Category Archives: Chad Ford Watch

More Bucks forwards: 2011 NBA Draft signs point to the Bucks adding to a crowded power forward situation

The 2011 seasons of Luc Mbah a Moute (“reliable”) and Drew Gooden (very “unreliable”) failed to provide much in the way of writing material (or so I’ve found) so what’s to keep Bucks GM John Hammond from adding another another power forward type to the roster in the draft?

Nothing of course, and that’s what many draft watchers thought Hammond would do even before he said last week that the Bucks No. 10 pick was one of those kinda-sorta “best player available” kinda picks.

In Hammond speak, that means “We don’t know but I’m probably gonna draft an athletic 6-foot-8 guy and hope he can figure out some NBA offense.”

In 2008 that translated to Joe Alexander in the first round and Mbah a Moute in round No. 2.  In 2010, that was Darington Hobson, “the best player available” whom the Bucks had worked out.   In this draft?

Tristan Thompson, 6-8, 225, Canada by way of the University of Texas.

“The Bucks have two terrific building blocks in Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings – but after that, it’s mostly question marks. They traded last summer for Corey Maggette and signed John Salmons and Drew Gooden as free agents, and none of them really panned out as expected,” according to ESPN Draft Insider Chad Ford.

“They really could use help at the 2, 3 and 4 positions. I have Thompson here because, of the players on the board, he’s the most likely to be a Scott Skiles-type player. He’s tough, aggressive and just a beast on the offensive boards. His skill level isn’t particularly high on the offensive end yet, but he’s a good fit alongside Bogut on the front line.”

Chad Ford pays very little attention to the Bucks, but that probably doesn’t matter with this draft.  Here’s how the thinking goes:

Everybody in and around the NBA knows the Bucks need backcourt help.  Unfortunately, what little backcourt help there is in the draft will likely be gone by the time the Bucks pick (assuming they don’t improve position in the lottery).

The point guards (Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight) are slated to go in the top five.  Forward Derrick Williams (Arizona) will likely go No. 2.

Bismack Biyombo, the 6-9 phenom from the Congo with 7-7 wing span, won’t survive past Detroit’s No. 7 pick.

Three of the international big men who’ve been on NBA radar for two years (Jan Vesely, Enes Kanter and Jonas Valanciunas, in no particular order) will be gone in the top eight.

The rest of the lottery board:  a group of NCAA forwards plus shooting guard Alec Burks and 6-11 scorer Donatas Motiejunas (Lithuania).

Ford thinks Charlotte at No. 9 will take San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard.  Others have a feeling that Jordan isn’t looking for another version of Gerald Wallace and will take Motiejunas, a big forward who’s got a scoring arsenal but a disdain for defense and rebounding. In other words, he’s the least like “Crash,” whom Jordan just traded.

Still others think Jordan will like Burks’ game most of all and will take a chance on the guard developing a reliable jump shot, a la Jordan himself.

The questions about these players are the same ones the Bucks will be asking.  Why bother with Motiejunas if he’s disinterested in defense?   After being dead last in shooting and scoring, can the Bucks afford to play a shooting guard (Burks) who can’t extend past midrange?

Who’s better — Leonard or Thompson or Marcus Morris, a classic 6-9 college power forward with three years at Kansas on his resume?  They’ve all got knocks.  Leonard and Thompson have offensive skill work to do.  Morris’ downside is athleticism and short arms, mid-range shooting.

The best answer for the Bucks is that hard-working Leonard fits the Bucks core personality, if for no other reason than he has a nose for winning 50-50 plays that Skiles can’t resist.  But he’s also a fair bet to be off the board by the nine pick, which would leave the Bucks picking between Thompson, Morris, Burks and Motiejunas.

They’ll likely shy away from Kentucky one-and-doner Terrance Jones, who’s not ready for the pros.

“Best player available” would then be Motiejunas — but Thompson becomes the player the coaches want — a 6-8 defender with scoring potential (Mbah a Moute again) who can play small or big forward.

Thompson would join a crowded stable of versatile Bucks power forward players, in keeping with GM Hammond’s modus operandi:  overload the frontcourt while he figures out who’s staying and who’s going.  The path of least resistance then becomes the trade Hammond backed himself into when he signed Gooden — Ilyasova for whatever veteran backcourt help the Bucks can get back.

Ilyasova wants full time NBA power forward minutes (32-35 per game) but  Skiles and Hammond have thus far been unwilling to entrust him with this.  Meanwhile, Ersan’s already considering offers to play in Europe if there’s an NBA lockout.

Chris Douglas-Roberts out for a month

Not five minutes after raising the question yesterday of how Skiles would manage his logjam on the wings with John Salmons, Carlos Delfino, Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts, a rare visit to BobBoozerJinx @ twitter was greeted with an update from CDR, the Bucks resident Twitter-addict:  CDR will miss about a month of the season.

