- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
In accordance with statements Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond made to ESPN.com early Friday, the team has not matched the four-year, $16.4 million offer sheet restricted free agent Ramon Sessions received earlier this month from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"We are not going to match the Ramon Sessions offer sheet," Hammond told ESPN.com on Friday. "As always we will be diligent in looking to improve our roster. We wish Ramon the very best."
The Bucks had until 5 p.m. Friday to decide whether to match the offer, but their attempts over the past few days to find a salary-shedding trade to create sufficient wiggle room beneath the $69.9 million luxury-tax line to keep Sessions proved unsuccessful.
Matching on Sessions was always considered highly unlikely without Milwaukee trading away someone else first, because the cost-conscious Bucks are less than $2 million beneath the luxury-tax line.
Although the Bucks did not want to lose Sessions after the free-agent departure earlier this summer of Charlie Villanueva to Detroit, they were not prepared to go into tax territory with Brandon Jennings drafted as Milwaukee's point guard of the future in June and two more lead guards (Luke Ridnour and Roko Ukic) on the payroll.
The Wolves quickly targeted Sessions to help fill the void created by No. 5 overall pick Ricky Rubio's decision to play at least the next two seasons in his native Spain. Signing Sessions also ensures the presence of a veteran point guard to ease the transition to the NBA for No. 6 overall pick Jonny Flynn.
Yet it remains to be seen whether all three of those guards have a long-term future with the club.
The Wolves have been adamant that they will wait two years for Rubio if necessary. But Rubio's decision to sign with Barcelona when the perennial Spanish powerhouse offered to pay his entire $5 million buyout with DJK Joventut, coupled with Sessions' arrival, only figures to encourage teams interested in Rubio -- such as the New York Knicks -- to try to pry him away from Minnesota via trade.
Sessions was courted for much of the summer by the Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers. But both teams were reluctant to commit long-term deals to the 23-year-old.
Sessions averaged 12.4 points and 5.7 assists last season in 79 games, 39 of those as a starter. He spent most of the 2007-08 season in the D-League before joining Milwaukee in a March call-up and promptly setting a franchise single-game record with 24 assists in an April 2008 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
After the signing of Sessions and the trade earlier this week with the New Orleans Hornets in which the Wolves moved Darius Songaila's contract off the books to land another veteran combo guard in Antonio Daniels, Minnesota is projected to have up to $10 million to $13 million in salary-cap space in the summer of 2010.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.
19hAlok Pattani, ESPN Stats & Information
1dOhm Youngmisuk and Ian Begley
20hDan Le Batard