Tag Archives: Desmond Mason

Game 3 victory: Pleased to meet the Bucks

With their 107-89 victory over the Hawks Saturday, the Bucks were pleased to meet themselves — the tenacious, intense Bucks, ready to play and challenge everything defensively … it was the key to the game.

During their 89-107 loss to the Bucks, the Hawks were also reacquainted with a tried-but-true version of themselves:  the unfocused, road troubled, unmotivated Hawks.

Sorry, but Hawks coach Mike Woodson looked like he was going to cry yesterday.  I suppose he couldn’t believe that his Hawks were doing this to him AGAIN, two years after Boston, as though 175 games (including playoffs) hadn’t been played since, as though the Hawks had gained nothing in learned experience.  The Bucks dominated them Saturday.

While Bucks and Hawks alike are busy getting reacquainted with former and true selves, check out Gadz and Zaza.

(Alright kids, just try not making sound effects for that photo. Just try. Can’t do it can you?).

In the Land of the Giants. Dan Gadzuric and Zaza Pachulia were teammates in Milwaukee 2004-05. They were both free agents summer of 2005. The Bucks decided they could only afford one and overpaid Gadz (6 yrs-$36 mil) while Zaza signed a much more reasonable contract (4 yrs -$16 mil) with the Hawks.  Last summer he signed on for 4 more years at $19 mil.

I’ll never understand why the Bucks didn’t hold cost down on Gadz and sign Zaza too, embarking on a three-headed big man project (the Bucks had just drafted Bogut). It would have made more sense than what they did — trade Desmond Mason and a draft pick for Jamaal “Big Cat” Magloire.

In five years of often entertaining failure, never was Gadz so good, really good as he was Saturday. Ten rebounds in 17 minutes. Four offensive boards, six on the D-end.  One assists. One turnover.  Five ugly fouls – that’s our Gadz.

Gadz played big minutes all night (Primoz Brezec played the garbage time), none bigger than in the 2nd quarter when Kurt Thomas’ cut jaw was being stitched.   10 boards in 17 mins when it counted.  That’s e-ffect-a-Gadz.

Dan Gadzuric has a total of 16 rebs for the series, all in his last 35 mins (he had none in six mins in Game 1). He’s playing his best and most important basketball as a Buck – getting more minutes and being more productive than he was four years ago against Detroit.

Hawks starting center Al Horford could get to only 3 rebounds in 30 mins Saturday, as Gadz, Thomas, Luc Mbah a Moute and Ersan Ilyasova controlled the paint for the first time this series.  With the Bucks making shots, the Hawks had no chance.

… Does Game 3 really need a  breakdown?  The Bucks made shots, John Salmons showed up. The Bucks showed up and played D.  They also controlled the paint.  The Hawks never stood a chance away from “the Highlight dome” or whatever they call the arena in Atlanta.

Game 4 will be Monday already, (quite a change from and I’ll end by saying that a blowout win over the Hawks is no fluke.  More on that in the Game 4 previews.

Why Williams was a Mo’ better fit for Cavs than Michael Redd… plus more Luke video!

Nets GM Kiki Vandeweghe and East Coast tanWho is this guy to the left and what does he have to do with the Mo Williams trade to Cleveland?

That’s New Jersey Nets GM Kiki Vandeweghe, who instigated the trade that sent the Nets Richard Jefferson to the Bucks for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.

The two events that dictated the Bucks direction this summer and left Mo Williams the odd man out in the backcourt were the hiring of coach Scott Skiles and the Jefferson trade with the Nets. Those events may also have been two of the luckiest breaks the Cleveland Cavaliers have received in the Lebron James era.  

In Skiles, the Bucks hired a coach who preaches defense and ball movement like religion and demands pass-oriented point guard play, that elusive “true point guard” stuff you hear so much about in the NBA. Mo, despite his growth as an offensive player over the last three years, had developed a prolific scoring game not only for himself but for opposing point guards who ripped through the Bucks league-worst defense.

