Tag Archives: Mo Williams

Forgotten Man: Richard Jefferson has played more minutes than any NBA player… yet he’s the Bucks few talk about

Richard JeffersonRichard Jefferson is the man Bucks coach Scott Skiles plays more than any other. In fact, Jefferson’s played more minutes than any player in the NBA to this point, thanks to the Bucks grueling schedule. (They are one of only six teams to play 26 games so far, Charlotte in the East and Utah, Portland, Sacramento and OK City out West being the others). Yet Jefferson is not a player who gets much scrutiny or praise from fans whether it’s on our forum here at Sportsbubbler or others. Discussion about Michael Redd or Andrew Bogut? Those never seem to end.

Jefferson, despite the big trade of Yi Jianlian that brought him here and the court time he gets, is somehow flying under the radar, at times a forgotten man.  It’s an odd phenomenon but it’s also part of who R.J. is as a player. To get to the bottom of this, let’s go back to last year when R.J. was a New Jersey Net.

[No, I don’t know who the brunette on R.J.’s arm is (the tag just says she’s a model – no kidding) … EDIT: Turns out that’s R.J.’s wife, Trinidadian supermodel Teresa Lourenco.]

I was at a Nets-Bucks game last December  and you wouldn’t have known Jefferson  was on the court much of the time. The Bucks played well that night, if not consistently. It was Mo Williams bobblehead night, and he and Michael Redd decided to have a shootout in the first half. Mo had 21 at half; Redd made sure to outscore him with 24 (or maybe it was the other way around). In any case, it was kind of sickening when you realize they were on the same dam team and at one point when Mo was on fire, Redd nearly threw a temper tantrum over it as the team came to the bench during a time out(our Bucks, what a team!).  In spite of (and because of) the Bucks fireworks, New Jersey hung around, won the 4th quarter and won the game.

Afterward, the feeling was, how’d the Nets do it?  They weren’t shooting well for much of the game or so it seemed, and they looked out of sync despite Jason Kidd running the show.  Kidd hit a clutch three in the 4th, that much I remember. But R.J.? Couldn’t have even told you that night how he did. I just checked the boxscore from the game and can report that R.J. had a quiet 19 points in 39.5 minutes to go with 1 reb and 1 asst in all that time.  Kidd and Vince Carter were on the court even morethan R.J. — 40+ mins for both of them. Redd played just as much and had 35 pts, most of it in the 1st half, and his Bucks lost at home.

I came away with the conclusion that Jefferson (and Carter and Kidd, too) had done a lot of little things on the court that escaped notice, none more important than playing consistent, though unspectacular, defense. Also, the Nets knew how to win the game — the Bucks were 0-4 vs. the Nets last season and it wasn’t because the Nets were necessarily outplaying the Bucks. All four of those games were close — the Bucks just couldn’t figure out how to win any of them. The Nets had numerous heroes, from Josh Boone to Bostian Nachbar (who’s now playing in Europe or Russia or somewhere). It didn’t seem to matter who the culprit was — New Jersey found a way to win. It was the little things – things the Bucks were not doing and hadn’t been doing for years.

R.J.’s not the best of shooters, never has been, though some fans may recall how clutch he was against the Bucks early in his career. Is R.J. a slasher?  Well, the book on him coming to Milwaukee was that he was, but that was part of the case made that R.J. and Redd would be “complementary players.” R.J.’s slashing was limited at best in New Jersey. What sticks out in my mind about R.J. in his career are jump shots he hit over Big Dog in his rookie year (2002) and more of those in the 2003 playoffs againt the Bucks. It’s never a good idea to put too much stock in the highlight dunks that show up on SportsCenter.  Regardless, he hasn’t been a slasher as a Buck — in fact it looks like he’s lost some hop.

According to 82games.com shooting stats, 77% of Jefferson’s shots are jumpshots, a higher percentage than the shots of the alleged jumpshooter, Michael Redd. Redd takes the ball to the basket much more than many fans realize. When the trade was made, I viewed Redd and R.J. as much more “like” players than pieces that fit together. They’re hardly complementary.

Jefferson’s no great passer or rebounder, either, although it was also said when the trade was made that R.J. would be a good rebounder. Bucks fans should know what a good rebounding small forward looks like: for the majority of team history the Bucks have had SF’s who hit the glass more and better than R.J. — Big Dog, Terry Cummings, Marques Johnson and Bob Dandridge come to mind. Sticking with the more recent past, R.J.’s not the rugged boardsman Big Dog could be when the team needed him to be.

So what does R.J. do on the court?  It’s those little things that help win games — playing hardnosed, constant-pressure, ball-denying D; working hard every possession and never giving up on a play (a couple of things Bogut could improve on); doing more than enough (but not too much) with the ball on offense to remain a threat and maintain spacing for his teammates; getting to the line; keeping the ball moving on offense; being a good teammate; and, thinking and believing that his team is going to win. These are all things that rub off on teammates and, if and when they do, it’s called leadership. Plus, Jefferson is able to maintain intensity without seeming to get tired, despite the heavy minutes that coach Skiles keeps him on the court. It’s a long list.

Up to this point in the season, R.J. is off to his best start ever shooting from 3-point land. Whether that continues or not is anybody’s guess, but he’s never shot as well as he is now for an entire season. Whether R.J. continue to hit threes or not shouldn’t play into how Jefferson is appreciated by fans. The intangibles that R.J. brings, those things that don’t always show up in the box score, are much more important to this team, especially as they learn Skiles’ defensive system.

If there’s one word that best fits the intangible R.J., it wouldn’t be “defense” or even “leadership” (though both of those things are part of it). The word is ATTITUDE.

Bucks vs. Sixers:  Two wins in a row under their belts and the Bucks tonight face the Sixers, a quick athletic gang who can’t shoot straight. Also waiting for Andrew Bogut and the Bucks in Philly is Sixers center Sam Dalembert. Dalembert hasn’t been playing so well this season but in his last two games against Bogut and the Bucks, Bogut had more turnovers (7) than points scored (6).  Here’s the box score from the last one. It ain’t pretty.  I have a feeling that Bogut is looking for some redemption tonight.

