Hammond’s comments about Charlie Villanueva were the most surprising of all, given that Hammond keeps his cards so close to the vest. The indication from Hammond seems to be that the Bucks may be preparing to let Charlie V go in free agency this summer. He also relayed that there is an understanding in the Bucks organization that Charlie’s effectiveness wouldn’t be what it currently is if Michael Redd was on the floor — a fairly obvious observation that could be applied to most Milwaukee Bucks not named Michael Redd.
Hammond said in the WSSP interview that he expects Redd back 100% in November, which, in light of his later comments about Charlie V can be interpreted as: This town ain’t big enough for the two of them. Maybe.
Charlie’s been playing like an All-Star, “Big Show” co-host Gary noted, and the stats back that up. Charlie’s averaging 22.4 pts and 7.9 rebs per game in his last 18 games, all games in which he started. (Thanks go to JSOnline and Charles Gardner for compiling those stats.)
Here’s Hammond’s take on Charlie’s recent play:
“It’s pretty amazing to see the transformation of him. And, I don’t know, I was just talking to one of the guys in the organization and he made a great point: You gotta wonder, how Charlie fits in if Bogut’s on the floor right now, if Redd is on the floor right. I don’t want to say that if those guys were on the floor he’d be the 3rd option or the 4th option or the 5th option. But look at the game last night — there was no question who our first option was in that game; it was Charlie Villanueva.
“Maybe he’s the kind of guy, on a team, he needs to be a first option on the floor or a second option on the floor. Maybe with everybody else on the floor he wouldn’t be playing quite as well; maybe he’d be playing as well or better. Who knows? But it’s a very interesting situation to watch him, and, you know, once again, you talk about being proud of our guys. You can’t be any more proud of Charlie Villanueva and the effort he’s put forth and what he’s doing for us. He’s done everything we’ve asked and more and we really appreciate him for that.”
That’s quite a statement, especially when viewed in the context of Hammond’s comments about wanting to see the Redd-Richard Jefferson-Andrew Bogut trio that the GM had envisioned last summer. And nevermind the inclusion of Bogut in Hammond’s “What if?” scenario in regards to Charlie’s effectiveness. Bogut’s like RJ: he doesn’t need the ball to be happy (Bogut is 6th on the Bucks in shot attempts per game), and eagerly seeks other things to do on the floor when other players are scoring.
I’ll suggest that Hammond and coach Scott Skiles would probably prefer a power forward more bruising than Charlie V to help Bogut inside and toughen up the Bucks interior D. Hammond did come to Milwaukee from Detroit, after all. And when Skiles was coaching the Bulls, the big move they made in 2006 to get better was acquiring Pistons center Big Ben Wallace in free agency. A younger, somewhat more offensive version of Wallace would likely be their preference, if such a player exists. Josh Smith of Atlanta or Paul Millsap of Utah are two who come to mind.
However, before deciding that Hammond’s priorities are misplaced even as Charlie’s been strutting his stuff, consider this: Any talk of finding a way to dump Redd and moving to a new Bucks era doesn’t help the cause of trading Redd, which is diffficult enough as it is with his $17.1 million salary next season. Hammond can only devalue Redd by tipping his hand in the media.
It’s also important to note that one name that has not surfaced in any trade rumors this season is that of Charlie Bell, Redd’s backup. If the Bucks were committed to Redd as a key “piece” — as Hammond likes to refer to his players — you’d think that some effort might have been made to move Bell to clear up some payroll space for next year.
Instead, the opposite occurred: Skiles overplayed Redd trying to get Charlie healthy, and as soon as Redd went down, Bell was back in the lineup and the Bucks began playing Scott Skiles basketball. The coach likes Bell a lot. Charlie’s a tough defender, good shooter, willing passer, and went to Skiles’ alma mater, Michigan State.
But it’s all sort of indefinite.
Hammond also said he’d like to retain both Charlie V and Ramon Sessions this summer, and figures the Bucks draft pick to be a resource that’ll help clear some room under the luxury tax to help the cause. But he also knows it’ll be difficult, and he’s hedging his bets.
One thing he can do now, however, is to stop identifying his players with the cold, cyborgish noun “piece” — it’s rather dehumanizing, and I wonder if anybody in the Bucks PR office has mentioned this to him (doubt it). The Milwaukee Bucks are highly paid NBA professionals, sure, but that status hasn’t yet removed them from the human race.
Knicks Cut Marbury: I would give two sh*ts about Stephon Marbury if I cared less about my bowel movements. I can’t imagine the Celtics improving with Starbury on the team, and Cleveland won’t touch him. But if you care about Stephon, Ball Don’t Lie has a nice roundup of what NBA bloggers are saying about his Escape From New York.
Does he get a Snake Pliskin eyepatch award?
Bucks do Dallas The Mavs, humbled losers to the Bucks by 34 at the BC Jan. 21 (when Redd was healthy and he and Charlie V caught fire in the 2nd quarter) won’t be taking the Bucks lightly tonight. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is expecting a dogfight:
“They’re better now [than the Bucks were in January]. They play better and they’re a harder team to play against. And they were plenty hard to play against last time.”
So this is what Scott Skiles teams do to opponents, especially teams that lost the previous night to the Tim Duncan-less Spurs? “The Mavs have no room for error,” the blogger at the Dallas Morning News added.
Bucks are off to a slow start, down 10 after one quarter. Charlie V has 19 already — but nobody else scored a hoop until Francisco Elson made a couple of shots early in the 2nd.
Then it got uglier. Bucks are down 24 at half and Dirk hasn’t woken up yet (only 5 points). I wouldn’t want to be in that locker room with Skiles.
The Mavs came to play.