Tag Archives: NBA Draft

More Bucks forwards: 2011 NBA Draft signs point to the Bucks adding to a crowded power forward situation

The 2011 seasons of Luc Mbah a Moute (“reliable”) and Drew Gooden (very “unreliable”) failed to provide much in the way of writing material (or so I’ve found) so what’s to keep Bucks GM John Hammond from adding another another power forward type to the roster in the draft?

Nothing of course, and that’s what many draft watchers thought Hammond would do even before he said last week that the Bucks No. 10 pick was one of those kinda-sorta “best player available” kinda picks.

In Hammond speak, that means “We don’t know but I’m probably gonna draft an athletic 6-foot-8 guy and hope he can figure out some NBA offense.”

In 2008 that translated to Joe Alexander in the first round and Mbah a Moute in round No. 2.  In 2010, that was Darington Hobson, “the best player available” whom the Bucks had worked out.   In this draft?

Tristan Thompson, 6-8, 225, Canada by way of the University of Texas.

“The Bucks have two terrific building blocks in Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings – but after that, it’s mostly question marks. They traded last summer for Corey Maggette and signed John Salmons and Drew Gooden as free agents, and none of them really panned out as expected,” according to ESPN Draft Insider Chad Ford.

“They really could use help at the 2, 3 and 4 positions. I have Thompson here because, of the players on the board, he’s the most likely to be a Scott Skiles-type player. He’s tough, aggressive and just a beast on the offensive boards. His skill level isn’t particularly high on the offensive end yet, but he’s a good fit alongside Bogut on the front line.”

Chad Ford pays very little attention to the Bucks, but that probably doesn’t matter with this draft.  Here’s how the thinking goes:

Everybody in and around the NBA knows the Bucks need backcourt help.  Unfortunately, what little backcourt help there is in the draft will likely be gone by the time the Bucks pick (assuming they don’t improve position in the lottery).

The point guards (Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight) are slated to go in the top five.  Forward Derrick Williams (Arizona) will likely go No. 2.

Bismack Biyombo, the 6-9 phenom from the Congo with 7-7 wing span, won’t survive past Detroit’s No. 7 pick.

Three of the international big men who’ve been on NBA radar for two years (Jan Vesely, Enes Kanter and Jonas Valanciunas, in no particular order) will be gone in the top eight.

The rest of the lottery board:  a group of NCAA forwards plus shooting guard Alec Burks and 6-11 scorer Donatas Motiejunas (Lithuania).

Ford thinks Charlotte at No. 9 will take San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard.  Others have a feeling that Jordan isn’t looking for another version of Gerald Wallace and will take Motiejunas, a big forward who’s got a scoring arsenal but a disdain for defense and rebounding. In other words, he’s the least like “Crash,” whom Jordan just traded.

Still others think Jordan will like Burks’ game most of all and will take a chance on the guard developing a reliable jump shot, a la Jordan himself.

The questions about these players are the same ones the Bucks will be asking.  Why bother with Motiejunas if he’s disinterested in defense?   After being dead last in shooting and scoring, can the Bucks afford to play a shooting guard (Burks) who can’t extend past midrange?

Who’s better — Leonard or Thompson or Marcus Morris, a classic 6-9 college power forward with three years at Kansas on his resume?  They’ve all got knocks.  Leonard and Thompson have offensive skill work to do.  Morris’ downside is athleticism and short arms, mid-range shooting.

The best answer for the Bucks is that hard-working Leonard fits the Bucks core personality, if for no other reason than he has a nose for winning 50-50 plays that Skiles can’t resist.  But he’s also a fair bet to be off the board by the nine pick, which would leave the Bucks picking between Thompson, Morris, Burks and Motiejunas.

They’ll likely shy away from Kentucky one-and-doner Terrance Jones, who’s not ready for the pros.

“Best player available” would then be Motiejunas — but Thompson becomes the player the coaches want — a 6-8 defender with scoring potential (Mbah a Moute again) who can play small or big forward.

Thompson would join a crowded stable of versatile Bucks power forward players, in keeping with GM Hammond’s modus operandi:  overload the frontcourt while he figures out who’s staying and who’s going.  The path of least resistance then becomes the trade Hammond backed himself into when he signed Gooden — Ilyasova for whatever veteran backcourt help the Bucks can get back.