Lebron, Mo and the Cavs look like contenders; plus Damon Jones

Mo blows town for ClevelandOne could argue that the Phoenix Suns, who defeated the Bucks Saturday, may not be title contenders. I wouldn’t, but it could be argued, Shaquille O’Neal’s age being one talking point.  However, if you come across arguments that the Cleveland Cavaliers are not contenders, then you know those sources didn’t watch the 2008 playoffs.

While NBA wags all over the country were ready to hand the 2008 NBA title to Kobe, Pau Gasol and the Lakers, the real battle was taking place in the East as the Celtics wrested a grueling semifinals series from the Cavs in the waning minutes of game seven.  Once Lebron and his Cavs were dispatched, the Pistons and Lakers were a matter of course for the champion Celtics.

This season, the Cavs are healthy, there are no holdouts to deal with and they’ve improved with the addition of Mo Williams‘ instant offense in the August trade with the Bucks (image at left by Jeremy Janneen) and Sonics-Thunder.

Even without the addition of Mo, the Lebrons of 2008 can’t help but improve:  coach Mike Brown has had more time to integrate the new players acquired last February at the trading deadline — Big Ben Wallace, Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak.

With Mo and rookie power forward J.J. Hickson joining that group, most of Cleveland’s 9-man rotation is new since they played the Spurs for the NBA title in 2007.  The team that Detroit couldn’t beat in the playoffs has been remade.  They are younger and quicker at the guard positions; they are stronger inside with Big Ben; and with Mo and a healthy, more experienced Boobie Gibson, they shoot better than ever.  The only real question is whether the Cavs’ aging big men, Wallace and Zydrunas Ilgauskas can stay healthy into the playoffs.  Currently, backup big man Andy Varejao — who’s name surfaced often over the summer as a guy the Bucks may be interested in — is playing more than Wallace.

I’m not expecting the Bucks to escape from the Q in Cleveland with a win. In fact, coach Skiles should let Michael Redd shoot all night in his home state** and play the deep bench players like Joe Alexander, Dan Gadzuric, Tyrone Lue, Malik Allen and Francisco Elson — save some energy for the home crowd tomorrow night against an injury riddled San Antonio Spurs.  The Spurs without Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker?  It’s a gift, and the Bucks should focus on getting that win.  The early schedule is so tough, the more wins they can cherry pick here and there, the better off they’ll be in January when the schedule eases up, obviously.

**Anybody else wondering why coach Skiles seems in no hurry to get Redd back on the court?

How is Mo doing? So far so good with room to improve.  Through seven games the Cavs are 5-2 and Mo is playing 34 minutes a game, averaging 14 pts and 5 assists.  He and Lebron are doing most of the ballhandling, which is a load off of West – the Cavs best defensive guard – and Gibson, the 3-point gun.  Mo has yet to get his shot going but I’m sure he’d love to turn it on against his old teammates.


Are the Bucks in the Antonio McDyess sweepstakes? No. But before I get to that, McDyess would be a perfect fit on the Bucks roster — a power forward who plays within the game and can stick a fifteen footer a la Scott Williams back in the days of The Big Three. McDyess would very likely be the factor that would launch the Bucks into the playoffs.

According to McDyess’ agent, 19 teams have called about acquiring Antonio, who refused to report to the Denver Nuggets, negotiated a buyout of his contract and was waived yesterday. Once he clears waivers Wednesday, McDyess is a free agent and can sign with anyone but Detroit. The rules say he must wait 30 days before he can resign with the Pistons.

I’m assuming that one of the calls to McDyess’ agent was from Bucks GM John Hammond, simply because Hammond is too thorough to NOT make the call. But if McDyess wouldn’t report to the Nuggets (reportedly because the Nuggets are not a title contender), what chance would the Bucks have? They wouldn’t be able to compete with the Celtics, Cavs, Lakers and Pistons, all of whom are very interested in signing McDyess.

It’s difficult to imagine McDyess abandoning his Pistons teammates of the last four years and jumping to Cleveland or Boston, but stranger things have happened in these self-interested times. I wouldn’t bet on McDyess going anywhere but back to Detroit. NBA fans should keep this in mind when reading the wishful thinking in the Cleveland and Boston media, or watching the any-rumor-for-a story channel, ESPN. 

In this Boston.com story, Sam Cassell, a friend of McDyess’, figures his pal will wait 30 days and return to Detroit, where they’ve missed him in the paint already.


What’s Damon Jones up to? At the tail end of the Cleveland Morning Journal McDyess story linked above (here ’tis again), the MJ tracks down former Cav Damon Jones:

Former Cavs guard Damon Jones, who was traded to Milwaukee in August but never reported, is working out in California under trainer Joe Abunassar. He’s waiting for another shot at the NBA. The Bucks don’t appear over-anxious to give up on his expiring contract, which is why he’s still on their roster. Jones isn’t interested in a buyout.

So what does “Bucks don’t appear over-anxious to give up on his expiring contract” mean?  It means that John Hammond likely views Jones and his $4.5 million contract, which expires at the end of this season, as good to have around when you’ve got to work out a trade. The bigger question is who else on the Bucks roster would Hammond be willing to trade? My speculation is that Bogut and R.J. are safe – and probably Ramon Sessions and the rookies. The rest will likely wait until after some more games are played.

Sessions vs. Ridnour? … Tough weekend ahead

Lucky Luke Ridnour or Ramon Sessions? The question of who should start at point guard has been ongoing since the Bucks traded Mo Williams to greener pastures this summer. That may surprise some, but there were more than a few Bucks fans who had realized at the end of last season that Sessions just might be the point guard of the future. To some it was never a given that Ridnour should start, even though Bucks GM John Hammond introduced Luke as the starter when the trade was made.

Now that Sessions seems to be in a groove and has picked up right where he left off at the end of last season when he averaged 13.1 assists in seven starts, JSOnline put the question to its readers in the form of a poll. The poll of the day, in Packer season, no less. After nearly 700 responses, Sessions is/was in the lead 47-44 percent, with 8 percent going to Tyrone Lue, the third string point guard (Tyrone must have family working on this).