If the writing was on the wall for Mo when Skiles was hired, notice was duly served when Vandeweghe and the New Jersey Nets set out to acquire Yi Jianlian. Just as quickly as Bucks GM John Hammond could say “done deal,” the Bucks course was locked on a double-barreled offense featuring Jefferson and Michael Redd, rendering Mo and his offensive talents expendable. Nobody in Milwaukee was eager to give the troubled Redd-Williams backcourt another go-around anyway.

Many Bucks fans are aware of all the above, but it seems some in national media just can’t get a grasp on why the Bucks made this trade. ESPN’s John Hollinger spent a good chunk of his column Thursday not comprehending it, wondering if “Herb Kohl’s shadow government” forced Bucks GM John Hammond to make the trade. (Wish I’d made that up but I didn’t; Hollinger truly does sound confused).

Is the Jordan dome the right for for Cavs GM Danny Ferry?The Cavaliers had been desperate to find a 2nd scoring option to Lebron James since their season ended in Boston in May, and had been pursuing a trade for Michael Redd. (Who can forget the Paint Cleveland Redd campaign?) With the Jefferson trade June 26th, suddenly the Cavs found their targeted 2nd option off-limits. This development could be called a blessing in disguise were it not so poorly disguised. The smart, simple answer had always been Mo. And Mo was very available without the many high risks and costs involved with acquiring Redd. The Cavs were not a team that should ever have been interested in taking those risks. Despite the disappointing game seven loss to the Celtics, Cleveland had impressed in the playoffs that they were much closer to championship level than many observers had thought. Of course, they needed to to improve. Next season is the first of two more title shots before Lebron becomes an unrestricted free agent, and big men Ben Wallace and Zydrunas Ilgauskas aren’t getting any younger. But no drastic roster change was necessary for the Cavs to contend next season.

For all the talk from Cavs fans that a Redd acquisition would put the Lebrons over the top, there were just as many Bucks fans saying “please, take him.” The Bucks guard would have come with a heavy price, the obvious being his gaudily expensive contract ($51 million over three years). Without Redd’s salary, the Cavs boast  the NBA’s second-highest payroll and pay over $10M to the league in luxury tax. Add to those costs the prospect of the Cavs giving up valuable pieces of their contending roster to get Redd — forward-center Anderson Varejao the most rumored player.  But perhaps most importantly, Redd’s offensive makeup could have posed some serious challenges to the Cavs on-court chemistry. True, the Cavs have long sought a dangerous 2nd option — and even wooed Redd in 2005 free agency — but Michael Redd hasn’t been a 2nd option since 2003 when he was the 3rd or 4th option for the Bucks, gunning three-pointers in the sixth man’s role. Too much change might have been disastrous for the Cavs; with Redd, big changes would have been required of both player and team.

Go team go! Team spirit in blowout loss to CelticsContrary to popular belief, Redd in Milwaukee has not primarily been the off-the-ball spot-up shooter type who stretches defenses that the Cavs were looking for. Redd got his points last season lowering his shoulder and driving to the hoop out of isolation, shooting long range jumpers (out of isolation), posting up smaller defenders and converting from the foul line, where he was 13th in the NBA in free throws made and attempted. He’s accustomed to controlling the ball. Let’s look at how Redd scored and compare it to Mo within the context of Lebron James and the Cavs.

Breaking down the shooting stats at 82games.com, no less than 49.34% of Redd’s 22.7 ppg scoring came on “inside shots” and free throws. As a two-point jumpshooter (42% made) and three-point shooter (36.3%) Redd had the kind of 2007-08 season that shatters myths about “great” shooters. He hasn’t been a great shooter for a couple of years. Although the shooting stats bear out the truth of this statement, they won’t stop arguments about it.  


