Bucks GM Larry Harris knows what it’s like to score the #1 pick. He accomplished that feat in 2005, after selecting Andrew Bogut from the University of Utah. Some say that he has been a bust, some say it’s too soon to tell. I say that Bogut is still maturing and therefore will need more time in order to fully develop and reach his star potential. This year is no different than 2005 for Harris, who has a chance to score yet another top pick. There are two elite players who undoubtedly will land in the top two spots: Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. In 2005, there was a controversy in Milwaukee as to who the Bucks should have taken, Bogut or Marvin Williams, and the consesus pick was Bogut. This year seems to be a bit different. Both Durant and Oden are extremely talented, on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. News leaked (via RealGM) that if the Bucks were somehow to get lucky once again, the pick would be Greg Oden. Others, including myself feel that it should be in the Bucks’ best interest to land the #2 pick, because of the low risk factor. Although both players have unlimited upside, some people will find a way to criticize the top pick no matter who it is. Where as at the #2 spot, Larry Harris won’t get bashed for picking the wrong guy. In addition, the Bucks wouldn’t have to pay #1 money, while still landing an elite player.
With the 2007 NBA Lottery upcoming, the Milwaukee Bucks will have an interesting decision to make. Assuming the lotto-balls fall the way they’re supposed to, the Bucks will get the #3 overall pick in the draft. The two-outright stars (Kevin Durant and Greg Oden) will most certainly go 1-2, then Bucks will find themselves in an interesting spot. The question is what are Larry Harris’ plans for free agency? Does he plan to lock up Mo Williams to a deal, or would he rather let Mo take his paycheck and head elsewhere for next season? That is proably the most burning question right now, because this decision may cost Harris his job. If he decides to not pay Mo, there are still options. They could trade down a few spots in the draft and pick up Mike Conley Jr, the point guard from Ohio State. However, if Harris deems Conley not NBA “ready” enough, Chauncey Billups would also be an intriguing option to fill the possible void at point. If Harris decided to stay at three, do they go with another big man? Tarheel freshman Brandan Wright is projected to Milwaukee at three, and Florida players Joakim Noah and Cory Brewer will most likely be available. But if the ball bounces the Bucks way again, (like in 2005), the decision at #1 should be a pretty easy one. Yes, Oden is a rare big man, but Kevin Durant’s talent and upside would be too great to pass up. He also would fill a need for the Bucks, at the 3. Bobby Simmons has thusfar been a major disappointment, and may be better off if he went back to his old role in which he won an award with the LA Clippers. What was that? 6th man. Simmons needs to play off the bench. This decision would be the best for Harris, so let’s hope the Bucks get lucky once again. The best situation would be to let Mo and Reuben Patterson walk, assuming they’re offered ludacris contracts, and resign guards Charlie Bell, Earl Boykins, and forward Ersan Llyasova. Then try like heck to land Billups, who has expressed verbal interest in Milwaukee. Just think: PG Billups, SG Redd, SF Durant, PF Villanueva, C Bogut. 6th man: Simmons, others off bench: Boykins, Bell, Gadzuric, Noel. If I was the East, I’d be nervous if the Bucks had that lineup. Bottom line: Trust in Harris, not Herb Kohl.
If one word could describe the Milwaukee Bucks season thusfar it would be injury-plagued. Unfortuanately that word cost coach Terry Stotts his job. After going a dismal 5-15 over the past 20 games, GM Larry Harris thought “it was in the team’s best interest” to relieve Stotts of his position and look elsewhere for the remainder of the season. In his first year with the team, Stotts led the Bucks to the playoffs, where they lost to the Pistons in a short 5-game series. This season Stotts had to work around an extremely depleted squad, when at one point four starters (Bobby Simmons, Michael Redd, Charlie Villanueva, and Mo Williams) were all out due to injury. In less than two full seasons with the team, Stotts compiled a record of 63-83. Larry Harris decided it was better to fire Stotts sooner than later and try to turn the team around for the rest of the season. Harris wasted no time in naming his replacment, Bucks assistant Larry Krystkowiak. Krystkowiak was a head coach at Montana before coming to the Bucks, where he was also a former player. He played nine seasons in Milwaukee, similar to former coach Terry Porter, who was fired before Stotts was brought in. Krystkowiak is expected to begin his head-coaching duties tomorrow when the Spurs come to town. The Bucks and Stotts clearly weren’t seeing eye to eye, as was evident during the season. The Bucks currently hold the 4th worst record in the NBA and may have a shot at Texas star Kevin Durant, if they got a high lottery selection. In addition, the Bucks will have the most free-agent money of any team this upcoming offseason, so Krystkowiak is walking into a pretty good situation.
