The Journal Times
: On Friday, they made another significant move by convincing free-agent Maurice "Mo" Williams of the Utah Jazz to sign an offer sheet.
"Mo's very excited about it," Mark Bartelstein, Williams' agent said in a telephone interview Friday night. "He thinks it could be a great opportunity for him.'' Williams certainly has a chance to play extended minutes for the Bucks if Ford doesn't sufficiently recover from offseason cervical spine surgery. Bucks officials are optimistic Ford will return to action during the 2004-2005 season, but they have also made it clear that they won't rush him.
If Ford isn't available for action, James will step into the starting role and Williams would be his backup - if the Jazz don't match the Bucks' offer.
According to Bar-telstein, the Bucks' offer sheet is $5.5 million over three years. Williams earned $770,000 last season.
Because Williams is a restricted free agent, the Jazz have 15 days in which to decide whether to match the Bucks' offer and retain Williams' services.
"At this point, there's not much he can do but sit back and wait,'' Bartelstein said. "He likes Utah very much, but they have two other point guards, so it's tough getting playing time there.'' The 6-foot-1 Williams was chosen by the Jazz in the second round of the 2003 draft, the 47th pick overall. He appeared in 57 games for Utah, averaging five points and 1.3 assists in 13 minutes.
Despite being Utah's third point guard and seeing limited minutes, Williams had two impressive games after the All-Star break. He had 19 points in 20 minutes against Sacramento on Feb. 27, and he scored 17 points in 19 minutes against Dallas on April 8.
Williams had a career-high 20 points in a 32-minute stint against Denver on Jan. 20.
While the Utah coaches like Williams' potential, it's doubtful whether they can give him more minutes if he remained with the team next season. Utah starting point guard Carlos Arroyo is coming off a breakthrough season, and Jazz officials have high hopes for backup Raul Lopez, who was their first-round pick in 2001 and played in all 82 regular-season games last season.
Besides the issue of playing time, Bartelstein said Williams opted to sign the offer sheet with the Bucks because of their uptempo style under coach Terry Porter and because of a sales pitch by Milwaukee general manager Larry Harris.
"Larry Harris did a great job of selling the whole situation,'' Bartelstein said. "Larry presented the opportunities that Mo would have, about the future of the team and the direction they're going.''
Bartelstein said he didn't have any idea when Utah would respond to Williams' offer sheet.
"He has really worked hard this summer,'' Bartelstein said of Williams, who is from Jackson, Miss., and played collegiately at Alabama. "He's anxious to play a lot more and he could do that with the Bucks.''