I’ve been beating the rebuild drum for quite a while.
I’ve watched Oklahoma City and more recently, the Minnesota Timberwolves, load themselves up with talented young players. I’ve seen them flounder and flourish. I’ve also seen the risks. The Washington Wizards present the flip side of the destroy and rebuild plan. Sure, they landed John Wall, but they also have hitched their wagon to Andray Blatche and Javale McGee. It’s a dangerous game.
Dangerous as the game may be, I’ve wanted to see the Bucks play it since it was obvious Michael Redd wasn’t enough to make the Bucks relevant. Playoff appearances may generate some revenue, but title contenders are what really sparks fan interest. Title contenders capture hearts and minds. The middling records and low playoff seeds the Bucks have been shooting for since 2003 haven’t been of much interest, they’ve been Band-Aids on a basketball wound.
Many have been begging for the tank. We saw it roll out for a little bit in 2006-07, but the Bucks got burned, landed the sixth pick and Yi Jianlian. But with Redd coming off the books in 2011 and John Hammond the new GM, it seemed 2008 would be the start of a new era. An era where the Bucks would spend a couple years losing then many years reaping the benefits. Joe Alexander didn’t work out, but Brandon Jennings seemed like just the young dynamic talent the Bucks would be acquiring over and over for the next few years.
But the Bucks were ahead of schedule in 2009-10. The planents aligned and some how that team started playing like a real threat, eventually landing a sixth seed in the playoffs. That team’s success looks to have the Bucks set on an infinite loop of mediocrity.
Scott Skiles, Andrew Bogut and Jennings made them a playoff team and a two month out of body experience for John Salmons altered the course of the franchise. Suddenly, they weren’t going to be rebuilding, just adding on.
So we’re still here. Still not good enough to contend and not bad enough to land a potential star. That’s a problem. But the biggest problem the Bucks have is that they can’t go back now.
Beg all you want, but this team can’t and won’t be tanking any time soon. It’s too difficult now. This is what would have to happen for the Bucks to completely blow things up:
- Trade Bogut for nothing. No lottery team would ever trade for Bogut, it wouldn’t make sense. No contender that would look to add Bogut could give up any sort of value to a rebuilding team.
- Lose Brandon Jennings. Is Jennings going to want to sit through a rebuild in Milwaukee? Tank now and Jennings is gone after two more seasons, no question. It would take at least two seasons before the Bucks could get together enough young talent to move forward with.
- Fire Scott Skiles. Skiles can’t be the coach of a rebuilding team. He’s too good. I have a hard time believing a team Skiles coaches will ever win less than 30 games. Freak out about his rotations and handling of Stephen Jackson all you want, this dude is a terrific basketball coach.
Look at those three bullet points once more. How could the Bucks possibly spin those items as positives to the casual fan that follows the team and wants to see a win when they come to the Bradley Center? Impossible.
If this were Portland and the Bucks had a die hard base, maybe they could level with the fans and get their point across. In Milwaukee, where the Bucks rank a distant third on the major league level and probably fifth after Marquette and the Badgers, these moves would be unforgivable.
Even if they could some how find a way, the Bradley Center’s uncertain future further muddies the situation. The blow up is a four to six year plan. Six years from now the team could be on the way out of town. More than anything, the Bucks need to sell themselves to Milwaukee again to get funding for a new arena. A blow up may be the thing that sells them to the die hard fans, but after the past 20 years, stringing together a bunch of 50+ loss seasons right now wouldn’t appeal to the average tax payer. This isn’t baseball and the Bucks don’t have the goodwill the Brewers had.
So clamor all you’d like, but things aren’t changing any time soon.
Milwaukee will keep trying to catch lightning in a bottle like they did two years ago while the rest of us stand watching in the rain.