“I went thru hell 2day.Got eye surgery.Lucky though b/c if I were a day or two late I could’ve lost my vision.Cant play hoop for a MONTH. :-(“

And an update:

“Three needles shot under my eye.I was awake the whole time.Shii scared me.”

And an updated update, and another, and another:

“So now I have to lay flat on my back for a week so my eye can heal properly. H/e,I cant do anything hoop wise for 3 weeks. Which kills me…”

And finally:

“So I refuse to watch any hoop unless the Bucks or the Bulls are playing. B/c watching hoop & not being able to play hoop is torture for me.”

see http://twitter.com/cdouglasroberts

Bad break for CDR, who had lobbied to come to Milwaukee from New Jersey so he could play for a tough, defensive-minded coach like Scott Skiles. It’s also bad news for Bucks and Brandon Jennings faithful who see CDR — not Salmons or Maggette — as Jennings’ running mate of the future.  Adding the cat-quick, explosive CDR to the Bucks core simply made more sense than Maggette, who’s never played much D and was a vocal malcontent after Nellie made it clear that rookie Stephon Curry — not Maggette — had to be the focus of the Golden State offense.

But the unfortunate poke in the eye to CDR does allow Skiles to showcase Maggette off the bench without conscience — and Maggette will shoot it without conscience.  It’s pretty well understood in Bucks land that Salmons is the Bucks starting shooting guard, for this season anyway, and that Maggette’s best role is to play behind both Salmons and Carlos Delfino, helping the Bucks second unit get to the free throw line, Maggette’s undeniable strength.

Don’t expect Maggette to light it up from 3-point land — he won’t (32 percent career from downtown don’t lie, and is even a little scary considering coach Skiles’ maddening belief in letting guys crank it up from out there as if he doesn’t realize that he’s no longer coaching Ben Gordon).  But Maggette has been a 50 percent shooter or better from inside the arc, where Skiles needs to make sure that he stays.

THE LINEUP: Skiles hasn’t announced his starters yet, but Salmons has been practicing at full tilt, so expect the Fish to start in the backcourt with Jennings, with Delfino at small forward.  Bogut is ready to go at center, and tonight begins his long road to the 2011 All-Star game.

Power forward? Still an unanswered question at this point, given the match-up problem presented tonight by one David West, New Orleans Hornet All-Star.   The natural inclination would be to dog West with a combination of Luc Mbah a Moute and Ersan Ilyasova … but Mbah a Moute is still hobbled with an ankle sprain and might not play.

Skiles may go with Drew Gooden to start the game, a development that bears watching.   Skiles has been starting Gooden with Bogut but the Bucks haven’t exactly been winning games in the preseason with Gooden logging big minutes and Mbah a Moute sidelined.  I’m suddenly reminded of last season when Skiles started the season with Kurt Thomas as the starting power forward before giving way to Ersan and Luc, who not only earned their PT but won games with Bogut and Jennings until injuries to Bogut and Luc (and the advent of Michael Redd) derailed the Bucks fast start.

I hope Skiles remembers that he has a rising star in Ersan Ilyasova, who led Turkeys campaign to the silver medal in this year’s world championships, and just might be the solution to the Bucks jinx at the power forward position

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HARDWOOD PAROXYSM’s Bucks preview is a good read but there’s nary a mention of Ilyasova despite HP’s otherwise great understanding of BJ and Bogut and the Bucks D.

BREWHOOP has some links to other preseason NBA picks and predictions, some of which are interesting.  Note that anybody picking the Bucks lower than 4 in the East hasn’t seen them play much with Bogut anchoring the D, and is either a Bulls fan or an ESPN television boob (who can forget ESPN’s horrific Bucks-Hawks Game 7 broadcast last spring?).  The writers pick the Bucks to win the Central.

Mo Williams trade brewing (and stalling) with Cleveland and Oklahoma City… Luke Ridnour VIDEO hour

Mo shootsThe Cleveland Cavaliers’ quest for backcourt help for Lebron James continues … With Michael Redd apparently unavailable for the time being, Cavs GM Danny Ferry has set his sights on Bucks point guard Mo Williams, first reported Sunday in the News-Herald of Northern Ohio, a Cleveland area daily.

The Cavs want scoring, and that’s our Mo. He was one of the top shooters in the NBA last season, 2nd only to Utah’s Kyle Korver in 2-point jumpshooting with a .508 percentage (Korver, Mo and 2-time MVP Steve Nash were the only players in the NBA above 50%). Mo led the Bucks in three-point shooting (38.5%) and free throw shooting (85.6%), averaging 17.2 pts, 6.3 asts per game.

Yet while Mo was the Bucks best shooter last season, he leaves a lot to be desired as a floor general and playmaker — and he’s terrible defender with a five-year, $43M contract. This doesn’t make him coach Scott Skiles’ kind of point guard. And Cleveland has been knocking. 

