Milwaukee Bucks: We Need Jack Sikma.
A little over two years ago, the Bucks had on of the NBA's elite coaches, and the big three (Robinson, Allen, and Cassell) that made all the teams in the offense-deprived Eastern Conference salivate at so much scoring on one team. Now, all they have is a lame-duck coach in the last year of his contract, the alien-looking Sam Cassell and a free agent to be Gary "I used to be the best PG in the NBA" Payton.
The team was lucky to squeak into the 7th spot in the playoffs where they had the privilege of being swept by the New Jersey Nets. I don't think they really minded, though. Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley were more than happy to invite the Bucks to go fishing with them.
That makes us wonder what the hell the trade for Payton was all about. They now have two point guards in the backcourt and a logjam of wing players. Not too mention a pivot by committee approach and poor chemistry issues. With all the transitions and turmoil that plague this team right now, there is talent here still and with a good draft pick and some key free agent acquisitions this team could again make a run at the Finals in within two years (Unless the almight Stern banishes them to the Western Conference).
II. Season Statistics
Player G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF TOT APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
Sam Cassell 78 77 34.6 .470 .362 .861 .70 3.70 4.40 5.8 1.13 .18 2.27 2.80 19.7
Gary Payton 28 28 38.8 .466 .294 .746 .80 2.30 3.10 7.4 1.43 .29 2.00 2.30 19.6
Michael Redd 82 14 28.2 .469 .438 .805 1.20 3.30 4.50 1.4 1.22 .16 .90 1.70 15.1
Desmond Mason 28 25 34.0 .474 .294 .765 2.40 4.40 6.70 2.4 .71 .39 1.46 2.60 14.8
Tim Thomas 80 70 29.5 .443 .366 .780 1.20 3.70 4.90 1.3 .88 .61 1.66 3.20 13.3
Toni Kukoc 63 0 27.0 .432 .361 .706 1.10 3.20 4.20 3.7 1.29 .46 1.94 2.10 11.6
Anthony Mason 65 58 32.6 .486 .000 .718 1.40 5.00 6.40 3.2 .49 .18 1.22 2.30 7.2
Jason Caffey 51 16 17.5 .456 .000 .651 1.30 2.10 3.50 .7 .37 .29 1.10 2.40 5.8
Marcus Haislip 39 8 11.3 .431 .250 .684 .50 .80 1.40 .2 .18 .46 .54 1.40 4.1
Dan Gadzuric 49 30 15.5 .483 .000 .518 1.30 2.70 4.00 .2 .45 1.06 .55 2.60 3.4
Ervin Johnson 69 17 17.0 .452 .000 .682 1.70 2.60 4.30 .3 .49 .91 .49 2.60 2.2
Joel Przybilla 32 17 17.1 .391 .000 .500 1.50 3.00 4.50 .4 .31 1.41 .59 2.70 1.5
Jamal Sampson 5 0 1.6 .000 .000 .000 .20 .20 .40 .2 .20 .00 .00 .00 .0
Team Averages 82 0 242.7 .457 .383 .776 10.7 28.9 39.5 22.2 7.6 4.2 12.7 22.2 99.5
Opponents 82 0 242.7 .458 .375 .745 12.5 31.0 43.4 23.1 6.6 4.1 14.4 20.5 99.