The fact that the voting is so close ought to tell you a couple of things — it’s too early to decide and both are playing well. Thirdly, if we at Sportsbubbler had thought to give folks a minute or two break from the Packers by featuring a similar poll this week, the timing would have been perfect. We didn’t think of it, so the inescapable conclusion is that it’s just too early. The Ridnour-Sessions question isn’t going away anytime soon.

(As more people have voted in the JSOnline poll, Sessions is running away with it).

Both guys have missed two games. Sessions didn’t play at all in the first two games (coach’s decision), but started against the Raptors and Knicks as Ridnour recuperated from a back injury. Wednesday night against the Wizards, they played together for the first time this season and keyed the unit that brought the Bucks charging back in the 4th quarter to beat the Wiz in OT. Ridnour finished with 11 assists. Sessions with 8 as the Bucks charted 37 dimes for the game.  They also scored a combined 42 points without hitting a mess of 3’s, an impressive feat for a couple of point guards.

Did you say 37 assists for the team?  I did. When’s the last time the Bucks did that? Not during the Michael Redd era that I can remember. The 1980’s? (I’m diggin for this stat but I don’t have it yet). Of course,  Sessions had 24 himself last April in a garbage time game against Chicago but the Bucks as a team totalled 33. The Bulls, who won the game, tallied 42. There is a trend there. Sharing is caring in the NBA and also leads to wins. Here’s the video of Sessions show against the Bulls, just because it’s fun to watch so much beautiful passing:

In any case, it really is too early and both players should be tested further; there’s no reason to knock Luke down to 2nd string … yet. In their first game together, they fueled a win and finished the game on the court together. However, running circles around the Wizards second-rate guards isn’t a defining feat for either player. Prior to the Wiz, both players had notched a win and a loss as the starter. Right now, the schedule is so tough that it may not matter until January (game 34) when the Bucks will probably have to get a move on to pull their season together.

In the end, I have a feeling Skiles will probably settle on the better defender as his starter and it remains to be seen whether Sessions can consistently play better D than Ridnour, who has trouble guarding many point guards (Luke wouldn’t have done much better against Jose Calderon last week than Sessions did in the loss, and could well have done worse). It’s Lucky Luke video time:

Here at the Bob Boozer Jinx, the editorial board was ahead of the curve in realizing how stoked about Sessions’ potential both the current and previous Bucks regimes were (and still are). In fact, I sussed it out well before the pre-NBA draft hypsters did that the Bucks were not looking for a point guard in the draft, due in large part to Sessions’ potential. The Bucks didn’t work out any college point guards and took a pass on D.J. Augustin and Jerryd Bayless, a couple of pretty good point guards who were still on the board when the Bucks picked Joe Alexander.

The highlight of that story in May was Bucks development coach Bill Peterson’s comparison of Sessions’ development to Steve Nash’s — Peterson was Nash’s development coach in Dallas.

In the Reno Gazette story, Peterson, the lone assistant Scott Skiles retained from last season’s staff, went so far as to compare Sessions to the young Steve Nash, a Peterson development project in Dallas 1998-2000.

 “If you only knew [about Nash’s struggles]. Guys don’t just start out in this league and they’re lights out. I can remember nights when Nash was booed unmercifully. There were nights when they would boo him every time he touched the ball. I told Sess, ‘Look where he is now. All it takes is hard work and dedication.’ And Sess has that.”

Except that Sessions doesn’t shoot anything like Nash, who’s been the best outside shooter in the league for a while now (two-point jumpers and 3’s included statistically). Neither does Ridnour, but that didn’t stop the NBA wags from suggesting that Luke was the second coming of Nash in 2004-05 when Ray Allen was leading the Supersonics into the West semifinals playoffs. For that we go to MiniShaq’s Lucky Luke Ridnour Mix on Youtube.

Lucky Luke hasn’t yet played out his shot at a second NBA life (for Luke it’s life after Ray Allen), so for now, Skiles’ decision to keep him in the starting role is sound. Might as well see if the five-year veteran can pilot the Bucks to a few wins in the tough early season schedule.

COMING UP: Boston and Phoenix this weekend.

The Bucks head to Boston Friday for a game against the champs and Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. This is a good defensive test for Ridnour and Sessions, who go against lightning quick Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. If Michael Redd is still out with his ankle injury (and he’s now confirmed he will be), Sessions may be called on to guard Ray as well. Former Buck Eddie House, the first guard off the bench in the C’s rotation, is too big for Lucky Luke, so Sessions will likely be matched up against House as well.

Yes, my guy Sam “I Am” Cassell is still a Celtic. Unfortunately, the clown prince of basketball is not on the active roster … for now.

Saturday, Steve Nash, Shaquille O’Neal and Amare Stoudemire and the Phoenix Suns come to town (7:30PM gametime) along with a couple of good 3-point shooters who’d look good in a Michael Redd trade: Leandro Barbosa and Raja Bell. They’re both among the top ten career 3-point shooters in the league.

Can the Bucks at full strength surprise the Suns? This year is probably the last run by Nash/Shaq at the Western Conference finals and they opened the season beating the Spurs. Nash will be a great test for Ridnour and Sessions, but I’m even more interested in seeing how Bogut handles Shaq. When I did my center rankings back in July, I couldn’t justify ranking Bogut and many of the other centers on the list ahead of Shaq. I realize he’s lost a couple of steps, but he’s still Shaq, and guys like Marcus Camby, Mehmet Okur and, yes, Bogut, haven’t achieved anything or played to such heights that they should be considered “better than Shaq.” 

I plan on reassessing the centers’ rankings around the All-Star break, with an eye toward Bogut improving and (hopefully) moving up the list. Outplaying Shaq will be a great way to get his season going in the right direction. 

A shout out to The Rogue Hour, a funky blog, about sports, race and all sorts of American things (a strong and thoughtful commentary about Obama’s election win is the feature up now). And sometimes, The Rogue gives a nice plug to the Bob Boozer Jinx. Belated thanks, Rogue!

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.


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.


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.


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.

Mo Williams trade brewing (and stalling) with Cleveland and Oklahoma City… Luke Ridnour VIDEO hour

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ quest for backcourt help for Lebron James continues … With Michael Redd apparently unavailable for the time being, Cavs GM Danny Ferry has set his sights on Bucks point guard Mo Williams, first reported Sunday in the News-Herald of Northern Ohio, a Cleveland area daily.