Delonte owned Rondo vs. C'sNews-Herald writer Bob Finnan speculated that trade talks may have begun with Cavs point guard Delonte West and two Cavs 2009 expiring contracts — former Bucks Joe Smith and Damon Jones. West, a restricted free agent, is in a contract dispute with Cavs GM Danny Ferry, and has been offered a “take it or leave it” minimum offer — $2.8 million for one year.  A sign and trade deal sending West to the Bucks with a higher salary would break the impasse.

I watched a lot of Cleveland Cavs playoff basketball. West was acquired from Seattle in the three-team Ben Wallace-Larry Hughes trade and had been on the team only two months — yet he had stepped in and was doing yeoman work running the offense with Lebron, playing scrappy defense and hitting key shots. He started all 13 playoff games as the Cavs ousted the Wizards and pushed Pierce, Garnett and Allen to the final minute of game seven.  Mo Williams for Delonte West and Smith, the crafty 33-year-old forward-center with a soft shooting touch, works for me.

But apparently Bucks GM John Hammond and Skiles are not interested in West. Too much like Mo, probably. Enter Oklahoma City (the team that left its name in Seattle), one of the teams that have reportedly been involved in talks with the Cavs r.e. forward-center Anderson Varejao. (The Bucks have also been one of those teams). OK City, as luck would have it, has a corral of point guards that Scott Skiles could like — draft pick Russell Westbrook, last year’s starter Earl Watson and Luke Ridnour, the point guard during the Ray Allen years in Seattle.

After days of speculation centering on Watson and the possibilities for a larger trade involving power forwards Varejao, OKC’s Chris Wilcox and Charlie Villanueva, who do the Bucks reportedly want for Mo Williams?  Luke Ridnour, the third stringer, fallen on hard times since the departures of coach Brian Hill and Ray Allen. With the Sonics last season, West played more minutes per game than Ridnour prior to being traded. The Mo trade would reportedly send Mo to Cleveland, Joe Smith to OK City and Ridnour to Milwaukee. Setting aside for a moment whether or not this deal works within NBA rules …

Luke Ridnour???




That had to hurt. I can understand how Skiles sees a little bit of himself in 27-year-old Ridnour, but

… Luke Ridnour???




And people say Mo is a bad defender … But hold on. This trade is now stalled. Apparently, ESPN league sources say, Cavs GM Ferry is “balking at taking on Williams’ contract. OKC and Milwaukee are ready to do the deal. The trade is not dead, but I’m told as of right now it has stalled.”

At least someone came to their senses. I don’t think, however, that this was ever “the trade.”  The salaries don’t match. The salary amount going out from a team in a trade has to be within 15 percent of the amount coming in. Trading Mo’s $8.35 million salary requires that the Bucks take in at least $7.1M but not more than $9.6M. Ridnour’s salary is $6.5M – $600,000 short. OK City is not taking in enough with Smith, whose salary is $4.8M -also about $600,000 short. OK City is under the salary cap and can take over 15 percent of a salary, but they can’t undercut. Cleveland and Milwaukee are both over the cap, and the Cavs are over the luxury tax threshold. 

The Cavs need to find at least $2.3M to send out in order to take on Mo’s contract. This trade could work if the Cavs sawed Delonte West or Damon Jones in two (I’m assuming they would choose Jones) and sent half a player and contract to Milwaukee and half to OK City. Barring that, they could send 1st round draft pick J.J. Hickson, a 6′ 9″ forward to either team, and fill in the other team’s gap with Tarence Kinsey, an athletic 6′ 6″ guard built to play D whom the Cavs signed this month. After all that, the Cavs would still be $200,000 short of being within 15 percent of Mo’s salary. Going deeper to the Cavs bench, guard Billy Thomas or center Lance Allred would cover it. 

By now, Danny Ferry is no doubt cursing Larry Harris for paying Mo too much last summer. The Cavs have an $85.5 million payroll, some $13M over the luxury tax limit. Because Cleveland is over limit, the Cavs would have to send a dollar-for-dollar tax to the league based on how much additional payroll Mo’s contract adds. As this deal lays now, the Cavs would pay Mo his salary plus about $1 M to the NBA — a total of $9.3 million. For this privelege, they would give up Smith, a key role player in their front court rotation, and possibly three players including the 1st round draft pick — after pinching pennies with Delonte West.

No wonder Ferry’s balking and the deal is stalled. The price is high. Keep in mind that the Cavs can stand pat and still know that they are a contender for the title. The only team in the East that has proven it can beat Lebron in a playoff series is the Boston Celtics. Would Mo make the difference? Or would a healthy Boobie Gibson serve just as well? Cleveland and Ferry may have picked up the phone to get the ball rolling on this trade, but they’re good enough as a team to risk nothing by waiting to see how the season unfolds.

