Tag Archives: Michael Redd

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.

Milwaukee’s daily newspaper continues odd fascination with some Bucks player named Michael Redd

Oh, we’ve heard all this before.  A very long feature today in Milwaukee’s daily newspaper on the progress of one Michael Redd, erstwhile Bucks shooting star whose NBA career came crashing down in a hail of unmet expectations, selfish play, conflicts with coaches, the side effect of #1 pick Andrew Bogut’s stalled development and, lastly, two knee surgeries.

No, the story doesn’t say anything about all of the above except the injuries but it does tell us that Redd’s “thing is not to just come back and play.”

“My thing is to come back and dominate and play at a high level.”

–Read the full story HERE. Or don’t.


What’s this, a Wizards-Cavs back-to-back?

Indeed, the NBA schedule makers have smiled on the Bucks with a back-to-back featuring the two worst teams in the NBA according to every measure known to the league except one — offensive rating, the scoring efficiency measure that has defined the Bucks woes this season.  No matter.

These are not must win games.  They are kill-your-shoe-contract, shut-down-your-center, overdose-on-pain-pills, let-Redd-play-out-the-string, send-the-coach-to-a-rest-home, fire-the-ticket-takers, win-or-don’t-show-your-face-in-the-city tests of whether the Bucks should have bothered showing up in the NBA this season.

Now that that’s out of my system …

THE WIZARDS, often referred to here as the Wiz.  Coach Flip Saunders has, as far as I’ve been able to gather, refused to vote Andrew Bogut to the East All-Star squad these last two seasons, all the more reason to suit Bogut up and make sure Javale McGee doesn’t rebound all day over Jon Brockman.  Bogut is listed as “day-to-day” with a left rib muscle strain suffered against the Bulls, but had expected to practice today (Monday).  No word on whether he did or not but it’s not as though that’s as important as Michael Redd or anything, with the Bucks desperate to not fall any further behind the Pacers this week.

The last time the Bucks played the Wiz in Washington (Feb. 9), they were utterly embarrassed as Nick Young and a guy named Cartier Martin went off on them from 3-point-land (8 for 12 combined) and we all know the Bucks can’t score points in bunches.

Beyond the box score, the Bucks were still working their starting guards back into playing shape on the comeback from injury, and it was absolutely brutal watching the Bucks try to keep the Wiz in the building in the 3rd quarter.  This will be the first time this season the Wiz sees a healthy Milwaukee back court.

THE CAVS:  It’s at home.  Former Bucks point guard Ramon Sessions is still with them, fresh off that shoulder jaw butt that knocked Chris Paul out over the weekend.

Always good to see Sessions, the Cavs starting point guard since the Mo-for Baron trade last month.  One has the sense that Paul’s injury may have been meant for the injury prone Bucks.

The Bucks early season loss to the Cavs in Cleveland (on a last second jumper by Mo) ranks as one of the most entirely avoidable, regrettable Bucks losses that still has them trailing the Pacers and Bobcats in the standings.

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).

The Revenge of the Airball, part XX: Lou Williams shoots down the Bucks in Philly

The Curse of the Airball. Revenge for all that ever went wrong for Nellie’s Bucks in the Golden Age.  That’s what the Sixers represent.  But the Bucks in the Michael Redd era have never seemed to grasp the importance of a Philadelphia 76ers game, not like Ray Allen and Allen Iverson did. Now that Redd’s little more than the elephant in the room that no one sees, the Andrew Bogut Bucks still can’t seem to grasp it.

Last week Scott Skiles’ record against the Philadelphia 76ers fell to 2-and-7.  Lou Williams remains one of the biggest reason why, as the Bucks can’t seem to figure out how to prevent Williams (who came off the Philly bench behind Dru Holiday) from playing like an All-Star against them.  With the Sixers trailing 94-92 in the final minute, Sweet Lou launched a bomb from downtown, about two feet behind the line, over John Salmons’ outstretched arm.  It found the bottom of the net.