Record 42-40 Home25-16 Away 17-24
Salaries and Contracts
Milwaukee Bucks Date # of total
Player signed years salary misc FA
Jason Caffey .......... 1/23/99 7 $35 million p-opt '03
Dan Gadzuric .......... 8/29/02 1 minimum '03
Gary Payton ........... 7/16/96 7 $85 million '03
Toni Kukoc ............ 8/16/00 4 $28 million '04
Desmond Mason ......... 8/3/00 4 $5,364,152 rc '04
Joel Przybilla ........ 7/8/00 4 $7,597,509 rc '04
Ervin Johnson ......... 7/23/96,10/23/01 7+2 $15 mill + $9.1 mill '05
Anthony Mason ......... 10/25/01 4 $20,874,800 '05
Sam Cassell ........... 7/15/97,2/7/02 6+3 $21 +$17 million '06
Marcus Haislip ........ 7/19/02 4 $7,007,355 rc t-opt '06
Michael Redd .......... 10/14/02 4 $12 million p-opt '06
Tim Thomas ........... 8/1/00 6 $67 million '06
III. Bucks Draft History
YEAR PLAYER UNIVERSITY/COLLEGE
2002 Marcus Haislip Tennessee
2001 (no first-round selection)
2000 Jason Collier Georgia Tech
1999 (no first-round selection)
1998 Dirk Nowitzki DJK Wurzburg (Germany)
Pat Garrity Notre Dame
1997 Danny Fortson Cincinnati
1996 Stephon Marbury Georgia Tech
1995 Gary Trent Ohio University
1994 Glenn Robinson Purdue
Eric Mobley Pittsburgh
1993 Vin Baker Hartford
1992 Todd Day Arkansas
Lee Mayberry Arkansas
1991 Kevin Brooks Southwestern Louisiana
1990 Terry Mills Michigan
1989 (no first-round selection)
1988 Jeff Grayer Iowa State
1987 (no first-round selection)
1986 Scott Skiles Michigan State
1985 Jerry Reynolds Louisiana State
1984 Kenny Fields UCLA
1983 Randy Breuer Minnesota
1982 Paul Pressey Tulsa
IV. Player Analysis
Ervin Johnson, Joel
Pryzbilla, and Dan Gadzuric (Free Agent) -
Johnson remained the starter this year. He's never quite developed to where the Bucks had hoped after giving him that big contract. He's solid on defense, but provides little on offense and hardly any presence in the pivot. Unfortunately, his huge contract will make it tough to move and get anything in return. Gadzuric showed some promise this year and for the NBA minimum is a great value. He will most likely never amount to a back-up center at best, but should be kept around if he can be had at or near the minimum. Pryzbilla has yet been able to shed the project tag that came with him out of Minnesota a couple years back. Being slow to develop, some of which has been hampered by injuries, really makes it look like the Bucks wasted the first round pick they traded to get him in the 2000 draft. Being in the final year of his rookie contract, Pryzbilla needs to stay healthy and show something this upcoming year if he wants to stay in Milwaukee.
Marcus Haislip, Jason
Caffey, Jamal Sampson (Free Agent) -
Probably the weakest position on the roster (although all three of their small forwards that I have listed below are versatile enough to play the 4 and often do more so than these three); Haislip had a decent rookie campaign. But teams expect more out such an experienced college player (left Tennessee after Junior season). They will have much more patience with a high schooler or frosh who left early than they would when drafting a Junior or Senior from the college ranks. Like Johnson, Caffey is another one with a big contract that was earned by putting up numbers on a poor team (Golden State). While he's a good team player and one who is willing to do the dirty work, he is eating up precious cap space and the Bucks are saddled with contract for at least a few more years. Jamal Sampson played in 5 games and his performances do not warrant any further discussion of him here.
Tim Thomas, Anthony
Mason, Toni Kukoc -
Tim Thomas has still never quite lived up to the potential he showed at Villanova his freshman year. While he is a contributing part of the rotation one has to wonder why he never left the Bucks for Chicago or Detroit when he was a free agent. He has to fight with the other two guys at this position as well as Desmond Mason for playing time. Maybe he still has All-star potential in him, but one has to wonder if he'll ever be more than a third offensive option with the Bucks. As much as Mason is a cancer to a team's chemistry, he is one of the few players who understand what needs to be done to win and provides a physical post presence. I would not be surprised to see them try to move Mason in the off-season or before the trade deadline next season, if they can find a taker. Kukoc is still a very capable all-around player, well except when it comes to his defense. He fills multiple roles on the floor, can distribute, handle, and shoot the rock. His play the season along with the Hawks first round pick makes that look like a very good deal for Milwaukee.
Michael Redd, Desmond Mason -
Michael Redd has turned himself into a solid third guard. Can shoot the 3 ball and give instant offense. Not going to back up the point position, but can get out on the break and get to the basket. Unfortunately for Redd, the Bucks are high on Mason. Having been quoted as saying that even if Payton bolts this was still a good trade because we go Mason. That said,Mason will be in the final year of his rookie contract and will need to have a coming out year if he is going to want a team to show him the bling-bling.