Ilyasova wants full time NBA power forward minutes (32-35 per game) but  Skiles and Hammond have thus far been unwilling to entrust him with this.  Meanwhile, Ersan’s already considering offers to play in Europe if there’s an NBA lockout.

Paint help: Bucks draft shotblocker Larry Sanders

Sanders, Larry

I’ve joined NBA draft night just in time to hear Jay Bilas describe Gordon Hayward as “an elite shooter” and realized it was going to be a long night of sneering banality from the wardens of college ball unless I acted quickly.  Off went the toob and over to Ball Don’t Lie I went for the annual draft live blog, hosted by Trey Kirby and featuring special guest Sham from ShamSports.com, where I had just gone to find out how long the Bucks will be stuck with Cory Maggette (three more years at $31 million total).

Meanwhile in the draft …

That “elite” shooter Hayward went to the Jazz with the #9 pick, by the way.  And the Pacers drafted Paul George with the #11 pick, taking two perimeter forwards who the Bucks worked out off the board. The Bucks will draft in a few minutes.

Here’s that Ball Don’t Lie link again if you prefer your NBA analysis from guys who like pro basketball and actually think a good night of fun is sitting around at the NBA draft making up stupid nicknames for the players.  Turn ESPN off when you find it.

Kentucky’s Patrick “Swayze RIP” Patterson fell all the way to 14th, just out of the Bucks grasp.

With the 15th pick the Bucks selected …

Larry – “Remember Gary Shandling for the his Amazing HBO show, not the movie where he played The Alien” –  Sanders, the 6’9″, 210-pound forward-center from Virginia Commonwealth.  Who is Larry Sanders?  Raw, wingspan, thin, not much of scorer but is scoring what a good team should want from a rookie, especially one drafted 15th?  No. Learning to play Skiles-style defense will dominate Sanders’ NBA life for some time with the Bucks.

Check that – the Bucks list Sanders at 6’11” and 235, so size was probably the deciding factor here.  Here’s the Bucks description of From Bucks.com Draft Central:

Larry Sanders Larry Sanders – VCU – Junior
11/21/88 – 6’11” – 235 lbs – Forward | Draft Profile

  • Career Highlights: Team was 75-27 during his three seasons with two regular season CAA titles and one postseason CAA title. Two-time CAA Defensive Player of the Year.
  • Strengths: Extremely long and athletic forward who can rebound and block shots at a high clip. Runs the floor extremely well for his size. Has a frame that should fill out nicely. Offensive game is a work in progress.

From the BDL peanut gallery:

Andy – Desipio.com:  Bilas just compared Sanders to Theo Ratliff. Huh? You mean he already has a huge expiring contract?

Sham can’t believe Sanders went ahead of Solomon Alabi, center from Nigeria who played at Florida State.

I also thought the Bucks would take a good look at Alabi, figuring if they decided to go big, might as well go as big as possible and draft the center from Nigeria (also building on the international  character of the team, missing one player now that the stumbling Dutchman, Dan Gadzuric,  is a Golden State Warrior).  But I’m not sure the Bucks ever got a good look at Alabi.

Sanders they did get a good look at, though it wasn’t so clear at first how much they liked what they saw.  After a June 14 workout, Bucks director of scouting, Billy McKinney said it was “a bit of a stretch” to say that Sanders was “in the mix” at #15:

“I think that might be a little bit of a stretch, but anything is possible. This draft is a little bit crazy right now because we’re not sure how the top 15 is shaking out. Every week we go through mock drafts and we look at the mock drafts and different people are all over the board. We think that might be a little bit of a stretch (to have Sanders at 15) but we have him in anyway to look at him in the event that something might happen in the event that we might move back.”

Sanders’ shot-blocking abilities may have tipped the Bucks decision his way: “We’re a defensive oriented team and of course, one of the things that we’re looking at of course in the draft is trying to get more length and athleticism,” McKinney said.

This could also mean that the Bucks are in the market for more experienced help in the paint for Bogut and may want to trade up for, say, Patrick Patterson, or trade out of the draft for NBA experience. As of the Gadzuric/Bell for Magette trade, the Bucks don’t have a backup center under contract.

The guy I thought the Bucks would end up with, Luke Babbitt (6’9″ scorer/shooter out of Nevada) went in the very next pick, to the T-Wolves at #16. But the T-Wolves are trading Babbitt to Portland for Martell Webster.  Babbitt, obviously, was not enough of a paint defender/rebounder/shotblocker to fit the Bucks needs, however much they liked his offensive game.