It was one more highlight for the Sixers in a long history of crashing Bucks’ hopes, and it ensued off of one of the Bucks most embarrassing possessions of the season — 48 seconds of agony as point guard Earl Boykins dribbled and dribbled, failed to advance the ball, threw up one shot that Andrew Bogut and Salmons corralled and brought it back out to Boykins so he could do it all over again, after playing catch with Drew Gooden, who shouldn’t have been on the court at that point.

The Revenge of the Airball, indeed. Since the Sixers traded Iverson to Denver four years ago, they have won 11 and lost 4 against the Bucks. Williams and forward Andre Iguodala are all that’s left in Philly from Iverson and Mo Cheeks’ 2006-07 team.

The Big Dog, George, a case of the flu and a 3-9 Bucks start

Michael Redd made a rare appearance in Milwaukee last week, serving pre-Thanksgiving meals at the House of Peace on 17th and Walnut.  Redd said the House of Peace charity was kind of tradition handed down to him by Ray Allen, which — though it’s great that Redd continues on with the charity — isn’t exactly true.

His comments did bring back a memory of another Bucks team that went into a season with high expectations and started badly — worse even than this season’s frustrating 5-9 start.  Let’s turn back the clock to November 2000 and the annual House of Peace meal.  This, of course, is a true story.

The House of Peace giving was something a lot of players on the Bucks did, and usually coach George Karl was doing the passing as far as who was going to go with him to serve Thanksgiving meals from year to year.  In Redd’s rookie year (2000, when he was a practice player) Big Dog and Karl served dinners at the House of Peace.  Dog and George came back from the event with a nasty flu bug that infected half the team and dogged the Bucks to a 3-9 start.

Big Dog was so sick he missed a game. Karl, who was just as sick, did not.  George stewed on it for a couple of days, and when Dog and Sam and Jason Caffey were dragging it a little bit during a road travel transfer (they were probably stoned), Karl blew up.   Big Dog, still sick as a dog (but probably stoned) snapped back, starting a bunch of rumors that the Dog and George had stopped talking to one another.  Dog and Sam were punished by having to start a game on the bench.  This was also around the time that Ray and Big Dog were stripped of their co-captaincy and the “C” was sewn onto Ervin Johnson’s jersey.

It was at that point that the 3-9 “Big Three” Bucks returned to Milwaukee for a few games and Big Dog went on a rebounding and scoring tear that ignited the rest of the team — those who could be ignited — some (like Ray, who never took criticism from George Karl very well) were still woozy with the flu (Dog and George, who had it first, got well first).  But by December everybody was healthy, Ray’s head was clear and his shot was falling at devastating regularity and the Bucks finished the season out 49-21.  The rest is crooked refereeing history.

George has always taken credit for managing the 2000-01 team in such a way, just the right way, that made the magic possible.  Karl deserves the credit.  But in looking back at how the season started, and how and when it turned around, I can’t help but wonder close the Bucks were to imploding, and how easily Karl might have missed the connection, that magical NBA championship-worthy thing the Bucks had going in 2001.

What if … Karl that November had served House of Peace dinners with a player NOT named Glenn Robinson?

Trailblazers more revenge than “a test”

With so many teams around the league having improved, it’s tough to predict that the Bucks will win 50, especially considering that they’ll play most of their Western Conference schedule and 28 of their first 49 games on the road.

But then a Bucks fan can always remember what the Bucks went through last season:  Michael Redd drama that cost them the first two games; simultaneous games missed by Bogut and Mbah a Moute that derailed their early season momentum (an 8-3 start); and 16 more games of Redd drama that tripped a few more losses, finally ending at the outset of a six-game western road trip — Redd played his last minutes as a Milwaukee Buck in L. A. and the Bucks headed to Phoenix without him.

In Phoenix, the Redd-less Bucks gave the Suns a great game and probably should have won it (a blown lay-up by Bogut in the final minute led to a 105-101 loss) and then pointed their sights north and west to Portland.

Brandon Roy, Andre Miller and the Trailblazers embarrassed the Bucks like they hadn’t been — and wouldn’t be — the entire season.  The Bucks were down 30 at the end of the 3rd quarter and the Blazers ended the game with an unheard of (against the Bucks) 118-plus 131 points per 100 possessions.  It was sick. The Blazers starters shot 33 for 48, and the Bucks were never in it from the opening tap on.

