com news services
RACINE, Wis. --The Utah Jazz on Saturday decided against matching the offer sheet tendered to restricted free-agent point guard Maurice "Mo" Williams by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Bucks general manager Larry Harris said the team will bring Williams to Milwaukee on Monday to finalize his contract.
With Olympians Carlos Arroyo and Raul Lopez at the point, the Jazz were not expected to keep Williams, a 2003 second-round
pick out of Alabama who averaged 5.0 points and 1.3 assists in 57 games as a rookie.
"It was a difficult decision to make, but we will not be matching the offer sheet," Jazz vice president of basketball operations Kevin O'Connor said. "The July additions of Mehmet Okur, Carlos Boozer, our two rookies as well as the emergence of Carlos Arroyo and Raul Lopez have realigned our basketball rotation."
Arroyo signed a four-year, $16 million deal with the Jazz last month and Lopez is still under contract. Acquiring Okur and Boozer cost the Jazz a combined $108 million. With first-round draft picks Kris Humphries and Kirk Snyder joining the team, Utah's roster was full without Williams.
Williams' agent, Mark Bartelstein, told The Journal Times of
Racine, Wis., when the offer was made that it was worth $5.5 million over three years. Williams earned $770,000 last season.
The Bucks apparently are not counting on having point guard T.J.
Ford healthy for the upcoming season. Earlier this month, they
signed Mike James, a backup guard with the Detroit Pistons last
season, and made the offer to Williams.
Last season, Ford, the Bucks' heralded rookie point guard,
suffered a freak tailbone injury and has undergone cervical
spine surgery. He is not expected to be ready for the start of
the 2004-05 season.
Earlier in the offseason, the Bucks signed forward Etan Thomas
to a six-year, $36 million offer sheet, which was matched by the
Information from SportsTicker and The Associated Press was used in this report.