5 picks (three straight PFs taken by the Rockets, Bucks and T-Wolves.)

12. Memphis Grizzlies – Xavier “Ohio” Henry
13. Toronto Raptors – Ed “Dangerous Danny” Davis
14. Houston Rockets – Patrick “Swayze (R.I.P.)” Patterson
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Larry “Remember Garry Shandling For His Amazing HBO Show, Not The Movie Where He Played The Alien” Sanders
16. Minnesota T’Wolves – Luke “Rain Man (Shouts to The Jones)” Babbitt – traded to Portland for Martell Webster]
Now the Bucks are describing Sanders as 6’9″.  From the the email I just received from the team:
The Larry Sanders Show Coming to Milwaukee
The Bucks select 6’9” forward Larry Sanders from VCU. Sanders averaged 14.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game for Virginia Commonwealth last season. Stay tuned to Bucks.com for info and additional draft coverage.
How tall is this guy Sanders really? And when are the Bucks ever going to get their PR #@% together. Pick a height people, especially when drafting for wingspan.
…. It’s 9:45 pm as I type this and the Bucks are about to pick with #37 in the 2nd round.  Sham continues to call for center Solomon Alabi. Like sham, I’m beginning to wonder why 35 teams would take a pass on Alabi and am beginning to like the idea that the Bucks will take the Florida State big man. Bogut can’t have too much help coming off another injury. The Pistons take a point guard named Terrico (or letters arranged to that effect) at #36 and the Ball Don’t Lie guys wonder if he was stoned in some photo they’re looking at.   Bucks at #37 take …
Darington Hobson Darington Hobson – New Mexico – Junior
9/29/87 – 6’7” – 205 lbs – Guard | Draft Profile

  • Career Highlights: Made an immediate impact at New Mexico after transferring from the College of Eastern Utah. Was conference’s Newcomer of the Year and Player of the Year in his only season at New Mexico.
  • Strengths: Skilled wing who can play three positions. Very good ballhandler for his size. Has good court vision. Can score in a variety of ways. Sticks his nose in on the glass.
McKinney didn’t have much to say about Hobson after the workout, judging by the workout notes. Hobson worked out with Luke Babbittt, Gordon Hayward, Lazar Hayward and Jordon Crawford, shooting guard out of Xavier. Needless to say, the Haywards and Babbitt got most of the attention. Crawford also went in the first round. I’m guessing that the Bucks took “the best player available here,” though I’s still not sure why that “best player available” isn’t Alabi.   I can’t find a profile of Alabi on Bucks Draft Central, so he must not have come in for a workout.
With their #44 pick from the Warriors (part of the Maggette trade, originally the Blazers pick) the Bucks ended up with Jerome Jordan, a 7-footer out of Tulsa. I guess that shoots the workout theory — the Bucks didn’t work Jordan or Alabi out. Maybe these 7-footers didn’t get around as much as some of the other guys, heat and humidity being what it’s been around here lately. For a minute or two there it looked like the Bucks had taken Gani Lawal, a power forward out of Ga. Tech.
Yahoo Analysis: Jerome Jordan is the rare example of a kid who stayed too long in college since he’d have been more likely to crack the first round had he left as an underclassman. Still, there is upside here if Jordan can diversify his game since the Tulsa big man has been playing basketball for only five years. — Jeff Eisenberg
He’s 7-feet tall. That’s two backup centers added to the fold in this draft. The Bucks have one more pick in this draft, believe it or not – four altogether. This ought to be interesting. It’s pick # 47, the only pick the Bucks have in this draft that was originally theirs.
Keith Keith “Tiny” Gallon – Oklahoma – Freshman
6’9” – 296 lbs – Forward

  • Finished fourth on the team with 10.3 points and first with 7.9 rebounds.
  • Hit 54.7 percent of his field goal attempts (122-223).
  • Attended Oak Hill Academy for his Junior and Senior years of high school.
Bucks workout notes here. Billy McKinney was fairly impressed with the entire group (Wayne Chism, Gani Lawal) that was in Milwaukee June 2 for a workout. But he seemed most impressed with the power forwards, who locked up on the blocks for some rugged matchups. It was exactly what the Bucks wanted to see.  It’s important to note that Gallon may have had the edge — he played high school ball with Brandon Jennings at Oak Hill Academy.
On Gani Lawal…
“He played well, too. It was a very competitive group, Gani Lawal going against Wayne Chism, sometimes Tiny Gallon and other times Deon Thompson. He’s very athletic, really good offensive rebounder and plays well off the ball.”