Old with the old, in with the new. That slogan turned out to be put into place at the end of the night. Michael Redd has said that he doesn’t want to carry the load every night for the Bucks. Well, last night he took matters into his own hands. With Milwaukee down as much as 24, the second-round pick from Ohio State put the team on his back and almost single-handedly beat the now 6-1 Utah Jazz. Redd had 25 points in the final period to pull the Bucks to an even tie. Redd, who scored 25 in the final frame, light up the Jazz’s Deron Williams all night, going 18 of 32 from the field (56%) including 6 of 12 on 3-pointers. With 6.9 seconds left and the Bucks down three, they called Redd’s numbers for the tying basket. While the Bradley Center erupted with pandemonium, the Jazz kept their cool, raced down the court, and point guard Deron Williams found replacement Matt Harpring cutting to the basket for the 2-point lead. Harpring replaced All-Star shooting forward Andrei Kirilenko, who left the contest with a sprained ankle, chipped in with 17 points. With a mere 1.8 seconds left, the Bucks went to their man one more time for the game winner. Unfortuantely the shot fell short and the Bucks and Michael Redd were left heartbroken. Although he didn’t win the game, history was made as Michael Redd set a francise record with 57 points, overtaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s previous record of 55 set in 1971.
When the Bucks traded for Charlie Villanueva they certainly didn’t expect this much from the big man. After the Bucks first 6 games of the 2006-2007 NBA campaign, Villanueva has been a hard cover for teams, as CV has averaged almost a double-double per game at 17 and 9. Villanueva has also shown the ability to knock down the outside jumper, which he had done last year at Toronto. But perhaps the biggest surprise to this point has been the chemistry between Villanueva and 2004 #1 overall pick Andrew Bogut. Bogut and Villanueva have combined for 30 and 15 per contest. They have both provided an immediate spark for the already laboring offense of the Bucks due to the injury of Bobby Simmons. Bucks star Michael Redd said that he doesn’t want to always be that guy that has to carry the load every night, and he’s certainly embraced the emergence of the two big men thusfar. If this trend continues, look for the Bucks to show consistent results against top-tier teams in the Eastern Conference and challenge for an even stronger playoff spot than last year.
Hot Topic: Pistons All-Star Guard Chauncey Billups is reportedley interested in the Bucks. He liked what he saw from the young players in the opening game of the season against Milwaukee and is a free agent after this season. What makes this development even more intriguing for Bucks fans is that Milwaukee will have the most money to spend next summer at almost $14, and are in need of a point guard. If the Bucks could in fact intice Billups to sign, the Bucks could be set up for a title run in 2007-2008.
Thursday the Bucks made yet another risky move in order to acquire much needed depth at the small forward, when they traded Joe Smith to the Nuggets for Ruben Patterson. This was a questionable move to say the least by GM Larry Harris, who perhaps traded the best “good guy” on the Bucks for the most “unpredictable” player in the league. Harris said he knows Patterson’s path through the NBA has been difficult, but says Patterson’s defensive-minded mentality and playoff experience is exactly what the Bucks are looking for. Patterson has a long list of legal problems, and whether or not he can stay on the court will be his biggest battle. When on the court however, Patterson has had decent success. Last year, he averaged 13 points per game and shot over 51 percent from the field, marking 15th best in the league. Patterson was mainly brought in to provide security at the 3, as small forward has been a position of uncertainty. Other than Bobby Simmons, the Bucks had really no one to pick up the slack last year. As far as Joe Smith goes, he has always been a very consistent player throughout his career, but one could definitely argue that he hasn’t lived up to his #1 pick expectations. Smith hampered a knee injury that kept him out most of the 05-06′ season, and after the addition of Charlie Villanueva at the 4, Smith became expendable. When looking at this trade, I see a player in Patterson who is a definite “boom” or “bust” guy and we will see how this trade will play out. But by trading one of the most respected players in the Bucks locker room and maybe the city for a guy with a history of arrests, I think the Bucks will come out on the short end once again. The Bucks and Larry Harris can only hope that Patterson cleans up his act and focuses just on basketball.
Bucks GM Larry Harris got what he wished Monday when it was officially announced that the Bucks had traded Jamaal Magloire to Portland. In return, the Bucks wil get point guard Steve Blake, and centers Brian Skinner and Ha Seung Jin. The Bucks expect Blake to fight for a starting job with Mo Williams, to fill the vacated hole left by TJ Ford. One would think that Blake was brought in to start, so to not look like Harris got the wrong side of the deal. Truth is, he did. I don’t understand why you would want to trade a proven All-Star center, just because you wanted Charlie Villanueva to start at power foward, and Bogut to start at his natural position of center. It’s called depth. The Bucks weren’t even close to getting fair value, and if it were me, I would have no doubt waited until the All-Star break when teams are much desperate and willing to up the ante. Anyway, Steve Blake should in fact start at point guard and fit in really well. His assist/turnover ratio was one of the best in the league last year, and has a good stroke from beyond the arc. The former 2nd round pick out of Maryland has averaged 6.5 points per season, mostly because he started from Portland all of last year. Brian Skinner will not be a new site in Milwaukee, and the lone year he played for the Bucks (03-04) he had his best season in the NBA, averaging 10.5 points per game and 7 rebounds. Skinner figures to be slotted behind Charlie Villanueva, and will mostly work at power forward. As for Ha Seung Jin, he is 7-3 and needs alot of coaching, and with minutes rarely free for the taking, he will most likely be put on waivers.
