Tag Archives: Andrew Bogut

NBA Trade Deadline: A survival guide

It’s that time of year when nothing is true and everything is permitted in the NBA rumor mill. Fake news abounds, the rumors mostly click bait, yet somehow, someway, the craziest out-of-nowhere trades happen. Who saw either Plumlee trade (Miles to Charlotte and Mason to Denver) happening?

Who saw DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi (an underrated forward) headed for New Orleans for a 6’4″ rookie shooting guard (Buddy Hield), another shooting guard who won the Rookie of the Year with the Kings (Tyreke Evans) but doesn’t play much these days, a backup point guard who bombed out with the Knicks last year (Langston Galloway), and a first and second round draft pick.

Even Rolling Stone hates this deal for the Kings. Since when does Rolling Stone write about sports? And what does this have to do with the Bucks, or surviving the phantasmagoria of internet non-reality at the #NBATradeDeadline ???

Everything and nothing. Let’s get started, then.

Rule No. 1: Trust no one, but especially not the Bucks reporter in Racine. Gery Woelfel long ago got into the habit of citing unnamed sources for trades that he truly believed in but never happened. Woelfel’s “news” is mostly click-bait for the Journal Times and gets ignored around Milwaukee, but is picked up by Hoopshype, Hoops Habit, Hoops Rumors and other NBA nooks online, who then serve it up to people who follow those nooks, people you may know, and pretty soon you’re talking about the very Woelfel rumor you ignored the day before.

Woelfel’s trying to trade Matthew Dellavedova and Roy Hibbert for Ricky Rubio and a walleye sandwich right now. Past attempts to get Rubio ended when the T-Wolves demanded that Khris Middleton be included in the deal. Everybody loves Khris, but so do the Bucks.

Rubio doesn’t know about Woelfel, apparently, and sounds a little like he might be traded. Yesterday he tweeted: “Never stress over what you can’t control.” @rickyrubio9 on twitter.

Rule No. 1a: Revisit that twitter account you rarely use.

Rule No. 2: Trust no one, but check out The Vertical with Woj. I became a fan of Adrian Wojnarowski’s feature writing for yahoo a few years ago, and he and his gang of Vertical writers are a heads up crew around trade deadline. They’re saying most teams aren’t looking to do anything major right now, there’s “no traction” to much of the talk, and swaps involving big money centers are the most unlikely of things (killing the Monroe rumors they helped fuel last year). The Cousins trade really did come out of nowhere.

Rule No.  3: The most trade-able player in the NBA is Ersan Ilyasova, and it’s getting pretty funny (that’s him in the photo above, don’t send him money!). Ersan and his highly trade-able, expiring $8.4 million contract were shipped to the Hawks last night, his 5th trade since playing for the Bucks in 2015. This is good for Ersan, as he’ll get a chance to play in the playoffs on a team with Dwight Howard, who’s back near the top of the NBA center rankings (No. 2 behind Denver’s Jokic). The Hawks have the fifth seed in the East and would play Toronto if the playoffs started today.

Rule No. 4: Don’t click on anything that has a question mark in the header or offers a list of things, unless it’s a really funny list. People that sit up all night trolling for trade rumors are very tired people who are not usually funny. People who put questions marks in headlines (ESPN does this a lot) don’t usually have any news.

Rule No. 5: If you think your team has bad contracts, chances are the other teams also recognize those contracts to be bad and don’t want them either. The Bucks overpaid Dellavedova, John Henson, Mirza Teletovic and Miles Plumlee and were lucky to dump Plumlee on the Hornets. The remaining three are not “helpers” in the sense that a playoff contender might really want any of them and they are all heavy – $83 million left to be paid AFTER this season. Henson and Delly contracts go through 2020. The Mirza deal is for two more years after this one. Lebron wants Delly back in Cleveland, but the Bucks made it nearly (edit: the CBA says no, Cavs can’t do it) impossible for the Cavs to do anything about it, given how much the luxury tax they’re already paying.

Let’s review those salaries:

Delly – 3 more years, $28.8 million.

Henson – 3 more years, $32.5 million

Mirza – 2 more years, $21 million, the most trade-able contract, the least impactful player this season.

Rule No. 6: Think of all the reasons a team won’t do the trade, and keep in mind that those reasons are probably more important than your team’s reasons for wanting to do the trade.

Rule No. 7: You need movable pieces to make a trade. The Bucks have a couple of those, most notably expiring Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes, who has a player option for $6 million this summer. They offer salary relief, cap space, and, like Ilyasova, are highly trade-able. Unfortunately, you need the cap space too, and to make the trade happen, you probably have to take on a contract for next season that will eat up just as much if not more of your cap space than the contract you’re trading.

Rule No. 8:  A case of Pabst Blue Ribbon sweetens any deal. In the past, we’ve used Milwaukee’s cheap-o hipster beer to improve fantastic Michael Redd trades, a deadline trade for Josh Smith‘s favorite headband, and one involving this great looking parka that Wally Szczerbiak had, which was a much better deal than Raef Lafrentz’s “Curious George” hat, which was also pretty cool.  I’m not exactly sure whether that last one happened or not.

Rule No. 9: Stay off of the Sports Illustrated fan sites. The Bucks site is Behind the Buck Pass (don’t click on that link, unless you really want to run all those ads!). which started out Trade Deadline Day working up a deal for Kings backup point guard Darren Collison. This fire was quickly doused by Brewhoop, which had found a tweet from Bucks beat reporter Charles Gardner of the Journal Sentinel that said the Bucks haven’t talked to the Kings as the deadline approaches.

Rule No.10: Trust no one, but know that Magic Johnson is now the Lakers GM, and is able to make trades with Larry Bird, the GM in Indiana. They talked about Paul George this week, but, hey, nothing happened. Bird’s probably figured out that Paul George isn’t the impact player people thought he was, but also figures most of the league hasn’t figured this out yet. The deadline has passed, and Danny Ainge still hasn’t made a trade for Boston despite a cacophony of chatter about what Danny Ainge and the Celtics want.

Rule No. 11: Just start a list like this one, make up some trades of your own, and suddenly the deadline has passed and we can get back to basketball.

Rule No. 12: Don’t trust your own list, but here’s one to check out. SB Nation’s “Every Trade” list. Oh, look, Andrew Bogut‘s a Sixer for a couple of months, and Taj Gibson‘s out of the Central Division (to OKC).