And Luke Ridnour? Here he is in better times, the 2005 playoffs against Sacramento. This must be the guy that Hammond and Skiles are hoping to acquire:






Randolph, not Alexander has had the inside track in Bucks draft

Cool photo of Joe AlexanderI’m sticking with my earlier prediction that Hammond is working to move this pick, or trade whomever the Bucks draft — which may or may not explain why West Virginia’s Joe Alexander was in town today for a second visit with the Bucks. Until now, LSU’s Anthony Randolph has been viewed as the Bucks likely top choice, though there are concerns now that other teams are repositioning ahead of the Bucks and Randolph may be gone by the time the Bucks draft at #8.

Anthony RandolphWhat makes me say this when all draft speculators have the Bucks taking Alexander with the #8 pick and Randolph slipping out of the top 10? For starters, I was at the June 6 workout of Randolph, Alexander and Donte Green of Syracuse. The man of the day was Randolph.

As the media straggled into the court area at the Cousins Center and the players reached for the gatorade on the sidelines, Bucks assistant Joe Wolf strode up to Randolph and the two 6’10″ers exchanged an emphatic high five. I’d say things went very well for Randolph in Milwaukee. In the post-workout interviews, which you can watch here at sportsbubbler.com, Randolph declared himself the best player on the floor. I don’t think there is much doubt about this in the Bucks camp. Later that day, Coach Scott Skiles and Randolph were reportedly spotted Downtown eating dinner together.

Alexander and Green were also feeling the Bucks’ pro-Randolph vibe. Alexander hung around on the court taking in a few extra high post pointers from Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson (no harm in kissing up to the coaches). Green decided he needed to show the media some of his stuff and slammed home a couple of high flying dunks on a side-basket. It worked — Green’s an impressive athlete and would be a good pick anywhere out of the top five or six in this draft. Green may yet sneak in to the Bucks plans.

I’d be very surprised if anyone in the media came away from the Cousins Center with the impression that Joe Alexander would be the pick. Journal Sentinel columnist Michael Hunt said as much in his column yesterday, writing that Randolph will likely be taken higher than #8. Here’s the excerpt:

“’Everything’s in play,’ Hammond said recently. ‘Was, still is and probably will remain that way probably right up until draft day. We’re going to explore every option that we can to improve our team, and, as we said, potentially maybe even move the pick.’

That’s good, because LSU’s Anthony Randolph, the 6-10 forward who was probably the best option that worked out for the Bucks, will likely be gone by then. Draft-day trades, though, have become more and more uncommon in the NBA, so it’s possible the new and promising regime will have to take this reclamation project deep into the summer.”


The New York Daily News yesterday echoed the Hunt (and BBJinx) take on Randolph.

The Bucks are sending out strong signals that they like LSU’s Anthony Randolph at No. 8. A legitimate 6-10, Randolph has been called a cross between Tayshaun Prince and Odom. But West Virginia small forward Joe Alexander, a hard-nosed worker, is seen as a better fit with new coach Scott Skiles. …


You know whoSo why does ESPN’s Chad Ford have Randolph possibly “slipping out of the lottery” in his latest Mock Draft? Ford writes:


“A number of young, inexperienced bigs have been hurting themselves in workouts. It’s now a possibility that LSU’s Anthony Randolph falls out of the lottery. Texas A&M’s DeAndre Jordan, Nevada’s JaVale McGee and Florida’s Marreese Speights might not hear their names called until the 20th pick or after.”



Remember The Chad Ford Principle. He doesn’t talk to teams as much as he talks to agents, which means whatever he’s got happening with Randolph probably serves the interest of a sports agent or two.

(Since originally posting this, a little research revealed that Randolph’s rep is former Chicago Bull B.J. Armstrong of the Arn Tellem agency. Armstrong, a teammate of Bulls GM John Paxson on the 1992 and 1993 Bulls championship teams, also happens to be the rep for one Derrick Rose. Employing the Chad Ford principle we can assume that Armstrong is one of Ford’s primary sources regarding not only Rose and the debate over who the Bulls will pick, but Randolph as well.)

Ford wrote in his mock draft last week that Randolph may now be perceived to be a headcase (Brewhoop notes it here.) That’s probably a seed planted by Armstrong or other interested parties who want to see certain teams take a pass on Randolph. It’s not all that clear what the Sonics, Grizzlies or Knicks will do ahead of the Bucks — and the Grizzlies and Knicks at least have had interest in Randolph or Alexander or both.

(Brewhoop today notes that weeks ago Ford had Randolph in the top 5 talentwise, a good salespitch by Armstrong right about the time of the Randolph-Alexander Bucks workout. Armstrong and Ford seem to either have Randolph high out of the Bucks reach or too low for the Bucks to dip for. The Chad Ford Principle at work again. Go figure.)