On Keith “Tiny” Gallon…
“Well that tells you a lot. It’s kind of an oxymoron when you look at Tiny he’s a big man. What I can say about him is that he’s done a great job of maintaining his weight, or getting it down. He started out, we talked to him in Chicago, he weighed 350 in high school. He’s down to 295 now, so his trend, in terms of his weight, has been going down. I’m sure once he gets with a pro team and is able to work with a strength and conditioning coach on a regular basis, he’s going to be even smaller. Maybe he’ll be Tiny, version two.”

And there you have it, Bucks draft day 2010.  Shotblocking Larry Sanders, small forward Hobson, big center Jerome Jordan and a big forward named Tiny Gallon.  Any draft day that ends with the Bucks having a guy with a wieght problem named Tiny Gallon has been a good day.

On Gallon making a name for himself aside from playing with Brandon Jennings in high school…
“That’s very important at this level for him. They played together at Oak Hill Academy for those people that don’t know that, and he and Brandon have a very good relationship, but in terms of how he will play in the pro game is going to depend on his merit—his work ethic, his commitment to keeping his weight down and improving his skill as a player.”

Randolph, not Alexander has had the inside track in Bucks draft

I’m sticking with my earlier prediction that Hammond is working to move this pick, or trade whomever the Bucks draft — which may or may not explain why West Virginia’s Joe Alexander was in town today for a second visit with the Bucks. Until now, LSU’s Anthony Randolph has been viewed as the Bucks likely top choice, though there are concerns now that other teams are re-positioning ahead of the Bucks and Randolph may be gone by the time the Bucks draft at #8.

What makes me say this when all draft speculators have the Bucks taking Alexander with the #8 pick and Randolph slipping out of the top 10? For starters, I was at the June 6 workout of Randolph, Alexander and Donte Green of Syracuse. The man of the day was Randolph.

As the media straggled into the court area at the Cousins Center and the players reached for the gatorade on the sidelines, Bucks assistant Joe Wolf strode up to Randolph and the two 6’10″ers exchanged an emphatic high five. I’d say things went very well for Randolph in Milwaukee. In the post-workout interviews, Randolph declared himself the best player on the floor. I don’t think there is much doubt about this in the Bucks camp. Later that day, Coach Scott Skiles and Randolph were reportedly spotted Downtown eating dinner together.

Alexander and Green were also feeling the Bucks’ pro-Randolph vibe. Alexander hung around on the court taking in a few extra high post pointers from Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson (no harm in kissing up to the coaches). Green decided he needed to show the media some of his stuff and slammed home a couple of high flying dunks on a side-basket. It worked — Green’s an impressive athlete and would be a good pick anywhere out of the top five or six in this draft. Green may yet sneak in to the Bucks plans.

I’d be very surprised if anyone in the media came away from the Cousins Center with the impression that Joe Alexander would be the pick. Journal Sentinel columnist Michael Hunt said as much in his column yesterday, writing that Randolph will likely be taken higher than #8. Here’s the excerpt:

“’Everything’s in play,’ Hammond said recently. ‘Was, still is and probably will remain that way probably right up until draft day. We’re going to explore every option that we can to improve our team, and, as we said, potentially maybe even move the pick.’

That’s good, because LSU’s Anthony Randolph, the 6-10 forward who was probably the best option that worked out for the Bucks, will likely be gone by then. Draft-day trades, though, have become more and more uncommon in the NBA, so it’s possible the new and promising regime will have to take this reclamation project deep into the summer.”

The New York Daily News yesterday echoed the Hunt (and BBJinx) take on Randolph.

The Bucks are sending out strong signals that they like LSU’s Anthony Randolph at No. 8. A legitimate 6-10, Randolph has been called a cross between Tayshaun Prince and Odom. But West Virginia small forward Joe Alexander, a hard-nosed worker, is seen as a better fit with new coach Scott Skiles. …

You know whoSo why does ESPN’s Chad Ford have Randolph possibly “slipping out of the lottery” in his latest Mock Draft? Ford writes:

“A number of young, inexperienced bigs have been hurting themselves in workouts. It’s now a possibility that LSU’s Anthony Randolph falls out of the lottery. Texas A&M’s DeAndre Jordan, Nevada’s JaVale McGee and Florida’s Marreese Speights might not hear their names called until the 20th pick or after.”

