This paper introduces a probability model for symbols emitted by bitplane image coding engines, which is conceived from a precise characterization of the signal produced by a wavelet transform. Main insights behind the proposed model are the estimation of the magnitude of wavelet coefficients as the arithmetic mean of its neighbors' magnitude (the so-called local average), and the assumption that emitted bits are under-complete representations of the underlying signal. The local average-based probability model is introduced in the framework of JPEG2000. While the resulting system is not JPEG2000 compatible, it preserves all features of the standard. Practical benefits of our model are enhanced coding efficiency, more opportunities for parallelism, and improved spatial scalability.