The perception of failure surrounding the Milwaukee Bucks trade deadline activity and inactivity

“We’ve got to turn it right from the very beginning. We’re not Oklahoma City or Miami or someone like that. We’ve got to play hard for 48 minutes. I played guys a lot of minutes tonight but I just needed a group out there that was playing with some energy. I need more guys out there playing with energy.” 

Jim Boylan after Milwaukee’s overtime loss in Brooklyn Tuesday night

Energy deficient has been a popular way to justify some of the lows for the Milwaukee Bucks recently. They’ve had a proper amount of energy for spurts during games of late, but not enough for entire games to play to their potential. Boylan a number of times lately, has harped on his team’s lack of 48 minutes of energy.

His point about Oklahoma City and Miami not needing the full 48 minutes is one I thought about quite a bit as the Bucks headed into the trade deadline. The meaning inside that message seems pretty clear: The Bucks are not a team with an elite level of talent, so they have to have something to make up for it. To compete with better teams, Milwaukee has to push the pace, defend crisply, attack the glass as a team and move bodies and the ball constantly on offense for 48 minutes.

That’s a lot to ask. It’s easy to forget how exhausting a game basketball is, especially when played at such a fierce pace. That’s why it’s really nice to have a few super talented players. The whole team doesn’t have to push quite as hard all game. It gives everyone a little more left in the tank late in games or late in the season. Having to get by on energy is like working hard rather than working smart.

This is one of many pictures of Josh Smith not in a Bucks jersey, much to the chagrin of many Bucks fans. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Bucks pursuit of Josh Smith was an attempt to work smart. Not because Smith’s a traditionally smart player, but because he’s quite talented. Inserting Josh Smith into Luc Mbah a Moute’s small forward spot would have made the Bucks a much more talented team. With Smith and Larry Sanders, the Bucks would have been able to cover quite a bit of ground on defense while gaining a ton on offense in the upgrade from Mbah a Moute to Smith.

But it was all for naught. Milwaukee’s pursuit of Smith died minutes before the trade deadline apparently when Atlanta reportedly pulled out of a deal the Bucks thought was a go.

So the Bucks will have to continue to work hard, rather than smart the rest of this season. And that’s what has Bucks fans feeling like this trade deadline was a failure. Even though the Bucks probably got the best player traded in the league on Thursday, they didn’t really get that much better. Even with J.J. Redick’s efficient brand of basketball, it feels like Milwaukee is scraping its head on the ceiling of this season already. A couple games over .500 would be a feat at this point and maybe Redick can make that difference.

But Smith could have made this team a threat in the first round. And the addition of Smith and Redick paired with the subtraction of Monta Ellis would have really been interesting. Think of the lineup possibilities and the redistribution of shots. It might be that Milwaukee’s biggest failure this deadline, aside from not getting Smith obviously, was allowing so much information to leak out over the past week or two.

Hopes were high in Milwaukee that not only were the Bucks going to get rid of Ellis, who has been turned on as quickly as I’ve ever seen this city turn on a player, but acquire a enticing talent like Smith. The expectations were high and the Bucks didn’t deliver. Had none of that come out and the Bucks acquired Redick, the perception of this deadline would be very different.

But a town hungry for talent heard some might be coming and now is left wondering.

If not now, then when?

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  1. I think there is too much negativity about the Smith trade not happening. The odds of Smith resigning at the end of the season are roughly the same as the Bucks giving him a max contract in free agency anyway. JJ Redick could resign, however.
    So, with the deal that happened and the deal that didn’t, the Bucks can resign Jennings and Redick in the offseason, and give Smith a max contract in free agency, creating a dynamic core for the future.

  2. I too was feeling deflated when the word came thru that Smith was staying put in ATL. There was alot of media coverage that Bucks making
    hard push to secure a deal for Smith. Actually found myself EXCITED about it…WOW!

    Now reality: Hello Redick, Ayon, I. Smith
    So long Udrih, Harris, Lamb…and thanks

    Proud of organization making LEGIT effort to secure a player like J. Smith. Even the best laid plans dont always work out. Maybe an off season acquisition is possible. In meantime , we all should support our
    Milwaukee Bucks squad…. GO BUCKS !!!!!!

