Athletic forward Josh Childress fit a need for the Milwaukee Bucks , but general manager John Hammond knew acquiring him would not be easy. In the end, the 26-year-old Childress decided to keep playing Basketball in Greece, rather than opting out of his three-year, $20 million contract with Olympiakos. Childress said Tuesday that he would not be returning to the National Basketball Association next season.
A third party was critical to the Bucks' hopes of signing Childress: the Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta retained his NBA rights after the restricted free agent played his first four pro seasons with the Hawks.
The only way the Bucks were going to be able to sign the 6-foot-8 forward would be in a sign-and-trade deal with the Hawks.
But no agreement could be reached between the two clubs in time for the deadline Wednesday, when Childress had to decide whether to opt out of his deal or stay in Greece for a second season.
"It was a business decision," Hammond said Tuesday from Las Vegas. "We wish Josh nothing but the best. We were interested."
Childress could have helped the Bucks at small forward, the position filled last season by Richard Jefferson. Milwaukee traded Jefferson to San Antonio last month in an effort to gain salary and roster flexibility for the future.
"When I left Greece to come back (to the United States), I had it in my head that I was going back to Greece no matter what," Childress told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Then when I got home and had my feet on the ground for a couple of days, I really wanted to explore my options and see what was out there. It was 50-50 from there."
The Bucks , Childress and his agent, Jim Tanner, met last week in Milwaukee to explore the possibilities of a return to the NBA.
Childress averaged 13.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game for Olympiakos last season.
The Bucks remain strongly interested in re-signing their own restricted free agents, power forward Ersan Ilyasova and point guard Ramon Sessions. Ilyasova played the past two years in Spain.
Hammond said he was encouraged by the way the Bucks' young players have performed in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, winning their first three games.
Rookie point guard and first-round pick Brandon Jennings had 13 points and 14 assists in the Bucks' victory over Sacramento, and forward Amir Johnson added 10 points and seven rebounds.
"It does tell a lot about Amir and how important the coming season is to him," Hammond said of the 22-year-old Johnson's commitment to play in the summer league, after being acquired in the Jefferson trade.
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