But hold on, the Sixers will likely buy Bogut out, freeing him up to be signed as playoff help, San Jose Mercury News is reporting (alert: real  newspaper!). The Warriors can’t resign their championship center until after the new NBA fiscal year starts, July 1, but the Cavs are reportedly interested in Bogut. The Celtics couldn’t make a move at the deadline, so they’ll be interested.

And if the Raptors (acquired P.J. Tucker from the Suns, Serge Ibaka from Orlando), the Wizards (acquired Bojan Bogdanovic from the Nets, not to be confused with Serbian Bogdan Bogdanovic) and the Hawks (Ilyasova from the Sixers) are gearing up for the playoff dogfight in the East by adding solid veterans, real basketball players all, why can’t the Pacers and the Bucks? Bogut would be everything coach Kidd has wanted in a tough, intimidating defensive center to start games. There’s no harm done in trying to compete, nor in having a little fun while your doing it. The Bucks have been in the NBA’s bottom 5 in defensive rebounding % ever since Bogut was traded to the Warriors in 2012.

Tyler Ennis has been traded again, this time from Houston to the Lakers, who will trying to lose lose lose to protect their top 3 draft pick. Ennis reminds us that NBA Trade Deadline is often about players like Tyler Ennis.

Meanwhile, the Bucks handed Roy Hibbert’s expiring contract Denver for a super protected 2nd round pick in 2019 that the Bucks won’t get unless the Nuggets are one of the top 5 teams in the league. But at least the Bucks have an open roster spot to sign a player (Bogut!), and as of right now they are $453,951 under the salary cap.

The Chris Kaman conspiracy: Are the Bucks in the game?

No Andrew Bogut until April at the earliest, highly speculative and tenuous playoff hopes, a Bogut-less Bucks fan base that needs those playoff hopes, no space under the salary cap next season and most of the necessary roster ingredients for a trade.

Stir it all together and you’ve got motive and opportunity for the Bucks to be party to a trade for veteran center Chris Kaman, who’s been publicly placed on the trading block by the New Orleans Hornets.   The Hornets reportedly want “draft picks, cap space and a young player” for the 29-year-old former All-Star (2010) and his expiring $14 million contract.  The Celtics have already declined.

The Bucks have young players, draft picks and the expiring contracts of Ersan Ilyasova and Carlos Delfino, not enough to make the trade.  (See Bucks salaries at Shamsports.com). But Stephen Jackson’s contract could get them there, if the Hornets are willing to take on Jack’s $10 million salary next season.  Add Ilyasova, draft picks and/or the developing Darington Hobson, Larry Sanders et. al., and a trade could work.

The Hornets could do a lot worse.  Ilyasova’s become one of the better rebounding forwards in the league and would be a good addition to the Hornets undersized front court, led by Emeka Okafor.  It’s no secret that, while Ersan is a key member of the Bucks core, Bucks management hasn’t been willing to trust him with starting PF minutes.  For all the good Ersan does on the court, at the end of the day he’s still standing in the way of Jon Leuer‘s development.  Acquiring Kaman helps solve the Bucks defensive rebounding problems (yes, it’s still a problem) in the short term, and clears minutes for Leuer.

So while the Bucks are giving up the better rebounder (currently) and defender in Ilyasova, they would shore up the center position while clearing $14 million in cap space next season.  And Jackson?   The Hornets would be well under the cap next summer standing pat, and adding Jackson would still leave them Room.  They’d only have to pay Jack a year (or less if they trade him).  And, as the Bucks have discovered this season, Jack’s a good guy to have around in spite of all the angry yapping.

So why don’t the Bucks keep him?  Delfino and Mike Dunleavy, jr. play more or less the same position as Jack, and Luc Mbah a Moute needs small forward/guard minutes, too (locking down on Joe Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Lebron James, Danny Granger, Carmelo Anthony, to name a few).  Jack’s fairly expendable, and the Bucks play just fine without him.

Kaman fits in well in the Bucks scheme, and he’s a more reliable offensive player than Bogut.  Kaman helps get the Bucks to the post-season, where the Bucks would have Bogues, too (in theory) and a formidable white behemoth front court.

So would the NBA-owned Hornets sting on this trade?   With the league office involved, it’s not clear that the Bucks have the right expiring contracts for a trade, but there are a lot worse contracts out there than Jackson’s (Drew Gooden’s comes to mind).  A trade would likely depend on the young players, whether the Hornets want to keep Ilyasova, and the value of the draft picks involved.

It also depends on Bucks GM John Hammond, never one to stand pat or worry about stability or player development.

Of course, it’s also likely that I’m just talking myself into it so I can post crazy Chris Kaman photos.

Voodoo Doll used to disable Bogut found in Carmelo Anthony’s possession

It was in his travel bag, discovered by airport security after metal detectors at a Cleveland airport inexplicably went haywire when scanning the bag.  Carmelo Anthony, in Cleveland to play the Cavs earlier that night, denied knowledge of what it was or how it got there, but there it was:  the Voodoo Doll, with the initials “AB” embroidered into its hemp straw buttocks.

The doll was discovered just hours after Bogut crumpled to the floor in Houston, holding his ankle in agony after rolling it on Kevin Lowry‘s foot in the first quarter of the Bucks-Rockets game.

“Someone has a voodoo doll and is putting pins in me,” a helpless sounding Bogut said after the game, worrying about whether the injury may be more than the ankle sprain that it appears to be. (AP story link – yes, he really said it.)  UPDATE #2:  It’s worse than a sprain, a fracture has been found and the Bucks just announced that Bogut will be out indefinitely.

“Bogey,” the doll is rumored to have burped at approximately the time of Bogut’s injury.  It has offered no comment since being taken into custody Wednesday night.

Bogut has suffered a string of strange injuries, ranging from ill-fitting back bones, a mangled arm in a horrific fall in April 2010 (since surgically repaired), bashed knees and thighs, migraines, ankle sprains and a host of minor things that Bogut better not mention.  Bucks fans have taken to calling their center “Andrew Broke-it” and have all but given up on hopes that their center can ever play a full season.

Because this is a basketball blog, here’s where we throw in some really important stats.  Bogut had already missed five games going into the Rockets game, bringing his total missed games over the last three-plus seasons to 81 games.  He’s appeared on the blocked shots per game leader boards but hasn’t played enough to qualify for the per game rebounding leader board since 2008, when Larry Krstkowiak was Bucks coach.   Bogut won’t make the boards board this again this season, not if missing a week two weeks (see note below) 8-12 weeks!!! treating his ankle.

