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Milwaukee Bucks

A completely different team, same results: Milwaukee Bucks Season Preview

Starting five: PG Brandon Knight, SG Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo, SF Caron Butler, PF Ersan Ilyasova, C Larry Sanders
Key bench players: PG Luke Ridnour, SG Gary Neal, SG Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF Carlos Delfino, PF John Henson, PF/C Ekpe Udoh, C Zaza Pachulia
Offseason additions: Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo, Gary Neal, Caron Butler, Brandon Knight, Luke Ridnour, Giannis Antetokounmpo (15th overall pick), Zaza Pachulia
Offseason subtractions: PG Brandon Jennings, G Monta Ellis, C Samuel Dalembert, PF/C Drew Gooden, SF Mike Dunleavy, Jr., SG JJ Redick
FACT OR FICTION: The Bucks from The Good Land turned over their entire team in the offseason for the better.
FACT. Milwaukee made a ton of decisions on key players this offseason with acquisitions and trades that made the team vacillate between rebuilding and reloading. In the basketball-free darkness of August, I spent 2,000 words describing these schizophrenic developments, including these paragraphs that sums up the entire offseason:

It was clear from the moment when Monta Ellis opted out of his $11 million dollar salary for next season that he was on his way out of town. Likewise, Jennings appeared set to depart, as he’d hilariously been talking for years about his eventual exit from The Good Land. Morever, it appeared as if Drew Gooden as his impossible $13 million dollars (and Bad NBA Contract of the Week fodder!) over two years would be amnestied.


Instant Trade Analysis: Caron Butler to the amazing, mysterious Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks get: SF Caron Butler
Phoenix Suns get: PG Ishmael Smith, C Slava Kravtsov
In a surprising late summer deal, the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns teamed up today to….oh, screw it.
At best, we’re talking about two teams that will combine for 48 wins this year. This trade is should be inconsequential in the long run, seeing as we’re talking about Suns team doomed to finish in the NBA’s bottom five next season, and a Bucks team that will, at best, try and scrap for the 8-seed next April. The only reason that this trade is in the news cycle is because it’s the end of August and no NBA player has had a felony charge alleged against him for…well, at least a couple of days. But you know what? Since this is MAMBINO, we’re going to take a look at this trade briefly even if no one including the state of Wisconsin cares, and then dive into a more puzzling, pressing issue.… Read more...

(Not So) Instant Trade Analysis: Brandon Jennings to the Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons get: PG Brandon Jennings (three years, $24 million)
Milwaukee Bucks get: PG Brandon Knight, F Khris Middleton, C Viecheslav Kravtov
(Writing about basketball in damn near August is always hard. But writing about two teams from the Midwest that haven’t played since mid-April? Buzz’s girlfriend, woof. So to help, we contacted friend of the blog and proud Detroit Pistons fan, The Source, to help us decode a really interesting deal with no clear winner. At least in our eyes here at MAMBINO. Below is his thoughts, along with mine)
The Source: My basic thoughts? Brandon Pettigrew is committed to fitness now, and is working hard to cleanup his drops and fumbles from last year. A productive TE, plus Reggie Bush, and maybe a decent to below-average #2 WR is all we need to get Calvin some space.

Veras adds depth to a bullpen that really needed it. If Benoit keeps the closer role, which he seems to have embraced, then the Tigers will have two reliable, late-inning relievers in Smyly and Veras. Phil Coke just can’t cut it. And Iglesias gives us more range at SS (our starters will be happy), some above average speed (of which, we had almost none), and Peralta will be juicing at home soon rather than in the clubhouse so we needed a steady infielder for the next 50 games.
In the same week the city of Detroit announced its bankruptcy, a state board approved plans for a new hockey arena, which will cost tax payers almost $300 million. OK, Detroit.
Oh and the Pistons…..
Adding Jennings to Smith and Monroe, the Pistons now have 3 starting lefties so opposing lineups will have to….
We needed a PG. Calderon is gone, Stuckey is bad, and Knight is gone and bad. Billups isn’t there to play a ton of minutes. When you look up Brandon Jennings on ESPN, one of the first things you see is “#3 PG.” That’s a win right there. By the numbers, Jennings is a better scorer and passer, and he averages almost a steal per game more than Knight. The shooting percentages are similar but Jennings has the edge from the line and he’s got this cool tattoo that looks like a necklace.… Read more...

