The Scott Skiles decision will be coming soon

The debate on Scott Skiles is sure to heat up now. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

As they do before every Bucks home game, a gang of reporters made a half circle around Scott Skiles before the Milwaukee Bucks game against the Raptors Monday night. Out of habit and necessity, reporters began asking about the current state of the roster with regard to injuries. Who would be playing? Who would be sitting out?

As he always does, Skiles gave the bare minimum amount of injury information. It’s a funny dynamic. I like to think Skiles comes in, learns who is hurt and what body part on them is hurt before he turns and sprints the other direction as to avoid any more information that he’d have to divulge. That’s probably not the case. But for four years, reporters have been asking Skiles about injuries and for four years, he’s clarified who he expects to play and who he doesn’t expect to play and refrained from speculating on when any of the injured players may return.

Speculation has never been apart of his public persona.

“I’ve said this before, I think when coaches stand out here and say, much like the talking heads on TV, they say whatever they want and then nobody ever goes back when they’re wrong and says, ‘Wait a minute, you were wrong,’” he said after he was asked before the Bucks game Monday about whether he knew if his team was ready for what was at stake.

“They’re kind of above the law. So if a coach stands out here and says, ‘We’re ready to play’ and then we come out flat … I don’t think you ever really know.”

Contrary to his reputation fiery reputation, rarely do we see Skiles lose his cool or make bold proclamations. After the losses we deem big, he simply says there’s another game to be played in the next day or two. After we ask about a big win giving the team momentum moving forward, he says it only matters if they can string together a few more. Never too high, never too low.

He presents himself as quite a measure of focus. Only worrying about the game that’s about to be played and capable of moving on quickly to the next battle. But fans don’t have that ability. Fans are looking towards the future and back at what just happened.

His decisions with playing time have been scrutinized repeatedly over the past two seasons. He seems to handle those moves using the same basic logic he handles everything else with. When players aren’t playing well, he doesn’t play them. When players are playing well, he plays them. Meanwhile fans clamor for more minutes so they can try and figure out whether or not potential piece X is actually valuable or so player Y can develop more on the court. Skiles has always been more interested in winning games than playing guys just to develop them though.

All season we’ve heard the masses begging for more Jon Leuer, despite his defensive deficiencies and the Bucks general need for a big man capable of guarding larger defenders and protecting the rim. But the players ahead of Leuer haven’t really established themselves in the league. So there’s enough reason for most to figure that Skiles isn’t playing Leuer simply because he’s a rookie or for some other mysterious personal reason.

The reason seems to be as simple as Skiles is constantly doing whatever he thinks he has to do to win each and every game. He’s not a coach who coaches games to develop young players, he coaches games to win

Oddly enough, that’s left him with an 144-164 record through four seasons in Milwaukee. The former coach of the year runner up just two season ago finds himself burning up on the hot seat.

Coaching an NBA team without a superstar can be a pretty thankless job. Without a clear pecking order, every player could be an option every night. Honestly, how much of a difference is there between the Bucks best player and their tenth best player? Beyond that, how reliable are either one of them? That’s why every team wants as many stars as they can get their hands on. Stars bring it every night. They don’t have the long peaks and valleys that average players do. Brandon Jennings is the Bucks best player. He shot 34% in the entire month of February.

But I’m not sure Skiles is the kind of coach who can thrive with the Bucks right now. Things worked well when Skiles had veterans who understood their roles like Jerry Stackhouse and Kurt Thomas. But Skiles had loads of trouble with Stephen Jackson, a player past his prime who thought he should still be guaranteed 35 minutes per game regardless of how dreadful he was playing. Depending on who was doing the talking, those two had very different takes on their communication with each other. Jackson said they barely spoke, Skiles said they discussed the playing time situation. We’ll probably never know the whole story.

Skiles propensity for sitting anyone that isn’t playing well can have the explosive effect it had with Jackson in addition to some less explosive, but still undesirable side effects. Aside from Jackson, there were grumblings that erratic playing time took its toll on Andrew Bogut, Ersan Ilyasova and Beno Udrih as well. It’s no wonder NBA players voted Skiles second in the coach they would least like to play for poll Sports Illustrated conducted. There’s a clear disconnect between Skiles’ communication and minute disbursement methods and the thought processes of the typical NBA player. These are not guys who are used to sporadically sitting out when they aren’t playing well.

If he were coaching a winning team, he’d be able to get away with it. Two years ago players and coaches applauded Skiles fairness and how he treated everyone on the team the exact same way. Now that the Bucks are out of the playoffs for the second year in a row, it appears that sort of treatment, mixed with two seasons of inconsistent results that could be his downfall.

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog 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: Bucks Player Features

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  1. What does everyone think?  It’s hard to judge what Kohl will want to do.  He has an up and down spending policy at times.  My guess is that he’ll be fired.  I have never been on the Skile band wagon, but who else is there?  I think he should stay, and give him a one year extension, so he’s not a “lame duck” coach next season.