Roy is one of the game’s superlative shooting guards, and his Blazers are one of the few teams that did not make significant upgrades in the offseason. They are almost precisely what they were when the Bucks rolled up the West Coast last January, minus a couple of decent backup point guards.  They’re relying on their improving core of Roy, Miller, LaMarcus Aldridge, Martell Webster and Rudy Fernandez, plus Marcus Camby and a healthy Greg Oden (don’t laugh) to maintain a 50-wins level in the ever competitive-yet-middling Western Conference. Good health for the big men could make the Blazers a West powerhouse.

The Bucks are in the same boat, like it or not.  Drew Gooden isn’t much of an upgrade; and while Corey Maggette seems bent on proving that he is, the Bucks don’t have a backup center or point guard of Luke Ridnour‘s caliber (the Blazers’ Steve Blake, now a Laker, would have been a good addition, Jarryd Bayless, too).  No, Bucks improvement depends not on the Bucks new additions that GM John Hammond hopes will sell some tickets (that’s not really a crack at Drew Gooden)  but on the Bucks core — Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut, of course, and on John Salmons, Luc Mbah a Moute, Carlos Delfino and Ersan Ilyasova.

Here’s that box score from last January.  Ouch.

Salmons wasn’t a Buck yet (and Camby not yet a Blazer) and Jennings was in the middle of his first six-game Western trip.  But still, it looks to me like the Bucks should have something to prove tonight.  And why not?  Bogut will be matched up against Oden, not Camby, if for no other reason than the drama of it all, with the still unanswered questions about whether or not Oden can hang with a real NBA center. … We’ll see how long that lasts.

And the Blazers were thumped in Chicago last night.  The back-to-back I-94 gauntlet is tough for travelling Western Conference teams, even for the Lakers, and the Blazers are no elite team — not yet.   Revenge on the Chicago-Milwaukee gauntlet should be sweet, mean and an unavoidable trap for Portland, shouldn’t it?  If the Bucks are a 50-win plateau team, this one should be in the bag, shouldn’t it?

Then why does it feel that the Bucks — built for the rugged East — have a better chance of winning in Boston Wednesday night than they do at home tonight?

DEL-THREE-NO: Carlos Delfino is on a shooting tear to start the season, bombing away at a 46.7 percent rate from downtown (12-26).  He leads the league in three-point attempts and is 2nd in makes, behind only Heat sharpshooter James Jones. History suggests that the notoriously streaky Delfino won’t be able to keep it up.  But then again, who knows if Skiles continues to play him 36 mins a game.  Del is in a groove, no doubt about that, and once a shooter is in a groove, a streak can last for weeks.

Del’s 110 minutes in three games puts him among the league mpg leaders, but guess who’s at the top through four games —  Roy and Aldridge, with Andre Miller also in the top 10.  There’s nothing up the sleeve of these Blazers — they roll it out there with their best playing heavy minutes, knowing that their best are probably better on most nights than your best.

Note to Scott Skiles: Last season’s forwards, please

The Bucks 2010-11 Bucks in their first two games look eerily similar to the 209-10 team that tried and failed last Nov.-Dec. to work Michael Redd into its rotation.  The Bucks with Redd stood around on offense; the ball didn’t move; they lacked chemistry and consistent defense; and they lost twice as often as they won (the Bucks were 6-12 when Redd played).

To be fair, that team — like this season’s Bucks — had injury issues.  After a 6-3 start Andrew Bogut went out for six games with a deep thigh bruise and Luc Mbah a Moute missed a couple of weeks with a bum ankle.  Mbah a Moute has been hobbled by a bad ankle in the Bucks first two games this season, and Bogut has been limited by foul trouble, his healing right arm and some conditioning issues.

What last year’s Bucks team had that the current Bucks do not was a backup center in Kurt Thomas; a backup point guard nicknamed Frodo who knew the offense as well as the coach and played with desperate energy; and they had the unselfish “D-Wade stopper” Charlie Bell, who made sure that the ball was going in the post to Bogut.  With the unsung hero Bell starting in Redd’s place, last year’s Bucks were 19-16 including a couple of clumsy, disjointed losses with Redd firing ill-timed bricks in a reserve role.