Expect Ford, ever the accomplice for NBA agents, to be wrong on this one, and Hunt to be the writer who’s got the Bucks and Randolph in better focus.

Ford also has Eric Gordon now going to the Memphis Grizzlies at the #5 spot — that’s a first for Gordon in these mock drafts — and writes that he “would be shocked” if the Bulls took Beasley over Rose.

I’d be shocked if Chad Ford is on target.

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Here’s an interesting analysis from Adi Joseph on NBADraft.Net. Joseph points out that many players in this draft are struggling to fit an NBA position, and that a little pessimism might be in order for fans of lottery teams.

Alexander can’t handle or shoot well enough to truly play on the wing, but he’s too short for the post. He’s definitely got some Shawn Marion in him, but often players with similar skill sets struggle to find their offensive games in the NBA.

Randolph is being compared to Chris Bosh. But he struggled with his efficiency as a freshman, turning the ball over 3 times per game and shooting just 46% from the field. And he’s rail-thin and had the worst bench press results at the Orlando predraft camp. He’ll have to bulk up big time to ever play in the post. But his 2-of-19 shooting from three-point range will need to improve if he expects any respect from defenders at the NBA level.”


Ouch. Joseph might even be meaner than I am!

The Chad Ford Watch and …. Redd to Cleveland hits snag

FordESPN rumor mongerer Chad Ford is at it again. Last week Ford was speculating that the Bucks want to move up in the draft to “add some star power to their team.”  In his mock draft 6.0 today Ford has the Bucks picking Joe Alexander out of West Virginia with their #8 pick.

I have developed what can only be called “The Chad Ford Principle.” Whatever Ford mongers out there as rumoroid fact, expect it to be false and driven by the needs of certain agents whom Ford spends far too much time listening to. And bear in mind when reading him that Ford an ethically challenged journalist who doesn’t seem to be able to put two and two together very well.

Let’s give The Chad Ford Principle a test run. If Ford writes that his sources say the Chicago Bulls are taking point guard Derrick Rose with the number one pick, expect the Bulls to pick forward Michael Beasley.  In fact Ford himself is beginning to back off his “90 percent” assurance that the Bulls would take Rose, writing in mock draft 5.0 that he’s “not as confident as I was a week ago that he’ll be the pick.”

The Bulls will take Beasley and I would bet on it. Again using The Chad Ford Principle, expect the Bucks to take Anthony Randolph (LSU) and not Alexander or do something more creative with the pick.  

(Note: I’ve since learned that Rose and Randolph have the same agent — former Chicago Bull B.J. Armstrong, a rep for the Arn Temer agency. Using The Chad Ford Principle, assume that agent Armstrong is one of Ford’s key sources regarding both Rose and Randolph).

As for the Bucks moving up in the draft, Bucks GM John Hammond said last week that he doesn’t “have a deal to move up or to move down” and that he’s seeing movement among the teams drafting ahead of them. This could mean the Bucks might trade out of the first round altogether or trade whomever the Bucks pick.

That wasn’t the only Ford-broadcasted fire that was extinguished last week. Remember all that talk about trading Yi Jianlian to Golden State in a deal for developing 21-year-old forward Brandan Wright and the Warriors #14 pick?  A rep from the Warriors contacted Ford last week and “took umbrage” at the rumor. This from Ford’s column last Thursday:

“A Warriors representative shot down an assertion made in a couple of my columns that the team was looking to move Brandan Wright. He especially took umbrage at the report that the team coveted Milwaukee’s Yi Jianlian. I’ve been assured that Warriors GM Chris Mullin, who makes the final decisions at Golden State, isn’t trading Wright for Yi.”


The Warriors called to demand a correction, didn’t they Chad?

And it was likely the first contact Ford’s had with the Warriors in all of this. Still, Ford didn’t quite have to the guts to label it a correction and just tacked it on at the end of his column with the following caveat:

“This time of the year, the information is flying fast and furious. Sources often have agendas, and from time to time I just get things wrong.”


That’s well and good, except that in an earlier version of the very same column, Ford wrote that, in still another trade involving Golden State and Wright, Cleveland was set to trade Anderson Varejao and their #19 pick to the Warriors. The Varejao report is apparently what prompted the Warriors to shut Ford’s rumor mill down. Ford was slinging agent slime at Golden State week after week.

Guess who Yi Jianlian and Anderson Varejao have in common? Sports agent Dan Fegan, who obviously fed Ford the Yi trade rumors last season and is at it again now with Yi and Varejao. You bet Fegan’s got an agenda. He wants Yi out of Milwaukee and Varejao out of Cleveland. Ford has been Fegan’s willing accomplice when the agent feels the need to toss grist into the NBA rumor mills. I assume Ford knows fully well that Fegan has no ability to make trades.