Why Carmelo Anthony?  And why now?  It’s no secret that since a Bucks win over Denver in Milwaukee in November 2009, ‘Melo and the Bucks have not gotten along, with he and Bogut at the center of confrontation.  This has continued in Knicks-Bucks games since Carmelo became a Knick, games that have left the Knicks complaining about elbows and the Bucks physical play.  It should not escape notice that Amar’e Stoudemire is a Knick, nor that Stoudemire’s little shove in the back contributed to Bogut’s horrific, arm-mangling fall (Amar’e was then a Sun).

So there’s history, bad blood and a general understanding on the Knicks side that the Bucks are out to intimidate them.  The Knicks beat the Bucks last February in Carmelo’s first game in New York, but the Bucks have won all three matches since, most recently last week’s win in New York, which featured an increasingly frustrated ‘Melo getting kicked out of the game.

And now that Bogut’s gang appears to have their number, the Knicks (7-11) are losers of seven of their last eight, coach Mike D’Antoni is on the hot seat and may lose his job any day now, and the New Yorkers are looking up at the Bucks (7-10) in the Eastern Conference standings.

Enter said voodoo doll, a pin to its ankle area as the Knicks were struggling against the Cavs, and Bogut was limping off the Houston court with an ankle sprain a fractured ankle.

The Bucks beat the Rockets without Bogut to remain ahead of the Knicks, but it may be only a matter of time before the voodoo doll works its intended magic.  ….  Next up for the Bogut-less Bucks is a back-to-back against the Bulls (in Chicago) and the Lakers (in Milwaukee).

Update:  Bogut will be out indefinitely (updated to 8-12 weeks) according to the Bucks, after the MRI today revealed a fractured ankle.

Mission “Impossible” – The Milwaukee Bucks evaluation that coach Scott Skiles says can’t be done

Bucks coach Scott Skiles said after Friday’s blowout loss in Dallas that it was “impossible” to evaluate the 2012 Bucks.  They’ve been too hurt, too MIA and too jumbled in disarray in this rush-start, lock-out shortened season; it just can’t be done, not yet after 11 games, not in Skiles’ mind.

At The Bob Boozer Jinx, we’re undeterred by such obstacles, and have already noted that Skiles and Bucks GM John Hammond failed for the second year in a row to put a team on the court ready to start the season.   With that in mind as the Bucks get set to play the Philadelphia 76ers on Martin Luther King Day, here’s your 2012 Milwaukee Bucks evaluation, coach, in order of most playing time to least.

Brandon Jennings: He’s shooting better and has played smarter, attacking to the basket more than settling for that unreliable jumpshot of his, as the Bucks are playing at a faster pace than last season.  BJ3 is among the NBA leaders in minutes played per game, was at one point near the top in free throws per game (he needs to do more of this) and was shooting 44.3% going into Philly, 35.7% from Downtown.  Those are winning numbers for a point guard these days, especially one that keeps his turnover rate as low as Jennings does (10%).   Had a tough game in Philly and couldn’t give the Bucks an edge in the 3rd quarter when they needed it, but make no mistake — Brandon Jennings has improved.  Defense?  That’s improved, too, as BJ3 leads the Bucks in steals.  He wins the Bob Boozer Jinx “2012 Most Ready to Play” award.

Stephen Jackson:  He shoots, he scores.  He shoots, he misses.  A lot.  A 42% career shooter who can’t make a third of his threes is not a good shooter, but that doesn’t deter Captain Jack.  The intangibles?  Showed up out-of-shape and with a sore back but looks close to 100% now, and he seems to be the kind of nasty competitor the Bucks need some nights — and there will be those.  Unfortunately, he shoots so badly in some games — like today’s 3-for-12 against Philly — that the Bucks will often find themselves climbing out of a deficit as Jack rants.  The Bucks can’t win with Jennings and Jackson shooting a combined 6-for-23.  There will be those nights, and days, like these.

Carlos Delfino:  Here’s another guy who wasn’t ready to go, as he missed two games and was useless for three others due to a sprained shooting wrist.  Del is the Bucks best 3-baller (38%), and a capable defender who is again leading the Bucks in steals.  He’s solid all-around and would do well to take it to the hoop more often, and doesn’t help out on the glass as much as he could.  When he’s on, the Bucks can be dangerous.

Shaun Livingston:  One of the reasons the Bucks can look at their schedule, look at their record, and feel like they should be 7-and-5 instead of 4-and-8 even after reading the injury report.  Livingston has helped the Bucks build a few blowout leads, only to see them frittered away aided by offensive droughts, bad rebounding and Skiles’ flawed sense of matchups and rotations.  A player who does everything there is to do on the basketball court well — turnaround jumpers from the post! — and has fit in seamlessly on the Bucks jumbled roster.  He may have found his second NBA life in Milwaukee.

Ersan Ilyasova:  If you followed Ersan this summer with the Turkish national team and with Anadolu Efes in the Euroleague, you knew that Ersan had seemingly lost his jumpshot but wasn’t really bothering to look for it, content to play D, rebound and mix it up inside.  He’s very much a player in transition from “Dirk-lite” scorer to cage-rattling NBA power forward.  Does it look good in the box score or other metrics?   Hell no, with the exception of the rebound column.  Currently making Thaddeus Young‘s MLK day miserable in Philly, and is on the court with Bogut, Delfino, Jennings and Jackson – the Bucks strongest defensive unit today.  That unit “got up on ’em and got  physical,” said Bucks assistant Jim Boylan, noting that this was when the game changed.  They pulled a 13-point deficit down to six in the 2nd quarter.  Bucks trailed by four at the half.

Important note:  Skiles has managed to evaluate Ilyasova, deciding he’s an “off the bench forward” on “a really good, deep club,” and that this seems to be his NBA future.  Ersan would beg to differ, and this will very likely be his last season playing for the Bucks (not a really good, deep club) and certainly his last playing for Skiles.

Jon Leuer:  Ilyasova’s heir apparent and fan fave, currently starting at power forward.  Unlike Ilyasova, Leuer actively looks to shoot, and has been the Bucks most efficient scorer this season.  The downside is that the Bucks defense and rebounding takes a hit when Leuer is on the court, evidenced by the first 4 minutes of the 2nd half in Philly, as the Bucks struggled to keep the Sixers off the glass.  Enter Ilyasova at the 7:50 mark, as Skiles continues to play power forward roulette.  The interior defense and rebounding picks up in the 3rd, but little else.  The Bucks tried to pull back into the game in the 4th without Leuer or Ilyasova.

