With Michael Redd and Drew Gooden working their way back onto the Milwaukee Bucks active roster, questions are bound to arise regarding just how minutes will be divvied up if the Bucks soon return to full health, something they haven’t had to deal with at virtually any point during this season.
But until they do, those questions are not of much concern to Scott Skiles. At least publicly. While his team battled through injures all season, Skiles has repeatedly refused to speculate on how he would divy up minutes upon the return of various players, from Chris Douglas-Roberts and Carlos Delfino earlier in the year to Redd and Gooden now. Skiles words to the Journal-Sentinel Tuesday afternoon were in line with the comments he’s made throughout the season: “We’ll see what we do tomorrow night. We’ll see who’s healthy and who can go, and go from there.”
Milwaukee is not taking health for granted and is not looking ahead. Skiles especially. Milwaukee’s coach doesn’t seem to be worried about bruised egos or ominous acronyms. If a player is left with nothing but a DNP-CD next to his name at the end of a game, it isn’t necessarily because that player hasn’t landed in a dog house or did something wrong, especially this season. Having spent an entire season searching for groups that play well together, Skiles isn’t likely to break up any on court chemistry the Bucks are able to muster up at this point simply to get someone minutes every night.
So while Redd and Gooden would surely love to jump back in and pour in 30 productive minutes for the Bucks every night, don’t expect such a dramatic overhaul to happen over night. Simply look at the case of Corey Maggette.
At times this season, Maggette has appeared to be the Bucks most efficient offensive option. On this Bucks squad, with players across the roster struggling to make even the most open of shots, that hasn’t been some monumental feat, but it’s happened. So it strikes many as odd that Maggette has now found himself having not played by coaches’ decision in five of the Bucks last game. But what happened earlier this year seems to have little bearing on the decisions being made now as the Bucks try and stay alive in the race for the final playoff spot in the East.
It’s not a personal thing and it isn’t a case of Maggette’s negatives outweighing his positives. It just may be a case of his teammates playing too well for him to get in.
In each of the five games Maggette has not played, Milwaukee, with four of the wins having come by a double digit margin. The logic here isn’t that not playing Maggette allows the Bucks to win by 10, but it seems to be that when the Bucks starting unit and bench players that are playing of late are playing well, Coach Skiles doesn’t want to break those groups up just to get Maggette minutes. He’s looking to keep players that are playing well on the floor.
What does that mean for Maggette, Redd, Gooden and even Ersan Ilyasova? That remains to be seen. If Milwaukee’s core group continues to play well, there won’t be many minutes available, especially on the wings. The recent play of John Salmons and Delfino indicates they may be finding their strides that made them so dangerous last year. If they keep that up, each is a sure bet to grab 35 minutes of playing time every night down the stretch.
Up front there is at least the uncertainly of the night to night performance of Jon Brockman and Larry Sanders, two players much less proven and more prone to being pulled. Minutes could open up for Gooden and Ilyasova up front as they return to action.
As Redd’s return becomes closer and closer to a reality, it seems safe to at the very least, expect a cursory appearance, simply as a reward for all of the hard work he’s done to get back, but Redd may not want to get too comfortable on the floor just yet. Like Corey Maggette, he may soon find his role upon return from the injured list won’t be all that unfamiliar.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook (right sidebar).