Contrast this with Mo, who scored 66.9% of his 17.2 ppg on 3-pointers and 2-point jumpshots. Mo led the Bucks in 3-point shooting and was second in the NBA to Kyle Korver in 2-point jumpshooting, and was easily the teams best shooter last season. Mo added 5.7 ppg on inside shots and free throws. He also led in free throw shooting (85.6%).

Now let’s look at Lebron, who was remarkably not so good shooting from the outside and tallied 64% of his 30 ppg on inside shots and free throws — 19.2 ppg.


On paper, it certainly looks like Mo will be the better compliment to Lebron’s penetration and open court game than Redd would have been. A good half of Redd’s typical offense is similar to much of what Lebron does. The overlapping of like-styles isn’t always so complementary, a good example being the Vince Carter-Richard Jefferson pairing that didn’t work out as planned in New Jersey. Whereas Mo is a shot in the arm, a natural and fiscally sane fit, Redd could have been very expensive weird science.

Mo vs. Redd when they’re not shooting: 



  • One advantage to Redd is that he is a superior post up player, something for Skiles to exploit next season. Redd, listed at 6′ 6″, is the better rebounder than Mo, too, but the Cavs, the top rebounding team in the league, were not looking for rebounding in the Bucks backcourt.

  • The rest of the comparison goes Mo’s way. He shot much better than Redd last season – a result of better shot selection in addition to shotmaking. Mo runs the floor better than Redd, hustles more, is the better passer, handles the ball extremely well and can break a defending point guard down to free himself for a 15-20 foot jumper seemingly at will, much like Sam Cassell used to. Both Redd and Mo can break a defense down, but Mo is more likely to make a pass out of penetration.

  • Mo and Redd are equally terrible defenders.

Cavs GM Danny Ferry on Mo Williams to Journal Sentinel yesterday: 

“I think playing with LeBron, he’s someone who can help push the tempo a little bit and help LeBron and other guys get easier baskets. I like him. I think he’s a competitive player who can make big shots and one of those guys capable of rising to important times.”


Mo’ money for Cleveland

In addition to the obvious savings with Mo $8.6 million avg annual salary to Redd’s $17M — the Cavs now have $2 million that they didn’t have before the trade. In dumping the combined salaries of Damon Jones ($4.45M) and Joe Smith ($4.8M) in exchange for Mo’s $8.3M 2008-09 salary, the Cavs shaved their payroll by about $1 million, which in turn reduces the team’s luxury tax payment to the league by about $1M.  

The Cavs will save even more if – as the Akron Beacon Journal’s Brian Windhorst expects – acquiring Mo Williams removed any leverage point guard Delonte West may have had in his contract negotiations. The Cavs offered West the minimum $2.8M to play this season, after which he’d become an unrestricted free agent. West, a much better defender than Mo but not as dynamic offensively — would either back Mo up at point or start alongside him. Assuming he takes the offer, which he is expected to do, the Cavs save the bigger raise he might have received and the luxury tax that would have come with it. Cavs Gm Ferry when delivering the corporate report on the immediate fiscal impact of the Mo trade, can say the team saved anywhere from $3-5 million on its 2008-09 books.

The Cleveland end of this deal is so filled with positives, I can’t help but wonder if there are future considerations due the Bucks. Cavs’ forward-center Anderson Varejao would still be a great fit alongside Andrew Bogut in the Bucks frontcourt. Oklahoma City also has a power forward of interest, Chris Wilcox. One would hope that it’s understood at least tacitly that Bucks GM Hammond, when he took on Damon Jones’ contract to close this deal, earned a few chips that he can someday call in. Ferry owes him one.

The Cavs should also be sure to thank Nets GM Vandeweghe for following through on his promise to Yi that he would “come get him” if he ever got another GM job after Denver.

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The hits just keep coming for the Cavs. Now Mo is promising to play defense. He said this yesterday in a conference call interview with Journal Sentinel:

“Defense comes with a lot of different things. You’ve got to want to do it; you’ve got to have the mentality to do it. I’ve got away from that the last few years, for whatever reason. We can go on and on for the reasons. I’m excited about the opportunity, and I reiterate I know what it takes to win. There’s no secret it takes defense.”


