Tag Archives: Gilbert Arenas

The return of Michael Redd: Steve Aschburner feature at NBA.com

Bucks erstwhile shooting guard Michael Redd is “on the brink” of a comeback after 14 months of rehab from major knee surgery.  But is Redd, ever the source of fan debate about personal scoring vs. team basketball, relevant to the 2011 Milwaukee Bucks?

NBA.com feature columnist Steve Aschburner wades through the psychological dilemmas for the team and for Redd, who is expected to return sometime this week (Friday, the Bucks say).  Along the way, Aschburner makes some welcome and refreshing notes about Redd’s former play that are not often aired in Wisconsin media.

Redd has been a volume shooter, averaging 18.3 field goal attempts in his five full seasons scoring more than 20 points per game for Milwaukee. His career numbers in both true-shooting percentage (.560) and effective field-goal percentage (.505) rank down the list from the game’s most efficient marksmen. So as desperate as the Bucks need buckets, Redd — even the old version of Redd — might not be [able to] slip so easily into a team that has had to play without him.  LINK to Aschburner article.

Actually, those insights have been aired often here, and occasionally at Brewhoop and other Bucks fan blogs.  But such analysis of Redd’s game has been absent from the daily, mainstream coverage of the Bucks.

There is that $91 million contract still on the books for a few months, and, well, it’s difficult enough for the Bucks to sell tickets in the small Milwaukee market without a pile of negative press about the player and absurdly horrendous contract the team shackled itself to five summers ago.

At issue is that old “scorer vs. team offensive efficiency” that was dealt with in “Basketball by the Numbers” and other sources, wherein there is a “too selfish” line that gets crossed by NBA scorers.  Joe Johnson’s regularly over that line, and Kobe Bryant certainly crosses it from time to time, with great purpose and intent.  Lebron?  How about the Cavs problems in the 2009 and 2010 playoffs.  This season, not so bad as the Cavs postseason meltdowns, but the Heat have had their share of ball movement problems, especially when trying to close out games.

Michael Redd was over that line almost every night for five years, and the Bucks were never able to put a winning product on the court with their volume shooting guard as the number 1 scoring option.

Meanwhile, the dominance of Redd generally impaired the development needs of the team and caused conflicts with coaches (Larry Krystkowiak, Scott Skiles), until the last three years under coach Skiles, with Redd missing 180 of 231 Bucks games.

It’s strictly regarded policy here at The Bob Boozer Jinx that Redd can only serve to retard whatever the Bucks hope to accomplish this season or next.  He may prove me wrong, but his history suggests that he can’t and won’t.

But enough out of me.  Please take some time, if you have some, to give Aschburner’s feature a read.  Here’s another excerpt.

The NBA has a shadow squad of once-electric players forever altered by injuries, guys such as McDyess in San Antonio, Tracy McGrady in Detroit and Gilbert Arenas in Orlando. Redd got to watch Arenas up close Wednesday as he shuffled through a five-point, 2-of-6 shooting night for the Magic. They aren’t who they once were, their teams aren’t organized around them and it can be a humbling, difficult experience.

That’s good stuff.

Michael Redd set to return to the Bucks on Monday

Michael Redd will return to the Bucks Monday, after All-Star weekend.  By all accounts, he won’t play right away, but will work to get himself “in a position” where he could possibly play.

Redd’s in the final year of a contract that pays him $18.3 million this season, more than Carmelo Anthony, more than anybody on the Celtics not named Kevin Garnett, more than anybody on the Lakers not named Kobe Bryant.

This makes Redd very valuable to any team looking to cut costs next season, including the Bucks, who could use some payroll breathing room after last summer’s flurry of contract activity (Drew Gooden, John Salmons, Keyon Dooling).

Nobody in Milwaukee media has bothered to ask GM John Hammond, with the trade deadline eight days away, whether a trade is a possibility.  Those questions will surely arise once Redd is back in camp.

Currently, the Bucks insurance is reimbursing the team 80 percent of the cost of the contract, due to Redd’s long rehabilitation from a second knee surgery.

$18.3 million! For Michael Redd?  It’s insane, but there was very little the Bucks could do to avoid it back in 2005 when the deal was struck.  Such are the NBA economics that spun out of control in the last decade, as teams wrote ridiculous agreements with All-Star players such as Redd, Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas, not so much because they were forced to, but because the ethos of the league and the setup of the league’s collective bargaining agreement said that superstars bring in the fans, and that every team should have one — a superstar, that is, not a fan (even the Clippers had a fan or two before Blake Griffin).  Even very good, borderline All-Star players such as Richard Jefferson got similar deals (RJ’s still working off his final year down in San Antonio).

The justification for Redd’s contract points most directly to the five-year, $85 million contract that Ray Allen signed with the SuperSonics in the summer of 2005.  Redd, of course, was effectively replacing Allen as the Bucks star shooting guard and had been an All-Star in 2004.  The Bucks:

1) Didn’t want to lose Redd in free agency. He had courted some interest (about 5-yr/$70 million) from the Cavaliers, on the hunt for a second scoring option after Lebron James; and

2) Wanted to reward Redd with a contract comparable to Allen’s $17 million per season deal.  The market dictated that Redd should not be paid quite at Allen’s level, so the Bucks basically made a 5-year, $14.5 million per year offer (exceeding what the Cavs were able to offer over five years) and tacked on the outrageous sixth year “player option” to exceed the total of Allen’s contract.

