Give Marc Lasry and Wes Edens some credit: They’ve put their stamp on the Milwaukee Bucks organization quickly. They want to rebuild and appear to be committed to that being a long term process. While they wait for wins to arrive, they’ll collect talent and act decisively when they get the chance to acquire the talent they want.
Jabari Parker was first. They, along with the rest of the Bucks organization, made him feel welcome and very bluntly told him he was the guy they wanted.
Next, Lasry and Edens identified Jason Kidd as an available talent once his agent reached out to them. After his one season in Brooklyn they felt he was a coaching prospect too tantalizing for them to pass up when the opportunity to speak with him was offered. They didn’t open up the interview process and act like it was a multiple man race. Kidd was their guy. They acted decisively. Too decisively, actually.
After hearing from Kidd’s representation, they made a mistake. They didn’t get John Hammond involved or relieve Larry Drew of his duties. Drew and his staff went through the draft operating as if they’d be coaching the players they were drafting, when Lasry and Edens had already requested permission to speak with the Nets about Jason Kidd.
Drew wasn’t fired until Monday and Hammond wasn’t brought into the conversation until negotiations to bring Kidd to the Bucks were already taking place. Hammond began handling them at that point, but word had already leaked out to the media and perceptions were forming about roles going forward.
Lasry said it was a mistake of newness.
“We’ve learned a lot in this process,” Lasry said. “Our view, and it hasn’t changed from the beginning, is all the basketball operations and everything goes through John. And I think in this process we’ve learned we made a mistake. ”
So far the Bucks have made two big decisions since the new owners took over. The draft pick seemed to have gone through Hammond. The coach did not. He’s saying the right things now about how excited he is about Milwaukee’s future going forward, but time will tell how operations are run in Milwaukee. Lasry and Edens insisted that what they want to do is let basketball people handle basketball decisions.
At the very least, everyone does seem to be working towards the same goal, even if they aren’t always on the same page.
When Lasry and Edens intervened, they didn’t do so in a direction changing way. They’ve laid out an identity for the team that most people can get on board with, Hammond and Kidd included. There’s been concern that the sloppiness of how this was all handled could be indicative of poor process going forward, which would scare off potential presidential candidates. And I admit that it seems quite backwards to have a coach who wasn’t hired by the general manager and a general manager who won’t have been hired by the president.
Wonky structure aside, whoever is eventually brought on as president will know his goal is a long term rebuild, presumably with Hammond and Kidd in place. The vision has been dictated by ownership, and they’re merely seeking out those they think are the best basketball people to get them to that goal. They want people who can map out the strategy and execute the tactics.
Kidd is their tactics guy. He’s here to develop young players and lead the team forward on the court. Hammond appears to be the strategy guy, though it’s naive to suspect Kidd won’t have some say here too. And maybe that Kidd power grab could still be coming, though it doesn’t appear to be something that’ll happen in the immediate future. So they still need one more piece to this puzzle, and whoever it is, it doesn’t appear that he’ll get to put his stamp on this franchise the way that some presidents do, but at least he’ll be able to see the direction the franchise wants to go in and know who he’ll be working with.
The press conference was short and a bit more somber than the retired jerseys and colorful welcome messages outside the Bradley Center had me believe it was going to be. They all saved their most relevant answers for interviews that took place after. But none of the parties involved seemed to feel much regret.
They all got what they wanted and they’ll all be moving forward, chasing a championship at any cost. While Bucks fans are justified when wondering about just how that’s going to happen, it’s still more fun than a team doing boilerplate things to chase the eighth seed. We can always reflect back on that and wonder if this is better.