Andrew Bogut:  Not ready to play this season, missing four of the Bucks first eight games due to a “personal matter” back home in Australia.  Staying on the court is AB’s main problem.  Lesser problems:  As more and more centers step out to the three-point line, pulling Bogut 20 feet or more from the hoop, Bogut will need to learn to adjust — and it is frustrating to watch Spencer Hawes draining threes.  Bogut himself is stepping out a bit this season, encouraged to do so for the first time in his career, and he’s been able to knock down four or five set-jumpers.  Bogut’s game remains close to the basket, of course, where he’s one of the best defenders in the NBA.   He played strong against Hawes, racking up 20 points, 11 boards, four assists and three blocked shots to keep the Bucks within striking distance in the 4th quarter.  His best game of the season, a hopeful sign for Bucks fans everywhere.  Has Godot arrived?

Drew Gooden:  Bogut can’t play 40 minutes a game, certainly, and probably won’t play enough this season to qualify for the NBA leader boards, which makes the 30-year-old Gooden, the Big Zero, a primary NBA backup center for the first time in his NBA career.  Check that – this project was attempted and abandoned in San Antonio and Dallas.  It will have to work in Milwaukee, or Drew becomes a $6 million-a-year big man with no job.  Poor guy.  May end up spending most of his time playing high stakes poker with GM John Hammond.

Larry Sanders:  Drafted in the first round 2011, by 2012 he’s riding the bench behind Gooden, Leuer and Ilyasova – even Jon Brockman at times.   A fantastic shot-blocker and defender in development, now a utility, garbage-time, odd man out.  If Alton Lister was Nellie’s “Big Project,” Sanders is Skiles’ “Really Big Project” — one that the Bucks organization may not ever get around to.

Beno Udrih:  Luke Ridnour is back and he’s taller and left-handed, shoots about the same, too, though not as experienced or sneaky on defense. “Allergic to defense,”  the Kings bloggers said about Udrih when he was traded to the Bucks.  This is true.  Udrih plays about the worst perimeter defense I’ve seen since Michael Redd and Mo Williams.  But he came to Milwaukee ready to play, and, were it not for getting creamed in a collision with Andre Miller in Denver and missing six games, the Bucks might have a road win or two.  A 5-and-7 record would look pretty good right now compared to 4-and-8.  (Udrih returned in Philly and played as the Bucks faded in the 4th.)

Mike Dunleavy, Jr.:  Coming into this season, Dunleavy had missed 110 games from 2009-11, or nearly half of those three seasons.  Now he’s missed eight more with a groin injury.  Yet another guy who wasn’t ready to play this season.  An injury-prone free agent acquisition by GM Hammond.

Tobias Harris:  Strong, good hands, gets to the rim and has good scoring ability around the basket, just as advertized when the Bucks drafted him.  The Bucks rookie had made the most of his 90 minutes to date, and scored 12 against Philly in 21 minutes.  The Bucks don’t have a small forward backup with Dunleavy and Luc Mbah a Moute out with injuries.  The way this season has gone so far, the Bucks may consider taking a development year for Leuer, Harris and Sanders.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Jon Brockman:  The Brockness Monster is still that, and he’s a punishing rebounder.  Problem is he can’t guard anybody and has no offensive game to speak of.  GM Hammond knew this when he signed him in summer of 2010.  It’s still not clear why he did it.

Darington Hobson:   Good floor skills and likes to drive.  6’7″ but plays like he’s 6’5″.  Belongs in the D-League with the Mad Ants of Fort Wayne, Indy.

Luc Mbah a Moute:  Expect some player movement when Mbah a Moute returns to 100%.  He’s signed and committed for four years ($19 million), and Luc will be here as long as Skiles is here.  He was sorely missed against Philly.  There are few things in the NBA better than watching Luc lock down on the likes of Andre Iguodala.

Trends from the armchair:  The strongest defensive unit — Jennings, Jackson, Delfino, Ilyasova and Bogut — was used only a quarter of the game in Philly — not enough.  Skiles abandoned it late in the 3rd quarter in a hale of Jackson and Jennings missed shots.  Livingston might’ve looked good with this group in place of Jennings.   Note that Leuer, Ilyasova, Gooden and Sanders did not play a single minute in the 4th as the Bucks dropped out of the game.  That was curious, though it may have been a function of Skiles wanting to look at Harris with the game (sorta) on the line.  It never felt like the Bucks were ever in it, not with the perimeter defense playing so poorly. …

…. And Skiles said this couldn’t be done.

When failing to put a team on the court kills your season

Before the Bucks headed West two weeks ago for a five game road trip, we looked at the league leader boards, some advanced stats and other basketball geek fodder, and found some good things to write about after a small sample.

Two weeks later, there’s little good to write about, as nearly every Buck but an improved Brandon Jennings has either been injured or inconsistent or worse.  The Bucks’ vaunted Top 5 defense has gone to pot and now rates 16th, allowing one point more than the league average of 102.6 points per 100 possessions The Bucks, a team notoriously good at protecting the defensive glass, now ranks near the bottom with a 70.8% defensive rebounding rate.

Bucks center Andrew Bogut has not played well or even rebounded up to his standards (15.5% rebound rate, AB?) and, well, now he’s not playing at all after suffering a concussion against the Pistons on Thursday.  Carlos Delfino and Stephen Jackson have played well in spots.  In some stretches, they’ve been horrendous.

Remember when this team was good?  Remember when Scott Skiles was good?   Some even considered him “brilliant but evil.”

That was long ago, in another time and place and galaxy, in that long-ago age of Chicago Bulls basketball that didn’t include Derrick Rose.

For the 4-and-7 Bucks,”when we were good” was less than two years ago.   There’s not a blogger in the Bucks-o-sphere who can capture the essence of all that’s gone wrong since then.   As constructed, the Milwaukee Bucks are either a mess waiting for an upsurge remniscent of 2010 …

Or they’re just a mess that, for the second year in a row, was not ready to begin the season.

A wise man recently said:  “Waiting for Bogut has become like Waiting for Godot.”