What last year’s Bucks team didn’t have was a logjam at forward; they had a simple rotation (when Redd wasn’t playing).  The eight-man rotation of Jennings, Bell, Luke Ridnour, Carlos Delfino, Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Bogut and Thomas was well-knit, smart, unselfish, and extremely hard-working. Nobody outrebounded that team by 23 boards (the T-Wolves had a 62-39 rebounding advantage). That team never gave up 19 offensive boards. What’s different about this season?

1) Not once last season did Skiles relegate Ilyasova and Mbah a Moute to scrub 26 minutes … COMBINED.  And;

2) Not once during the 2009-10 82-game schedule did the Bucks suit up without a legitimate backup at center for Bogut.

Those two factors are directly attributable to the rebounding failure in Minneapolis Friday night, and the failure to win “50-50” plays and get to loose balls in the paint.  And it’s no accident that when Skiles played Mbah a Moute, finally, late in the 3rd quarter, the Bucks pulled back into the game and erased most of a 17-point T-wolves lead.

On the court for that run were Brandon Jennings, pint-sized Earl Boykins, Corey Maggette, Mbah a Moute and Bogut.

Skiles can’t solve the backup center problem until GM John Hammond acquires a backup center.  But coach Skiles can remember last season, and some of the things that made the Bucks tough, scrappy and competitive for most of it.

More Mbah a Moute, now that he’s able to play, and some renewed trust in Ersan Ilyasova are two of those things.  Here’s hoping Skiles remembers them tonight in the home opener against Larry Brown’s Charlotte Bobcats — no strangers themselves to scrappy play and tough D.

A must win home opener: Both the Bucks and Bobcats are looking to avoid starting 0-3. With a difficult Portland-Boston back-to-back on the schedule next week for the Bucks, 0-and-3 could very quickly become 0-5.

Unsung Player: Charlie Bell

   Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade (3) drives to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks' Charlie Bell, left, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010, in Milwaukee.   In all this excitement over whether the Heat would tank and set the Bucks up against the Celtics in Round 1, I forgot that yesterday was Unsung Player Day, an annual celebration started in Japan by a crazed Laker fan named Don at his blogsite With Malice.  This must also have meant that at some point it was April 14th in Japan.

My Unsung Player Day Bucks honoree is Charlie Bell. Of course. No, he’s not the typical unsung player — he started 39 games for the Bucks this year. But since the acquisition of John Salmons, Charlie’s been relegated to the DNP-garbage time zone by the coach who loves him, fellow Michigan State alum Scott Skiles. (Yes, Charlie was a Flintstone, and with a year 2000 NCAA title on his resume and a “FLINT” tattoo to prove it, I realize I’m pushing the unsung player rules.)

The DNP-garbage time zone: In March CB got 5 DNP’s and played 164 mins in 10 games. Most of the minutes were played when he was rushed back into the lineup after Carlos Delfino went down March 26 against the Heat and missed four games. Prior to that, Charlie had been sitting. The Bucks split those four games and the 6’3″ Bell spent one of them guarding Lebron James in Cleveland (a game the Bucks had in their grasps) while Bucks fans groaned every time Charlie chested James up on D or rose to shoot a three.

It’s the strangest thing. CB’s a defensive specialist who’s been the Bucks’ most consistent 3-baller most of the season (39% until recently) yet he’s the guy in Milwaukee whose misses register with fans the most.  That’s saying a lot, as Jerry Stackhouse now fires away for the green and red. …

…  This was the season I wrote that “trying to get Bucks fans to appreciate Charlie Bell is like trying to get Republicans to read the health care bill.” I might have even tweeted that.

CB appreciatiation shouldn’t be that difficult. In January, he hounded D-Wade in two games over three days (13-39 shooting, 43 points). Brandon Jennings even called him “a D-Wade stopper” … in public. (I know, I know, it was close to singing Charlie’s praises, but bear with me …  there’s more.)

