No matter how bad you want them to the Bucks cannot blow things up

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.

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

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I watch the Milwaukee Bucks often and write about what I see…

8 Comments

  1. MatthewSchwendinger

    I generally agree with everything (as I normally do Mr. Schmidt) however, I am a little surprised by your compassion (lack of better word) for Skiles. No doubt, I think he’s a great coach, however sometimes I think that he doesn’t get everyone to “buy-into” his philosophy and methods. More over, I don’t really see the charisma either that most times wins players over (see: Doug Collins & the Island of Misfit Players). Wouldn’t you think no playoffs (or sub .500) would the end of the Skiles era in Milwaukee?

    Sadly, I was amazed when we were able to find a team to take Corey Magette from us. I was even MORE amazed that we found a team to inherit the huge salary we gave John Salmons. But there’s no way anyone (especially after another injury this year) would take Andrew Bogut from us. Again, we gave him too much money on the contract. If he only made$10 million a year, maybe, but not $14 and certainly not $16. Thats what really screws us, we have him on the books for a ridiculous amount for the next couple.

    Perhaps the SJax experiment failed, but I hope if they decide to trade him by March 15th, let’s get something decent in return for him. Maybe not even someone who is a household name, but someone with a lot of promise (the more I think about it, maybe Anthony Morrow, his 42 point game certainly helped too).

    You’re right though, I think for the next year or two, it’ll be Hammond swapping a mid-level talent (John Salmons, Maggette, Jackson, etc) with another and hoping something will mesh. I think we could become title contenders with players like Brandon Jennings, Moute’s Defense, Drew Gooden, & Dunleavy…the constant question remains…Who’s the missing piece?

    (btw, did anyone else’s appreciation of Gooden slightly rise on Saturday? I really admired a player like him who refused to give up and tried to take back the game scoring. I really think he’s 100% on board with us. Random thought.)

    • @MatthewSchwendinger It’s weird.

      I don’t feel like he’s as crazy and erratic as it seems like most people do. I think he’s a really good coach. He doesn’t get too high or too low and he never seems to throw his players under a bus. He sticks with guys who deserve sticking with. Think about it: Is anyone on this team outside of Jennings and Bogut really worth playing under any circumstance for 30+ minutes every night? There’s a reason he has such an ever changing rotation. It’s because he doesn’t have any players that really deserve consistent minutes. They aren’t that good.

      The Leuer thing I know stands out, but I think Leuer is a bad defender. I need to look more into it, but there has to be a reason he isn’t playing. Skiles isn’t holding him out just to hold him out. Same with Tobias Harris, who I am CERTAIN is a bad defender.

      The Jackson thing is strange, but we have virtually no idea what is going on behind the scenes. We hear both sides saying what seems like the right things, but there must be some reason he isn’t playing. Maybe that’s a fault of Skiles and maybe he needs to work on dealing with players like Jackson or Maggette, but maybe the Bucks simply shouldn’t acquire those kinds of players. I don’t have the answers.

      Just my thoughts.

      • @jeremyschmidt @MatthewSchwendinger Agree and agree.. My only chime in here is; How are Leuer/Harris going to become better defenders if they don’t play the minutes to help them make those mistakes? It’s the old Catch 22.. I need the job to get the experience, but I need the experience to get the job.. And I also wonder what the defensive to offensive swing is really.. I would take Leuer’s efficient game over Gooden’s play wild and see what you get style any day

  2. I agree with all of this as well, I love Scott Skiles as a coach and think he is a great motivator but sadly if mediocrity ensues something has to change and most often the coach is the first scapegoat. Hammond has been wheeling and dealing and it seems like he is trying to duplicate the same system he had in Detroit. Knowing that they can’t sign All NBA calibur Free Agents in this market, however in this day and age those early 00’s Detroit teams wouldnt fare well against all of these “Super Friends” teams that keep coming up.

    The Sixers and Nuggets are similar to the Bucks in the fact that they are deep with above average players and no year in year out All Star players but the difference between those teams and the Bucks is that they run. I think the Bucks need to run and gun and use their depth to their advantage, you know Jennings wants to play uptempo and even if they don’t end up doing much (or anything at all) in the postseason at least they’ll be fun to watch and inflated numbers for guys like Jennings could raise some eyebrows (works for Golden State and Phoenix)

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  4. In all honesty, this season is the perfect time to tank. The bucks currently are a 7-9th team, outside of jennings & bogut there isnt much talent on this team. The team just needs a SG/SF that can get to the rim, the team is too full of PFs & shooters. The season is short so losing games wont be too bad unlike a full 82 game season, try to get a top 5 pick. If not then try to trade up & if you have to, take on some bad salary. Then hope that rookie pans out(skiles needs to give heavy minutes a la jennings), im thinking harrison barnes. Then hope for the best in the 12-13 season because unlike bogut I do not see jennings sticking around for long if the team is going to be lacking talent.

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  6. Jeremy,

    I think the Bucks need to move Jennings now while his value is at an all time high (disregarding the last three games) and start the rebuilding project now. Should be able to get a decent lottery pick for him at this point (lousy career shooting % but showing improvement, he’s an ok distributor and plays solid D due to his tutelage under Skiles. Young and probably fairly marketable in a larger city – too bad NYK and LAL have nothing to trade, they’d be perfect in this scenario) in a loaded draft and hopefully have a high pick of our own if we were to trade him soon and get to the business of losing and procuring better draft position. We get a Harrison Barnes/Perry Jones (for example) haul out of this draft and we’re back to being an exciting up and coming team that I think would excite casual fans far more than this one. Bring Bogut back next year and if he stays healthy for the first couple months of the year sell high on him as well. I think we can get another lottery pick if he’s playing well (big men who can chew and walk at the same time, even when they’re injury prone, are rare commodities. I know we’d have to take back salary but hopefully those would be inconsequential expiring contracts which we don’t need to go through here) In this scenario the Bucks would again have two picks in the lottery (their own after losing a lot but getting our 2012 picks valuable experience and the one for bogut). Two top ten picks in this year’s draft and the next at least give the Bucks a chance at being relevant at some point in the next five years.