Mason says he's happy to be back in Milwaukee
Mason, who reacted angrily when the Bucks traded him in 2005, said in a news conference Monday that he had put his differences with Bucks general manager Larry Harris behind him and was happy to be back in Milwaukee -- a city he and his family grew to love during his first stint with the team.
"We're really happy to be back in Milwaukee, and we're looking forward to what the future holds for us," Mason said.
Mason joined the Bucks as part of a multiplayer trade in February 2003 that sent Ray Allen to Seattle. Mason thrived in Milwaukee, averaging 15.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in 190 games with the Bucks.
So when the team traded him and a first-round pick to the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets for center Jamaal Magloire just before the start of the 2005-06 season, Mason called Harris a "snake in the grass" during a radio interview.
On Monday, Mason said his comments were an emotional reaction to being traded.
"We put our roots in the ground here, and we were happy being here and our daughter was born here," Mason said. "We had so many friends, and we enjoyed being here. It was tough for us to leave."
Harris said there were no hard feelings.
"It's just the emotions of the game," Harris said. "I think it says a lot about Desmond as a player."
A high-energy, athletic player who immediately becomes the best defender on what has been a poor defensive team, Mason is expected to compete for playing time with small forward Bobby Simmons, who missed last season because of injuries. Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said he can also envision having Simmons and Mason on the floor together.
After closing the deal with Mason, the Bucks are expected to formally announce Tuesday that they have re-signed guard Mo Williams, an unrestricted free agent who was courted by the Miami Heat. Milwaukee also signed reserve center Jake Voskuhl last week to provide depth behind 2005 No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut.
That leaves the Bucks with one pressing offseason concern: Convincing No. 6 draft pick Yi Jianlian to sign with the team instead of sitting out and re-entering the NBA draft next year.
Harris said Tuesday that he remains optimistic about the prospect of Yi playing for the Bucks. But he also said Yi has not yet accepted a formal invitation from the Bucks' owner, Sen. Herb Kohl, to visit Milwaukee.
Yi's handlers have expressed concerns about Milwaukee, including the city's lack of a large Chinese population.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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