  3. What people are forgetting is that Josh Smith stated that he wanted to play with both Ellis and Jennings. Therefore, the Bucks only chance at getting Smith long-term was to keep both Jennings and Ellis and sign Smith to a max deal.

    That is why Hammonds was attempting to trade parts other than Ellis for Smith in the first place. Had Smith not made that demand know or the Bucks weren’t interested in Smith’s services beyond the remainder of this season, they would have just traded Ellis for Smith straight up.
    They then likely would have gone with the rumored Moute/Harris or Moute/1st round pick for Redick deal.

    By keeping Ellis, now the Bucks can still go after Smith this summer, if they really want to and won’t have to give up anything in return.

    With the trade we made, now we have Redick and young spare parts next season for the departures of Joel Przybilla and Samuel Dalembert at backup Center, Mike Dunleavy and Marquis Daniels at SF and the amnesty of PF Drew Gooden.

    All those moves will be necessary if the Bucks envision resigning/matching offers for Jennings, signing Josh Smith and re-signing Redick for next season.

    • “Therefore, the Bucks only chance at getting Smith long-term was to keep both Jennings and Ellis and sign Smith to a max deal”

      No. Smith may want to play with Ellis and Jennings but there are two things he wants more: to make a lot of money, and to be a winner.

      He optimizes in neither if he plays with both those guys, but with one of them things look a lot better as far as his pay and opportunity to win.

      Hammond was likely trying to trade players other than Ellis because the Hawks simply didn’t want anything to do with Ellis.

  4. RT @PeterVecsey1: Bucks were in final hunt 4 both Redick & Josh. Would’ve had Smith had offered Monta or Jennings

    Via Frank Madden

    If thats true, it is not only deflating but maddening.

    • As far as I can tell, Mr. Peter Vecsey was tweeting about trades. Nothing against tweets, but take it for what it’s worth.

      I found this little bit from Vecsey in an interview with Steve Somers in regards to the Nets making trade for Josh Smith with Atlanta:

      “We don’t see the Hawks being interested in any of the big contracts like Gerald Wallace’s. They’re clearing space, not adding to it.. The Nets aren’t giving up Brook Lopez, either. And why would Atlanta want another guard, particularly one with $13.2 million on the books next year (assuming he exercises his player option)?”

      Now how is it that Vecsey doesn’t see Atlanta making deal with Nets because Atlanta does not want another guard with a $13M contract. But yet Atlanta stopped the trade with Bucks because they DID want another guard with a $11M contract?

      This just defies any logic and makes me question just how credible your source is.

      • I agree Patti, I think if the Hawks really wanted Ellis, Hammond would have jumped at the opportunity to trade him, especially now that Redick has made him disposable.

        The reason Ellis wasn’t offered is because he is playing awful lately and has another season left on a sizeable contract – 11M per…. with the OPTION to opt out. Why in the heck would the hawks want him?

        I don’t think our management is stupid enough not to pull the trigger on a smith for ellis swap. I highly doubt such a trade scenario was considered by the hawks.

  5. It has been painful to watch the Bucks blow huge leads all season, when both Ellis and Jennings go cold. Beno was now the offensive answer to that problem, but having another option other than Dunleavy for secondary scoring is likely to help out greatly.

    Redick is a much better fit than Beno!

    • Why don’t people understand that Josh Smith openly stated he wanted to play with both Ellis and Jennings.

      If the Bucks truely want Smith, they can accomplish this now by offering Smith a max contract. If the Bucks wanted Smith, they knew it would only be with a max contract. Now the Bucks can sign Smith, without giving up any talent, if they so desire.

      If Smith never said that he wanted to play with both Jennings and Ellis, Ellis would have been traded for Smith. Hammonds has also stated that he wants to re-sign Ellis to a long-term contract. After Smith’s comments, Hammonds envisioned signing Smith long-term and not just as a rental. Now he can do both.

      Now saying I agree with any of the above, just stating the facts!

      • Hammond is never going to say he doesn’t intend to resign a player when asked publicly about it. Thats just the way he speaks to the media, real generic and uncontroversial, I wouldn’t take him by his word on that.

