August 28, 2009

News and Views: Crew preparing shakeup?

Category: Brewers,Bucks,NFL General,Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 2:14 pm

denNews: Josh McDaniels announced at a noon press conference that management has decided to suspend disgruntled receiver Brandon Marshall for the remainder of the preseason for conduct detrimental to the team.

Views: And you thought Vick’s return to the NFL was a big story? This newest Mile-High incident will heighten the intrigue for tomorrow’s matchup between the Jay Cutler-lead Bears and the Marshall-less Broncos more still. Remember Cutler was traded away to the Bears earlier this summer after his drama-king antics. Whether Marshall will get what he wants [more money and a trade] remains to be see, but punting and swatting down balls at practice won’t help his cause or his value around the league.

gnbNews: The Packers will be in Tempe, Ariz. tonight to take on the defending NFC Champion Cardinals in their third preseason contest.

Views: If Green and Gold fans want to consider watching a preseason game, this would be the one. The starters are expected to play into the third quarter as is custom, and it should be a great gauge of the team’s new 34 scheme- pitted against one of the league’s best aerial attacks in Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Other areas to keep your eye on: the punting battle between Jeremy Kapinos and Durant Brooks and the progression of first-rounder B.J. Raji. I’ll try to give my full roster and season predictions mid-next week.

milNews: After receiving a $1 qualifying offer from the Bucks nearly two months ago, still nothing has materialized between point guard Ramon Sessions and the Knicks or Clippers, his rumored suitors.

Views: The acquisition of forward Carlos Delfino and point guard Roko Ukic looked to seal Sessions’ fate with Milwaukee, as the team would have three points on the roster (including and Brandon Jennings, Luke Ridnour) while pulling the team’s cap close to luxury levels. But this issue just won’t go away. GM John Hammond has rumored to have been in ongoing sign-and-trade talks with the Knicks’ Donnie Walsh and Clippers’ Mike Dunleavy, with little substance to this point.

On another note, Bucks beat writer Charles Gardner brought up a good observation the other day, noting the influx of players with international experience added to the roster this off-season. Delfino, originally from Argentina, played in Russia last year. Ukic was born in Croatia. Turkish-born Ersan Ilyasova, who re-upped to a new deal, has played in Spain the past two years. And finally, first-round pick Brandon Jennings skipped college ball to play in Italy.  Hopefully the emphasis will be placed on team basketball this year and not dishing the ball to Michael Redd for a low-percentage three every other possession.

milNews: Four Brewers have cleared waivers according to FOX Sports.com: catcher Jason Kendall, infielder Craig Counsell, outfielder Mike Cameron and pitcher Braden Looper. Future Hall-of-Fame closer Trevor Hoffman was also claimed by the Giants, but a deal doesn’t seem likely.

Views: If any deals going to be done it will most likely come before Monday, as players acquired after August 31st aren’t eligible for the post-season. So don’t be surprised if Melvin, who says he’s not trading any veterans, is bluffing here. He may not be getting a deal he likes now, but if teams like the Rockies or Giants slip a few games back of the Dodgers in the coming days, they might get desperate and offer a deal Brewer management can’t refuse. One thing is clear, however. As this team fades into the sunset once again, they will have to seriously considering shaking up their future core. They have Braun locked up, but guys like Fielder, Hart, Hardy all should be trade chips for young, durable pitching, because they won’t be competitive again until they get some.

June 27, 2009

Jennings best case scenario for Milwaukee

Category: Bucks — Patrick Stumpf @ 12:50 pm

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Since his selection by the team #10 overall in Thursday night’s draft, there’s been a lot of “Hatorade” spilled on Brandon Jennings by Bucks’ fans.  Yes, on the surface he appears nothing more than a 19-year old punk who’s has an ego already comparable to Terrell Owens with not much proof to back it up. Yes, he only averaged 5.5 points and 2.2 assists last year playing in Italy for Lottomatica Roma. Yes, he has no frame to flaunt about at a mere 6’1, 170 pounds. And yes, he acted like a bit of a goof in New York making his entrance on stage in the middle of the 14th selection. But at this point, the Bucks’ organization needs to be resuscitated; needs a jolt of swagger. After all, it’s been awhile. They haven’t seen a character close to Jennings’ since the “Big Dog” Glenn Robinson’s arrival in 1994, when he held out into the beginning of training camp looking for the richest rookie contract in NBA history. And despite the fact Jennings does exude a flash of arrogance, he’s arguably one of the only kids from a relatively weak overall class with superstar potential. Jennings has already made his mark as a trailblazer choosing to play professionally overseas straight out of high-school, an unprecedented feat. And through the interview processes leading up to the draft, Jennings “hot shot” attitude has seemed to drastically cool off. Not only has he voiced his grown maturity level and sense of independence, but he’s learned to place an emphasis on team basketball while playing with grown men.  In comparison to his peers, his experience has no doubt given him a leg up on the NBA learning curve, and perhaps most importantly, sparked by all of his doubters, he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder.