Was the sixth year necessary?  Probably not, but five-six year agreements with the final year an option for players were in vogue back then, and, well, nobody in the Bucks organization wanted to see Redd suit up alongside Lebron James, unless it was for an All-Star game.

So here we are, the 2011 trade deadline fast approaching, the Bucks needing a shot in the arm and Redd (probably) nowhere near playing shape.

This may be little more than an insurance check to upgrade Redd’s status and handle the legalities of his sunsetting disability status.  It may mean the Bucks have brought him back into the news to draw trade interest.  It may mean that Redd has rehabbed his way into shape to play.  It almost certainly means that Redd doesn’t want his career to end, and wants to show the NBA that he can play next season.

On Monday, the elephant returns to the Bucks locker room.

(Special thanks to Bucks fan Sidney Lanier, the originator of the altered New Yorker artwork above).

Arenas’ Jefferson-Milwaukee trashtalk disappears from NBA.com blog

Gilbert Arenas posing as writerHow gutless are Gilbert Arenas and the online gatekeepers of NBA.com, where the Washington Wizards’ $111-million-guard is the featured NBA blogger? Arenas’ schoolyard taunt at Richard Jefferson and Milwaukee is nowhere to be found on his Agent Zero: the blogfile.

Arenas has made a little noise lately about retiring his blog, blaming “technical difficulties” with the media in America, but a globetrotting trip to China, Europe and beyond prompted a lengthy July 13 entry about his travels. Along the way he added some thoughts on summer NBA player transactions and had this to say about the trade that brought Richard Jefferson to Milwaukee:

“HAHAHA. Oh, man, now that is funny. When I heard that, I started laughing. Oh man, did I start laughing. You know why? Because every player hates Milwaukee. Nobody wants to live in Milwaukee. I’m sorry, Milwaukee, to come down hard on you, but no one in the NBA wants to play in Milwaukee. From him going from New Jersey (actually New York, because he lives in New York), from New York to Milwaukee is like going … let’s just say it’s not going to sit well with you. That was a funny one when I heard that one. I know Yi is happy though.”

Hit delete – that paragraph is now gone from Arenas’ blog, no doubt disappeared into the nether of some NBA.com flak’s hard drive.

But not before Bucks fans reacted with all sorts of discussion about diversity, quality of life, segregation, economic opportunity, crime rates, the state’s horrible black incarceration rates, Milwaukee’s black brain drain (Atlanta came up), jobs, things to do, night life, Julius Erving’s refusal to play in Milwaukee after being drafted by the Bucks in the 1970’s — yes, Bucks fans delved into it all for couple of days on Realgm.com (I admit responsibility for some of it). And trashtalked Arenas, of course, while also noting that the Bucks organization hasn’t been all that attractive to players in the last five or six years. Bucks fans had a lot to say about Milwaukee, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.

Mostly lost in the wide-ranging discussion was that the target of Agent Zero’s dis’ wasn’t Milwaukee so much as it was Jefferson, his former U. of Arizona Wildcats teammate and an increasingly unfriendly rival. (Badger fans will remember those two in passing from the 2000 NCAA West Regionals, as Wisconsin went on its way to a fourth date with the Flintstones in the Final Four.)

Last summer Jefferson and Arenas sparred in the media over a $3.5 million donation Jefferson made to build a new gym at AU. Then it got a little ugly, again on Arenas’ nba.com blog. If Arenas was joking in any of this, nobody’s getting it. And now Agent Zero is pretending his latest never happened, save for the reader comments responding to smacktalk that is no longer there.

Arenas and NBA.com ought to put Arenas’ statements back up. He thought them; he wrote them; NBA.com has (or had) given him the license to post them. Arenas and the publishers of the website — the league — should either let the statements stand and if they feel damage control is in order, reframe, respin, whatever the urge is, in a new post. It’s disrespectful to readers of his blog to simply “disappear” it all.

Yes, the NBA is a business, and, yes, it is entirely possible that the Bucks, part of NBA.com, demanded the removal of the Arenas’ comments. But the NBA and Agent Zero are in the business of developing online editorial content for fans. The honest and ethical thing to do is to stand by the content and serve the readers and NBA fans, not the interest of the business or Arenas’ image, foot-in-the-mouth though it’s been since beginning his blog two years ago. 

The cat’s long out of the bag and prowling all over cyperspace, linked at Dimemag.com, Ballhype.com, JSOnline.com, hundreds of sites in between, and now the mighty Bob Boozer Jinx. Axing the comments and pretending Agent Zero never wrote them doesn’t serve Arenas or the NBA — it just makes both look bad and wastes many an NBA fan’s time.

“Technical difficulties with our media,” Gilbert? A Dikembe Mutombo finger to that. It’s hit it or quit it time.