The Cavs want scoring, and that’s our Mo. He was one of the top shooters in the NBA last season, 2nd only to Utah’s Kyle Korver in 2-point jumpshooting with a .508 percentage (Korver, Mo and 2-time MVP Steve Nash were the only players in the NBA above 50%). Mo led the Bucks in three-point shooting (38.5%) and free throw shooting (85.6%), averaging 17.2 pts, 6.3 asts per game.

Yet while Mo was the Bucks best shooter last season, he leaves a lot to be desired as a floor general and playmaker — and he’s terrible defender with a five-year, $43M contract. This doesn’t make him coach Scott Skiles’ kind of point guard. And Cleveland has been knocking.

News-Herald writer Bob Finnan speculated that trade talks may have begun with Cavs point guard Delonte West and two Cavs 2009 expiring contracts — former Bucks Joe Smith and Damon Jones. West, a restricted free agent, is in a contract dispute with Cavs GM Danny Ferry, and has been offered a “take it or leave it” minimum offer — $2.8 million for one year.  A sign and trade deal sending West to the Bucks with a higher salary would break the impasse.

I watched a lot of Cleveland Cavs playoff basketball. West was acquired from Seattle in the three-team Ben Wallace-Larry Hughes trade and had been on the team only two months — yet he had stepped in and was doing yeoman work running the offense with Lebron, playing scrappy defense and hitting key shots. He started all 13 playoff games as the Cavs ousted the Wizards and pushed Pierce, Garnett and Allen to the final minute of game seven.  Mo Williams for Delonte West and Smith, the crafty 33-year-old forward-center with a soft shooting touch, works for me.

But apparently Bucks GM John Hammond and Skiles are not interested in West. Too much like Mo, probably. Enter Oklahoma City (the team that left its name in Seattle), one of the teams that have reportedly been involved in talks with the Cavs r.e. forward-center Anderson Varejao. (The Bucks have also been one of those teams). OK City, as luck would have it, has a corral of point guards that Scott Skiles could like — draft pick Russell Westbrook, last year’s starter Earl Watson and Luke Ridnour, the point guard during the Ray Allen years in Seattle.

After days of speculation centering on Watson and the possibilities for a larger trade involving power forwards Varejao, OKC’s Chris Wilcox and Charlie Villanueva, who do the Bucks reportedly want for Mo Williams?  Luke Ridnour, the third stringer, fallen on hard times since the departures of coach Brian Hill and Ray Allen. With the Sonics last season, West played more minutes per game than Ridnour prior to being traded. The Mo trade would reportedly send Mo to Cleveland, Joe Smith to OK City and Ridnour to Milwaukee. Setting aside for a moment whether or not this deal works within NBA rules …

Luke Ridnour???

That had to hurt. I can understand how Skiles sees a little bit of himself in 27-year-old Ridnour, but

… Luke Ridnour???

And people say Mo is a bad defender … But hold on. This trade is now stalled. Apparently, ESPN league sources say, Cavs GM Ferry is “balking at taking on Williams’ contract. OKC and Milwaukee are ready to do the deal. The trade is not dead, but I’m told as of right now it has stalled.”

At least someone came to their senses. I don’t think, however, that this was ever “the trade.”  The salaries don’t match. [whole bunch of trade $ mumbo jumbo deleted]  Cleveland and Milwaukee are both over the cap, and the Cavs are over the luxury tax threshold.

The Cavs need to find at least $2.3M to send out in order to take on Mo’s contract. This trade could work if the Cavs sawed Delonte West or Damon Jones in two (I’m assuming they would choose Jones) and sent half a player and contract to Milwaukee and half to OK City. Barring that, they could send 1st round draft pick J.J. Hickson, a 6′ 9″ forward to either team, and fill in the other team’s gap with Tarence Kinsey, an athletic 6′ 6″ guard built to play D whom the Cavs signed this month. After all that, the Cavs would still be $200,000 short of being within 15 percent of Mo’s salary. Going deeper to the Cavs bench, guard Billy Thomas or center Lance Allred would cover it.

By now, Danny Ferry is no doubt cursing Larry Harris for paying Mo too much last summer. The Cavs have an $85.5 million payroll, some $13M over the luxury tax limit. Because Cleveland is over limit, the Cavs would have to send a dollar-for-dollar tax to the league based on how much additional payroll Mo’s contract adds. As this deal lays now, the Cavs would pay Mo his salary plus about $1 M to the NBA — a total of $9.3 million. For this privelege, they would give up Smith, a key role player in their front court rotation, and possibly three players including the 1st round draft pick — after pinching pennies with Delonte West.

No wonder Ferry’s balking and the deal is stalled. The price is high. Keep in mind that the Cavs can stand pat and still know that they are a contender for the title. The only team in the East that has proven it can beat Lebron in a playoff series is the Boston Celtics. Would Mo make the difference? Or would a healthy Boobie Gibson serve just as well? Cleveland and Ferry may have picked up the phone to get the ball rolling on this trade, but they’re good enough as a team to risk nothing by waiting to see how the season unfolds.

And Luke Ridnour? Here he is in better times, the 2005 playoffs against Sacramento. This must be the guy that Hammond and Skiles are hoping to acquire:

Richard Jefferson meets Milwaukee… Nets sell Yi jerseys… Brewhoop Hammond trilogy

Milwaukee will be introduced to forward Richard Jefferson today at a press conference, where he’s expected to have all sorts of ways to explain that story from Nets GM Rod Thorn about how unhappy he seemed when Thorn told him about the draft day trade that sent RJ to the Bucks for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.

“He didn’t seem very happy about it,” Thorn said after talking to his agent and text messaging him. Thorn didn’t say whether Jefferson said anything at all one way or another beyond seeming to be unhappy, though I’m sure his agent said plenty. Somehow in Milwaukee, Jefferson has been repeatedly refered to as “All Star forward Richard Jefferson” though he has never made the All-Star team. (It’s basketball-reference.com again – scroll all the way down for the career achievments).