Sam Cassell, Gary Payton (Free Agent) -
The Martian (Cassell) is the one who should've been traded if you ask me. While I might not like the Payton trade, it would've made more sense to re-unite him with Karl if they had a point-guard vacancy. While Payton is a great player, running two points in the backcourt didn't get them further in the post-season than they would've with Ray Allen. Now they run the risk of losing Payton and getting nothing in return. Shortly after the Bucks were bounced from the play-offs he was asked about his future and to paraphrase said that at this point in his career he wants to be where he has a shot at winning a title, implying that that was not Milwaukee. But as of the writing of this draft report, he is reportedly considering the Bucks to be his first option and wants to resign with them if possible.
George Karl - Once considered an elite coach with the Sonics, all that is now in doubt. Karl seems like he has lost his interest in this team. He gladly would've bolted for UNC before they hired Doherty has the Senator given him permission to do so. But he still speaks no ill of Kohl. After all, he is getting $7 million per. Sick for a coach to get that much and is lucky if he can get his teams into the play-offs
Ernie Grunfeld - The Jailblazers and Bullets (the not so wizardly Wizards) have reportedly been seeking permission to speak to Grunfeld about his interest, but the Bucks have not given him permission to speak with other teams. Ernie is saying the right things. He wants to be back with the Bucks, but because of the tenuous ownership situation he would be interested in speaking with other teams and keeping his options open. My hope is that even through potential ownership and coaching changes that Ernie will stay around just so we can see if there is in effect a method to his madness. As is stands right now, the moves that have been made so far have not moved the team in the right direction. If he can make sense out of the mess that is known as the Bucks roster he will forever be known as a managerial genius. If not, this may be the last we here from Grunfeld; unless of course he ends up in the broadcasting booth. (Please anyone but Bill Walton and Tom Tolbert!)
Sen. Herb Kohl - The Senator seems to be entertaining offers to rid himself of the team in the next year or so, which is why Karl's contract has not been renewed and why Grunfeld wants to pursue other options. I think the Senator realizes that this team is further away from a title now than it was when jack Sikma and Sidney Moncrief were roaming the floor for the Bucks. Might as well sell now, Senator. They certainly won't win a title in the remainder of your lifetime.
V. Draft Needs
Because much is up in the air with team: ownership, coaches and GM's future, Payton, Cassell, Thomas, they should adopt the best available draft approach. But by draft day they may know Payton's status and would be fairly set at the guard position with there most pressing needs being post play.
A physical presence that can provide some offensive points in the paint, a Ben Wallace-type rebounder would be nice, but what NBA team wouldn't want that.
Depending upon Payton's status, they should look at a PG in the draft.
VI. Possible selections
Chris Kaman, C, Central Michigan
I liked Kaman here, but a team that recently wasted two first round picks on a project center like Pryzbilla should make them nervous about Kaman, who coming from a small-school is no sure thing. The Usenet Knicks took him the pick after this one ensuring that he will be the next Frederic Weiss.
Dwyane Wade, SG, Marquette
The Bucks will be extremely tempted if he is there, with Wade being a local product and all. But they have 3 too many players a his position already.
Jarvis Hayes, SG/SF, Georgia
Another tempting prospect who probably could've used another year in the collegiate ranks and probably would've remained at Georgia were it not for the Harrick-gate scandal. Again, his position is flooded wand they would have to move some guys to make room for him.
VII. My Selection
Lampe, SF, 7'0", Real Madrid
Like Darko, Lampe is a 7-footer and only 17 years old. Right now he is being projected as a SF, but is bound to grow and helpfully strengthen and develop some toughness inside. Some say he's the next Dirk. The Bucks traded away the first Dirk for the NBA's version of Fat Bastard (Robert Traylor). They will not want to make the same mistake again and pass up on this Dirk.
VIII. What will actually happen
Who knows? This team is in such turmoil right now... ownership, Payton, management, coach. Is there anyone on this team that is untouchable... not in the least. All the unknowns make this the riskiest pick I've made in my four years in the Usenet Draft and very well might be my first negative number in Usenet vs. NBA. The scenarios with Payton leaving staying, trading down, etc. all leave my head spinning and I hope that for there sake, the Bucks will go with Lampe and be patient for 2-3 years to allow him to develop.