Over the next few weeks, managers Doug Melvin and Larry Harris will have to make some of the toughest decisions of their tenures. For Brewers GM Doug Melvin it is what to do with All-Star slugger Carlos Lee, whose contract is up after this year and whose stock is at an all time high. If Melvin did decide to trade him, the Brewers could probably get a solid #2 or 3 pitcher like a Greg Maddux or Cory Lidle, but fans shouldn’t expect Melvin to pull off another Richie Sexson type deal. Plus, even in the event of a trade, there will always be some dispute on whether the Brewers got fair value for Lee. In my opinion, the Brewers will trade Lee because of the value he possesses to other teams in pennet races and after all, the Brewers have some of the best outfield prospects in the minors. I think it will come down to a similar situation like the Lyle Overbay trade where you pick up a much needed arm and let the young guys get some experience (ala Prince Fielder). If the Brewers do pull off a trade, I think they will have taken a step in the right direction as they would have more money to spend on depth in the offseason. When all is said and done, the final decision will come down to how much money Lee will be looking for when he gets his pay check. Bucks GM Larry Harris is facing a similar situation will former All-Star center Jamaal Magloire. The Bucks seem to be set for the future in the frontcourt with Bogut and now Charlie Villanueva in the fold, but still lack an athlectic swing man like a Desmond Mason, who ironically they gave up to get Magloire. Some have rumored Magloire to go to Memphis for Mike Miller and Hakim Warrick or possibly even Rudy Gay, who Harris was enamored with before the draft. I think one thing is for sure: Jamaal Magloire has played his last game as a Buck. Look for the Bucks to acquire depth at the point as well as small forward, whether it be through trade or free agency.
Last Friday, the Milwaukee Bucks made a surprising deal that sent 3rd year point guard TJ Ford to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for their rookie phenom Charlie Villanueva. Villanueva was 2nd last year in rookie voting behind Hornets guard Chris Paul and ahead of Andrew Bogut, who finished 3rd. The former Huskie star averaged 13 points a game last season, including a 48 point outburst against the Bucks. Villanueva became expendable after the Raptors drafted forward Andrea Bargnani with the #1 overall selection in this year’s draft. TJ Ford was rumored in some deals, but more trades focused on center Jammal Magloire, whom the Bucks are still trying to unload. Ford averaged 12.2 points in two full seasons with the Bucks, hampered by injury in 2004 with a spinal cord injury. Guards Mo Williams and Charlie Bell will be given the opportunity to start, with Williams likely getting the nod. The Bucks frontcourt now looks very promising with Villanueva, who should complement 7 foot center Andrew Bogut very nicely. I think that it will take Villanueva a while to get acquainted with his new teammates, but I think he will have a very successful career in Milwaukee. The Bucks continue to infuse youth into the lineup, but with that will come some growing pains. Look for the Bucks to grow on a 40-42 season, with a core of Redd, Bogut, Simmons, Williams, Bell, and Villanueva.
While there wasn’t any snow last night in Milwaukee, it sure did feel like Christmas. The Bucks unveiled their new colors, red and green while drafting a guy named Noel. Fans had been waiting to see this new color scheme trying to guess all sorts of patterns. Last night, Bucks.com changed their whole website to red/green, after 7:30 P.M., about the time of the Bucks draft. The team’s lone pick, #39 overall, was used on 6’6 forward David Noel from North Carolina, who averaged 12.9 points a game last year and was the leader of a very young Tar Heels team. Noel is known for his defensive play and has been compared to Spurs guard Bruce Bowen. Noel is a very athletic player and at only 6’6 played the power forward position in college. Whether or not Noel will switch positions in the NBA, I think he will, most likely to SF. Noel also has a good shooting touch beyond the third point shooting arch, shooting over 43 percent last year. He showed flashes of Desmond Mason in college, wowing the crowd with spectacular dunks. Many experts deemed Noel a player who would go undrafted, but after the Bucks traded Desmond Mason, they needed a high energy guy that could electrify the BC. Jamal Magloire’s name was rumored in many deals, but the Bucks never did trade him. My guess is the Bucks will trade him, after July 1, most likely to a team like the Warriors or Jazz.