Ford’s problem is that this is not a “this time of year” thing; it’s general Chad Ford practice. Ford routinely references agents off the record with tags such as “a source familiar with the talks” — which is how he referred to Fegan in the Varejao rumor write-up. 

In Cleveland, the Morning News called its sources and quickly debunked the Varejao to Golden State talk as “nothing more than a rumor.” The Cavaliers are apparently not as upset with Ford as the Warriors were.

Journalistically, Ford’s general practice is unethical. Because he writes for ESPN, NBA teams and the daily newspapers in NBA cities are compelled to react, in large part because he doesn’t let his readers know that he’s spinning rumors from agents — not sources from NBA teams. That’s downright unethical.

Is Ford writing for entertainment purposes only and is that an excuse? No and no, and Ford doesn’t write in an entertaining style anyway. He shows little flair for absurdity, wit, sarcasm or humor, or even the cut-the-crap asshole-ishness that sometimes makes for good writing. Overall, his style is banal. There’s so little there and so many other mock NBA draft outlets for fans, such as Draft Express and NBADraft.net.

What purpose does Ford’s column serve ESPN other than to generate site hits with agent-flushed yellow journalism? And what does that say about ESPN?

Cleveland, we have a problem here:  The Akron Beacon Journal’s Patrick McManamon took an in depth look at Anderson Varejao’s situation last week and revealed something I don’t think any of us wildly speculative blogger types had realized — Varejao can reject any trade up until Dec. 5. That date matters because Dec. 5 is the one-year anniversary of the Cavs matching the contract offer Fegan and Varejao negotiated with the Charlotte Bobcats last fall. 

According to NBA rules, a player can reject a trade for one year after a team matches a contract offer to keep him. The Bucks Charlie Bell, for example, could have rejected the trade to the Knicks that Larry Harris had reportedly negotiated before the trading deadline last February because the Bucks last summer matched an offer sheet from Miami to keep Bell. Now Varejao, a key piece of a potential trade for Michael Redd, could be off limits to the Bucks this summer unless Bucks GM John Hammond can make Varejao (and Fegan) happy. Remember that Fegan is also Yi’s agent and that on the Bucks Yi and Varejao would be sharing power forward minutes.  

Still, Akron’s McManamon likes a trade for Redd, calling it “logical” and writing that “it all makes sense.”

McManamon does however, have more bad news for the Bucks. Guard Boobie Gibson underwent ankle surgery this offseason and could be considered off the table. If Gibson is off limits it wouldn’t leave Cleveland much to deal with beyond the Wally Szczerbiak contract and the #19 pick — not enough of a return for Michael Redd.

I’m suddenly concerned that the Bob Boozer Jinx — the Bucks jinx at the power forward position — is once again working its crazy mojo.

Rumor central: Redd on the trading block… Eric Gordon’s the pick apparent

Get 'em while supplies lastNo question about it — as you read here last week — Michael Redd is officially on the trading block. And with that realization this week, national sports media scrapped its conventional wisdom on what the Bucks will do with their lottery pick.

Bucks GM John Hammond has been contacting other GMs to scout out trade interest, with Redd featured prominently in those discussions, reported Racine Journal Times Bucks writer Gery Woelfel in his Tuesday column. Woelfel also reported that Charlie Villanueva is a focus of interest from the GMs Hammond has talked to. Hammond’s search for a small forward is on.  

“In a recent interview with The Journal Times, Bucks general manager John Hammond said the one position he would like to ‘address’ is small forward. Desmond Mason and Bobby Simmons are the Bucks’ current small forwards and both are coming off pedestrian seasons,” Woelfel wrote.


“Hammond could find a potentially good forward in the draft with the team’s eighth overall pick. There is also increasing speculation small forward Ersan Ilyasova, whom the Bucks selected in the second round of the 2005 draft and who spent this season playing for FC Barcelona in Spain, will return to the Bucks next season.

Hammond could also acquire a veteran small forward via a trade. There are a surprising glut of talented small forwards who could be dealt, including Denver’s Carmelo Anthony, Miami’s Shawn Marion, the Clippers Corey Maggette, Sacramento’s Ron Artest, Washington’s Antawn Jamison and Chicago’s Andres Nocioni.”


Army cadet Michael Redd (at left) is not on the trading blockAdd to that list Dallas SF Josh Howard, Utah’s Andrei Kirkilenko and the Nets’ Richard Jefferson. Most of these forwards have contracts comparable to Redd’s, making the trades viable.

The CNN-Sports Illustrated NBA site has the Woelfel story linked in its rumor section. Join the discussion about it here on the Sportsbubbler fan forum.


ESPN’s NBA Rumor Central got into the action, featuring Michael Redd trade talks today. It’s an Insider story – a pay feature – and this is not an endorsement. If you’re not in the mood to give ESPN money, wildly speculate as I do.


