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In Sports Commentary

The Bucks must consider which new players to draft, but also which old ones to keep. (PHOTO: Allen Fredrickson )

Bucks must make big decisions before draft


All the talking, the theories, the wonder comes to an end in just 10 days when the new Bucks take their turn in the annual National Basketball Association draft.

This is the era of John Hammond and Scott Skiles. A week from Thursday, we will begin to make our judgments about this reign.

I don't envy them. They have taken over a franchise where hunger for success has, I think, turned to a kind of resigned fatalism and a corresponding waning of enthusiasm.

It's not basketball itself. Watching the NBA playoffs this year has been thrilling. The fans are absolutely ecstatic and the athletes, I will say for the millionth time, are the best in the world.

What it is, with the Bucks, is that they wear the label of loser. For a long time now, six or seven or eight years, they have been unsuccessful. They've been through general managers and coaches and players and they continue to lose. It is not a surprise that hardly anybody cares about this team anymore.

And not caring is probably the worst thing that can happen to a franchise. You can hate them or love them, but when you don't care, the challenge to win back the fans becomes immense.

What do Hammond and Skiles do? Do they try for a quick turnaround with trades and free agent signings and establish a team that will win next season and maybe make the playoffs? Or do they take the long-term look at building a team that will be a contender for a title and have some staying power?

A big part of the answer to that question depends on the evaluation the brain trust makes regarding their present roster. Somewhere on their desk or in a drawer or in their mind is a sheet of paper with a roster that they'd like to have. And they've got to decide how many players on the Bucks now will be part of that roster and who they can use to build the new roster.

If I'm the general manager of the Bucks here's what I would not do.

I would not go for a quick fix. I don't think it's vital to the future that the Bucks make the playoffs next year. What I think is important is that Bucks fans get the feeling that there is a plan in place and that the team is going to stick to the plan.

There is nothing quite so disconcerting in the world of sports as watching a franchise get battered back and forth, season after season, like a sailboat without a sail. Think of the Brewers before the present ownership regime took over. New general manager, new managers, new players, even a new ballpark and each year it was the same old, same old. It was a team where the ownership did what was expedient, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

That's the mark of the perpetually hopeful. Whichever way the wind seems to be blowing, that's the way they go. When there is no rudder, it's very hard to follow a course.

The Bucks need to convince people of two things.

One, there is a plan. Two, they intend to stick with that plan.

And they won't be able to do that by tinkering around the edges. Fans need to be convinced by deep and significant action. Nobody is going to take heart when Dan Gadzuric gets released or traded.

But when Michael Redd and / or Mo Williams and / or Andrew Bogut and / or Charlie Villaneuva and / or Charlie Bell start moving, then restoration of our faith will begin.

Out of all the guys on the roster, the one I really want to keep is Yi Jianlian. I think that in two or three years he may be a really special basketball player, the kind who is a key part of a team that can threaten for the NBA title.


Talkbacks

mcdill | June 24, 2008 at 8:45 a.m. (report)

Dave, I agree with everything you said except the last paragraph. Yi is not the answer.

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timmy_von_trimble | June 18, 2008 at 11:53 p.m. (report)

Yo-Zboy..Dat ain't da Begelmeister's style. He won't be responding to critics..but watch yer back next time you hear a car rollin' up nice n' slow. Dawg will ice you in a heartbeat. Son be loco!!

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Z_boy | June 18, 2008 at 11:26 a.m. (report)

timmy von trimble: I haven't heard back from Begel, so I'm guessing he's afraid to take me up on that bet. I don't blame him. I, too, wouldn't want to just hand over twenty bucks like that. ;-)

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timmy_von_trimble | June 18, 2008 at 10:51 a.m. (report)

Damn...Z boy... you must have quite a set on you to be calling out da Begelmeister like dat. Don't hate da playa, hate da game....

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hoopscrazy | June 17, 2008 at 1:23 p.m. (report)

Thanks for your consistency Dave! Once again you have proven to me that you know nothing about basketball. Do you even watch the NBA? Bogut is the only untouchable player on the Bucks and that status is in peril with every passing day. Also, don't let anyone tell you that Dan G. or Redd or Mo are hard to trade because of their contracts. Players with similar deals get dealt every year. They are hard to trade because few if any teams want them. This improbable turnaround can happen quickly, contrary to your opinion. Mr. Hammond has the respect and "juice" to get it done. Getting to the playoffs this year is indeed important. This franchise is on an exit ramp on I-94 headed out of town and getting to the playoffs is the only way to make that stop moving. Please study up on that "NBA thing". Hopefully your next article, should there be one, will have a valid point or two.

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