For those still up in arms, consider this: GM John Hammond just decided to deal Richard Jefferson to the Spurs, which contrary to his comments, was effectively a salary dump. The Bucks are now left with no bonafide superstar, with the oft-injured Michael Redd as their only proven commodity. No matter which way you slice it, the team is still stuck in as deep of a rut as they were after Ray Allen was traded. So does the fact they’re rolling the dice on this classic boom or bust really affect their playoff status for 2010? Probably not. No matter who the team could’ve selected, they’re likely bound for another lottery appearance next year. At the very least, the new breed of athleticism added to the roster in Jennings, second-round pick Jodie Meeks and high-flying Amir Johnson will put butts in the seats. There’s sure to be no shortage of excitement in the BC. And at this point in the rebuilding process, that’s all management and fans should reasonably expect.

August 13, 2008

Hammond unloads Mo in six-player deal

Category: Bucks — Patrick Stumpf @ 7:53 pm

As was thought to be the case, Bucks’ GM John Hammond wasted no time trading guard Mo Williams, who was rumored to be on the move before the draft, as part of a six-player deal earlier today. Williams, the centerpiece of the three-team swap, will head to the Cavaliers and team up with LeBron James, itching for a secondary scorer, while Damon Jones will be headed back to the Milwaukee along with Luke Ridnour and Adrian Griffin. Joe Smith and Desmond Mason will head to Oklahoma City (formerly Seattle). Further details here. And ESPN’s John Hollinger’s analysis here.

At first glance, the return value does not appear to be anything spectacular if you’re a Bucks fan, considering Williams averaged over 17 points a game last year. But the fact is, Mo’s value was not as high as many (including myself) anticipated it would be, and this trade reiterates just how much the Bucks’ organization thought of him, that being, not much. Perhaps the best part about this deal was dumping his horrible contract (he resigned last season for 6 years, $52 million) and also acquiring two more expiring contacts in Griffin and Jones. No, they didn’t get adequate compensation, however, Skiles is determined to bring a more defensive-oriented mindset to this team, and Williams was not by any means a juggernaut when it came to opposing his man. And even though Ridnour, Griffin and Jones aren’t either, they have a history of being good locker-room guys (something Williams was not) and the potential to be role players.

I have no problems whatsoever with the ridding of Williams. The part of the deal that upsets me and unevens the trade is parting ways with Desmond Mason for the second time in three years. Remember he was shipped off to New Orleans in ’05 for bust Jamaal Magloire? In his time in Wisconsin, Mason was nothing short of a consummate professional, and a genuine basketball fan can not help but feel for this guy. I wish him the best back home in Oklahoma.

Now here’s a look at the Bucks’ up-to-date projected depth chart:

PG: Ramon Sessions- Luke Ridnour- Tyron Lue
SG: Michael Redd- Charlie Bell- Damon Jones
SF: Richard Jefferson- Joe Alexander- Adrian Griffin
PF: Charlie Villanueva- Luc Mbah a Moute- Malik Allen
C: Andrew Bogut- Francisco ElsonDan Gadzuric

* Elson has now officially signed according to JS Online.

I give Sessions a slight leg up on Ridnour for now because he has better familiarity with the team. He should be given every opportunity to run the show, however a time share between the two is possible barring another move. You may think I’m crazy for saying this, but I’m still not convinced Hammond is done. There are essentially five guys who can play point if you include Bell and Jones (remember Jones played point quite a bit in his last stint in Milwaukee). There is still reshaping that needs to take place as bench depth is putrid. The next man potentially on his way out via trade? Charlie Villanueva.

UPDATE: Courtesy of Wisconsin Journal Times’ friend Gery Woelfel, Hammond intends to start Ridnour. Hammond was on Milwaukee’s sports radio 1250 WSSP this morning discussing the trade. He seemed happy with the current mix of players but left the door open for more movement if the right deal presents itself.

