Shhhh. Do you hear that?
It's not the rumble (listen closely) of Harley-Davidsons or the voice of Al Gore talking up a storm about the planetary emergency. No, though this last week in August has been loud and busy … You know, it just might be the sound of some in the Milwaukee Bucks-o-sphere helping Michael Redd polish the gold medal he brought home from China earlier this week.
Luckily, the Brewers are in the pennant race, Packer season is a week away, hordes of Harley-riders have invaded the city and the Democrats this week nominated a basketball guy to run for president. The sounds of medal polishing are very, very faint in these parts.
Why this extra sheen on Redd's gold is deemed necessary is beyond me, even from the Bucks marketing standpoint. I just don't really see a reason why Brewhoop should be telling Bucks fans that, "True, Redd didn't factor heavily in Team USA's success, but the team badly needed highly capable players willing to play a reduced role and Redd fulfilled that need."
Or how about this headline from the Bucks website: "Redd, U.S. Capture Gold."
I guess I don't get it. Will telling people that the Bucks shooting guard captured the gold sell Bucks tickets? No. Anybody who followed Team USA realizes that Redd was not a factor in winning the gold. Saying so just makes grouchy hack writers like me feel less guilty about ignoring/forgetting Redd's birthday (it was on the day team USA won gold) in my last post and pointing out what a disappointment Mr. Redd's Olympics were.
It's OK. It's alll good, as they say. Bucks fans can handle a little more disappointment. At least we weren't paying for it this time. But we did see the Bucks shooting guard fail to shoot straight in the role of shooting specialist, then saw that role eliminated. It happened. Otherwise, Redd appeared to remain upbeat on the bench, in company with Utah Jazz' All-NBA power forward Carlos (no relation to 1971 Buck Bob) Boozer.
How and why did this happen? This is the part of the blog where I go into the blow-by-blow detail of the two 2nd quarter runs Redd was given in games 1 and 2 against China and Angola; how his shots didn't fall; and how Coach Mike Krzyzewski scrapped the shooting specialists' role after Angola. There would be all sorts of links to show that, yes, it did in fact happen that way and that, yes, Redd really did play nothing but garbage time minutes after game 2. I did all that in fact and decided to delete it. I will leave this:
Three-point specialist Redd finished last on Team USA in three-point shooting percentage. Yes, it's true. (The link is to the official Olympic stats.) Couple the disappointing Olympics with last year's shooting — in which Redd shot 36.3% on three-pointers (not bad but very middle of the NBA road) and only 41.8% on jump shots outside the paint.– and it appears that Michael Redd's mythology as a great NBA shooter is in need of some major rehab. His 41.8% figure on 2-point jump shots tied Redd with Rasheed Wallace for 71st in the NBA.
I suspect Bucks fans are tired of the team making excuses for its players. I also believe that on some level, owner Herb Kohl was tired of it as well — isn't that why he fired GM Larry Harris and brought John Hammond in from Detroit to start a new era of accountability? I believe the Bucks organization realizes that the fans will not come back to the BC if the Bucks offer up more excuses instead of wins. Coach Scott Skiles said as much earlier this week in a column by Michael Hunt.
The Journal Sentinel, I should point out, has yet to do the obligatory "Redd returns with Gold" story, and we should be thankful for that. And to be fair the Bucks are not blowing the Olympics out of proportion on Redd's behalf. How could they? There's very little to work with beyond the gold medal ceremony photographs, which are plenty. I would, however, encourage a rewrite at Bucks online of the "Redd, U.S. capture gold" headline. Here's a nice, harmless, factual alternative:
"Happy B-Day Michael Redd: USA captures gold"
I'd like to preface this item by saying I like Michael Hunt's column in the JS. It's much more enjoyable than Bauman's ever was, and, unlike Dale Hoffman, Hunt appreciates the NBA. I remember when he was a BadgerPlus writer and if you don't, you missed some great writing. Hunt wrote game stories with the kind of electricity that you don't often see in newspapers (and the sort of energy I sure don't feel writing about Michael Redd). It was as though rock writer Lester Bangs was posthumously writing about sports in Wisconsin all of a sudden — and why wasn't this guy writing in the main? He soon was, first as a Bucks writer, then as columnist.