Ford doesn’t talk to teams as much as he talks to agents, which means whatever he’s got happening with Randolph probably serves the interest of a sports agent or two.

(Since originally posting this, a little research revealed that Randolph’s rep is former Chicago Bull B.J. Armstrong of the Arn Tellem agency. Armstrong, a teammate of Bulls GM John Paxson on the 1992 and 1993 Bulls championship teams, also happens to be the rep for one Derrick Rose. Employing the Chad Ford principle we can assume that Armstrong is one of Ford’s primary sources regarding not only Rose and the debate over who the Bulls will pick, but Randolph as well.)

Ford wrote in his mock draft last week that Randolph may now be perceived to be a headcase (Brewhoop notes it here.) That’s probably a seed planted by Armstrong or other interested parties who want to see certain teams take a pass on Randolph. It’s not all that clear what the Sonics, Grizzlies or Knicks will do ahead of the Bucks — and the Grizzlies and Knicks at least have had interest in Randolph or Alexander or both.

(Brewhoop today notes that weeks ago Ford had Randolph in the top 5 talent-wise, a good sales pitch by Armstrong right about the time of the Randolph-Alexander Bucks workout. Armstrong and Ford seem to either have Randolph high out of the Bucks reach or too low for the Bucks to dip for. Go figure.)

Expect Ford, ever the accomplice for NBA agents, to be wrong on this one, and Hunt to be the writer who’s got the Bucks and Randolph in better focus.

Ford also has Eric Gordon now going to the Memphis Grizzlies at the #5 spot — that’s a first for Gordon in these mock drafts — and writes that he “would be shocked” if the Bulls took Beasley over Rose.

I’d be shocked if Chad Ford is on target.

###############

Here’s an interesting analysis from Adi Joseph on NBADraft.Net. Joseph points out that many players in this draft are struggling to fit an NBA position, and that a little pessimism might be in order for fans of lottery teams.

Alexander can’t handle or shoot well enough to truly play on the wing, but he’s too short for the post. He’s definitely got some Shawn Marion in him, but often players with similar skill sets struggle to find their offensive games in the NBA.

Randolph is being compared to Chris Bosh. But he struggled with his efficiency as a freshman, turning the ball over 3 times per game and shooting just 46% from the field. And he’s rail-thin and had the worst bench press results at the Orlando predraft camp. He’ll have to bulk up big time to ever play in the post. But his 2-of-19 shooting from three-point range will need to improve if he expects any respect from defenders at the NBA level.”

Ouch. Joseph might even be meaner than I am!

Rose or Beasley, Beasley or Rose?.. A coach?.. Pizza?.. Bulls GM Paxson just can’t decide

John Paxson in more certain timesSATURDAY EVENING, Celtics-Pistons tipoff less than an hour away. I was getting ready to run to the grocery store before missing any of the pregame when the telephone rang. It was Chicago Bulls GM John Paxson.

“J-Mo, do you have that money I lent you last month? Jerry Reinsdorf cut off my expense account again.”

“Huh? Pax, that was 17 years ago, and I won it back. Remember our three-point shootout?”

“You won that?”

“I have witnesses.”

“Why’s your number still in my phone?”

“Why’d you call it? This is a Bucks blog line.”

“I don’t know. I felt like calling somebody, but I couldn’t decide who to call.”

“Why didn’t you just call for pizza delivery? … [pause] … [no answer from Paxson] … [Still pausing] … Umm, Pax? Hey, congratulations on winning the lottery. It doesn’t make up for two decades of Bears quarterbacks or Eddie Curry, but the people of Chicago’ave gotta to be at least half happy about your dumb luck.”

“Yeah, thanks. I’m still in shock to tell you the truth. I still don’t know what to say, especially about the Bears quarterbacks.”

“Please, don’t say anything about Bears quarterbacks. But what about the ultimate question, Pax? Who’s it gonna be? Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose?”

“I dunno. I guess I’ll decide after I get them both in here for workouts. I won’t decide until then.”

