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Bucks match Heat's offer sheet for Bell

MILWAUKEE -- Against his wishes, the Milwaukee Bucks moved
to keep Charlie Bell on Thursday.


The Bucks confirmed they matched an offer sheet Bell signed with
the Miami Heat for the restricted free-agent guard, a five-year
deal worth $18.5 million.


Agent Mark Bartelstein said that Bell was absorbing what had
happened and "getting his thoughts together."


"He's going to get himself prepared to have a great year with
the Bucks and play his heart out, the only way he knows how to
play," Bartelstein said.


The 6-foot-3 Bell had said he did not want to play for Milwaukee
and instead wanted to go to Miami, which failed earlier in the
offseason to sign Mo Williams away from the Bucks.


Bell averaged a career-high 13.5 points in a breakout season
last year for the Bucks, making 64 starts.


Bell told The Associated Press earlier this week that the Bucks
didn't want to give him a long-term deal and didn't have the money
available to resign him. Before the Heat moved in, Bell was mulling
an offer to play in Greece.


"Restricted free agency is a very tough process," Bartelstein
said. "As a player, you don't know where you're going to be ... It's hard, very hard."


Two seasons ago, Bell signed with Milwaukee after averaging a
league-best 27 points for Breogan of the Spanish league.


He went undrafted after helping Michigan State win the 2000
national championship, played briefly with Phoenix and Dallas
before spending three seasons in Italy.


Williams was Miami's top pursuit at point guard this summer, but
could only offer him a deal worth around $31 million. The Bucks
re-signed Williams for six years and $51.5 million and now have a
talented, young core signed.


"I think the [Bucks] spoke loudly today about how important
Charlie is to their team," Bartelstein said. "They're in a
position to be really good for a long time to come."