Note:  The Bucks have played the 22nd toughest, or 9th easiest schedule in the league.  This was not the part of the schedule where they could afford to go 4-and-7.

Before the trip West: Five Bucks appear on NBA leader boards; Bucks re-establish Top 5 team defensive rating

Happy New Year!   And welcome to 2012 on behalf of the editorial board at The Bob Boozer Jinx, most of whom are still sleeping off last night’s hilarity, events made possible by the board’s decision to handcuff me to the steering wheel of an alcohol-detecting cab and make me drive them around all night.  They’re not responsible for any of the gunfire you might have heard at midnight.

The Bucks had this weekend to themselves, getting ready for a five-games-in-seven-days trip west, which begins Monday night with the familiar Mountain-Time, Denver-Utah back-to-back and takes them to Sacramento and L.A. (Clippers) before wrapping up in Phoenix next Sunday.  It probably doesn’t need to be said that, in this lockout-shortened season, the Bucks (2-1) need to gut out at least two wins on this rough road and come home no worse than 4-4.

There’s no time like the outset of this trip to check the NBA leader board and see where our Bucks landed after Week One.  The good news is that the Bucks are again among the league leaders in defense, led by Andrew Bogut; and that they’re rankings on the offensive end aren’t half bad.  (NBA LEADER BOARD and SUMMARY).

Consider this an early touch-point blog of sorts.  I’ll check back to measure progress (or lack thereof) after the trip.

TEAM DEFENSE:  The Bucks — so far — have maintained their 2011 Top 5 defense despite new additions Mike Dunleavy, Jr., and Beno Udrih, guys hardly known for tenacious D.  Entering Sunday’s games, the Bucks ranked 2nd, giving up just 95.2 points per 100 possessions. 

(Find the season summary here – scroll down for the “Miscellaneous Stats” where you’ll find offense and defense ratings, turnover percentages and other pace-adjusted stats).

The Bucks rank 3rd in defensive field goal percentage, holding oppenents below 40% (39.8).  In Week One, they were the 2nd-best “effective field goal percentage” defense behind the Lakers (efg% accounts for the points on made 3-pointers).

The Bucks rank 4th in forcing turnovers, getting one 16.7% of the time, which means the Bobcats, T-wolves and Wizards turned it over once every six possessions.  That’s remarkably sloppy opponent offense, but also a key element to the Skiles constant pressure, in-your-grill, man-to-man defense.  It’s designed to force mistakes, not necessarily steals.

The Bucks defensive rebounding rate is in the toilet (22nd in NBA), as the Bucks are controlling just 71.4% of available opponent misses.  We can thank the T-Wolves and Bobcats for that.  Just a bad start for a strong rebounding team or a sign of things to come?  When in doubt blame Kevin Love.

TEAM OFFENSE:  The Bucks rank 16th in offense, tied with the Raptors, scoring 103.2 points per 100 possessions.  Not half bad and a major improvement over last season when they were dead last.

Shooting:  The Bucks are 14th in shooting percentage (45%) but 19th in 3-point shooting (30.5% – ouch) for an effective field goal ranking of 16th (48.6%).

The biggest change for the Bucks is paceLast season the Bucks were 25th in the league, running less than 90 possessions per game.  After Week One they were 6th, pushing the pace to 95.3 possessions per game. Note that Denver, their next opponent, is leading the league in pace, running and gunning under George Karl.

INDIVIDUALS:  Five Bucks are on the NBA Top 20 lists, four of them for good stuff.   The “bad” is Stephen Jackson, who ranks 16th in fouls.  The four “good” are Andrew Bogut (no surprise there), Brandon Jennings (a bit of a surprise), Ersan Ilyasova (no surprise here at the Jinx) and Carlos Delfino (Del-3-no!).  Lets begin with Bogut.

ANDREW BOGUT:  The Pacers may be leading the league in team defense but the best defensive teams on the planet continue to be the Orlando Magic when Dwight Howard is on the court and the Bucks when Andrew Bogut is in the game.  Howard (84.8 estimated pts per 100 allowed) and Bogut (89.0) rank No. 1 and No. 2 in defensive rating, right where they’ve been since 2009.

Rebounding: Bogut is hauling in 11.0 rebounds per game but not on the leader board because the Bucks have played only three games.  He’s 13th in defensive rebound rate (26% of available rebounds grabbed) and 18th in overall rebounding rate.*   Expect Bogut to stake his claim to the Top 10 in these areas on this road trip.   Bogues is 18th in total rebounds, 13th in defensive rebounds.

*A 26-27% defensive rebounding rate is typically good enough for the NBA Top 10. Bogut’s career bests of over 27% were in 2009 and 2011.  For a relative comparison, Dwight Howard was in the 31% range during those seasons.  The elite rebounders of the NBA are in the 18-22% total rebounding rate (offensive and defensive rebounding rates combined), with Kevin Love somehow posting a 23.6% rate last season.

Blocked shots:  Bogut, the NBA’s leading per game shot-blocker in 2011 has yet to make an appearance on the blocked shot leader board.  His typical blocked shot rate since 2009 has been about 6.0% — it’s half that after Week One.

BRANDON JENNINGS:  The 7th leading scorer in the NBA at 22.7 per game, and doing it fairly efficiently.  My computer froze when I wrote that the first time.  BJ is shooting 46% from the floor and getting to the line in the 4th quarter when the Bucks need him to the most.

Free throws:  Jennings is 17th in made free throws and in the Top 10 in free throws per game, with 6.7.

Minutes:  Jennings is also 17th in minutes played.

ERSAN ILYASOVA:   Tenacious D is his calling card.  Ilyasova ranks 5th in Defensive Rating, leading the Bucks forwards in minutes played (27 per game) and helping Bogut lead the Bucks to their No. 2 D-rating.

CARLOS DELFINO:  Three out of five from Downtown in one game gets Carlos in the 3-point shooting top 10.   Carlos ranks 10th at 60%.

STEPHEN JACKSON:  Fouls, turnovers, wild shots — Jackson’s the wild card for the Bucks, no doubt about that, but he’s also out of shape.  He’s “that guy,” and he even looks like he’s acquired my beer gut.  Jackson’s turning it over three times a game (if not more with wild shots) and would be in the Top 20 there had the Bucks played more than three games.  He’s 16th in total fouls (with 14) and one of the few guys in that bottom 20 who’s played three games.   Here’s hoping Captain Jack finds a groove on the road.

