Overhaul by tweaks: Another Milwaukee Bucks summer

If he's going to be around, John Hammond will likely have a busy summer yet again. (Getty Images)

Watching Stephen Jackson thrive off the bench for the San Antonio Spurs yesterday was neither super enjoyable for me nor surprising. I can only assume John Hammond felt the same way.

The Spurs brought Jackson in to be an extra lift. To give the bench some more life. He isn’t getting top billing, he’s just a supporting piece. In that role, Jackson apparently can still flourish.

In Milwaukee, Jackson was the focus. He had no established stars or leaders around him. He had a lot of responsibility both on the court and in the locker room. He couldn’t handle it on the court and as soon as things faltered out there, he became too much to handle behind the scenes apparently.

His problem in Milwaukee was that he was out of place. That appears to be the Bucks biggest problem across the entire roster. It’s not that the Milwaukee Bucks don’t have talent. They have a number of talented players. But most of the Bucks are one or two spots above where they should be.

Carlos Delfino is a fine player, but he isn’t really an ideal candidate for 30 minutes every night. Especially with the way he defended this season. He’s probably an eighth or ninth man who would thrive getting about 20 minutes each night.

Drew Gooden has talent, but aside from playing out of position at center, he’s out of his role as a cornerstone of an offense. In his two seasons in Milwaukee he’s been attempting more shots than ever before and responded with two of his worst shooting seasons as a pro.

Up and down the Bucks roster, players are forced to take on more than they can chew. Brandon Jennings isn’t really cut out right now to be the best player on a team. Monta Ellis has gone through his entire career as a 20 point and 20 shot per game starter when he’s pretty much Lou Williams and should be coming off the bench or a third option starter.

Hammond does have an eye for talent. He can recognize players that can play. Unfortunately, the pressure to make the playoffs has resulted in him and Scott Skiles reaching when it came to fit. The two of them have been forced to try and squeeze too much out of a number of guys. The biggest question facing the Bucks roster now, as it so often seems to be come summer time, is how can Milwaukee get players into roles where they can succeed?

With so precious few assets, it seems almost impossible. Milwaukee is a star away from being in pretty good shape. An actual star would allow everyone to slide back a bit into more natural and comfortable roles and responsibilities. But nothing in the NBA is as difficult as finding a star.

So the rumblings of John Hammond heading to Portland are hardly surprising. How much further can this roster go? How long can anyone keep making a series of overhaul tweaks every summer before just walking away? For every Mike Dunleavy who finds a spot that works for himself within the team’s structure, we seem to see a Corey Maggette who just doesn’t work.

So this week is a critical one for the Bucks.

We’ll likely learn a lot more about the futures of both Skiles and Hammond. Conversely, we’ll find out about the future direction of the franchise as well. While a blow up isn’t all that likely to come even if Hammond and/or Skiles leave, we can safely rule one out completely if they stay. Given how close they were to the playoffs, there’s enough reason for the current front office to spend another summer shuffling the deck and hoping the cards land more favorably.

Maybe they won’t be a factor in the lottery, but who’s to say the Bucks don’t need a bit of luck this summer. Here’s wishing it on them.

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. He’d love it if you stopped by every time you wanted to buy something on Amazon and gave him some click-through love on the banner up on the top right. Also –Twitter.

Categories: The Off Season

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  1. Jeez, being a Bucks fan is depressing right now. Seems like they come out of every offseason with at least one new terrible contract on the books (even if it was a result of a trading a previously signed lousy contract for a new one, ex. Gadz and Bell for Maggette, Maggette for Captain Jack, B. Simmons for Richard Jefferson, etc) and that combined with an apparent philosophy of selling assets while at their lowest possible value (Hammonds: “I have an idea, let’s trade our only player in the top 5 at his position while he’s injured and sitting out for the rest of the year. There is no other point in Bogut’s career where we could have traded him for less than we can now so let’s do it! There’s this guy named Monta Ellis. He takes a ton of shots, makes about 40% of them and is terrible on D, we have to lock him down! We should be able to pencil ourselves in for an 8th seed in the playoffs or the 10-12th pick in the draft for at least the next 3 years now, feels good.”) makes it tough to envision success any time in the near future for the Bucks. At this point I hope they tear it down but that won’t happen. My prediction for what the Bucks will actually do: Wait till Jennings gets hurt and flip him for Aundray Blatche, bring in some “size”