As of Tuesday, it was assumed the Bucks were looking for a point guard in the draft (which they’re not). Many mock draft sites, ESPN and SI included, had the Bucks taking Texas point guard D.J. Augustin with the #7 pick.

I wildly speculate that national sports media doesn’t pay that much attention to the Bucks unless the team is trying to acquire a coach or player that the NY Knicks want. But then Woelfel’s column hit the rumor mills, Bucks GM John Hammond, I’m sure, had a few conversations when he was in NY/NJ for the lottery, sources were called, some journalism got done and suddenly the national sports media realized what the Bucks and Hammond are up to this summer.

By Wednesday, Indiana shooting guard Eric Gordon was the consensus pick, Augustin was out of the picture and Redd was on the trading block, with Hammond scouting for a small forward and willing to trade Redd to get one. What a difference a few hours makes.

Eric Gordon is almost 6'2"Sports Illustrated:

“[Gordon]’s the best player available here, an explosive scorer with a solid family background. His arrival may allow the Bucks to move Michael Redd’s enormous salary if they’re so disposed.”


ESPN Insider Chad Ford

“Milwaukee could go in a lot of different directions. Its biggest need is at small forward, but this may be too high to draft Joe Alexander or Donte Greene. With the Bucks expected to be active on the trade market this summer, they can draft the best available player and then work things out later. Gordon is a dynamic scorer who could free up the Bucks to trade Michael Redd.”


A pitfall to this scenario is that Gordon could be gone when the Bucks pick, unless Hammond is able to trade up, which doesn’t seem likely. The culprit would be the L.A. Clippers, drafting ahead of the Bucks at #7. The concensus seems to be that Gordon would be the best player available at #7, but that the Clippers need a point guard and seem likely to draft for need rather than go into next season with Dan Dickau as the starting point guard.

If the Clippers take “the best player available” route and draft Gordon, the Bucks would be looking at a couple of small point guards, “project” forwards Anthony Randolph and Donte Green, maybe UCLA’s Kevin Love, who would only crowd the power forward position further for the Bucks. Italian small forward Danilo Gallinari’s stock is rising, and it seems unlikely he’ll be availavle at #8.

If Gordon is gone, the Bucks would do well to swap the pick for a lower pick to trigger any number of trades, especially when dealing with Western Conference playoff teams.

Brewhoop’s take on the Woelfel column notes that it may be tricky putting the pick in play in trades involving some key players because of the NBA’s base year compensation (BYC) rules. For example, the Bucks can’t trade the pick to Dallas with Michael Redd in a deal for Josh Howard because Dallas can’t do a Redd-Howard deal until after July 1. (Bucks would have to draft on behalf of Dallas or swap picks with the Mavs for future considerations). Howard received a big raise last summer, so for trading purposes, his salary doesn’t yet count fully against Redd’s, and is still tied to his base year salary of 2006-07.


In an NBA trade, the salaries going out have to match the salaries coming in, give or take 25 percent. The base year rule prevents a team from giving a player a big raise simply to make the salaries in a trade work. A team giving a big raise to a player is forced to wait a year before trading that player to ensure against salary shenanigans. Any trade involving Mo Williams would have to wait as well, Brew Hoop points out. (Mo got a $5.8 million raise last summer). 

This is important because the Dallas Mavericks are a good possibilty for a Redd trade, given the Mavs stable of aging shooting guards and an early exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Hornets. Howard fits the bill as a small forward Hammond will likely be inquiring about. This trade is also known as Brewhoop’s favorite Michael Redd trade.


Bucks Diary doesn’t think too highly of this year’s lottery talent. His verdict: “It stinks!” Now, if you invert it … BD makes a good argument for there being more NBA-ready players projected to go in the lower half of the first round. Richard Hendrix, Joe Alexander, Mo Spaights, Ryan Anderson, et al. “The Bucks have to trade out of the lottery. The gold is all down stream!”

Coach sees Sessions as potential playoff starter at point

I predicted yesterday that the Spurs would lose, this not being their year, and, of course, they won. Happens every time. I’m not the only one feeling the Spurs “same old same old” grind. Now, on to the matter at hand:

Ramon SessionsHow high are the Bucks on Ramon Sessions‘ potential? Much higher than many NBA observers seem to think, especially those writing about the upcoming 2008 draft.  The conventional wisdom around the league is that the Bucks are looking for a point guard in the draft, the current Bucks starting point guard of note being Mo Williams.

There’s little or no mention in draft talk of the Bucks other point guard, Sessions, who started in place of injured Mo in the final seven games and won the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honor for April.  Inside the Bucks camp, however, Sessions’ is a hot topic, maybe hot enough to change the Bucks draft outlook.

How good could Ramon Sessions be?

“I could see him becoming a starter on a playoff team — that’s how good he could become,” Bucks development coach and Sessions’ mentor Bill Peterson told the Reno (Nevada) Gazette Journal in April. Though the story is a month old, it’s worth looking at again with NBA lottery and the draft order on tap tonight.