Cavs fans can’t believe their GM pulled it off. This from Paint Cleveland Redd organizer Dan Labbe at Cavaliers Corner:

“If I told you yesterday that Ferry could get a 17 and 6 point guard without giving up [Wally] Szczerbiak or Anderson Varejao, you’d have called me crazy.”


Szczerbiak and Varejao, of course, were speculated to be the central pieces to the Michael Redd trade buzzing before Vandeweghe and the Nets stepped in with the offer for Yi.

It seems that if it wasn’t for bad luck, Cavs fans feel they wouldn’t have any luck at all. Until now. Cavalier Attitude breaks down the trade. The web editors are downright slaphappy at Cavs central: “Mo Bang from the Cavs” announces the headline of the feature on the team website. I think you get the idea.

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Looking for a good elegy to Mo Williams’ last season as a Buck? The Bratwurst wrote an in depth, balanced review of the entire team back in April, and his analysis of Mo was perhaps his the masterwork of the series.

If you don’t have 90-95% faith in my numbers crunching, Brewhoop is the place to go. Frank’s got the fiscal impacts nailed on this trade.

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At ESPN.com, John Hollinger concludes that Oklahoma City “won” the trade because the Rawhides (I’m just going to give them a name for now) received two forwards for their rotation, Desmond Mason and Joe Smith, in exchange for two players at the end of the bench, point guard Luke Ridnour and forward Adrian Griffin. I don’t agree. While the Rawhides definitely improved, I think the stakes were much, much higher for the contending Cavaliers who also instigated the trade and had to overcome a potential dealbreaker in Damon Jones’ contract. It was suggested on Sportsbubbler Bucks forum earlier today that the writers at ESPN may be high. It was a just a joke at the time.

And now, it’s Luke Ridnour video time:






Luke ventures into the land of the giants …




Mo Williams trade: Cavaliers get their shooter – but how did the Bucks do?

Photo Illustration: Jeremy Jannene

Mo blows town for ClevelandMo Williams had to be one happy-go-shooting point guard Wednesday after the Bucks, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City finalized a trade that sent Mo to the Cavs and brought point guard Luke Ridnour from OK City to the Bucks.

To make the trade happen, the Bucks sent forward Desmond Mason to OK City and accepted the final year of former Buck Damon Jones‘ contract at $4.5 million.

Also coming to Milwaukee is 34-year-old journeyman forward Adrian Griffin from OK City (still nameless out of Seattle). In addition to Mason, OK City receives Cavs forward-center Joe Smith, a Bucks fan favorite (2003-06) many had hoped would be coming back to Milwaukee in this trade.

Why is Mo happy? The Bucks best shooter last season leaves a lottery team where his growth as an offensive player caused rifts, and goes to a title-contending team where pushing the ball and shooting jumpshots will be a big part of his job description playing with Lebron James.

That the Bucks had to add more than Mo into this trade (Mason) and take Jones off the Cavs hands was no surprise.(See yesterday’s post). The Cavs had balked at taking on Mo’s 5-year $43 million contract and $8.35M salary, and needed more incentive. This trade had to get bigger in order to happen, and Bucks GM John Hammond stepped up to absorb the messy side of it, all but guaranteeing that the Bucks would be viewed as the team that got the worst end of this deal.

BUCKS:  The fact that Hammond was willing give up Mason while taking Jones’ contract shouldn’t be interpreted as a statement that coach Scott Skiles thinks Luke Ridnour is his answer at point guard. It is, however, a statement that Hammond and Skiles could not foresee moving forward with Mo. It also says fairly loudly that Mason, never the type of game-changing small forward who delivers wins, was expendable on the Richard Jefferson Bucks. Bucks GM Hammond didn’t say much in the official Bucks press release, but offered this comment to JSOnline’s Charles Gardner when it was suggested that the Lebron-Mo combo could be explosive:

“At the end of the day, you have to evaluate your own situation,” Hammond said. “Does it help us, first and foremost? The evaluation was that it did.”