    •  @SammySvenson In the case of the Bucks right now, if they wanted, they could very quickly rebuild this team. If you look at the Bucks roster going into next year (http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine, click Bucks), their books are essentially clean two years from now. the best thing to do would be to trade anyone and everyone with any kind of trade value, spend the next two years allowing the remaining contracts to expire, and using the Oklahoma City Thunder Model to rebuild the team.
      Unfortunately, you’re right that the most likely course of action is to keep doing what they’ve been doing. Brandon will sign a one-year deal as a restricted free agent and then leave after that. Monta will continue to be marginal and ineffective. Drew will continue to be overmatched playing a position he is not built for. Ersan is as good as gone. On your Andrew Bogut comment, he was really unhappy and wanted out. The Bucks dumped Stephen Jackson onto somebody, so it wasn’t all bad.

      •  @coolexplosion1 The Thunder model is no guarantee to work. The Clippers, Wizards and Bobcats have been trying it for a couple years now. You have to hit on one super star in the draft and then a couple other really good players. That being said I can’t say I disagree with the plan. 
        The only other plan for the immediate future other than hope one/some of these late lottery draft picks really become stars would be thrown everything the team has at a guy like Deron Williams. It is not super likely that he would choose Milwaukee but so what then there is little risk.
        How about trade Brandon/Monte to a team likely to have a top 5 pick in coming years. Wouldn’t the Bobcats like Monte to help bring some scoring and assists to the show if they land the ‘brow?

    •  @SammySvenson Very well said…exactly how I feel….The Bucks aren’t good enough to be a factor in the playoffs…(or even make the playoffs more often than not) but not bad enough to be a serious player in the lottery which is the only way this team will be able to pick up a star player

  2. You are too kind.
    The Bucks have no tier one players. Not now, not among the “developing” players.
    Hammonds has been below average overall, at best. His draft choices blow. READ: they are all second stringers. His trades suck. Just because he realized they sucked and  ditched them early brings him no credit. They were still bad moves. And waaaay too many moves. The team has had more personnel changes than any team in the NBA, over his tenure. Look it up. And this “they barely missed the playoffs BS”–what is THAT? What? So they could be blown out 4-0 by the Bulls or the Heat and wind up with a bad draft choice?
    Say what you will about Charlotte, but they’re gonna get a star for sucking. We’re gonna stay boring and mediocre. No player or coach of any substance wants to come here.Jackson is playing better because he’s NOT HERE. The problem is this team. HE’s not the knucklehead. Milwaukee management is. What this team needs is totally new ownership. The Brewers had to ditch Selig to be relevant again. Kohl needs to go. His reputation in the NBA is not good.And as far as the Bogut trade goes, i agree with Sammy.

    •  @flyingking if Herb Kohl leaves so do the Bucks, the only reason they are still a franchise is because of him.
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  3. I dont really understand how people can criticize John Hammond for what he has done? Every move he’s made has been a logical one and should have worked out. When and if the decisions did not work out, he fixed them and actually improved the team each time. He is the last person to take blame for what their franchise has done since he came on in 08.

  4. We are in purgatory, but I’d honestly rather be on this end of it (the not making the playoffs, still being in the lottery end). This way we didn’t get waxed by the Bulls (make no mistake, they would’ve waxed us without Rose too). We need an actual C, and if we get that we should re-sign Illyasova; if we don’t draft a C, we might as well let Ersan go. Ersan’s skills get multiplied if he’s playing with someone big–he’s too easy to manhandle, not quite strong enough, he needs a big to be a help defender and stopper.
    I think we should keep Hammond. This roster stunk when he inherited it. He got rid of all kinds of bad money moves (Bell, Gadzuric, Villaneuva, Redd, Simmons) by making prudent trades with stupid teams. Okay, so he rolled the dice with veteran’s that didn’t quite perform–but we risked basically nothing. We had those bad contracts anyway–he tried to turn them into at least some production, and, when there wasn’t production, at least the pieces were still assets that other teams would trade for (Salmons, Magette, Jackson). This would be the first off-season where Hammond doesn’t have really bad contracts on his hands. Now, we’ll probably overpay for some 3rd tier free agent and start the stupid process all over (Chris Kaman’s stiffly corpse), but things aren’t so bad right now.
    Cheer up everybody!

    •  @DarvinHam i agree 100% wit Darvin. Another thing that people are forgetting is that just because you win the lottery that doesn’t mean that you are going to end up with a player that is all that good. For every Lebron, Wade, Carmelo…there are Marvin, Darko, Tyrus, etc@SammySvenson

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