Stuck in Lockout Limbo

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is widely regarded is one of the best values on the free agent market this offseason, but after the NBA owners issued a player lockout at 12 a.m. on Friday morning, it could be a long while before Luc learns his fate.

As Luc, who happens to be the Milwaukee Bucks’ player rep, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the players are looking at a long haul before a deal can be made.

« It could be a long summer as far as getting a deal done, » said Mbah a Moute, who serves as the Bucks’ player representative and attended a session with owners last week. « It seems every move we make a lot of money is being taken out of our pockets. I know it’s going to be a little while. »

It could be a while before Luc Richard goes up for another rebound (Getty Images).

Luc technically hit the restricted free agent market at midnight as well. But there will be no negotiations with the Bucks, who extended a qualifying offer on June 21st in an attempt to retain him, or any other team.

« It’s always good to get the (qualifying) offer, » Mbah a Moute said. « It just means you’re appreciated and your work is valued. »

The qualifying offer permits the Bucks to match any offer presented to the Prince by another team, which, as John Schuhmann writes, places the ball firmly in Milwaukee’s court if they want to bring No. 12 back.

« Mbah a Moute is one of a group of free agents who should provide good value for their cost … but only if other teams are scared away by their restricted status.

Given the parameters of restricted free agency, it will be hard to pry Mbah a Moute away from the Bucks, Arron Afflalo away from the Nuggets, Mario Chalmers away from the Heat, or Thaddeus Young away from the Sixers at a reasonable price.

Mbah a Moute has averaged less than seven points a game in his three years with the Bucks. But you’d have a hard time finding a player who can defend both forward positions as well as he can. Just ask Dirk Nowitzki, who has shot just 43 percent with Mbah a Moute on the floor over the last four seasons. »

Along with Schuhmann, Sean Sweeney of Dime Magazine also lists Luc as one of free agency’s top values this offseason:

« A Battier in training…he’s one of the most versatile defenders in the league. He’s covered Kobe. He’s checked LeBron. He’s rumbled with Kevin Garnett. He’s a perfect example of someone who may never win an individual award but every GM will always want him.

But despite that value to all 30 teams in the league, Luc told the Journal-Sentinel that the lockout has put him in a difficult position as an RFA.

« I’m hoping everything gets resolved with the work stoppage and we come to an agreement (with the owners), » Mbah a Moute said. « After that, I want to get the best deal possible for myself.

« It’s a very tough situation to be in (with the labor situation unsettled). I’m kind of stuck. I hope there will be interest from other teams, » he said. « I consider myself one of the best defenders in the league. Whether I’m in Milwaukee or with another team, I want to be in a situation to get some wins and compete for a championship. »

No. 12 is hopeful that the owners and players can come to a fair agreement without sacrificing a part of the season.

« There’s got to be a lot of give-and-take to come to an agreement, » Mbah a Moute said. « The league is at its best right now and there’s a lot of enthusiasm around the game. The last Finals were great. »

Meanwhile, Luc will use the lockout time to train and help others. He is currently working out in Austin, Texas for the next few weeks before he heads over to his native Cameroon in July for his camp with Basketball Without Borders. In August, he intends to play for his national team in the African Cup.

« The game is growing overseas, » he said. « Right now is not the right time to be in a lockout. »

Upon his return to the states, Luc Richard told the Journal-Sentinel that he will continue working out in Los Angeles with his eye on preparing for the season. But he will also be taking classes aimed at completing his degree at UCLA.