“Is that really necessary? I don’t think Beasley and Rose are lying on their resumes. Rose could be the second coming of Chris Paul, if only because every team wants a CP3 or Deron of their very own and this requires a second coming. Beasley’s a good-sized forward who loves the paint — you know how rare that is nowadays. None of that’s going to change at the workouts. The only thing that matters is who you think helps you more.”

Beasley vs. Wisconsin in the tournament:




“It’s just …. such a tough choice.”

“Well, you haven’t had a low post scorer in Chicago since, since … Bill Cartwright? … Artis Gilmore? I’m gonna say Artis.”

“Artis? You know that’s not true.”

“Artis is funnier. Like the first coming of Ben Wallace. I’m trying to make a point.”

“What is your point, J-Mo?”

“Beasley’s the point. Most of your talent is at the guard spot – four players. If you draft Rose, you’ll get better eventually but in the meantime, you’ll be back to having a rookie point guard again, five years after Kirk Hinrich — and you still won’t have a low post scorer for your rookie to pass to.”

“I have Drew Gooden. He’s maybe more of a post-up guy than Beasley. Gooden’s 6′ 10″ and he’s only 26.”

“Gooden? Please! Beasley’s all over the court. He’s the All-World version of Nocioni, loves to scrap and rebound. Nocioni you just trade to make your fans happy and you’re back in the playoffs. Just make sure Noah doesn’t shoot, try to coach, talk to the media or drink in front of Florida cops when he’s stoned. … By the way, going through your roster, you had NO business being in the lottery.”

“I don’t know about that. This season … everything just got so ….”

Rose vs. Georgetown, Dec. 2007




“Pax, if you draft Rose, it’s the same as making a decision about Hinrich. You’d be saying, ‘Kirk, I know that when you signed your contract we said you were imperative to the foundation of the organization, etc., etc., but we don’t think you can lead us to the next level. Thanks for the memories.'”

“Did I really say that?”

“Yes, you did. ‘Imperative to the foundation of the organization.’ And then some stuff about ‘character and commitment.’ It’s on your website, October 2006.”

“You know, Kirk was the only guy who signed the extension I offered him. Gordon and Deng wouldn’t do it and now they’re free agents. I don’t know what to do with them.”

“Well, you were trying to trade them. Or someone. Did you ever decide who were going to trade?”

“No, no, I never did decide. But I knew I wanted Kevin Garnett. And then Kobe wanted to be a Bull. I don’t know what that was all about. But Kirk, you know, he made a commitment … and it’s such a good contract too. Four more years, $36.5 million, fair for both parties. I don’t want to devalue that …”

“So just draft Beasley and you’ve still got Hinrich, Duhon, Gordon and Hughes. You can always trade one or two of them later. You’ve got too many good guards already Pax. And the ‘draft the best player available’ NBA wisdom – the Jordan rule – forget it this year. It’s entirely debatable whether Beasley is the best player available or whether Rose is better. In this case, draft for bigger need.”

“I dunno J-Mo. You make it sound so easy.”

“It is easy. We’re learning that lesson up here in Milwaukee with John Hammond and this ‘Detroit Way’ of his. Make a decision and get on with it — ‘Just like me and Joe did in Detroit,’ he says – before the competition even has time to pick up the telephone. Some fans don’t like it, but most seem to find it kind of liberating. We’ve got a full coaching staff already. Bucks coaches are watching film, evaluating players, going to China to check up on Yi … Hammond is already working on trades. While other teams …”

“Can’t even hire a coach. Just say it, I know. Look, I had D’Antoni hired. I thought that was done. Reinsdorf dawdled.”

“Dawdling seems to be part of corporate Bulls culture. What happened to Carlisle? I thought he was your defensive coach.”

“He was the Chicago Sun Times’ coach, J-Mo. Our columnists are bigger idiots than you are. I never made a decision. I talked to Carlisle, he said he wanted to wait. I said that was fine with me, so we waited. I’m still waiting.”

“Pax, he took another job. He works for the Dallas Mavs now. What were you doing, feeding the pigeons under the ELL?”

What are we doing Pax?“Not with Carlisle, but with Avery, yeah. It was fun. We spent a few days feeding the pigeons and I thought we were building a relationship. I was about to hire him.”

“And then you postponed the interview, Avery got tired of waiting and went home. Pax, you’ve got to start making decisions. Your head coach candidates have dwindled down to the assistants and guys who’ve never coached at all. I read you’re planning to interview Eric Snow?!”