Sessions averaged 13.1 pts., 13.1 assists, 5.6 rbs and 1.7 steals in seven starts, including a Bucks franchise record 24 assists set April 14 against Chicago at the BC. That was good enough to catch the attention of the daily newspaper in Reno, where Sessions played his college ball, and good enough for Rookie of the Month. It might even be good enough to lead to some Bob Boozer Jinx conclusions, such as:

1) The Bucks may not necessarily be looking for a point guard in the draft, but would welcome Derrick Rose finding the Bucks via some lottery luck tonight. Assuming the Bucks are looking at guards in general, moving up to the number three spot is crucial. Rose and OJ Mayo, the cream of the guards this draft, will be long gone by the 7th pick.

2) Mo Williams may no longer be the Bucks starting point guard. Put another way: If Williams is on the roster next season, refrain from assuming he’s the starter. And certainly don’t assume Mo will be on the roster.

In the Reno Gazette story, Peterson, the lone assistant Scott Skiles retained from last season’s staff, went so far as to compare Sessions to the young Steve Nash, a Peterson development project in Dallas 1998-2000.

 “If you only knew [about Nash’s struggles]. Guys don’t just start out in this league and they’re lights out. I can remember nights when Nash was booed unmercifully. There were nights when they would boo him every time he touched the ball. I told Sess, ‘Look where he is now. All it takes is hard work and dedication.’ And Sess has that.”


To put a rookie who’s only played 17 games in context with the two-time MVP is high praise. Peterson worked with Nash in Nash’s third and fourth years as a pro. Nash became a full-time starter for the Mavs in his fifth season. Peterson went on to Colorado state where he was associate head coach for seven seasons until Larry Krystkowiak brought him on staff last year as player development coach.

Peterson took Sessions under his wing when Sessions was called up February and fractured his left hand in his first practice. Together they dissected Sessions game on video while Sessions sat out four weeks with the injury. Here’s more from the Reno Gazette story:

“I can’t put into words how much Coach Peterson has helped me. Whatever I need, he is there for me. We watch game film together, he helps me during practice, we work on all the little things. Coach Peterson cares about me as a player and a person.”


Skiles decision to keep Peterson is a good sign for Sessions, obviously. Assistants Kelvin Sampson and Joe Wolf also reflect the strong development bent of the new Bucks staff, and the other three coaches — Skiles, Jim Boylan and Lionel Hollins are all former point guards. Milwaukee is suddenly a good place for a young point guard to develop. The Bucks own a one-year option on Sessions for next season.

Center Andrew Bogut has already implied whom he’d like to see playing point:

“He was a true point guard. I haven’t played with a true point guard since I’ve been here, really. I think he did a great job of trying to find teammates first and shoot second. Hopefully, he’ll keep that mentality. I think he definitely deserves everything he got.”


GM John Hammonds, in the Racine Journal Times feature from ten days ago that will come to be known as “The Lazerus Interview” after a few more blogosphere resurrections, is anticipating trade interest in Sessions:

“The way he finished the season … as we continue to work the phones (in trade talks) I guarantee you his name will come up.”


Sessions’ former head coach, Larry Krystkowiak, after Sessions’ 24-assist game:

“I think he does a really nice job of finding the open guy. He has a knack for when to advance. I think he’s got what it takes to have an impact in the league. He certainly is taking advantage of his opportunities. He could be a future piece to the franchise.”


And now some brilliant analysis from ESPN’s Chad Ford, who convinced himself that most of the teams in the lottery will want point guard Derrick Rose over Beasely in the draft because Ford thinks point guards are hot:

“Now that John Hammond has taken over as GM, he’s looking for a tough leader. Mo Williams may be entrenched at the point in Milwaukee, but if Hammond gets a shot at a franchise point guard, I think he’s taking it.”


Williams is so entrenched at point that Ford’s ESPN Lottery Mock Draft has had Texas point guard D.J. Augustin locked in at the Bucks’ most likely #7 pick for weeks. New Orleans’ Chris Paul is a dazzling player, but not so dazzling that NBA teams are convinced that the small point guards in the 2008 draft are CP3 caliber.

The Bucks could always sign Damon Jones again, or Mike James or T.J. Ford. Hammond could even see what Reece Gaines is up to these days. (See yesterdays rant about Larry Harris’ point guard candy store).

For insight on point guards, let’s refer back to the Bucks coaching staff and development guru Peterson:

 “If you only knew [about Nash’s struggles]. Guys don’t just start out in this league and they’re lights out. I can remember nights when Nash was booed unmercifully. There were nights when they would boo him every time he touched the ball. I told Sess, ‘Look where he is now. All it takes is hard work and dedication.’ And Sess has that.”