        Smith could want to play rumplestiltskin it really doesn’t matter. Money and winning are going to be the determining factors when he picks a team in the summer, not whether Monta Ellis is on the squad. I dont think smith casually saying he would like to play with Ellis really means that he will only play with the bucks if they have Ellis. Smith ain’t a GM and he doesn’t have the clout of a Dwayne Wade to choose who is going to be his teammate.

  6. what I think is most interesting is that there is so much passion on the Bucks boards, but on the Orlando boards nobody seems to care.. only a handful of total comments on three separate posts

    • Orlando lost their best player. Redick was the best player traded yesterday. That is not saying much, but when it’s your best player, there’s not much to be happy about for Orlando fans.

      • Orlando fans know their team is in tank mode and rebuilding for the future.

        I envy them. Instead we’re stuck following a team with the attitude of “Let’s trade talented young players we should be building around to make sure we make the playoffs this year. Win a series? No, not gonna happen, just make the playoffs and it’ll all be worth it!”.

        *thinking about becoming a Magic fan*

        • Except for the part about becoming a
          Magic fan — which might be a joke, anyway —
          I think Chris is on the mark. What we have
          now is mediocrity with little excitement
          and faint hope for the future. By contrast,
          look at the Cavs with Irving, Waiters, Thompson
          and Gee; they may already be better than the
          fading Bucks.

          Also, Josh Smith seems to be more of the same for
          the Bucks: talent without leadership or discipline.
          I doubt very much that he’s the answer for all that

          Hope people can understand that one can love the
          Bucks while being disillusioned with their current

    • Yea I don’t really think Magic fans have much to discuss until the 2013 draft, and then again until the 2014 draft.

    • Yeah, but I thought it was funny that no one seems to have any opinions.. positive, negative or otherwise.. these boards are always full no matter the state of the team

  7. I know Gustavo Ayon was just a throw in, but he may surprise people with his skills. I know, years back we couldn’t find a PF and now he makes our 6th on this roster.

    I was watching some recent Orlando games to see JJ Redick and Redick’s last really good game was against Portland. That also was Ayon’s best game of the season and this was his line from that game:

    32 min 8-14 .571 0-0 .000 0-3 FT .000 11 reb 6 ast, 1 blk 1 stl 5 PFs 1 TO 16 points (his 2nd double-double this season)

    Now if Skiles was his coach, he would have been taken out of the game much earlier because of a blind behind the back pass that was successful and lite up his teammates.

    This guy may actually be more than just a throw-in next season becasue 3 of our big men are gone and Ayon actually reminds me of a poor man’s Bogut, except he has the ability to stay healthy. He also can’t make a FT!

    The guy has the typical international knowledge of the game, but the announcers did state his basketball IQ was extremely good. That comment however was made after the behind the back pass, so take it for what it’s worth.

    The guy did however display great hands and passing ability for a big man; thus, the poor man’s Bogut statement. Although, I’m sure most will see him more as a young Zaza, more than Bogut.

    With Dalembert, Przybilla gone next season and the possible amnesty of Gooden, we will likely have Udoh, Ayon and hopefully a 15 lb heavier Henson as our back up bigs next season.

    Obviously the Bucks attempted to trade Udoh in the Smith deal, so there’s no telling if he’s in the Bucks future. Ayon has the bulk and size to backup Sanders, with Henson backing up Ersan. He doesn’t have Udoh’s ability to block shots however, so he may just end up being on the team as injury potection.

    I will say that his above stat line did come against a tired Portland team that was playing back to back. Ayon was also playing PF, instead of center, but he did play some center in a couple of the more recent games I watched.

    BTW, this was JJ Redick’s line from that same Portland game:

    29 min 9-13 .692 2-4 3pt .500 2-2 1.000 FT 1 Reb 5 Ast 0 Blk 1 Stl 22 points

    Hopefully we see plenty of this out of JJ, especially on those nights when neither Ellis or Jennings can hit a shot. Everybody knew that Ellis and Jennings were very similar, but the Bucks needed to get rid of Bogut, while they still could find a taker.

    I will say that Ellis is a much more willing passer than I anticipated, so hopefully he’s passing plenty to JJ. Nothing frustrates me more than watching a 21-point lead, against a team like Cleveland, when virtually nobody made a shot for 8-minutes. With that in mind, let’s hope that all 3 (Jennings/Ellis/Redick) are never off on the same night!

    Afterall, that was the very reason for this trade.