Bell back with Bucks after signing five-year deal

MILWAUKEE -- Michael Redd told Charlie Bell how the summer would go. Bell wished he'd listened closely.

"What he said came true," Bell said Tuesday on the Bucks' first day of training camp.

Bell, a restricted free agent, signed a five-year, $18.5 million offer sheet with the Miami Heat two weeks ago that was matched a few days later by the Bucks -- against Bell's wishes.

The 6-foot-3 Bell had lobbied against the Bucks matching the deal and said he wasn't sure if he'd be able to patch his fractured relationship with the organization.

Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak, who replaced Terry Stotts in March, called those comments "posturing" because of the negotiations.

"Charlie's a consummate pro and he's too good of a guy to have a chip on his shoulder," Krystkowiak said. "We didn't sense anything negative at all [at practice]."

But Bell acknowledged that he's not completely healed from the drawn-out process and pleaded for the fans to be patient even as he signed a multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract.

He also said he wouldn't take back any comments he previously made after saying at the time that the team couldn't offer him the long-term deal he sought.

"Right now it's tough, it's going to take a while," Bell said. "A lot of people just say take the money and be happy, but at the same time, you got to have dignity and you got to have a heart. Where I come from, you take care of people that do the job and at the same time, it's a business. I hope fans just understand it's not about the money."

Bell, undrafted after helping Michigan State win the 2000 national championship, averaged a career-high 13.5 points last season in a breakout year for the Bucks, making 64 starts for an injury-depleted team that finished third to last in the league at 28-54.

Bell had previously been mulling an offer to play in Greece before Miami moved in with the offer sheet. Bell laughed with a twinge of disbelief when he first talked about the offseason.

"Well, I went to Greece and Miami for a minute, a couple little vacations," he said. "It's just been a tough summer for me."

Redd had a similar summer in 2002 when Dallas signed the young rising star to a four-year offer sheet worth $12 million in September. The Bucks had 15 days to match then -- and did so on the final day.

After that contract, Redd, then an unrestricted free agent, ended up signing a six-year extension worth $90.1 million. Redd had some simple advice for Bell.

"I was in the same situation he was in and it's all about how you approach it now," Redd said. "Obviously he wished it would have gotten done earlier, but it got done. It's time to move on and focus on playing basketball."

There's a lot of positives if the Bucks stay healthy. Milwaukee is well over $60 million in payroll after spending more than $80 million this offseason on Mo Williams, Desmond Mason and others.

The Bucks will also travel to Chicago on Wednesday to pick up first-round pick Yi Jianlian. Yi's handlers initially didn't want him to sign with Milwaukee, forcing Bucks owner Sen. Herb Kohl to travel to China with general manager Larry Harris to sign the 6-11 power forward selected sixth overall.

Yi is expected to practice for the first time Thursday.

And even if Bell still aches from his summer disappointment, he said he's excited to be back for his teammates and will work to put the lingering hard feelings behind him.

"It's over. The contract, the ink's dry, everything's set in stone. I'm here. It's pretty much ... it's over," said Bell, trying to find the right words. "The only thing we have to look forward to is come Oct. 31 when the season starts and trying to start this season off on a winning note."