Villanueva said a friend sent him a text message saying ESPN was reporting Yi and Bobby Simmons were going to the Nets for Richard Jefferson.
“I was, like, ‘There’s no way,’ ” Villanueva recalled. “In my mind, I thought it was me going to be traded. With all the hype he (Yi) got . . . that one caught me off-guard.
“I was, like, ‘OK, whew.’ ”
Indeed, the 6-foot-11 Villanueva is being given a great opportunity to seize the starting power forward position, with Milwaukee’s new management team in place with general manager John Hammond and coach Scott Skiles.
Yi is in New jersey
and Jefferson is taking over as the Bucks’ starting small forward. It’s a much different situation from a year ago, when Villanueva wasn’t sure whether he or Yi would be starting, and the 7-foot rookie gained the nod in training camp and for the first 48 games of the season.
“It’s funny how things work,” Villanueva said in an interview Thursday. “When the season was over, I had my doubts. I didn’t think I was going to be back.
“I hate to make excuses, but now I’m clear-minded. I already know what to expect. It (the situation last season) was very hard. I was very frustrated at times, my minutes being inconsistent. But that’s the past; it’s over with. It was a learning experience.”