OTHER NOTABLES:

Ray Allen:  A true shooting percentage of 79.9 percent going into Sunday’s game against the Wiz.  Let’s call it 80.   True shooting counts two free throw attempts as one shot, carves up that shot based on percentage of FT makes, and adds the extra point for made 3-pointers to “truly” account for a shooter’s scoring accuracy.  Ray’s 58% from the field, 58% from downtown (14 of 24) and, no, he hasn’t missed a free throw in 16 tries.*

The Celtics may have started 1-3 without Paul Pierce but Ray is on fire and hasn’t taken a bad shot that I’ve seen.  Ray was 11th in Week One scoring with 20.0 per game.

*Ray on Sunday missed his first free throw of the season, always a solemn occasion.

Greg Stiemsma:  The 4-year Wisconsin Badger from tiny Randolph, WI, somewhere up there between Portage and Fon du Lac, made his NBA debut this week with the Celtics, backing up Jermaine O’Neal. Stiemsma blocked seven shots in two games, good enough for No. 2 in the league behind Blake Griffith‘s Clippers running mate DeAndre Jordan (4.7 blocks per game) and ahead of Howard (3.0 blocks).

Dwight Howard:  What trade talk?  Howard hauled in a Superman-like 70 rebounds in four games for the Magic to lead all boardsmen, including a league-leading 52 defensive boards.  Howard entered week two of his season averaging 17.5 boards a game and has cleaned off an astounding 38% of all opponent missed shots.

DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings was leading offensive rebounders with 23 in four games, then demanded to be traded after the Kings were blown out by the Knicks.   That’s 5.75 boards on the offensive glass per game for Cousins.  Somebody block big man out.  Somebody trade him.  Somebody tell him to stay home.  Somebody send him a Drew Gooden headband.

Kevin Love:  Three games, 44 rebounds, 20 against the Bucks.  Love is grabbing 14.7 boards a game, six per on the offensive glass and trails only Howard.  How does he do it?   Maybe hit the glass more, Darko!

Carmelo Anthony:  Forty free throws in four games.  40!  I’ve seen some of those games, and the fouls weren’t of the ticky-tack variety.  Carmelo’s averaging 25.0 per game and is sixth in scoring, a full 2.3 pts ahead of 7th place Jennings. (Note to BJ: Don’t bother trying to keep up with him.)

Lebron James:  Leads the league in scoring (33.0 per game) but the Heat don’t look so invincible.  The Bobcats had ’em in Charlotte but let ’em off the hook with turnovers and missed free throws down the stretch.  They still don’t have a center and are reportedly after ex-Buck-Blazer-Bobcat Joel Przybilla.

The Bulls:   They’re putting the hurt on the Randolph-Gasol Memphis Grizzlies in Chicago tonight, and will probably have the league’s top-rated defense come morning.*  The Grizzlies had all of 28 points at half and finished on the wrong end of a 104-64 score.   The defensive standard has been set in the Eastern Conference.*

*Lo and behold, the Pacers and Bucks remained atop the league in team defense after the weekend.  The Bulls D-rating did drop below 100 pts per 100 possessions (98.3), better than their 2011 league-leading 100.3 pts per 100.

The Hawks, Bulls, Sixers, Magic and Celtics ran Top 10 offense in Week One, something to keep in mind when thinking of contenders for East playoff spots.  Surprised the Knicks weren’t in the Top 10?  Me too.

Bucks giftwrap Bobcats home opener in Charlotte

After pounding the Charlotte Bobcats for one half and taking an 11 point lead at the break and going up 14, the Bucks apparently thought their season opener was in the bag.  A 30-14 pasting in the 3rd quarter reminded all (yet again) that this Bucks team simply isn’t as good as it apparently thinks it is.

They looked a lot like one of those teams that has forgotten what it’s like to win in the NBA and can’t find the “how-to” manual.

In the fateful 3rd, one long offensive rebound after another bricked out to the Cats over the inside position held by Andrew Bogut and Ersan Ilyasova, and the second and third chance points piled up against a solid Bucks D that had forced the Cats outside.

Charlotte held a 52-39 rebounding advantage and grabbed 15 offensive boards.  Remember when the Bucks hit the floor to seemingly come up with every available loose ball — those “50-50 plays” that coach Scott Skiles, Bogut and Luc Mbah a Moute used to talk about?

Last night, the Bucks didn’t get those, and nobody was talking about them.  (Mbah a Moute, it should be noted, didn’t play due to some minor tendonitis in his right knee.  Do the Bucks miss him that much?  Yeah, they probably do.)

Bobcat guards Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker had a combined 16 boards, just two less than Bogut and Ilyasova.  In 114 combined minutes, Bucks guards Brandon Jennings, Beno Udrih, guard-forward Mike Dunleavy and forward-guard Stephen Jackson had all of 8 rebounds.  That’s one rebound every 14 minutes.

Jackson was particularly awful, fouling out in just 17 minutes, getting a technical on the sixth foul and taking four ugly looking three pointers.  One banked in, unbelievably.  Is this the kind of basketball Skiles is going to allow this season?   One has to wonder.

More importantly, Bogut looked good, better than he has since he mangled his arm in 2010:  17 points, 9 rebounds, a blocked shot and two of the Bucks six steals.

Unfortunately, most of the points came early against Cats PF Boris Diaw.  Bogut had difficulty taking advantage of DeSagana Diop, the ‘Cats behemoth center, in the third quarter — and, you know our Bucks — the guards, led by Brandon Jennings, didn’t seem too interested in constructing offense where Bogut could take Diop in the open court.  More self-inflicted offensive woes from Skiles’ Bucks.

Ilyasova and Gooden couldn’t get anything going offensively (combined 2-8 shooting).  Here’s an insightful note from We’re Bucked because I’m trying really hard not to carp about Gooden:

The backup center issue is still an issue.  When Bogut left for his late third-quarter breather, the Bobcats outscored the Bucks 9-0. Not only that, but before action resumed, Charlotte added two more free throws (plus possession of the ball) on a Drew Gooden flagrant foul that led to his ejection.  So Bogut left with a six-point lead, came back to a five-point deficit, and returned early because Drew got himself tossed.

Mike Dunleavy, Jr., and Jackson shot a combined 4-16, the only makes from downtown.  That’s combined 6-24 shooting from three starters and a key rotation big man.  Ouch.