  2. I’m tired of sticking up for Skiles.. let’s fire him, hire a lesser coach, and watch him het hired by a team with more talent making them an annual contender

  3. I think Skiles would be fine if the Bucks had a clear leader in the locker room who had Skiles back. Unfortunately I can’t think of any player in the NBA that the Bucks would have a high possibility to trade for off the top of my head.

  4. I think Skiles would be fine if the Bucks had a clear leader in the locker room who had his back. Unfortunately I can’t think of any player in the NBA that the Bucks would have a high possibility to trade for off the top of my head.

  5. PattiRafalskiDavison

    Skiles has had one hand tied behind his back for the past two seasons, with all the injuries and player brat attacks.  I think blaming Skiles would be using him as a scapegoat and don’t think replacing him would solve any problems.  We need good (healthy) players, not a new coach.  Plug the holes and let’s go!

  6. I would like to see a photo of how much hair Skiles had when he was hired, compared to his hairline nowadays. I’m a fan of the way Skiles handles his business and holds players accountable. Give him guys who WANT to play. 

  7. MatthewSchwendinger

    Jeremy, I am a little surprised by this…I thought you were Pro-Skiles??? (Granted I think it was a few months ago you told me that…)

    • MatthewSchwendinger

       @PattiRafalskiDavison  However, I want to agree with you, Patti, but I can’t. I think (now just hear me out before all of you yell at me) it takes a certain minded coach to take on Brandon and Monta (assuming we will not be dumb and get rid of one of them in the off season), where we have a defensive minded Skiles, I think to suit these two players, you need more of an offensive minded coach. Sure Skiles has fixed a lot of the offensive problems of last year, but I feel like its because he had to, offense is not his forte. Personally, I don’t think it’s Boylan’s or Wolf’s either (Moncrief should be the offensive coordinator of this team, in football terms). I’m fine with one more year of Skiles (since it is left on his contract, I think), but I am fine without it too. I personally fell they won’t fire him because when they traded away Bogut for Ellis/Udoh because of “said” relationship problems between Skiles and Bogut, I think that was Hammond and Kohl saying “We believe in Skiles one more year than one more year of an injury-prone Center who can’t get along with his coach.” Thats just my 2 cents though…

      • I would like to point out that we were 5th in the league in scoring.. and where did that get us?

  8. I should point out that I’m not anti-Skiles. I don’t think another coach could have done much differently given the talent at hand. I just suspect he’s probably going to take the fall for the missing of the playoffs two years in a row. And his communication skills may have struck against him given those playoff exits.

  9. I think…and that is a scary thought…that I am on the fence on weather or not to keep or get rid of Skiles…there are arguments both ways and since I am not privy to the knowledge in the lockerroom I can go on what I only gather which is a bunch of speculation…My two cents is that either way I want this team to succeed and that is my ultimate motive.

  10. I love Scott Skiles as a Coach and have nothing but the utmost respect for the man, but this season needs a scapegoat and it’s going to be him. Scott Skiles is too good of a coach to allow his team to ever tank, since he started with the Bucks he’s taken a rag tag bunch of dudes and made them into playoff contenders every season despite being riddled with injuries and players who are knuckleheads. (Jackson Maggette and even Jennings at times come to mind)
    In his first season with the Bucks Skiles took a 26 win team from previous year into a 34 win team, that team also had it’s 2 best players injured for 50 games each. While healthy for 33 games the Bucks were at that time the 6th seed in the east with great production from Redd, Jefferson, Bogut, Ridnour/Sessions combination, and Chuck V comin off the bench. With Redd and Bogut gone they slipped out of the playoff race, Bogut played 3 more games than Redd they each were gone by February. Finishing 5 games out of playoffs with a starting lineup featuring Ridnour, Sessions, Mbah a Moute, Jefferson, and Gadz. A bust of a lotto pick in Alexander did not help. Cant really fault Scott for that season.
    09-10 aka Fear the Deer season
    i think we all remember how this season went down (Bogut elbow reference :( ) The roster of Jennings, Salmons, Delfino, Ilyasova and Kurt Thomas took the Atlanta Hawks to 7 game series…With that group you really can’t ask for more production than that.
    10-11 injury riddled season
    Jennings misses 20 games, Bogut misses 14 (but played entire season without the ability to shoot with his right hand) Redd almost entire year same with Gooden. Delfino and Ersan both missed significant time. This team never had a chance to gel, they had dozens of combinations of starting lineups they were forced to use due to injury and despite all of this they still nearly made the playoffs missing by only 2 games, a heartwrenching loss to the Pacers where the Bucks achilles heel showed, no1 could be the go to guy for the final shot. (Maggette did not play often, that was Skiles fault, he could have been beneficial)
    11-12 This season (Stephen Jackson did not help)
    once again just missing out on playoffs, completely revamped offseason with almost no time to prepare for season to begin. Game 1 loss to the Bobcats and an early road trip out west that turned disasterous 5 straight losses (a grueling loss to Kings which ended with a Jack hero isolation play which was not the right call at all) their starting Center on another continent dealing with family issues put the Bucks in a hole right away. Dunleavy injures groin and misses about 10 games. Bogut injured on and off, Jennings playing as steady as he could and finally looking like the All Star player we hoped he can be. Then the trade occurred making the team have to rebuild their entire style of play from defensive oriented to just get the rebound and run.
    All in all Skiles resume does not look outstanding on paper but if you dissect it, he’s done about as well as he could have done with what he had in front of him, I wish him luck on whatever his next job is and im guessing whoever it is will have a great season as soon as he’s there

