Bucks make the same move they always make

Bogut and Jackson are gone and in is the same guy the Bucks always bring in. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

I’m not negative just for the sake of being negative. If you read my last post, if you follow me on Twitter or are a friend of mine on Facebook, you probably think I think this is the worst trade of all time.

I don’t feel that way.

I get the deal and I see some real obvious benefits. Monta Ellis is the most athletic two guard the Bucks have had since Desmond Mason (if you’re unfamiliar, here’s a good write up on Ellis from Drew Olson). I’d say he’s pretty much the first athletic two guard the Bucks have had since then. I’ve been dying to see Milwaukee get an athletic two guard. He can get to the hoop and finish with real authority. Ellis has 16 dunks this year. Shaun Livingston has 17 and the next highest Buck guard is Carlos Delfino with … four. This has been a problem for years. Ellis solves it.

Getting rid of Stephen Jackson? Thank goodness.

And clearly it was time for Bogut to go. Gery Woelfel Tweeted that his relationship with Scott Skiles was beyond repair. His injuries held the franchise hostage over the past season or two as well, though it’s unfair to blame him for that.

But how are things any different now than they have been before? Sure, the Bucks have two guards that can score some points, but they had that with Michael Redd and Mo Williams. Turns out that didn’t win them many games. No, they didn’t have Luc Mbah a Moute to play defense then, but Luc hasn’t exactly been a cure all this season on that end. Milwaukee ranks 22nd in the league in defensive rating right now.

Maybe Kwame Brown and Ekpe Udoh can help shore things up in the middle defensively (he’s actually a good defender) and allow Drew Gooden to slide back to the four, but like I always say, when you’re relying on Kwame Brown, Ekpe Udoh and Drew Gooden … who cares? It looks a lot like we’re watching a franchise spin in a circle. I know they won’t be as bad as those Redd and Mo teams, the supporting cast is much better now, but this still isn’t a big time team.

This is the same move the Bucks always make.

I can hear everyone raving about how they gave up two players who weren’t playing for one talented scorer. How could that backfire? Well, Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell for Corey Maggette didn’t exactly put this team back on the map, did it? Ellis and Maggette are different players, but both have a habit of shooting a lot. The biggest difference is Ellis at least puts in the effort to gamble on defense, which is more than Maggette could have said.

I know the Bucks will gain some financial flexibility when Brown’s contract expires, but forgive me for being dubious about that extra money that’s going to be laying around.

Are free agents flocking to Milwaukee? Only a few guys have seen big deals from the Bucks over the past 10 years and the majority of those were re-signings. When the Bucks have spent money on free agents? Bobby Simmons and Gooden. The Mike Dunleavy’s of the world can work out sometimes, but the guys Milwaukee has identified as players they want to build around – Redd, Bogut, Jennings – those guys come from the draft. Free agent money isn’t a cure all here.

Good teams have a plan, they stick with the plan and they make small adjustments that adhere to the plan. What’s the plan in Milwaukee? Here’s a quote from the summer after the team acquired Jackson, Shaun Livingston and Beno Udrih:

“Those three guys create offense for other guys and draw attention. That’s big for us right now.”

Maybe it still is, but acquiring Ellis isn’t really acquiring a guy who creates a lot for others. He’s played out of position at point guard most of this season and is averaging a career high six assists per game, but he’s also got a usage rate of 30%. That means he’s shooting or turning over the ball on 30% of possessions while he’s on the court.

As far as having a plan, building around Jennings and Bogut was the plan two years ago. Things changed obviously. Bogut got bitter and rarely was healthy and Jennings is inconsistent and occasionally grouchy.

Now Bogut’s gone and Jennings’ name has been mentioned too. He’s probably not going anywhere in the next two days, but he sounds shook up by the trade talk. Without Bogut, are Jennings and Ellis the new “core?” Has Ersan Ilyasova made himself apart of it? Do the Bucks have even two “stars” now? Do they have one? There are some questions in the air. Not that there weren’t these questions before Bogut was traded, but it seems like another lateral move.

I don’t doubt that this team could make the playoffs. There may have been enough talent before and there probably is enough talent now. Ellis should be a net positive. But I still don’t see how that helps the Bucks get a star.

And that’s why I get upset. That’s why I criticize moves. I want to see this team succeed. I want to see a plan. I want to see efficient, talented players acquired. I want to see stars.

Instead, I watch the Bucks as they side step towards the future as well as any team in the league.

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

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

21 Comments

  1. PattiRafalskiDavison

    Every team in the NBA wants ‘stars’…lots and lots of stars.  I might have missed something, but I never saw the report where the Magic offered us their ‘star’ and Hammond turned him away because the Bucks don’t want any ‘stars’.
    Asking professional athletes to deliberately loose games, personal stats, skill sets, motivation and dignity in order that the Bucks MIGHT get a 5-10 pick in the draft and that pick one day MIGHT become a ‘star’ doesn’t seem the better plan than the lateral moves made until such time we hit the draft lottery jackpot.
     
    In the meantime, I am enjoying the success that the Bucks are having because of the all out effort they are putting forth as a team.  I’ll take a “team” to a “star” any year!

    •  @PattiRafalskiDavison I’d rather take a star than a team because when you have a team of mediocrity like the one we have now, that’s not gonna take us anywhere. I’d rather have a star to watch than an average team who we know won’t do anything in the playoffs, or even get there. At least with Monta, we can have the hope of making a run because we have a star now. This isn’t college or HS anymore, this is a player’s league and we need players, aka star(s). Am I saying playing team ball isn’t important? No, I know team ball needs to occur if you do want to win, but having star to facilitate or lead us is the first start to it all.
       