Carlos Delfino could have done that.  He was out nursing a sprained shooting wrist, apparently suffered when he gunned one too many from 3-point-land.

Home opener tonight at 7:30 PM.  Bucks will try again tonight at home in the Bradley Center against the Timberwolves and Kevin Love — a long night for the Bucks power forwards.  And BJ hasn’t been good against his old backup, Luke Ridnour, never mind Ricky Rubio.

Note to self:  This post is way too damned long.  Must … find … better … way … to write.   Running down recaps of generally forgettable basketball games will draw a fine from the editorial board.   Time to dig around in the video vault for more footage of Stephen Jackson doing things ridiculous.

First Glimpse: Bucks-Timberwolves pre-season live blog, game 1

Tip off is in about ten minutes, and still haven’t seen Stephen Jackson in uniform.  Andrew Bogut just got in the FoxNorth camera background and swished a warm-up free throw — right handed — and he’s not wearing a sleeve or a brace on the bad arm.

The pregame hype revolves around Ricky Rubio‘s debut against Brandon Jennings, and Bogut’s health. Rubio isn’t starting – Luke Ridnour does.

Interested to see who takes the Bucks first shot tonight.  If this is anything like last year, it will be Drew Gooden, starting again at power forward, shooting at will.

Not this year.  Mike Dunleavy drains the Bucks first shot, a three-pointer off a feed from Bogut in the post.  Dunleavy’s starting for Jackson.

The starting lineup:  Bogut, Gooden, Dunleavy, Delfino and Jennings.

Gooden takes an off-balance post-up fallaway, misses.  Bogut still hasn’t shot.  8-4 Bucks.  The T-Wolves aren’t getting anything in the paint.

4 minutes in:  Kevin Love beats Gooden on a drive and draws a foul.  Skiles yanks Gooden and Ersan Ilyasova makes his entrance.  13-7 Bucks.

Tobias Harris in for Delfino at the 6:30 mark.  The rookie can get to the rim.  First a layup on the break, then a foul drawn on a drive into the lane.  Two free throws.  17-10 Bucks.

Bucks need a good look and are trying to get it to Bogut in the post, can’t. 3 second call on Bogues on an Ilyasova drive.  17-15 Bucks.

Rubio and J.J. Barea into the game.  Barea somehow grabs an offensive board and Michael Beasley draws a foul on Tobias Harris.  17-16.

Bucks don’t look settled at all on offense.  Jennings, Beno Udrih, Harris, Ilyasova and now Brockman in for Bogut.  We know the Brockman-as-backup-center didn’t work last year.  Yet here we go again.

Larry Sanders anyone?

18-20 T-Wolves.  Leuer into the game for Ilyasova, who has two fouls.

Brockman-Leuer-Harris-Udrih-Shaun Livingston.  This is a D-League lineup to close the first quarter with BJ Livingston and Beno.  Udrih looks shorter in a Bucks uniform for some odd reason.  24-26 T-Wolves, end of quarter.

What have we learned so far?   Mike Dunleavy can shoot, and Delfino looks ready to have his best season as a pro.  Bogut looks comfortable and healthy but didn’t get touches.   The Gooden-Ilyasova playing time problem is still there, same as it was last season.  The bench rotations aren’t set, and one wouldn’t expect them to be at this point.

Livingston looks like Jennings’ taller, older brother.

2nd Quarter:  Luc Mbah a Moute starts the quarter, immediately grabs an offensive board and lays it in, starting the Bucks on a 12-2 run.  Leuer is scoring at will against Anthony Randolph.  Moute is all over the court, making plays.  The guy hasn’t practiced a day due to visa problems with Cameroon that finally cleared on yesterday.

Bogut’s back in at about 9:00 left.   He finally gets his first bucket after grabbing a Moute airball at the rim.

Bogut at the line, 6:28 mark.  He’s one for two, a lot of rim.

Skiles calls timeout after the T-wolves bomb away from three to close the gap, then Gooden eats the ball in the post and takes another bad fallaway.  45-40 Bucks.

Kevin Love just drained a three with Bogut in his face.  Then another one.  Skiles has realized he can’t put Gooden on him, so k-Love is Bogut’s charge.  This is clearly a job for Ilyasova or Moute.   46-50 T-Wolves.

Love hits another one from Downtown, where Bogut can’t get to him.  Bogut looks annoyed, and answers with a driving lefty hook.  Bucks go into timeout after a foul with Skiles looking confused.  48-55 T-wolves.

52-62 at half. Eight threes in the quarter by the T-Wolves.  Ilyasova looks glum, but gives Gooden a hand slap on the way to the locker room.  Bucks assistant Sidney Moncrief is clearly not happy.

This looks far too much like the beginning of last season for comfort.

Did the Bucks really just give up 62 to the T-Wolves in the half?   T-Wolves are 8-11 from 3-point-land.

SECOND HALF: Skiles starts Ilyasova on Love in the second half but Love picks up right where he left off and drains a mid-range jumper.  He’s on fire.

Now the refs are getting into it.  Ticky-tacky fouls and the T-Wolves are living at the line.

Great basketball play by Ilyasova – to Dunleavy – to Bogut for a dunk.  Best passing of the night.  61-68 T-Wolves.

Jennings hits a three from the corner.  But the Bucks are having trouble with Mike Beasley.  And Love again.  67-77.  But Dunleavy’s keeping them close. Another three. 16 for Dunleavy.

Love finally misses.  A jumper by BJ, and the Bucks are in a groove with this unit:  BJ, Delfino, Dunleavy, Ilyasova and Bogut.  It’ll be interesting to see where Skiles goes from here.   79-72 with Bogut at the line.  One of two – 79-73 and the Wolves turn it over.

Skiles has stuck with the group for most of the quarter, then subbed Livingston for Delfino, which may signal a Skiles preference in terms of who’s on his bench.  He’d normally go to Moute but Ersan has slowed down K-Love and Dunleavy’s filling it up.  Bucks had a good rhythm going until a couple of fluke bounces led to second chance hoops for the T-Wolves.

Bogut out after a ticky-tack call guarding Darko.  These refs won’t let Bogut d-up on Darko?  Really?  87-76 and it’s slipping back to the T-wolves.

92-78 at the end of 3 quarters.  The T-Wolves cooled off a bit from Downtown (2-7) but got enough garbage going to hold the Bucks off.  There’s not much to what the T-Wolves do but shoot threes and move off of point guard penetration.