  11. I’m giving Scott Skiles a break considering the talent he has on the roster.  Jennings, Ellis and Ersan would be great complementary players on championship team but they are not players you can build your franchise around.  We are lead to believe that Ellis is suppose to be that franchise player but the reality is that he probably would be best suited being a 6th man on a good team providing instant offense off the bench.  As long as Herb Kohl is owner I believe the Bucks will be stuck on the outside looking in for the playoffs more years than not.  It’s time for the Bucks to bottom out and build through the draft.  What is the worse that could happen by taking this approach???  Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.  Just look at the Timberwolves who have been in the lottery for the last 5 years.  Although they missed on picks such as Johnny Flynn, Corey Brewer and Wesley Johnson they hit on Kevin Love and Rubio.  Now they have a franchise player and an upward trajectory.  This is what I want they bucks to do.  Instead they are probably gonna draft a guy like Tyler Zeller at the 12th spot and feed me some bullcrap on how he has the potential to turn this franchise around.  I’m fed up with this damn Franchise!!!

    • MatthewSchwendinger

       @alixx105  I’m only liking this cuz of the Tyler Zeller part. However, I know numerous people who have said, “Forget it, for me there just Badgers, Brewers, and Packers.” Which breaks my heart, but i hope Kohl realizes this too…

    • PattiRafalskiDavison

       @alixx105 If a lottery pick is so good, why have the Timberwolves been in the lottery for last 5 years? 

      •  @PattiRafalskiDavison  @alixx105 Because their terrible GM drafted terribly. I’d trade any two players on the Bucks for Rubio and Love. I might trade them all for Rubio and Love…

      •  @PattiRafalskiDavison The bottom line is this…as this roster is constructed unless Brandon Jennings and players like Tobias Harris and Larry Sanders get a lot better and come close to their ceiling  in terms of potential the Bucks will always be a team that will be fighting for the last two playoff spots.  This roster will never win a championship as constructed.  The only way the Bucks will ever obtain a superstar is through trade or the draft.  No Superstar Free Agent will ever sign a contract to a cold weather small market team….unless they are like Reggie White and “god” lead them to Milwaukee.  That is exactly why high lottery picks are important.  The risk outweighs the reward in terms of lottery picks for the Bucks…if the goal is to ever win a championship.  If the Bucks are ever going to get a superstar it will be through the draft and I would rather have them suck trying to do it then suffer through another decade of sub-mediocrity.

  12. Not sure why our backcourt is getting so much guff when we talk about the future of this team.. Monta Ellis came in as a very capable scorer and a surprisingly willing passer.. And once Brandon stopped moping(goodbye Stephen Jackass) and got his groove back, he has had his best season to date.. Take a look back at the 2009 draft and BJen is starting to look like a gem.. are they great defenders? No, but I feel like the defensive stoppers should be in the front court, anyways.. Are Tony Parker, Ty Lawson, Jameer Nelson, or Jeff Teague all-league defenders? No, but all those teams had betters seasons than us.. I would really like to see how this team develops through addition and subtraction

    •  @JustinNixon Monta and Brandon are getting guff because they shot 43% and 41% overall which is not good considering they took the most shots on the team. Also neither can finish at the rim. So that along with not being great defenders leaves much to be desired.For reference here are the shooting percentages of those guys, none of which shot as many shots as Jennings or Ellis…Tony Parker 48%
      Jeff Teague 47%
      Ty Lawson 48%
      and Jameer nelson should not be included with those other guys in any conversation.