How does it help the Bucks?: Gardner didn’t ask but I’ll fill in. 

1) The trade removes a potential headache in Mo. This is not a criticism of Mo as much as it is a recognition of bad blood that exists on the Bucks roster from previous losing seasons. It was apparent at the games that Mo no longer had much tolerance for “the Michael Redd show” and invested part of his final season as a Buck in proving to anyone who cared that he was just as prolific a scorer as Redd. Bucks fans have seen quite enough of the Mo-Redd backcourt, and Hammond and Skiles were wise not to reboot it for one more run. In Brewhoop’s estimation, Mo was “the odd man out” when it became clear that Redd was staying after the Jefferson trade.


2) The trade relieves the Bucks of Mo’s 5-year, $43 million contract. Ridnour is a two-year, $13M commitment.  In trading Mason and Mo, the Bucks cleared out about $14.3M in salary while taking in $12.7M – an immediate $1.6M more in wiggle room under the luxury tax limit, most of which they used to sign Francisco Elson the day of the Mo trade. The Bucks remain about $2M under the luxury tax limit and could free up another $1.7M by cutting Griffin, whose salary is not guaranteed. Next year the Bucks will save $2.36M (the difference between Mo and Ridnour’s salaries) but the big benefit comes in 2010, when Ridnour’s contract expires and the $9.3M Mo is set to be paid becomes free and clear — giving the Bucks some room to grow.

3) Acquiring the 27-year-old Ridnour, a point guard in Scott Skiles’ image, takes Ramon Sessions out of the fire next season. Sessions, 22, is a focus of Bucks development but has only seven starts under his belt and may need some more time to grow into the starting point guard position. He may not need more time, but that’s something for Skiles to sort out in preseason, knowing that he has Ridnour at his disposal and veteran Tyrone Lue behind them. And Jones, if he’s allowed to suit up.


4) Ridnour could find an NBA rebirth of sorts in Milwaukee; and in Skiles, he couldn’t ask for a better point guard coach. He’s not a player Bucks fans have had much of a chance to see (Seattle’s national NBA profile having been about as high as Milwaukee’s) but Ridnour thrived early in his career as Ray Allen’s backcourt mate. He started his second season in the league, as the Sonics won the Northwest Division and routed Sacremento from the playoffs before falling to the eventual champs, the Spurs. Ridnour averaged 11.5 pts, 7 asts that year, and drew comparisons to “a young Steve Nash.”  But Ridnour lost his starting job to Earl Watson in his fourth year, and last season played 20 minutes per game in a backup role. He was the small (his 6′ 2″ listing is generous), flashy point guard Sonics fans loved but knew wasn’t good enough, or something like that.

Ridnour is a member of the 2006-08 Olympic Senior Men’s Basketball program (33 players) and last summer Seattle tried to trade him to Atlanta for the #11 draft pick but the deal fell through (the Hawks eventually traded for Mike Bibby). He reminds me of a smaller version of Scott Skiles, who became an effective NBA point guard with Shaq in Orlando. Ridnour does like to pass and he’s fun to watch, even when he’s falling down trying to guard Toronto’s Jose Calderon (see yesterday’s post).

Today we have MiniShaQ’s mix, “Lucky Luke Ridnour: Future of the Sonics” … the “young Steve Nash” interview is at the end.






A couple of other notes: I don’t know, obviously, what the roster plans are for Damon Jones or Adrian Griffin. I assume Jones won’t be on the active 12-man roster (barring injury, how he could he be with three point guards already on the roster?) and may be further removed still. Trading Jones, however, may be next to impossible.