Which is to say that BJ and Dunleavy haven’t been good on the perimeter D. This is where the Bucks need Moute and Livingston to help tighten it up.  (It’s not happening tonight).

4th Quarter:  The D-League unit of Udrih-Livingston-Hobson-Leuer-Brockman is getting smoked.  84-100 T-Wolves but Leuer has 14 against Derrick Williams this time in the matchup of rookies.

Hobson has some nifty moves on the perimeter, dropped a nice pass to Livingston for a dunk.  But how different from Chris Douglas-Roberts will he be?   He’s bigger but CD-R was pretty smooth on the offensive end.  I wonder how these things play out in GM John Hammond’s mind.

Bucks are shanking shots, still with the D-League group. Ooof!  Rubio to Derrick Williams for a lob dunk.  Williams beat Leuer badly on a back-cut.  86-105.

86-107.  Another dunk for Leuer.  The rookies Rubio, Williams, Leuer and Hobson are putting on a show.  Skiles isn’t entertained but, why not?  This one’s over and it’s fun watching Leuer light it up in Bucks green.

117-96 final, a poor night on the defensive perimeter, a second quarter of bad matchups that Skiles would like to have back.

LINK. Just to show that I didn’t make all this up.

Deal!!! NBA players, owners reach tentative agreement

NBA players and owners came to their senses during ten-hour settlement talks Friday, and will advance a tentative agreement to their respective memberships for approval.  No, the lockout’s not over, not yet.  But the lawsuits will be withdrawn, the players’ union will reform, and approval of the deal is expected from all parties.

Many reports cite “significant concessions” by the owners.  Whether that happened is highly suspect, considering that objective observers at Yahoo Sports, The New York Times and CBS Sports had weeks ago decided that the divisive issues were relatively minor.

The real issue at stake here was respect.  NBA commissioner David Stern had made too many ultimatums, issued too many deadlines and given us all the high hat.  The players responded by disclaiming interest and filed an anti-trust.  This tentative settlement, ten days later, was more of an apology from the NBA than a compromise. 

Some of the details as reported HERE and HERE:

  • The split of Basketball Related Income was set at a “band” of 49-51 percent.  This reflects the 50-50 agreement that had been previously reached.  One percent will go to the fund for retired players, a nice play by the union and a swell gesture by the owners.  Apology accepted.
  • The “Carmelo Anthony rule” was dropped by the owners.  This would have prevented players from exercising their Larry Bird contract extension rights in “extend-and-trade” deals like the one that sent Anthony from the Nuggets to the Knicks last spring.  It’s very unclear as to why the owners were trying to stop these deals, which amount to a player limiting his own movement in deals that all parties have to agree to.  This was never a sensible bargaining item, and not much of concession.  Shrugs all around.  The OK City Thunder are still stuck with Kendrick Perkins (also an extend-and-trade deal last season).
  • Mid-level Exception (MLE) contracts for teams over the salary cap were set at four years.  The owners had wanted to alternate four-year and three-year deals, but what was the point?   There’s no rule that says a team has to use its MLE at all.  Don’t want a player for four years?  Don’t sign him.  And how was a team limited to three-year deals going to compete with a team that could offer four?  More shrugs at the bargaining table.
  • Sign and trade deals by teams paying luxury tax would be allowed but “limited,” according to reports.  Huh?  These types of deals occur too rarely to figure out what that means.
  • Qualifying offers to restricted free agents would be raised.  Aha.  The Bucks had two restricted free agents, Luc Mbah a Moute and Chris Douglas-Roberts.  Because they were 2nd round draft picks, their pay scale was low and the Bucks only had to commit $1 million to retain their rights to the players.   That’s pretty low risk, especially for Luc, who’s due to get a raise.  The Bucks decided not to retain rights to CDR, despite the low financial commit.  Raising the qualifying offer would not necessarily drive salary higher for a player like Luc, whom the Bucks want to keep.  But it would make it more difficult for teams to restrict players they have little interest in retaining.   Freedom! – but not necessarily for players in high demand.
  • The owners conceded on when to assess the Mid-Level Exception (MLE).  Teams not paying luxury tax will be allowed to use the full $5 million MLE, regardless of whether, on paper, the MLE nudges the team into tax territory.  This keeps any number of improving teams in small and big markets from being penalized as though they were repeat tax offenders like the Lakers and Celtics and Spurs, which is what the owners wanted to do.  I’ve wondered why Herb Kohl or any small market owner agreed to this and questioned whether this was a clause to level the playing field for the luxury tax payers, contrary to the owners’ rhetoric about “competitive balance.”  If the owners actually conceded on this, I can finally stop blogging about it.

“Yessssssssss!!!!!!!!!!” – Andrew Bogut tweeted this morning.  

“Does the beard and mullet stay or go?” wondered Jon Brockman.

“Es finalmente todo esto verdad o sigo soñando ???”  That was from Carlos Delfino.

Que?

They’re not joking: Nazr Mohammed and Andrew Bogut take aim at the NBA’s lockout-focused Twitter accounts

Retweeted on Twitter this evening by Bucks center Andrew Bogut:

Nazr Mohammed

@NazrMohammed Nazr Mohammed
.@NBA @nba_labor Don’t tweet me during this lockout! Isn’t that a fine or something lol?!?! #NBALockout
I think somebody’s getting restless to get back to work, possibly a hopeful sign that the “take it or leave it” games the owners and players’ union leaders are playing over “Basketball Related Income” are about to end.  Possibly.
The latest news has the players unhappy that union executive director Billy Hunter walked out on negotiations last week, taking a hard line at 52 percent BRI.  Seems there is now “an unmistakeable push,” according to Yahoo’s NBA columnist, to package a 50-50 deal and get back to work before another paycheck is missed.
But it also reminds me that the Bucks need a backup center for Bogut. Nazr Mohammed, veteran center, an unrestricted free agent, last seen in the 2011 playoffs with the OK City Thunder, having more impact than Kendrick Perkins, fits the bill.
Is it against the rules for NBA centers to make lockout jokes during the lockout?
(Ed. Note:  Upon further review, Mohammed and Bogut weren’t joking.  Seems they’re fed up receiving tweets from the new NBA twitter accounts, @NBA @nba_labor).
Rather hypocrtical isn’t it?   Lock the employees out, prevent them from any communication with their coaches or front offices, then tweet at them.