This was during a stretch in Jan.-Feb. (after Michael Redd went down for the season) in which Charlie started at guard with Brandon Jennings, shot 43% from Downtown, mugged every opposing two guard in sight and the Bucks went 8-4. Yet the local media handed the credit to newcomer Stackhouse, who hardly played in many of those games.  How such an obvious snub was even possible after the Bucks ran a popular “Charlie Bell Do My Job” promotion last summer, I don’t understand.  Milwaukee can be a strange town. But it certainly qualifies Charlie for the ranks of the unsung.

The Bucks had a rough season starting a rookie at point guard while dealing with Michael Redd’s on-again, off-again comeback from knee surgery, all the while trying to work two new forwards (Delfino and Ersan Ilyasova) into the rotation. Andrew Bogut, after a fast start, was injured in November and not fully healthy again until January.

Brandon Jennings exceeded everybody’s expectations in managing all this change — and deserves the ROY for it — but through it all there was steady old Charlie Bell, guarding everybody from Lebron to Kobe to Durant and D-Wade.  Overall, the Bucks were 21-18 with CB starting at guard, 19-16 before Salmons arrived — and a few of those losses came as a result of Redd’s experiments in fitting into the lineup.

The evidence is there. It’s irrefutable. The Bucks have won with Charlie, and at a playoff level clip. If nothing else, he’s one of the best 2-spot defenders in the game.  Yet the Bucks 22-8 record since Salmons will be what stands in the memories of Bucks fans.  Or it will be Brandon Jennings in his rookie year and Andrew Bogut’s All-Pro second half. Or Bogut’s horrific season-ending injury against the Suns.

If fans do think of Charlie, it may well be for one shot — a game winner Kobe Bryant hit over him in OT Dec. 16.  It seems there’s probably little doubt that shot’s a tune that’ll be sung somewhere, sometime, probably even right now.

It’s sucking time at Basketbawful

If the streaking-for-the-playoffs Bucks 101-93 loss to the Clippers in LA didn’t bring Bucks fans down to earth, or at least out of the clouds, how they did it might. After Brandon Jennings scored 14 points in the 3rd quarter to pull the Bucks back into the lead after they had fallen into a 16 point hole, the Clips came out in the 4th playing a 2-3 zone.

That’s right, the Bucks were down 16 to Chris Kaman and the Clippers. Bogut!

The Bucks couldn’t solve the zone or shoot the Clippers out of it. Playing without forward Carlos Delfino and with Charlie Bell relegated to the bench after a poor first half (Charlie started at guard and Salmons moved over to Delfino’s forward spot) the Bucks rimmed 6 three-pointers in the first six minutes of the 4th, two by Jerry Stackhouse, two by Luke Ridnour and one apiece by John Salmons and Royal Ivey. Suddenly they were down 86-78 and couldn’t claw back. Unfortunately, this is why some of our guards (Stackhouse, Ridnour) are 30% in their careers from Downtown.

Kaman had 20 pts and 7 boards, all of them excruciating to watch. Did I mention Royal Ivey? I did. Ivey came in for Bell in the 3rd and sparked the Bucks’ comeback with some rabid D (two steals) and a much needed 3-pointer. Nice to have Ivey back … and wouldn’t it have been great to have him around last season?  It sucked that we didn’t …

BASKETBAWFUL‘s “30 reasons this kind of sucks”: Is it that time of year already?  With the Bucks winners of 12 out 13 going into the Clippers game, losing just once since John Salmons joined the club, Andrew Bogut realizing his All-Pro potential, Rookie of the Year talk for Brandon Jennings and Coach of the Year talk for Scott Skiles, is this really the time to think about the bad stuff?

11. The Milwaukee Bucks: They fleeced the Bulls out of John Salmons, immediately went on an 11-1 run and moved from sub-.500 to the fifth seed in the Leastern Confernece. Andrew Bogut took a break from high-fiving himself to become one of the better centers in the league, Brandon Jennings is learning to pass the ball, and the Bucks as a whole are buying into Scott Skiles’ “bust your ass on defense and outhustle the other team” system. It’s all clicking in Milwaukee, which will inevitably lead to unreasonable expectations for the 2010-11 season. Just wait. It’ll be all, “Once they get Michael Redd back, they’ll be even better. This was a season to build on!”