      •  @Wombat02 While my biggest beef with Brandon is that he settles way too much for outside jumpers and let’s defenders off the hook, he and Monta are volume shooters.. probably never going to be high percentage guys.. and as you know Brandon’s percentage is leaps and bounds better than previous years.. And besides those guys can’t do what Brandon does outside of 20 feet anyways
        Not sure what that has to do with my point about those guys being defensive liabilities

        •  @JustinNixon Well then let me spell it out for you. When you are a bad defensive player and a poor shooter who takes a ton of shots, that is why people don’t think you are a great player.  “volume shooter” is a made up term that means “this guy misses way too many shots and is probably one of the reason our team isn’t better”
          And as for other guys not being about to do what Brandon does from long range. Your right those specific guys I listed don’t shoot well from 3 (two shoot better than BJ), but they also realize the are not great from behing the arc and don’t attempt many 3pt shots. Jennings attempted the second most 3pt shots in the league this year despite being the 100th best 3pt shooter. In other words there are 3 other players on every team in the league who are better at shooting 3s than him. So he probably shouldn’t be taking 6 a game.
          I like Jennings, but he shoots too much for how good he is at it.
          Those are reasons that “our backcourt is getting so much guff”. 

  13. Skiles has never really had a healthy roster nor the talent to win with the way Kohl likes to handle his spending. The fact that he’s been able to keep his teams around .500 is outstanding. If we amnesty Gooden (God, I hope so) and Beno opts out we potentially have 20+ mil in cap space. Sign Kaman and draft a wing player. Or sign a wing player and draft the center out of Illinois (His name escapes me). I think the Celtics, Magic, Hawks (if they rebuild), and Sixers may all drop out of the playoffs, or at least down. This team has a chance to compete now if we get a more defensive front court.
    Unless we can find a better coach, I think we should ride skiles one more year with more talent. What do you guys think? 

    •  @AvidBucksFan I don’t understand the thought behind using the amnesty on Gooden. He’s not making an enormous amount of money. I think he would be used very well off the bench, behind a guy like Kamen. I know Gooden can be a goof ball at times with his decision making, but he has had solid production. Especially when you consider what he has been asked to do this season.

      •  @ThisIsntUnicef I understand he’s making 6.2 mil, which is still way too much for a player that shoots 42% as a 7 footer, but do you really want to play him 6-7 million a year for 3 more years? I certainly can’t watch him for that much longer.

        •  @AvidBucksFan I understand your thought process, but I don’t think the Bucks could do much better for the price.  Kwame Brown made close to 7 million this year if you are looking for a point of reference. 

        •  @ThisIsntUnicef We could definitely do better for the price, Kwame Brown can’t be a reference point. Everyone knows that. If we sign Kaman, we would need Gooden to be gone to have the  8-9 mil to pay him, we can also sign Greg Oden for a minimum contact as a back-up, really low risk center. He can occupy Brockman’s spot.

        •  @AvidBucksFan  Regardless of what any of us thinks of Gooden, I don’t see Kohl paying him 18 million to play for somebody else.  

        •  @ThisIsntUnicef I hope Kohl just sells the team to Mark Attanasio. They’ve been in talks, I’ve heard. It will also give us reassurance of staying in Milwaukee to we can just rebuild. 

        •  @ThisIsntUnicef  I hope Kohl just sells the team to Mark Attanasio. They’ve been in talks, I’ve heard. It will also give us reassurance of staying in Milwaukee so we can just rebuild.

        • PattiRafalskiDavison

           @AvidBucksFan  @ThisIsntUnicef Chris Kaman is making $14 Million.  Oden’s salary for this season was negotiated down from nearly $9 million to $1.5 million after yet another health setback.  Neither player is begging to play in Milwaukee as far as I can tell.  Gooden at $6.2 has busted his back playing center for Bucks and always with a smile.  With the players on Bucks roster it would be foolish to amnesty Drew.  

        •  @PattiRafalskiDavison  @AvidBucksFan  @ThisIsntUnicef I don’t the Bucks can literally afford to amnesty Gooden. If they can get a veteran center who can at least rebound then Gooden can go back to playing at the PF.  The current other young bigs (Larry, Ekpe, Leuer) just don’t quite rebound enough to be effective starters if Gooden is going to be playing mostly away from the paint.

        •  @PattiRafalskiDavison  @AvidBucksFan  @ThisIsntUnicef I don’t the Bucks can literally afford to amnesty Gooden. If they can get a veteran center who can at least rebound then Gooden can go back to playing at the PF.  

  14. Also, we have one of the younger teams in the NBA, 8th youngest with Gooden, 2nd youngest without him.

  15. Skiles wants out of Milwaukee now according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard.  He wants the Bucks to buy out his final year on his contract, supposedly.  See here for more:

  16. It ain’t Skiles’ fault. That roster of 15 second stringers is our GM’s fault. Portland wants Hammonds? Adios MF.
    You’ll fit right in on the team that passed on michael jordan and kevin durant for two injury-prone losers.Mark my words, that stupid trade for Monta Ellis that was supposed to be a short-term fix for the playoffs is gonna be a loser.In a good organization like GS, Bogut will be back and play well.Now these IDIOTS will pick 14th, so next year will be awful, too.

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