With Griffin, it’s more difficult to say. The Bucks could send 2nd round draft pick Luc Mbah a Moute to the D-League (and/or Joe Alexander if he struggles) and Griffin could fill a stopgap reserve role at small forward. If they release Griffin, however, the Bucks would have $1.7M more to play with under the luxury tax limit should another trade come along or if free agent help is needed.

Whatever pans out with the Bucks new forward, you should read shamsports Adrian Griffin player bio.

GM Hammond: Redd is not “untouchable” in trade talks

HammondAnd neither is anybody else, Bucks GM John Hammond told reporter Gery Woelfel in a feature interview that ran in the Racine Journal Times Sunday. 

Center Andrew Bogut and big forward Yi Jianlian, however, are “two, very good young pieces … that you can build around,” Hammond qualified. “Bigs are so hard to find. The Boguts and the Yis … it would be awfully hard to move guys like that.”

Bogut and the Bucks are expected to come to terms on a five-year extension this July that would keep the 23-year-old center in a Bucks uniform through his prime and the 2013-14 season. Including his option for next season, the dollar terms would likely be in the neighborhood of six years – $66-72 million. As for Yi, the Bucks have two exhibition games scheduled in China this September; it’s difficult to imagine the team showing up without Yi.

Hammond continued to address “the untouchables” issue without prompting from interviewer Woelfel.

“Does that mean Michael Redd can be moved? Or anybody else on this roster? No. But I don’t think it’s fair to use the term untouchables when you are a team that won 26 games this year.”


How’s that for dancing around the question? It’s time to stop the music. Consider Michael Redd officially on the trading block.

Journal Times: It was pretty apparent the Bucks had some significant chemistry issues this season. Is it necessary to weed out some of the malcontents on this team or can Skiles come in and alter the attitude?

Hammond:  When you start talking about chemistry issues or evaluating what went wrong with this team … we’re going to evaluate the situation and, if we can do something to improve our team, we’re going to do that. Does that mean we’re going to make wholesale changes? No. We will not do that. That’s not our thinking going in. Chemistry issues, weeding people out, that kind of terminology … it’s going to come down to opportunities. We are going to explore the opportunities that are presented by other teams and go from there.”


Bob Boozer Jinx: With the exception of Bogut and Yi, everybody’s on the trading block, maybe even Ramon Sessions, one player who could make trades work for the Bucks. The Bobby Simmons, Mo Williams and Dan Gadzuric contracts are difficult to move, unless attached with affordable players like Desmond Mason, Charlie Bell, Charlie Villanueva and Sessions. “The way [Sessions] finished the season … as we continue to work the phones (in trade talks) I guarantee you his name will come up,” Hammond said later in the interview.

Journal Times: There’s a good chance Michael Redd will be playing for the United States Olympic Team this summer. Yet, there are some basketball observers who contend Redd isn’t a franchise player. What’s your take on him?

Hammond: “I think Michael Redd is a great player. When you start using terminology like franchise player … I think if we sat down and looked at the (NBA team) board together and said which team has a franchise player, we’d see there aren’t many of them in the league. Even if you said Michael Redd isn’t a franchise player, that’s not taking a shot at Michael Redd. Saying Michael Redd is a great NBA player is a great compliment to him.”


Bob Boozer Jinx: Most Bucks fans have become painfully aware over the last five years that Redd is not Kobe, Lebron, or a few All-Star teams of players, from McGrady to Stoudamire to D-Wade to Joe Johnson. Yet somebody forgot to tell Michael who still thinks he’s as good as his contract, which, to him, meant that last season he had the right to undermine the team on the court. Redd’s “franchise” contract is now a lodestone keeping the Bucks in the Central Division cellar.

JT: I think it’s fair to assume that this summer you’ll be making some trades. What areas would you like to shore up on this team?