But no, no it won’t be. Look, I’ve seen this before. Hell, the same thing happened last season when the Bulls obtained Salmons and then rocketed into the playoffs. This chemistry spike won’t last. Michael Redd, once he returns from yet another knee surgery, still won’t be a true franchise player. Salmons — assuming the Bucks hold onto him — will revert to form. Bogut, for all his improvement, probably won’t be a franchise player. And the Milwaukee players will eventually tire of Skiles’ taskmaster tendencies. It’ll happen. It’s just a matter of time.

You’re right, Bawful, that did suck, and here’s why:

Brandon Jennings will become a great point guard in the NBA. The Rookie of the Year talk you’re hearing isn’t in Italian (Jennings played in Italy last year), it’s in English. Kid Money really is that good, and will only get better.

Andrew Bogut is a franchise player. He will very likely be an All-Pro this season, and the Bucks have not had an All-Pro center since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the early-mid 1970’s. We’ve had an All-Star center, Bob Lanier one time, and a very good Jack Sikma, but they were nearing the end of their careers on those great 1980’s Bucks teams. Bogut is 25 and hooking left, hooking right … into his prime.

Sure, it’s taken a while for Bogues to realize his All-Pro potential, but now he’s playing with teammates who aren’t fighting it and has a coach that expects franchise-defining play out of him. He’s putting up a strong 16.2 pts, 10.5 rebs per game, and there’s nothing flukish about those numbers, nor anything stopping him from adding a bucket or two to the scoring average.

No, those aren’t Jabbar-like numbers, and they’re not as good as Dwight Howard‘s, but, like Howard, Bogut is defined by his defense. AB is second only to Howard in NBA defensive rating. In other words, the Bucks play the best defense in all of basketball when Bogut is on the court and Dwight Howard is sitting … or eating, exercising, napping or doing anything other than playing in an NBA game.  AB’s right behind Howard in blocked shots, too, at 2.5 per game.

The Scott Skiles defense, the constant pressure D that wears opponents down,  it eventually wore out Skiles’ players at his previous stops in Phoenix and Chicago. The idea that Skiles will wear on his players to the point where they tune him out is nothing we haven’t heard before. Bogut addressed this in a long Wojnarowski article at yahoo NBA this week, affirming that the Bucks are very much in tune with Skiles. In fact, Bogut said there is nothing “wearing” about Skiles at all.

This could change, of course, but Skiles’ is in just his second year with the Bucks. It took him four years to wear out the Baby Bulls. If Skiles’ run in Chicago is any indication, the Bucks should hit their peak with the coach over the next two seasons. We’ve got some time. And Bogut and Jennings, too.

The chemistry spike and Michael Redd, however, is right on the money, Bawful.  It’s not clear what will happen with that situation. Will Redd come back next season? Can he fit in if he does, despite all evidence to the contrary? The Bucks have proven perfectly willing to put their fans through this tired drama over and over again, and I like it a lot less than you don’t. Now that you mention it, I can already hear the wheels squeaking down in St. Francis … “We can move Salmons to forward, start Redd at guard with Jennings and Bogut and The Prince.” … It sucks, it really sucks.

And we don’t know if John Salmons will stick around or opt out this summer. It’s a cause for concern, and I’m not trusting anything anybody says on the matter right now, least of not Bucks GM John Hammond, who’s been known to say one thing, do another. You’re right, Bawful, that does suck.

On the plus side, Hammond has stocked up on draft picks and the Bucks have three of them this summer, barring any further deals. They’ll have the Bulls 1st round pick, a 2nd rounder from the Sixers and their own pick.  You forgot to mention that, Bawful, because draft picks don’t suck at all. They’re good, and with three of them, odds are the Bucks should be able to find some additional help for next season, maybe even a power forward to help us break the Bob Boozer Jinx.

Maybe … But next year at this time, I do expect the Bucks to be a little further down the Eastern conference “things that suck list” — and I don’t think that’s an unreasonable expectation.