Bucks fans will be relieved to know that RJ doesn’t pass the ball much either … but he does other stuff …


Yi Jianlian - JerseyMeanwhile, in New Jersey …

The Nets are ecstatic about the deal — and happy to have Bobby Simmons $10 million per year clearing out for 2010, setting the team up nicely for Lebron James pal and part Nets owner Jay-Z’s plan to lure the King to Brooklyn and the new Nets arena. The Nets are also busy giving away Yi jerseys with every season ticket purchased from here on out and happy with the three young players they picked up in the draft. Brooke Lopez (I still say the team that develops Robin Lopez will be happier in the long run than the Nets with Brooke), Ryan Anderson and Chris Robert-Douglas out of Memphis, a hustle player who can guard three positions. The NY Times reports on the Nets website:

“It opens up a truly new fan base for us,” said Brett Yormark, the Nets’ chief executive. “Yi is going to give us the opportunity to be relevant to Asian-American fans in ways we haven’t been before.”

Within hours of the trade’s confirmation, the Nets’ marketing efforts were in full swing. Their Web site had a splash page of Yi in a Nets uniform, announcing, “Something big has come to New Jersey.” They offered a free Yi jersey to everyone who purchased a season ticket. According to Yormark, the Nets sold 200 season tickets in the 36 hours after the trade.

Check out the Nets store here. It’s all Yi all day.

Meanwhile … back in Milwaukee

The Bucks don’t seem to have a marketing plan in gear for the players on the team just yet, as Hammond isn’t likely done reshaping the roster — though Bango did appear in the city’s Fourth of July parade. (Nobody works much in Milwaukee in the summer.)  Yi had been the pitchman used in the Bucks store and and in many of the team’s ticket appeals.

Brewhoop scored a long interview with John Hammond and its well worth the read. Comes in three parts and in pint glasses too like the Lord of the Rings, wherein it is explained how the one ring came into being and found its way to Michael Redd who may or may not relinquish it to Richard Jefferson … though he could, and somehow this could all work with Mo Williams as the point guard, and why not because Scott Skiles is kinda like Gandalf and will make it work, somehow, someway.




Oh, and Joe Alexander can guard the 4 spot, Hammond says, though he won’t be expected to do that all the time or most of the time, though he could if called upon.

Here’s Liv Tyler, who could play the elvin love interest in the story if Mo, Redd and Jefferson resist the power of the ring through the sacred art of teamwork, ball movement and defense.

By the look in her eyes, she’s beginning to run out of patience.

Liv Tyler as Arwen

Paint Cleveland Redd ’08: Bucks fans react to trade campaign

Paint it Redd campaign signThe campaign by Cleveland fans to make Michael Redd a Cavalier has, in only its second week, ground its way into the NBA trade mills and hit the rumor boards on ESPN.com and Sports Illustrated’s FanNation. The NBA is on notice: the Bucks are looking to trade.

But what do Bucks fans think of trading leading scorer and one-time All-Star Redd to the Cavaliers?

To be brutally blunt, some of the reaction has been brutal and blunt. In fact, terrible things have been said about Lebron’s supporting cast in Cleveland. I can only imagine what Bucks fans think of players on teams that didn’t play in the 2007 NBA Finals or push the Celtics to seven games in this year’s Eastern Conference semifinals.

Other fans have been supportive, even reasonable, while others are naturally skeptical. If there is any concensus it’s that the Bucks might be able to find a team that can offer more player value in a trade for Redd than Cleveland(say, Dallas and small forward Josh Howard). Generally, Bucks fans are more receptive if the Cavs 25-year-old big man, Anderson Varejao, is part of the deal.

A recurring theme is that Bucks fans are surprisingly difficult traders, given a roster that’s won 54 games in two seasons.

“Cavs fans, we aren’t good trading partners,” signs fan ReddBogutCharlieV to his posts at realgm.com. “Stop trying to make us such.”

Let’s review the anatomy of this Redd-to-Cleveland beast:

The trade centers on two players contracts: Michael Redd’s (3 years/$51 million/$15.8M next year) and veteran G-F Wally Szczerbiak‘s (one-year/$13.2M). Cleveland has other “expiring” contracts that when pieced together work with Redd’s, but let’s be realistic: There is almost no chance the Cavs would pay Redd and Szczerbiak a combined $29 million to suit up next year. Wally would come to the Bucks and his contract would expire at the end of next season, creating some salary cap relief, which the Bucks don’t have a dime of now.

What else do the Cavs have to offer the Bucks? Assuming Bucks GM John Hammond will want players who could at minimum join the Bucks rotation next season, two young players who played key roles in the Cavs run to the 2007 Finals stand out: Varejao and 21-year-old guard Daniel “Boobie” Gibson.

Gibson is a free agent, which would require a sign and trade deal. The Cavs are loathe to trade their sharpshooter, who made his mark during the run to the Finals. Gibson scored 31 points to eliminate Detroit in Game 6 of the conference finals last year. 

Varejao, a relentless 6’10” rebounder and tough defender, will be paid $6 million next year and has a player option for 2009-10, which means he could leave the Bucks in free agency unless Hammond makes the type of commitment Cleveland GM Danny Ferry refused to make. Things got ugly last year during Varejao’s contract negotiations, and Varejao is rumored to be on the trading block.

Varejao’s salary matches Dan Gadzuric’s 3-year/$20M, which the Bucks would love to trade anywhere they could.


Cleveland has the #19 pick in the draft, and that’s simple enough.

Let’s go first to our old friend, Bucks fan Al in Ohio:

“Unless the Bucks decide they really, really want Szczerbiak’s expiring contract (which to me means they decide to kind of write off next year, and look toward 2009-2010), I just don’t see where a Szczerbiak/Gibson/maybe Pavlovic? package makes the Bucks noticeably better. Let’s not forget: Gibson is not much of a PG. He’s a great shooter (although he’s even smaller than Mo) but in terms of PG skills, there’s nothing about him that really stands out.”

Daniel Gibson Detroit Game 6BobBoozerJinx:  Hold up, Al. Gibson’s not a point guard, he’s a shooting guard; and at 6’2″ Boobie’s taller than Mo (who really is kinda short). We’re not off to a very good start here.