All of which makes me wonder what was going on in his Aug. 26 column, "Bucks fly under the radar." Sure, the Bucks are out of mind for many in Milwaukee with the Brewers chasing the Cubs, all the #4 drama and the Pack about to start a new era. They could use some attention. Hunt begins by praising GM John Hammond on a "good" draft, and that seems an overly strong endorsement — but that's not the weird thing about Hunt's column. The statement raising quite a few eyebrows is this: "Already the new general manager has given the Bucks what they havenâ€™t had in years â€” near-future cap flexibility â€” by somehow making [Bobby] Simmons and [Mo] Williams go away."
This near future of which he speaks certainly isn't 2009 or 2010. Charlie Villanueva's qualifying offer alone next season would put the Bucks well over the 2009-10 estimated salary cap with a payroll of $68 million and others roster slots yet to fill. The following season, the Bucks as are would pull a relatively safe distance from the luxury tax because Luke Ridnour's contract expires. However — unless Charlie V or some other power forward is willing to play for free, or Dan Gadzuric apologizes and walks away from his contract, the Bucks will only have about $15 million under the salary cap to sign a point guard, a PF and four other players. And that's a conservative 2010 estimate.
What this probably means for the Bucks is that this current core roster will need to click and make some big strides for the Bucks to consider holding this group together beyond this season, much less to think about heading into summer of 2010 with the current roster. We shall see what happens in the next few months. For now, back to the Hunt column.
Hunt's effort to put the Bucks on JS sports readers radar, if only for a day, left many Bucks fans scratching their heads. You should read some of the discussion here at realgm.com, complete with a response about the column from hunt that made even less sense than what he actually wrote. I realize that misfires by the daily increase the credibility of bloggers one way or another (even though I'm writing like crap this week) but I gotta tell ya — playing watchdog to paid journalists is a chore, and it's especially more of a chore over financial/business reporting. It doesn't make for good reading, I know. The "establishing of the record" reporting is supposed to be the business of the paper of record, not the fan blogosphere.
Bottom line: No cap flexibility for the Bucks in 2009 or 2010 – unless Richard Jefferson opts out of his contract and goes elsewhere (which could happen 2010) or if Hammond can find a way to move Gadzooks. A Redd trade could also achieve some cap flexibility if the Bucks receive player (s) with expiring contracts. In other words, something more would have to happen for the Bucks to get "near-future cap flexibility." There should be flexibility in 2011, but that doesn't have anything to do with anything Hammond did — it just happens to be the way Redd, Jefferson and Gadzooks' contracts play out.
These are tough times in the Bucks-o-sphere. Disappointing Olympics for both the Bucks shooting guard and center, a stumbled-through summer filled with questionable, factually flawed reporting from the daily (I was thinking about Bogut's contract here) … hasn't really helped fans look clearly into the future. Or maybe it has and these are just signs that we're headed for another rough season. But I do know this: If I'm going to be the janitor around here, I'll need the keys to the basketball court after hours ….
Remember this guy? That's Patty Mills, the Aussie guard who dazzled (and turned 20) during the games. He'll be back at St. Mary's (Calif.) college this fall, playing Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Gonzaga et al. in the West Coast Conference (WCC). The quicksilver guard is now not only an NBA prospect, but he's being tracked by NBA.com. In addition, he's already been mock-drafted #14 in 2009 at Draft-Express.com. The draft junkies may may get the DTs over it, but why don't we play some basketball first before we have another draft?
Mills blew by the likes of Chris Paul and Deron Williams in a tuneup game Aug. 5 and in the Olympic quarterfinals Aug. 20, earning some oohs and ahhs from the Redeem Teamers as well as some Chris Paul point guard magic that shines "second coming" talk wherever there is quicker-than-quick guard play. The player everyone will be watching at St. Mary's next season led Australia in scoring in six Olympic games with 14.2 ppg, while turning the ball over only six times the entire tournament.