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Mason says he's happy to be back in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- Desmond Mason is back with the Milwaukee Bucks,
signing a two-year deal that allows him to return to the city he
loves.

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.