      To the writer, Monta is Maggette, Jackson, Salmons. If you know NBA bball, you know he is on another level than those guys. 

        •  @BUCKSfirst Monta is such a star that the Warriors have been successful beyond their wildest imaginations with him on the court as long as he’s been there.
           
          A star is a guy like Wade or Lebron or Duncan or KG. Monta Ellis is a little bit better than Lou Williams. He’s better than Salmons and Maggette, but he makes about as much difference as those guys.
           
          Look past the scoring numbers that came while he was playing 40 minutes a night in an up-tempo offense.

        •  @jeremyschmidt Star = Tier 2 players = Monta, Gay, Big AL, Rondo, AI2, Horford
           
          Superstars = Tier 1 = Wade, Bron, Kobe, Durant, D12, Rose
           
          I think you’ve gotten your terms mixed up.

        •  @BUCKSfirst But just throwing in a new guy like Monta isn’t anything new. You could argue Jennings and Bogut were both “stars” too. What has it done for the franchise? One good season. You need a superstar to win big. The path to get that has been through a top-five pick. 

        •  @jeremyschmidt We can all agree that Monta is on another level than Bogut and Jennings. C’mon. 

        •  @jeremyschmidt we had a top 5 pick once…look what happened. we ended up with an under-achieving and injury-prone center. top 5 pick doesnt help when its a weak draft class.

        •  @BUCKSfirst I don’t know if I can agree with that, at least in terms of Bogut. I think Bogut was without question better than Monta in 2009/10. I totally could be wrong. I admit I could be wrong about all of this. I guess we’ll have to see. I’m glad you’re here commenting though, because it’s important that I’m getting information on your side too.
           
          So even if I seem like a dick, thanks for the back and forth.

        •  @bucksfan634 Other top five picks the Bucks have had: Kareem, Ray Allen (via trade of #4 pick), Glenn Robinson, Marques Johnson and Sidney Moncrief.
           
          So, yeah, generally works out.

        •  @jeremyschmidt but how long ago were those? this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of league in my opinion. those were all good picks, but ray allen’s draft class included allen iverson and stephon marbury to name a few. was definitely a strong draft class

      •  @BUCKSfirst  @PattiRafalskiDavison As a long-time Warrior fan, Monta is definitely a better player than anyone the Bucks have had at shooting guard since Michael Redd in his heyday.  And Udoh very well may end up as your starting center.  On a pure talent level, the Bucks are improved greatly by this move.  And you have to take into account the injury side of things.  It doesn’t matter how talented a player is if he’s regularly sitting on your bench in street clothes.  And, like it or not, that has been the case for Bogut throughout his career (and Maggette as well).  Monta is a proven scorer who can also handle the ball and get others involved (4+ apg career).  More importantly, he’s a volume scorer who shoots with an extremely high percentage for a guard (19+ ppg at 46% for his career) — which is something no other Bucks guard has even come close to in recent years.  The Warriors were crazy to accept this deal on the hopes that Bogut would somehow miraculously turn his career around.  And depending on Bogut and Curry to stay healthy seems like a recipe for disaster.  Meanwhile the Warriors also give away the up-and-coming C/PF (Udoh) they already had.  Bucks fans should be sending thankyou baskets to the Warriors management who allowed this trade to go through.  Your team has just secured its playoff spot and will be much improved for years to come with this trade.  If you want to complain about a mediocre team, watch what’s about to  happen to the Warriors.

        •  @Drakes_Dunks Well said. As a bucks fan, im excited. But i cant believe your warriors let that trade go through. They must be planning to get rid of jackson and sign someone big this summer

        • PattiRafalskiDavison

           @Drakes_Dunks  @BUCKSfirst 
          Thanks for the words of encouragement, except I was the one person on this blog that was supporting getting these players and against tanking the season for a draft pick and/or saying the only thing the Bucks can do is get a “superstar”.  I’m just excited to see these guys suit up and play, which is more than I can say for Bogut & Jackson this year.

    •  @PattiRafalskiDavison Stars win championships, teams make the playoffs…usually. Look at the last several champions: Dallas (Dirk), LAL (Kobe, Bynum, Gasol), Boston (Big Three), San Antonio (Big Three), Miami (D-Wade).
       
      The point isn’t to tell the players to tank games, it is to sell off your pieces that have value such as Ersan, Brandon, and Gooden along with expiring deals to accumulate young players and high draft picks. At the same time, the team will naturally be bad enough to get a top three pick and thus, a likely star.
       
      The Bucks have to ask themselves, do we want to compete for a championship in the next seven years by rebuilding over the next couple years, or is the goal simply to make the playoffs almost every year and get bounced? If the latter is the goal, keep doing what you’re doing. If the former, than trade off any and all marketable pieces.

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  3. I think this is a poorly written article because you seem to be forgetting the most important facts: 1. we gave up two players who are not playing for two players who are, 2. of the two players we received, one is a scorer and a quick SG and the other is an up-and-coming young player who is a solid reserve, 3. if Ellis doesn’t work out in Milwaukee…so what? He can leave along with Kwame Brown and then we are 15 million under the cap….hello superstar free agent. And Ellis is only going to leave if the Bucks don’t make it to the playoffs or make it past the first round of the playoffs or if he and Jennings don’t get along in the backcourt….in which case I’m fine if Jennings leaves. He’s in his third year, not a star, and is talking about exploring big markets already? you gotta be kidding me. This trade is different from other Bucks trades…whether Ellis flourishes or not, whether he stays or opts out, the Bucks make out ahead on this!