August 7, 2008

Bucks' offseason makeover bound to continue

Category: Bucks — Patrick Stumpf @ 1:30 pm

After a draft-day trade sent Yi Jianlian to New Jersey for star forward Richard Jefferson, it seemed apparent GM John Hammond was going for it. Jefferson offers versatility, and is the perfect compliment to Michael Redd, and Yi finally got his wish to go to a bigger market. But even after the big deal netted the Bucks their coveted small forward, and Joe Alexander and Luc Richard Abah a Moute were welcomed into the fold on draft night, the pieces to the roster puzzle still don’t seem to fit. The problem lies at the point guard spot. Ramon Sessions played so well in his time at the point, putting Mo Williams’ long-term future in Milwaukee in jeopardy even after his extension. Despite all trade rumors that swirled around Williams, none came to fruition. Now the Bucks are in a tough spot. Trade Williams to allow Sessions to take over? Or, keep Williams and let the big three (Williams, Redd and Jefferson) fend for themselves?

Whether you like it or not, the answer is to trade Williams. Look at the guy play. Mo Williams is not a true point guard. He is a shoot first, pass second player. That won’t fit with Redd and Jefferson. There just isn’t enough ball to go around. Solution? Trade him to Miami, along with Charlie Villanueva and Dan Gadzuric for Shawn Marion. As crazy as this speculation may sound, this deal makes sense. Miami, who has shown interest in Mo, is desperately in search of a point so they can move Dwayne Wade to the 2. And Mo still has four years remaining on his deal, allowing to Heat to put off negotiations for several years. As far as Marion goes, he’s is a cash cow, making a hefty $17 million dollars a year. The catch is, he will become a free-agent after this upcoming season. So the Heat front office would be wise to move him now while he still has value.

The Bucks do this because everbody wants to return to the playoffs. With Redd, Jefferson and Marion, a trip to the postseason would be all but a lock. And because Marion has only one year left, the deal is low risk, high reward. Next year he would walk for more money elsewhere, allowing a more experienced Joe Alexander to assume the 4 spot in ’09. They also would dump Dan Gadzuric’s awful contract, and let Sessions, a pass first player, take the reigns at point.

One thing is clear: after signing Tyronn Lue to a 1-year, $2.5 million deal as the third point guard, do not be surprised to see Hammond wheeling and dealing again before November.

Now for a concrete rumor: HoopsHype has reported the Bucks are very interested in signing center Francisco Elson as a backup center to Andrew Bogut. The 7-footer averaged three points and three boards a game last year for the Spurs, but what appeals to the Bucks’ front office is his ability to play aggressive defense and shoot very well from the free-throw line.

April 14, 2008

Bucks' fans retain glimmer of hope after hiring

Category: Bucks — Patrick Stumpf @ 4:28 pm

For the fans who have lost all hope in the Milwaukee Bucks’ chances to return to Eastern Conference prominence, hold on. The Bucks have finally managed to negotiate outside their own organizational ties (something Wisconsin teams struggle to do), bringing in GM John Hammond, left, largely credited for building up the Pistons to their current status amongst the NBA’s elite. At first take, Herb Kohl may have finally notched a solid hiring, generating the kind of buzz the team hasn’t seen since they signed George Karl back in 1998. But even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile.

On to Hammond, who has been a hot commodity around league circles for the past few years. The first managerial move on his docket? Most likely replacing Larry K, and if so, good riddance. Hammond has connections to both Larry Brown and Rick Carlisle (both former head coaches in Detroit out of a job), and is confident he’ll be able to get this ship righted. How long that will take, however, is anyone’s guess. And for all those fans still sitting on their hands, be patient. It’s been a while since Milwaukee has reeled in a big name executive like this, so there has to be some reason for optimism. Let’s just take a wait and see approach. On to the players, and I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, this team needs a new direction. Michael Redd has not played like the $90 million leader we payed him to be. Charlie Villanueva is an interesting guy with loads of potential, but since Larry Harris took his starting job away after drafting Yi, his value resides as a bench player. Bobby Simmons is nice player who can’t stay healthy. Dido for Bogut. Mo Williams is a shoot-first point guard. Charlie Bell has an attitude. In other words, this team needs to be dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up. Hopefully that’s what Hammond has planned.

The good news is, the Bucks sit in a favorable position in the NBA Draft, holding another top 10 pick. Who will they target? After randomizing the order 20 times on ESPN.com’s Mock Draft Lottery, the following selections ensued: (by the way, the Bucks have a 4.3% chance of drawing the top pick)

Pick Number: 1st overall (1), 3rd overall (1), 7th overall (11), 8th overall (7).

Selections: Michael Beasley, PF, Kansas State (1), Jerryd Bayless, PG, Arizona (1), Russell Westbrook, PG, UCLA (13), Eric Gordon, SG, Indiana (4), DeAndre Jordan, C, Texas A&M (1).