RealGM Bucks forum moderator PaulPressey25:

“I have no problem sending Redd to Cleveland if he takes Gadz contract with him and we bring back [Varejao], #19, and Gibson, plus their salary deadweight.”

Bucks fan Europa on the realGM forum:

“It’s my hope that if Hammond can’t find a better deal for Redd than anything the Cavs can offer on their own that he just keeps him. I really don’t like the idea of giving Redd away.”

GlennInTampa on the JSOnline Bucks Blog:

“Gibson and Szczerbiak for Michael Redd? Loserville! Add Varejao and maybe. Maybe.”

jpaul34 on the Sportsbubbler fan forum:

“I don’t think Gibson, Szczerbiak and the 19th is anywhere near enough for Redd. I’d like to see how this group (the Bucks, with a couple of changes) reacts to playing for a new coach with a strong voice. I think the talent is there, but they definitely need direction.”

Jpaul blogs at The Scores Report, where he predicts that the Bucks will “give Redd, Mo, Yi and Bogut a half of a season to gel before making any major moves.”

Frank at Brewhoop:

“If the Bucks pull a salary dump of Redd then I’d have to get more than Wally World and Boobie Gibson — at the very least I’d want to add Varejao and Gadzuric into the mix plus some picks. Even then I’m not sure how compelling it is. Agent Dan Fegan would love having his clients Yi and Varejao battle for minutes, wouldn’t he?”

DAWG 13 On the JSOnline Bucks forum: 

“It’s amazing how many of you guys want to trade Redd. I’ve got nothing against it but lets face it, he’s by far and away our best player. If we trade him we need to get value, not role players as some have suggested. If properly coached Redd can be an allstar again. I’ll bet the people wanting to trade Redd also supported the Ray Allen trade, look how that worked out.”

BBJ:  Nope. The Ray Allen trade was a maniacal ploy by George Karl that, to this day, no one understands.

ReddBogutCharlieV on RealGM:

“Something revolved around Varejao and Gibson plus a pick. Or else we’ll have to get a third team involved.”

Isocleas2 on RealGM

“Bucks trade: Redd, Gadzuric – Cavs trade: Varejao, Wally, #19.  This trade is starting to grow on me. We shed salary, pick up a couple of good players in Varejao and the pick, and Wally’s expiring contract could possibly be used in a deadline trade.”

The Brewtown Beat sportsblog:

“First, I don’t want Boobie Gibson. The Bucks already have Mo Williams, and seem poised to add Eric Gordon with their 8th pick. That’s three undersized shooting guards if you’re counting at home. Sorry, but no thanks. I don’t want Wally Szczerbiak, but I realize we’ll need to bring back a large contract in return. That being said though, Cleveland is going to have to take some of our bad contracts, just as they expect us to do in return.”

BBJ:  That’s not very nice. That Bobby Simmons contract is really bad.

Smooth32, a Cavs fan, weighs in on RealGM:

“Don’t get too high on Boobie guys … The kid isn’t expected to go anywhere this summer. …Varejao is definitely available, as well as the expirings…  Everyone else is pretty much fair game but I think they would like to keep West, Smith and the #19 pick.”

BBJ:  If the Cavs get to keep Boobie, the Bucks get the # 19 pick. You can’t have it both ways Smooth.

Raferfenix on RealGM:

“Varejao will have a lot of value to a team that wants to commit to him long term — I’m not convinced that’s the Bucks as he’ll probably end up being overpaid, and especially considering he’d be a backup here. I don’t think Hammond would do that.”

love hoops on the Sportsbubbler fan forum

“I would hope Mr. Hammond wouldn’t even consider this trade with the Cavs. The only player they got is Lebron. Maybe trading CV to the Cavs, but not Redd; we can get more for him. … If we could get quality for quality, then maybe take a look at trade.”

Johnny Newman on Realgm:

“I say fold this topic up. We got enough bait to land us AK47 and Jermaine O’Neal. While keeping Bogut, Yi, Bell, Session. Good enough core and line up.”

BBJ:  Sorry Johnny, too early in the hand to fold. Did you say Andrei Kirilenko and Jermaine O’Neil?

NotYoAvgNBAFan on RealGM:

“Hogwash! What are you doing!? Redd is your major chip, you don’t trade him to a divisional rival for cow manure of a motley crew such as that!”

BBJ:  Reactions like this are the reason too many expiring contracts do not make for friendly trading. Cleveland’s got some manure, including former Bucks Damon Jones (2003-04) and Joe Smith (who asked to be traded out of Milwaukee in 2007), and Eric Snow (set to retire). “Dung!” barked nuttinbutta Big Dog balla party.

MontanaMan on JSOnline Bucks blog:

“I still would rather see Redd get traded to a team other than the Cavs. It’s too good for the Cavs and for Redd, but may not good enough for the Bucks (as compared to what it can do for the Cavs). … If they included Varejao, Gibson, and a draft pick, and take Gadzuric and his contract away, then I would say it’s very good for the Bucks.

Coolhandluke121 on RealGM:

“West, Varejao, Pavlovic, #19, and some expiring deals have solid value. But for the me the Cavs would have to sweeten the deal by also taking Gadz’s terrible contract and throwing in their 2011 draft pick, which could be top-5 if Lebron leaves. Which he may want to do if the Cavs are paying Redd and Gadz a combined $26 mill starting in 2011. I would give up Redd for a deal like that for the simple reason that Redd is not all that hard to replace. To me, it’s not about whether it’s equal value.”

BBJ:  What it does seem to be about is whether Bucks fans want to trade Redd or not. There are Bucks fans who have not/will not renew their ticket packages if Michael Redd is on the team. Others would trade him for a case of beer and a Bob Boozer Jinx subscription. Still others think he deserves a sixth shot at winning in Milwaukee as a starter.

Bucks fans didn’t just begin talking about trading Redd to Cleveland with the start of the Paint Cleveland Redd ’08 campaign. It came up before the trading deadline this year. During the Cavs 1st round playoff series with the Wizards, I proposed a trade here with that phone call to Lebron (he still hasn’t changed his cell phone number, believe it or not).

