Thus far, it’s difficult to say that the search for the next coach of the Milwaukee Bucks has been inspiring. It’s been relatively thorough, due diligence has been done on big names. They’ve at least explored making a splash. But the pool of candidates so far? Which one has you excited?
Nate McMillan. Kelvin Sampson. J.B. Bickerstaff. Steve Clifford. Larry Drew. These are the candidates that we know have been interviewed. Additionally, the Bucks traveled to southern Illinois and had a chat with Jerry Sloan and while most accounts say the meeting was quite pleasant, he isn’t interested in coaching the Milwaukee Bucks.
“He had a real nice meeting with them. They came to see him on his farm [in downstate Illinois]. They had a great meeting just in terms of liking each other. [Bucks general manager] John Hammond said, ‘I wish I could have stayed and watched the game with him.’ It’s just not the right fit for Jerry, from Jerry’s point of view. That’s not a negative thing; that’s just the reality.”
“For Jerry to go to a place that’s going to take years to build — and I’m not talking about Milwaukee, I’m talking about anywhere — that’s just not right for him,” Glass said, according to the newspaper. “They have to be able to compete. Jerry is a competitor, and he wants to compete and teach.”
But really … he is talking about Milwaukee, isn’t he?
Maybe the Bucks aren’t officially rebuilding, but it’s pretty obvious to everyone everywhere that this isn’t a team that’s anywhere near being very competitive. That’s why Sloan wasn’t interested, as nice as the folks in Milwaukee may be. That’s why Milwaukee never got anywhere with Stan Van Gundy either. Proven, successful coaches – coaches with options – why would they be interested in Milwaukee? Sometimes I think everyone in the world understands the dire situation the Bucks are in, except for the Bucks.
The cap space is nice and Larry Sanders is good, but Milwaukee’s a team in disarray. They have few pieces in place and even fewer obvious answers ahead of themselves this summer.
So without the ability to lure a name coach, what are the Bucks options? Well, one is hoping to get lucky with a veteran coach who hasn’t been quite so successful. The Nate McMillans and Larry Drews of the world. It’s easy to look at the records and both McMillan and Drew and point to the playoff appearances, the seasons over .500 and say those guys know what they are doing.
But in 10 full seasons with the Sonics and Blazers, McMillan got out of round one exactly once. In three with the Hawks, Drew got out once as well. McMillan’s a defensive coach who didn’t have very good defensive teams.
Drew? He doesn’t have much of a reputation, aside from being unable to corral Josh Smith. It’s hard to lay blame on Drew for failing to a task that’s probably impossible. Like probably every other coach Smith has had, he didn’t love the forward’s shot-selection. But if the most important task he had in Atlanta was getting Josh Smith to another level of recognition with regard to how poor many of the shots he was taking were, then he failed at his most important task. Whether it’s his fault or not, he’s another guy who couldn’t get his team past round one.
On the plus side, the looks at retreads alongside a couple of assistants seems to indicate that the Bucks are going to look everywhere for a coach, which is great. Milwaukee has to consider all of its options. But it’s hard to be too excited at this point about the list they have put together.
As a fan of the relatively anonymous, hungry young assistant, I’ve yet to be satiated. After Sampson, the coach that apparently every organization in the league is seemingly contractually required to speak with this summer, Clifford has been the name that’s excited me the most. He’s spent years studying under the Van Gundys, learning how to communicate and drill defense.
Most importantly, he’s yet to lead any unsatisfying, mediocre teams. Finding someone who hasn’t done that, either out of lack of opportunity or due to immense skill, seems ideal to me. The last thing the Bucks need is another guy who has his sights set on round one. There’s plenty of that going around already.