Quote of the day:  “What we have here are a bunch of guys with a chip on their shoulders, with something to prove. We’re a bunch of underdog guys, in an underdog city. Milwaukee is the butt of a lot of jokes and on TV and the movies, but we’ve got a bunch of hard-workings and that suits this city, the people here.” — Andrew Bogut to Adrian Wojnarowski in this week’s feature article at Yahoo.com.

Clippers tonight: Bogut vs. the Kamanizer

The Bucks are in Los Angeles tonight to play the tanking Clippers (25-43), the first of a three game road trip that will then take them to Sacramento and Denver, their final road game of the season against a Western Conference opponent. Those are the facts as I know them. Now it’s time for the fun. 

A Clippers game is one of those rare opportunities to explore NBA weirdness. You never know who’s on the Clippers roster, and just when you think you do, half the roster arrives at the gym in crutches to ask for a trade. I couldn’t tell you right now how they’re playing, who sits and who starts, whether MU gunner Steve Novak is still raining three’s on the opposition or whether or not the Bucks ought to be concerned about this game. I have a Chris Kaman photo. The rest is guesswork.

I heard somewhere that the Clippers fired coach Mike Dunleavy, Big Dog’s first coach with the Bucks. I’ve always liked Dunleavy, who, when he was an assistant for Del Harris, suited up and played when the roster got thin. And he had a sense of humor. He was GM and coach during those win-starved “development” years, and brought Alton Lister back in 1994 because he thought it would make the fans happy to see “The Big Project” again. He was right. Dunleavy in 1995 brought Terry Cummings back for a spin, too, and that was cool, despite the 57 losses.

I also heard somewhere that Marcus Camby is now a Trailblazer, and that Portland thinks maybe they can make a title run this year. Camby’s still a dedicated defender and rebounder but Camby is a guarantee that the Blazers will not win a title. Ask Patrick Ewing. The upshot is that there is somebody named Outlaw on the Clippers roster now, but I don’t think it’s Bo Outlaw from those post-Shaq Orlando Magic teams.  Former Buck Steve Blake may be a Clipper, too, but whether or not Jamal Magliore was part of the deal I can’t be sure.

Chris Kaman is still a Clipper and by now he should have some sort of nickname. He’s been there since 2003. He’s also a guy I’ve never liked as an NBA center. In fact, I refused to list him on the inaugural Bob Boozer Jinx center rankings on grounds that I could not make a “Top Ten NBA Centers” list with Kaman on it. He’s lumbering, he’s awkward, he’s ridiculous looking, he misses more bunnies than a big man has a right to. I hold him responsible for my man Sam “I Am” Cassell‘s failure to lead the Clippers past the Suns in the 2006 playoffs.

There were times during his career that Andrew Bogut on a bad day  reminded me a little of Kaman, but I didn’t blame Bogut. I blamed Chris Kaman.

Kaman used to have the worst hair in the NBA (and that’s saying something) — but at least he had the guts to play with the game with a few strands of flyaway hair, and that was something to be said for Kaman. Now that he’s cut his hair, I can’t think of anything good to say about Chris Kaman.

Except that he’s averaging 18.8 ppg and 9.1 boards on a bad team, all the while refusing to jump. He’s as big as Bogut and a lot wider but Kaman and Bogut haven’t gone head-to-head since Feb. 11, 2008, in Milwaukee. That didn’t go well for the Bucks or AB. While Kaman only had 7 pts, he grabbed 15 boards and bodied Bogut into a 4-16 shooting night. Bogues was good on the glass with 12 but Al Thornton killed Yi and Charlie V for 25 pts. (Check that — no, it really does say that Bogut got 16 shots two years ago). 

It was the night Michael Redd decided he was going to finally make coach Larry Krystkowiak happy by sharing the ball, and he did, refusing to shoot in the first half. Redd racked up a career high 11 assists and Mo was all too happy to take the shots (he was 12-20 from the floor). The Bucks appeared to be outplaying them all night, but … somehow we managed to lose to a 16-32 Clippers team at the BC. It did make for a weird-looking boxscore … those were the days.

And Chris Kaman still had his hair.