Not surprising. The Bucks currently stand as the league’s 7th worst team winning-percentage wise, and with so few games left, those percentages won’t change that drastically. Regardless of where they’re picking, I think point-guard is the way this team needs to go, more specifically a lock-down defender. Westbrook, left, would fit that bill perfectly. He has great bloodlines coming from UCLA, and is freakishly athletic. Bayless would also be a nice fit, but Westbrook is the better passer. If the Bucks pick anywhere after #3 (Rose and Mayo alert), and Mr. Westbrook is there, he should be the pick.

January 7, 2008

Critics question Bucks' Harris with lack of team play

Category: Bucks — Patrick Stumpf @ 9:42 pm

With the Milwaukee Brewers and Green Bay Packers living up to and exceeding their yearly expectations, the last of the Wisconsin Sports trifecta has yet to get over the hump this year.  The Milwaukee Bucks, who began the season with a promising young nucleus, have failed miserably so much this year that I have refrained from writing about their struggles- until now.  With Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, Charlie Villanueva, a healthy Bobby Simmons, a resigned Mo Williams, along with rookie sensation Yi Jianlian in the fold for 2007-2008, things appeared to be going up for the Bucks.  But with the leash already short for management coming into the year, the controversy has begun to resurface within the state of Wisconsin, especially Milwaukee, questioning whether GM Larry Harris can find the right mix of guys to carry the team back into the playoffs, with enough balance to make a run.  I’ve always been a backer of Harris, who has made solid trades and draft picks for the duration of his tenure, but something needs to change after a 13-20 start to the season.  If it were up to me, you have to trade Michael Redd.  The problem I see is uneven distribution of the ball.  Trade Redd for a true point-guard, not one that shoots as much as he passes (Mo Williams).  Trading Redd would allow Mo to move to shooting-guard, a position he has handled well in the past, thus making him the primary scorer on this team.  Redd still has good trade value because he remains one of the lone pure shooters in the NBA, but I feel in order for the Bucks to get back on track, they need versatile guys.  I would hate to see Harris let go, because I feel he is a more than capable to get this franchise turned around.  The biggest mistake he made in retrospect was trading T.J. Ford to Toronto for Villanueva, because the current lack at the point-guard position has precisely made this team what it has become, average at best.

August 7, 2007

Bucks sign Storey, close with Bell to fill out roster

Category: Bucks — Patrick Stumpf @ 4:56 am

With the 2007-2008 Milwaukee Bucks regular season schedule being released just a short time ago, GM Larry Harris is still looking to fill out the last roster spots. The team, which will open the season on the road October 31st against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic, has 12 players that are all but locks to make the team as of today. They are guards Mo Williams, Michael Redd, Lynn Greer, and draft pick Ramon Sessions (who has yet to sign), forwards Bobby Simmons, Desmond Mason, David Noel, Damir Markota, and Charlie Villanueva, as well as centers Andrew Bogut, Jake Voskuhl and Dan Gadzuric. Management has likely let Reuben Patterson, Earl Boykins, Ersan Illyasova, Brian Skinner, and Jared Reiner walk, leaving 3 spots yet to be filled. While first-round selection Yi Jianlian’s status remains unclear, expect the team to strike a deal with the big man before the season begins. Leaving just 2 spots left. Well, all indications suggest the Bucks will pursue restricted free-agent guard Charlie Bell heavily, along with forward Awvee Storey. Storey impressed Milwaukee as part of their Las Vegas Summer League team, showing off his toughness and versatility. Don’t expect Storey, if he does sign, to see major minutes as he would likely find himself stuck behind Simmons and Mason in the rotation. Storey, 30, has played previously with Washington and New Jersey, managing a mere 4-minutes per game in his two seasons.

July 22, 2007

"D-Mase" set to reunite with Bucks

Category: Bucks — Patrick Stumpf @ 10:36 pm

Welcome back Desmond Mason. After being traded to New Orleans in 2005 for big-flop Jamaal Magloire, the athletic swingman will be back with Milwaukee after an official press conference Monday. Mason, who originally came to the club in the Ray Allen deal, averaged a career best 17.2 points per game in his final season with the Bucks. Also part of that blockbuster was Gary Payton to Milwaukee and Flip Murray to the Sonics. Mason will join Mo Williams, Jake Voskuhl, and Ramon Sessions as the newest acquisitions, with first rounder Yi Jianlian hopefully soon to follow. Look for Desmond to battle with Bobby Simmons for the starting SF job, and the loser to become the 6th man.