About ten days later it came up on RealGM. The Cavs had dropped Game 1 of the East semifinals to Boston. The question on the forum: What could the Cavs offer the Bucks in trades for Mo Williams or Redd?


“Mo for Varejao and Gibson. Redd for Varajao/Gibson/Cav’s 2008 #1/Wally as filler.”


“Redd for Wally and #19, and a 2010 pick works for me.”


“Varejao, Pavlovic, Smith and their pick for Redd works for me.”

Luke 23:

“I say this in all seriousness that the only player on the Cavs I would actually covet on the Bucks is LeBron. The rest of their roster is just yuck. I can’t even think of a deal for either off the top of my head, considering the Cavs pick 19th, would want a higher pick than that.”

Dow Jones:

“I guess the issue is whether or not you want to get rid of Mo and/or Redd. If you don’t, then there is nothing that the Cavs could do. If you do, I think Cleveland is one of the few teams that would want to make a deal.

“I don’t really see how the Bucks could get much value for Redd or Mo. I know [there is] talk about a [Josh] Howard for Redd swap, but that type of deal doesn’t make sense for Dallas.  What other deals are out there for Redd and Mo that Milwaukee fans would consider?”

Coach sees Sessions as potential playoff starter at point

I predicted yesterday that the Spurs would lose, this not being their year, and, of course, they won. Happens every time. I’m not the only one feeling the Spurs “same old same old” grind. Now, on to the matter at hand:

Ramon SessionsHow high are the Bucks on Ramon Sessions‘ potential? Much higher than many NBA observers seem to think, especially those writing about the upcoming 2008 draft.  The conventional wisdom around the league is that the Bucks are looking for a point guard in the draft, the current Bucks starting point guard of note being Mo Williams.

There’s little or no mention in draft talk of the Bucks other point guard, Sessions, who started in place of injured Mo in the final seven games and won the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honor for April.  Inside the Bucks camp, however, Sessions’ is a hot topic, maybe hot enough to change the Bucks draft outlook.

How good could Ramon Sessions be?

“I could see him becoming a starter on a playoff team — that’s how good he could become,” Bucks development coach and Sessions’ mentor Bill Peterson told the Reno (Nevada) Gazette Journal in April. Though the story is a month old, it’s worth looking at again with NBA lottery and the draft order on tap tonight.

Sessions averaged 13.1 pts., 13.1 assists, 5.6 rbs and 1.7 steals in seven starts, including a Bucks franchise record 24 assists set April 14 against Chicago at the BC. That was good enough to catch the attention of the daily newspaper in Reno, where Sessions played his college ball, and good enough for Rookie of the Month. It might even be good enough to lead to some Bob Boozer Jinx conclusions, such as:

  1. The Bucks may not necessarily be looking for a point guard in the draft, but would welcome Derrick Rose finding the Bucks via some lottery luck tonight. Assuming the Bucks are looking at guards in general, moving up to the number three spot is crucial. Rose and OJ Mayo, the cream of the guards this draft, will be long gone by the 7th pick.

2) Mo Williams may no longer be the Bucks starting point guard. Put another way: If Williams is on the roster next season, refrain from assuming he’s the starter. And certainly don’t assume Mo will be on the roster.

In the Reno Gazette story, Peterson, the lone assistant Scott Skiles retained from last season’s staff, went so far as to compare Sessions to the young Steve Nash, a Peterson development project in Dallas 1998-2000.

 “If you only knew [about Nash’s struggles]. Guys don’t just start out in this league and they’re lights out. I can remember nights when Nash was booed unmercifully. There were nights when they would boo him every time he touched the ball. I told Sess, ‘Look where he is now. All it takes is hard work and dedication.’ And Sess has that.”

To put a rookie who’s only played 17 games in context with the two-time MVP is high praise. Peterson worked with Nash in Nash’s third and fourth years as a pro. Nash became a full-time starter for the Mavs in his fifth season. Peterson went on to Colorado state where he was associate head coach for seven seasons until Larry Krystkowiak brought him on staff last year as player development coach.

Peterson took Sessions under his wing when Sessions was called up February and fractured his left hand in his first practice. Together they dissected Sessions game on video while Sessions sat out four weeks with the injury. Here’s more from the Reno Gazette story:

“I can’t put into words how much Coach Peterson has helped me. Whatever I need, he is there for me. We watch game film together, he helps me during practice, we work on all the little things. Coach Peterson cares about me as a player and a person.”

Skiles decision to keep Peterson is a good sign for Sessions, obviously. Assistants Kelvin Sampson and Joe Wolf also reflect the strong development bent of the new Bucks staff, and the other three coaches — Skiles, Jim Boylan and Lionel Hollins are all former point guards. Milwaukee is suddenly a good place for a young point guard to develop. The Bucks own a one-year option on Sessions for next season.

Center Andrew Bogut has already implied whom he’d like to see playing point:

“He was a true point guard. I haven’t played with a true point guard since I’ve been here, really. I think he did a great job of trying to find teammates first and shoot second. Hopefully, he’ll keep that mentality. I think he definitely deserves everything he got.”

GM John Hammonds, in the Racine Journal Times feature from ten days ago that will come to be known as “The Lazerus Interview” after a few more blogosphere resurrections, is anticipating trade interest in Sessions:

“The way he finished the season … as we continue to work the phones (in trade talks) I guarantee you his name will come up.”

Sessions’ former head coach, Larry Krystkowiak, after Sessions’ 24-assist game:

“I think he does a really nice job of finding the open guy. He has a knack for when to advance. I think he’s got what it takes to have an impact in the league. He certainly is taking advantage of his opportunities. He could be a future piece to the franchise.”

And now some brilliant analysis from ESPN’s Chad Ford, who convinced himself that most of the teams in the lottery will want point guard Derrick Rose over Beasely in the draft because Ford thinks point guards are hot:

“Now that John Hammond has taken over as GM, he’s looking for a tough leader. Mo Williams may be entrenched at the point in Milwaukee, but if Hammond gets a shot at a franchise point guard, I think he’s taking it.”

Williams is so entrenched at point that Ford’s ESPN Lottery Mock Draft has had Texas point guard D.J. Augustin locked in at the Bucks’ most likely #7 pick for weeks. New Orleans’ Chris Paul is a dazzling player, but not so dazzling that NBA teams are convinced that the small point guards in the 2008 draft are CP3 caliber.