Hammond: “If you look at our team, in your backcourt, it is Mo Williams and Michael Redd. Up front, we have Bogut and Yi. Desmond (Mason) is at the small forward position and that might be something you maybe address. You appreciate Desmond for the player he is and the man he is. And you got Bobby (Simmons), so it’s not like the cupboard is bare at that position. But if you say there’s maybe one spot that maybe could be addressed, that would be the small forward position.”


BBJ: The small forward position, a scoring slot for most of Bucks history, has been all but obliterated on the last few Bucks teams. Dez doesn’t shoot well enough to be the starter, Simmons’ career has floundered in Milwaukee and his rehab from ankle and foot surgery has been slow. Bobby’s overpaid, signed on for $20 million over the next two years. Hammond won’t get much back in a trade for Simmons alone, but Simmons and Charlie Bell and a draft pick? That could net a player. Hammond could trade Redd for a small forward (say, to Dallas for Josh Howard, BrewHoop’s favorite trade) which would leave no space on the bench for both Simmons and Mason. A third option is to trade Redd for guards/expiring contracts/future draft picks, and see what Bobby and Dez look like without Redd, but it doesn’t sound as though Hammond is leaning that way.

Hammond could be hinting at the draft, where 19-year-old Danilo Gallinari of Italy is projected to go as high as 6th. Donte Green out of Syracuse and Chase Budinger from Arizona are also ranked in the top 16 picks. There is no room for both Simmons and Dez in this scenario, either. And, as Brewhoop reminds us, there’s always Ersan, the Bucks 2005 2nd round pick, who played small forward for Barcelona this season.

Looking at the SF position is also the obvious answer for Hammond; it’s a throwaway that keeps other players’ names out of the trade market. If Hammond leaks names to be bandied about in trade talks, and the deals fall through, Coach Skiles could be stuck with a situation similar to the one he had last season in Chicago. Bulls GM John Paxson put half the team on the trading block in hopes of acquiring Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant (Kobe’s attempt to trade himself), and the resulting bad vibes didn’t go away. Simmons’ contract ranks as one of the worst in the NBA and every team in the league knows the Bucks would love to get rid of it.

JT: Some Bucks fans believe you should blow up this team, while others believe it just needs to be tweaked. What’s your view on this matter?

Hammond: “Maybe something in between. Maybe more than a tweak, but you sure as heck wouldn’t want to blow up a team with some of the assets that are here.


BBJ: More “maybes.” Players are “assets” but are not “untouchable.” Wholesale changes won’t be made, but only two players are the type to build around. Hammond danced around a lot of questions. The bottom line is that the Bucks have been bogged down the last few seasons with the a group guards and small forwards (Redd, Mo, Charlie Bell, Simmons and Mason) that don’t win games and will cost $46 million next season, two-thirds of the luxury tax limit — not the salary cap, which the Bucks will exceed next season if Hammond does nothing, but the luxury tax (likely to be about $70M). The four bigs (Bogut, Yi, Charlie V and Gadzuric) are young with the exception of Gadz, and will be paid $20 million next season – the last year the group remains a bargain.

So what does Hammond do? Package Simmons and Bell in a trade and hope for the best? No. That’s just asking to lose again and give your new head coach a season of headaches dealing with third-tier “stars.”

I think the reality is that the evaluation of the team is just getting started. Hammond has been on the job a month; Skiles is in his 4th week and has already hired an impressive staff of assistant coaches. At last report the assistant contracts are still in the process of being signed and triplicated. The Bucks won’t know where they’re picking in the draft until the lottery May 20.

One of the holdovers from last season who kept his job was Jason Staudt, the video assistant. This is important. Staudt, one would hope, knows the equipment room and where all the tape from last year is, having invented a filing system so confusing that he cannot be replaced. My guess is that Staudt has been working harder than anyone the last few weeks, preparing an entire season’s worth of evaluation video. So far, there hasn’t been anyone to watch it except Skiles and Hammond. The definitive evaluations won’t get started until the assistant coaches arrive to help Skiles go through it all … and help him drink his beer.

Racine Journal TImes Hammond interview.