“Well, maybe. I’ll decide on that soon. I will. They are all such good candidates. It’s just been … such a tough decision. And now this lottery thing … Why do we have to choose first?”

“You shouldn’t have been in the lottery at all!!!!”  

“I mean, I like Beasley and I can’t find a knock on him, even if he turns out to be only 6′ 8″, but, I just don’t know. … I guess I don’t like our guards as much as I used to.”

“Well, then draft Rose and make a deal for a power forward who can score. We have two in Milwaukee, Yi and Charlie Villanueva. You’ve got enough talent to make a good trade.”

“I … I dunno. Yi has great upside. He’s a great athlete and can shoot, and we have a substantial Chinese population in Chicago. It would make people happy. I can picture Deng and Yi running the floor with Derrick Rose. It would be beautiful. …”

“Yi’s not really on the market, Pax, unless you risk your job and make an offer the Bucks can’t refuse. That’s one less decision to make, in any case. Draft Rose and maybe the Bucks will deal you Charlie V … and Mo Williams.”

“No, J-Mo … Charlie’s OK, but he’s so soft. Where did he learn to play power forward like that? Is he afraid of the paint, or does he just not like Bogut?  He seems to be a decent enough player when he remembers to play near the basket … I dunno. There’s always Gooden. And I am going to ignore that Mo Williams crack. I’ve got four guards just as good or better than Williams and my guys play defense.”

“There. That almost sounded like a decision. Are you saying, ‘No’?”

“I guess so.”

“So draft Beasley and you can keep your guards until a later date.”

“But Rose is from Chicago and the fans seem to want him … You know, that whole Chris Paul thing. And we need a leader …”

“Rose is 19. He can’t even buy beer much less lead.”

“It’s just … such a tough decision.”

“Don’t sweat it, Pax. You might as well wait until you hire a coach before you make a final decision anyway. The coach will want some input, right? So who’s it going to be?”

“We’re talking to Corbin, and I’m going to wait until I talk to a few more before I decide. … There are so many good coaches out there. Detroit still won’t let me talk to Michael Curry. And Tom Thibodeaux’s still in the playoffs, too, with Boston … It’s just … such a–“

“Pax, why did you fire Scott Skiles anyway?”

“I didn’t fire him. I told him I wanted to wait a little while to see if things turned around and …”

“He didn’t want to wait, did he?”

“He basically fired himself J-Mo, right on the spot. Gave himself a nice buyout too. It was just … such a…

About 9 minutes into the first quarter of the Celtics-Pistons game, Doc Rivers goes to his bench and for the first time in four games, SAM CASSELL HAS ENTERED THE GAME FOR THE CELTICS … 

“tough …”

“Pax, I gotta go. My guy Sam’s in the game.”

“… decision.”

[click]

Rumor central: Redd on the trading block… Eric Gordon’s the pick apparent

No question about it — as you read here last week — Michael Redd is officially on the trading block. And with that realization this week, national sports media scrapped its conventional wisdom on what the Bucks will do with their lottery pick.

Bucks GM John Hammond has been contacting other GMs to scout out trade interest, with Redd featured prominently in those discussions, reported Racine Journal Times Bucks writer Gery Woelfel in his Tuesday column. Woelfel also reported that Charlie Villanueva is a focus of interest from the GMs Hammond has talked to. Hammond’s search for a small forward is on.

“In a recent interview with The Journal Times, Bucks general manager John Hammond said the one position he would like to ‘address’ is small forward. Desmond Mason and Bobby Simmons are the Bucks’ current small forwards and both are coming off pedestrian seasons,” Woelfel wrote.

“Hammond could find a potentially good forward in the draft with the team’s eighth overall pick. There is also increasing speculation small forward Ersan Ilyasova, whom the Bucks selected in the second round of the 2005 draft and who spent this season playing for FC Barcelona in Spain, will return to the Bucks next season.

Hammond could also acquire a veteran small forward via a trade. There are a surprising glut of talented small forwards who could be dealt, including Denver’s Carmelo Anthony, Miami’s Shawn Marion, the Clippers Corey Maggette, Sacramento’s Ron Artest, Washington’s Antawn Jamison and Chicago’s Andres Nocioni.”

