There is no indication that the Milwaukee Bucks had at any point since this off season began made a conscious decision to tank in 2013-14. It’s not the team’s way. Milwaukee wants to be competitive. Wants to make the playoffs and wants to get better every season. The lure of the 2014 draft class is so strong that plenty of teams across the league had made their intentions very clear and started tanking preparations week ago while the Bucks were still strategizing on how to remain a playoff team.
The Bucks aren’t trying to tank. They’re trying to get better. Just failing at it rt now RT @Jmcgoo262: Bucks have to be there
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) July 3, 2013
But since July 1, one interesting thing after the next has happened and Bucks fans find themselves witnessing something of a miracle: The Accidental Tank. We know about tanking, and most know about “stealth tanking” (A team making moves that seem solid but but are going to hurt more than help. A close cousin to Accidental Tanking.), but the Bucks are quickly finding that as much as they want to be a good competitive team, players in the NBA don’t really care about those plans.
It’s as if the entire league got together and decided someone had to do what’s best for the Bucks and if it wasn’t going to be the team itself, the players would have a heart big enough to do it for them. Player after player has been pursued by the Bucks this off season and, without fail, each player has decided he’d rather ply his trade elsewhere.
I want to give a huge shout out to Coach Drew and the Milwaukee organization for having such a high interest in me. — Tony Allen (@aa000G9) July 3, 2013
Funny line from a friend: “J.R. would rather intern for the #Knicks than play in Milwaukee.”
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) July 3, 2013
So things are going pretty smooth through two full days of free agency.
And I haven’t even mentioned the departures of Mike Dunleavy and J.J. Redick. So we can be certain the Bucks are 0-for-4 and we can assume they’ll be 0-for-5 when it comes to J.R. Smith, no matter how aggressively they pursue him.
A team can want to be good or great or very competitive as much as possible, but a team can’t be good if no players will play for that team. That’s the problem Milwaukee is running into right now. After assembling a roster full of expiring contracts and accumulating enough cap space to make a large market drool, the Bucks have found that all the money in the world isn’t always the most important incentive.
I recall John Hammond once saying something to the effective of what mattered most when signing a potential free agent was having a competitive salary offer, then giving them a chance to win and finally the location. Well, the Bucks can currently provide one of those three things and free agents are not biting.
So, for now, we can hope the season of the Accidental Tank will roll on as (un)planned. Of course, these are dangerous times and one or two missteps could screw everything up for all of us. A max contract for Josh Smith would be the kind of spirit crushing blow the Bucks typically deliver at moments like this. Or a near max contract for Brandon Jennings. A renewed interest from both sides in the Monta Ellis, Bucks pursuit. This field is not without its landmines.
Thus far, the Bucks have tried jumping on a few, but have been lucky enough to find nothing but dead spots. We have seven days of jumping left. Hold tight and hope for the best.