MIAMI (AP) -Restricted free-agent guard Charlie Bell signed a $18.5 million, five-year offer sheet with the Miami Heat on Monday, and now will wait to see if the Milwaukee Bucks choose to match that deal.
The 6-foot-3 Bell has made it clear in recent days that he wants to play for the Heat, who were foiled in a bid earlier this offseason to woo guard Mo Williams away from the Bucks. Bell averaged a career-high 13.5 points in a breakout season last year for Milwaukee, making 64 starts.
``It's been a very long and drawn out process this summer,'' said Bell's agent, Mark Bartelstein. ``And Charlie is at the point where he's kind of broken his emotional ties to the Bucks.''
The Bucks have seven days to match Miami's offer.
``I hope they don't match it,'' Bell said Monday afternoon in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. ``The Bucks said they didn't have this kind of money and didn't want to give me a long-term deal, so I would hope they stick to what they said and let me go... I'm really thankful Miami stepped up.''
Bell signed with Milwaukee two seasons ago 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 playing in Italy.
He also had an offer from a Greek team, but South Florida is where he wants to be, Bartelstein said.
``He feels very strongly about it and his mind is made up,'' Bartelstein said.
Williams was Miami's top point-guard pursuit this summer, but could only offer him a deal worth about $31 million. Milwaukee easily topped that to retain Williams, giving him a six-year pact worth $51.5 million.
Bell's status, meanwhile, remained in limbo.
``I had a really bad summer because of how all of this went down with Milwaukee, so I don't want to be there,'' Bell said. ``I don't think I could give my all to the Bucks anymore, so I hope they respect that.''
And with training camp starting in two weeks, Bell hopes his wait is now over.
``The last thing Charlie or I want to do is be disrespectful about this,'' Bartelstein said. ``But he signed the offer sheet with Miami, not with Milwaukee, and there's a reason for that.''
---
AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this report.
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