The Bucks could always sign Damon Jones again, or Mike James or T.J. Ford. Hammond could even see what Reece Gaines is up to these days. (See yesterdays rant about Larry Harris’ point guard candy store).

For insight on point guards, let’s refer back to the Bucks coaching staff and development guru Peterson:

 “If you only knew [about Nash’s struggles]. Guys don’t just start out in this league and they’re lights out. I can remember nights when Nash was booed unmercifully. There were nights when they would boo him every time he touched the ball. I told Sess, ‘Look where he is now. All it takes is hard work and dedication.’ And Sess has that.”

The non-controvers-Yi of Yi’s rookie year

Yi with Commissioner David Stern on draft day.It all seemed so controversial last summer. Bucks management trapsing all over the world to track down their 1st round draft pick, Yi Jianlian, whose handlers would have prefered he play on the West Coast, or anywhere but here.

Yi was promised a starting position, ESPN reported. No he wasn’t Bucks GM Larry Harris lied – I mean replied. Bucks fans worried that the team had wasted the #6 pick on a guy that didn’t want to play.

The season started with Yi in the starting lineup, playing 30 minutes a game. Charlie Villanueva was relegated to reserve role and did a spectacularly bad job of it. By the end of December, Seattle’s Kevin Durant, the rookie of the year and #2 pick, was the only rookie scoring more than Yi, and only #3 pick, Atlanta center Al Horford, was rebounding more. Yi was leading them all with a .503 shooting percentage. Yi was named T-Mobile Rookie of the Month in the Eastern Conference for December, and had filled it up for 29 against Charlotte (a win) on the 22nd.

But there was a problem: The Bucks were 18-30 with Yi as a starter. On Feb. 9 — Game 49 — Larry Krystkowiak moved Yi to the bench and started Charlie V.

But there was a problem: The Bucks lost at an even faster rate, going 8-25 in games that Yi did not start or did not play (he missed half of them) the rest of the way. (Yi did start one more game in February, a loss).

This week, the NBA coaches left Yi off the 1st and 2nd team All-NBA rookie teams, though Yi did receive 13 votes in the process. (A first team selection gets 2 points; a second team selection gets one point). That means that nearly half of the 29 voting coaches (coaches can’t vote for their own players) thought Yi was good enough for second team, assuming no one voted Yi on the first team. That’s nearly not half bad.

Watching a 6’11” guy run the floor better than Tracy McGrady and shoot jumpers with Ray-Allen-perfect form wasn’t half bad either. Watching Yi get pushed around as he tried to box out for rebounds was not so good. Even worse was Yi flashing to open spots and being routinely ignored by Michael Redd and Mo Williams. There was a mean chill on this Bucks team; you had to be at the games to see it.

I was impressed with Yi — and I admit, I was hoping to be impressed. He wanted to run the floor. Yet no one on the Bucks was ready to run except Mo Williams. (Dez Mason was out the first few games I attended; Yi was out the last couple). On offense, the ball didn’t move — Redd held it, waited, palmed it, waited for everyone to stop, then drove into traffic. As a team, they couldn’t get uncontested shots. Mo could, easily enough, but only for himself. In a game against New Jersey, at halftime Yi and Bogut had six points combined.

After a few trips to the BC, it stopped mattering to me whether the Bucks should have drafted Jeff Green or one of the Florida players, Noah or Brewer, instead of Yi. After Greg Oden, Durant and Al Horford, it didn’t matter. The way the Bucks were playing, it didn’t matter. So the kid from China didn’t want to play in Milwaukee. Who in their right mind would want to suffer on the 2007-08 Bucks? Scola? No. Carl Landry, who grew up here and went to Vincent? Alright, Landry would probably love to play for the Bucks, no matter the circumstances.

I did come to the conclusion that Yi should have been coming off the bench. If the Bucks couldn’t do anything else well, at least Krystkowiak should have commited the team to rebounding. Charlie V last season was better help for Bogut under the boards, and should have been the starter at power forward. Both big forwards could have played 30 minutes, with Yi playing about ten minutes at small forward, posting up his defender.

But it didn’t matter. The Bucks lost more when Charlie was starting. Sometimes Charlie felt like rebounding, sometimes he didn’t. Sometimes he played as though all he cared about was proving that he could score just as much, if not more, than “Michael” and look better doing it. Call it the Mo Williams syndrome. By April, Yi, Mo and Charlie all seemed perfectly happy sitting in their tailor-made suits, riding out the bad vibes of the season on the end of the bench.

GM John Hammond has enthusiastically called Yi “a keeper” an “asset” and in a lengthy interview in the Racine Journal Times Sunday, said Bogut and Yi are: “two, very good young pieces … that you can build around. Bigs are so hard to find. The Boguts and the Yis … it would be awfully hard to move guys like that.”

Bogut said this about Yi in his most recent interview with Journal Sentinel:

“To have him at the 4 (power forward) and shoot the ball the way he does, that’s his main role, and I think he’s done a great job with it,” Bogut said. “I think he can spread the defense. But once he gets more aggressive, I think he needs to work on putting the ball on the floor and trying to get to the basket.

“He’s as athletic as anybody I’ve seen. Ballhandling will be a key factor for him, working in the off-season. If he gets that down, he’ll be a much more productive guy. Guys are scouting him and trying to make him put the ball on the floor.

“It’s kind of tough, adjusting to NBA guys who are much quicker than you’re used to. It’s just getting strong hands, and I think he’ll be fine. His work ethic is unbelievable, and he’ll be in the gym every day this summer.”

Sounds good to me. The NBA season is sometimes just a snapshot of basketball in time that doesn’t carry over into the playoffs or the next season. The All-Rookie team presents one of these snapshots for the league; it’s camera failed to capture the ups and downs of Yi’s first season, just as it failed to capture how well Detroit’s Rodney Stuckey played in Game 5 against Orlando last night (Stuckey missed the All-Rookie 1st team but made the 2nd).

There’s no real controvers-Yi to find here. And no reason to doubt the hope that Yi will be much-improved next season.