July 20, 2007

Bucks may pay for risky selection of Yi

Category: Bucks — Patrick Stumpf @ 11:15 pm

While the Milwaukee Bucks were scheduling NBA workouts, most players who figured to be selected in the top 10 worked out for the Bucks, except two: Chinese phenom Yi Jianlian and Gator Joakim Noah. Yet, despite that, Bucks General Manger Larry Harris grabbed Yi. Larry, I know you’re trying to do what’s best for the organization but please, spare yourself the embarrassment. Yi Jianlian, while he might be a great player, doesn’t even want to play here. You need to be 100 percent positive that you can get a deal done with Yi before you draft him. If Yi holds out and doesn’t play, this will be a monumental mistake for the Bucks’ organization. This team has been underachieving for a number of years now, for the amount of money dished out, so when you get a lottery selection, you need to get a sure player. It was a vitally important pick for the Bucks and I feel Yi’s selection was risky. Yi’s agents said they wanted Yi to be drafted by a city with a heavy Asian population. Those potential cites included Chicago and anywhere in the Bay Area. Days before the draft, whispers around the league said that Golden State was offering Milwaukee guard Jason Richardson and their 18th pick for number 6. If that trade happened, Golden State would have taken Yi to fulfill his wishes. Instead, Harris spurned all offers including a deal with Philadelphia, for the 76ers’ 12th and 21st picks in the first round.

“We had a lot of discussions with Philadelphia as well as other discussions, but at the end of the day we felt that instead of moving back and doing some other things, this was the best decision for us,” said Harris.

Before the draft, Harris predicted the top five, and clued the fans at the Bradley Center that he and his staff had narrowed their focus to four players: Florida’s Al Horford, Ohio State’s Mike Conley Jr., Georgetown’s Jeff Green, and Yi. But perhaps what was even more insightful was Harris’ quote referring to who they’d get: “I can’t guarantee he’ll speak English or not, but I promise we’ll get the best player on the board.”

 And amazingly, the first five picks rattled off just as Harris had projected, leaving the Chinese born Yi, the last of the four, a sure Buck.

“I can tell you from a skills standpoint, Yi has as much talent as anyone in the draft,” said Harris. “He’s a guy that can pass and shoot, dribble as a legitimate power forward that can not only score inside, but can really shoot the ball outside.”

Yi has stated that his No. 1 priority is playing for his Chinese national team. So even after all the summer leagues, Bucks fans will still be awaiting Yi’s first appearance in Milwaukee. The upside of Yi includes the comparisons to Yao Ming, his fellow countryman, who inspired him to come to the NBA. At 7-0′ and 245 pounds, Yi certainly has the size that the Bucks need, and the shooting skills that could make him a unique big man. But if he doesn’t want to play here none of it matters, and Harris will have made a very expensive error.

June 21, 2007

Bucks setting sights on Wright, Conley?

Category: Bucks — Patrick Stumpf @ 11:33 pm

With the NBA Draft rapidly approaching, GM Larry Harris is probably starting to feel the pressure of making his selection a little more.  After last year, when the Bucks of course didn’t have a first rounder, Harris’ job was fairly easy, saying that he would just sit back and make his pick based on who he thought was the best player available.  This year is definitely a little different year for Harris, who may have his job in jeopardy come next season, if the Bucks’ record does not improve. Yes, Harris can’t control when his players get hurt, but he does make critical decisions. Two years ago, when the Bucks signed Bobby Simmons away from LA, everyone in Milwaukee was very excited to land the “Most Improved Player” from the year before. But now after two injury riddled seasons and minimal playing time on the court, Harris needs to nail this offseason to give himself and the Bucks a chance to go deep into the playoffs. With the #6 pick, their has been discussion that the Bucks may want to maximize value, by trading the pick to Golden State, who wants Chinese phenom Yi Jianlian, for their pick (#18 overall and Jason Richardson). Richardson would then most likely slid into the 3 spot, landing Bobby Simmons on the bench. If the Bucks keep the pick, which is the more attracting option to some, the consesus picks have probably narrowed down to Ohio State point guard Mike Conley Jr. and North Carolina forward Brandan Wright. Wright, if available, would probably be picked over Conley, but it all depends on how Harris views his team. If he feels they can resign Mo Williams for a reasonable price or not. In the second round, I would look for the Bucks to take Purdue Carl Landry, brother of Wisconsin’s Marcus Landry, whom the Bucks fell in love with after his workout. I will be attending the Bucks draft at the Bradley Center as a member of the press, so I’ll give you the lowdown on both picks when they go down.