Add to that list Dallas SF Josh Howard, Utah’s Andrei Kirkilenko and the Nets’ Richard Jefferson. Most of these forwards have contracts comparable to Redd’s, making the trades viable.

The CNN-Sports Illustrated NBA site has the Woelfel story linked in its rumor section. Join the discussion about it here on the Sportsbubbler fan forum.

ESPN’s NBA Rumor Central got into the action, featuring Michael Redd trade talks today. It’s an Insider story – a pay feature – and this is not an endorsement. If you’re not in the mood to give ESPN money, wildly speculate as I do.

As of Tuesday, it was assumed the Bucks were looking for a point guard in the draft (which they’re not). Many mock draft sites, ESPN and SI included, had the Bucks taking Texas point guard D.J. Augustin with the #7 pick.

I wildly speculate that national sports media doesn’t pay that much attention to the Bucks unless the team is trying to acquire a coach or player that the NY Knicks want. But then Woelfel’s column hit the rumor mills, Bucks GM John Hammond, I’m sure, had a few conversations when he was in NY/NJ for the lottery, sources were called, some journalism got done and suddenly the national sports media realized what the Bucks and Hammond are up to this summer.

By Wednesday, Indiana shooting guard Eric Gordon was the consensus pick, Augustin was out of the picture and Redd was on the trading block, with Hammond scouting for a small forward and willing to trade Redd to get one. What a difference a few hours makes.

Sports Illustrated:

“[Gordon]’s the best player available here, an explosive scorer with a solid family background. His arrival may allow the Bucks to move Michael Redd’s enormous salary if they’re so disposed.”

ESPN Insider Chad Ford

“Milwaukee could go in a lot of different directions. Its biggest need is at small forward, but this may be too high to draft Joe Alexander or Donte Greene. With the Bucks expected to be active on the trade market this summer, they can draft the best available player and then work things out later. Gordon is a dynamic scorer who could free up the Bucks to trade Michael Redd.”

A pitfall to this scenario is that Gordon could be gone when the Bucks pick, unless Hammond is able to trade up, which doesn’t seem likely. The culprit would be the L.A. Clippers, drafting ahead of the Bucks at #7. The concensus seems to be that Gordon would be the best player available at #7, but that the Clippers need a point guard and seem likely to draft for need rather than go into next season with Dan Dickau as the starting point guard.

If the Clippers take “the best player available” route and draft Gordon, the Bucks would be looking at a couple of small point guards, “project” forwards Anthony Randolph and Donte Green, maybe UCLA’s Kevin Love, who would only crowd the power forward position further for the Bucks. Italian small forward Danilo Gallinari‘s stock is rising, and it seems unlikely he’ll be available at #8.

If Gordon is gone, the Bucks would do well to swap the pick for a lower pick to trigger any number of trades, especially when dealing with Western Conference playoff teams.

Brewhoop’s take on the Woelfel column notes that it may be tricky putting the pick in play in trades involving some key players because of the NBA’s base year compensation (BYC) rules. For example, the Bucks can’t trade the pick to Dallas with Michael Redd in a deal for Josh Howard because Dallas can’t do a Redd-Howard deal until after July 1. (Bucks would have to draft on behalf of Dallas or swap picks with the Mavs for future considerations). Howard received a big raise last summer, so for trading purposes, his salary doesn’t yet count fully against Redd’s, and is still tied to his base year salary of 2006-07.

In an NBA trade, the salaries going out have to match the salaries coming in, give or take 25 percent. The base year rule prevents a team from giving a player a big raise simply to make the salaries in a trade work. A team giving a big raise to a player is forced to wait a year before trading that player to ensure against salary shenanigans. Any trade involving Mo Williams would have to wait as well, Brew Hoop points out. (Mo got a $5.8 million raise last summer).

This is important because the Dallas Mavericks are a good possibilty for a Redd trade, given the Mavs stable of aging shooting guards and an early exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Hornets. Howard fits the bill as a small forward Hammond will likely be inquiring about. This trade is also known as Brewhoop’s favorite Michael Redd trade.

Bucks Diary doesn’t think too highly of this year’s lottery talent. His verdict: “It stinks!” Now, if you invert it … BD makes a good argument for there being more NBA-ready players projected to go in the lower half of the first round. Richard Hendrix, Joe Alexander, Mo Spaights, Ryan Anderson, et al. “The Bucks have to trade out of the lottery. The gold is all down stream!”