(Not So Instant) Trade Analysis: Kevin Martin to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Andrei Kirilenko to the Brooklyn Nets

Minnesota Timberwolves get: SG Kevin Martin (four years, $30 million), re-signed SF Chase Budinger (three years, $16 million), re-signed Corey Brewer (three years, $15 million)
Milwaukee Bucks get: PG Luke Ridnour, Minnesota second round draft pick
Oklahoma City Thunder get: The draft rights to second round PF Szymon Szewczyk. Szeriously.
Brooklyn Nets get: F Andrei Kirilenko (three years, $9 million)
In a series of transactions that slapped each other like dominoes, five major league basketball players switched squads as if a group of GMs played a round of high stakes musical chairs.
The Timberwolves were at the center here, first passing on the opportunity to re-sign Kirilenko after the Russian forward opted out of a Minnesota contract that would have paid him $10 million this year. Vastly overestimating the market of contending teams that would offer him the same money over multiple years, AK47 signed a cut rate deal with the Brooklyn Nets for three years and $9 million, with the third year being a player option. With that extra money coming off the books, the Wolves re-signed forward Chase Budinger, brought back their 2007 number 7 draft pick Corey Brewer and dumped Luke Ridnour onto the Bucks in order to sign-and-trade for Kevin Martin. For their participation in facilitating Martin’s end of the transaction, the Oklahoma City Thunder got the rights to 2009 second round draft pick and Polish sensation Szymon Szewczyk, who may never play in the NBA. Even amidst all these signings, the Timberwolves still have enough cap room to retain free agent center Nikola Pekovic and possibly still be under the luxury tax threshold (depending on how nuts they decide to go with his contract).… Read more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Eric Bledsoe to Phoenix, Jared Dudley and JJ Redick to the Clippers

The Clippers get: SF Jared Dudley (pride of the Boston College Eagles) and SG JJ Redick
Phoenix Suns get: PG Eric Bledsoe, SF Caron Butler
Milwaukee Bucks get: Two second round picks
We live in a world where endless information is at your fingertips. Where scientists have the ability to clone other humans, but choose not to because of moral quandries. When people can realistically think about traveling to Mars. Mars!
We also live in a time where the Clippers are dangerously close to becoming championship contenders. A truly, truly wondrous moment in human history. Incredible, remarkable, disgusting. That’s how to mark today’s events.
After much speculation, the Clippers finally traded back-up point guard Eric Bledsoe, along with forward Caron Butler (and most importantly his $8 million dollar salary) in a deal with the Phoenix Suns. In return, the Clips received former Milwaukee Bucks guard JJ Redick (who will be sign and traded with a new, four year, $27 million dollar contract) and the finest professional basketball player ever to come out of The Heights, forward Jared Dudley. For their participation in getting Redick slightly more money by the S&T transaction, the Bucks will receive two 2nd round picks for their troubles.… Read more...

NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference First Round Predictions

It’s Christmas kids. Except instead of Jesus being born, we’re celebrating a bunch of overpaid athletes play a game we’d all happily do for a fraction of the money. It’s pretty much the same thing, right?
Let’s get right to it–MAMBINO official predictions and commentary from the whole team:
1) Miami Heat vs. 8) Milwaukee Bucks
Why is this a clean sweep for the Heat?

El Mariachi: LeBron James.  …

Bad NBA Contract of the Week: Drew Gooden

(In the vein of the highly esteemed David Shoemaker, AKA The Masked Man’s Deadspin column entitled “Dead Wrestler of the Week”, we here at MAMBINO are going to parse our way through the worst contracts the NBA has to offer. Part dedication to the great men who have swindled their way to big checks, part commemoration to GMs that should have been fired and part commentary on the ills of a capitalist society gone wrong, we’ll be here every week with a look at the L’s worst deals)
Drew Gooden
Contract: 5 years, $32 million
Signed by:
Milwaukee Bucks
Salary this season: $6.8 million
2013 Slash Line: 3.4/2.1/0.4 in 15 games
Expires: 2015
Tough post defense. Solid rebounding. A bit of shot blocking sprinkled into a decent array of post moves and a soft touch around the rim.
This was the general buzz in the scouting report surrounding Kansas’ star forward Drew Gooden. Coming out of college, Drew looked like your prototypical, old-school power forward who would make his bones on crashing the boards, defending the paint and scoring anywhere between 10 and 15 points a game. For a team that would end up in the 2002 NBA Draft lottery looking for a 4, it seemed that they’d be in luck.
Turns out there were a lot of franchises with those same needs. An astounding 9 big men got taken in the first 14 picks, including All-Stars Amar’e Stoudemire (9th) and Yao Ming (1st), along with NBA vets like Nene (7th), Chris Wilcox (8th) and Jared Jeffries (11th). Gooden turned out to to be the second front court player taken at the 4 spot by Memphis, but as his career has progressed, the former Jayhawk has gotten lost in a sea of 6’10” and over guys from the 2002 Draft. Looking back on it, he may not be one of the ten most talented guys selected that year. His potential was tantalizing, but obviously there was something within Gooden’s personality and game that led him to be traded twice within his first two seasons, extremely uncommon for a top-5 pick.
Not entirely unlike a two year period between February 2008 and February 2010 when the forward was traded four times and cut once. Many NBA onlookers simply got lost in trying to keep track of Gooden, who received six paychecks from six different teams in in 24 months, though he only ended up playing for five of them. Looking at his career numbers of 11 points and 7 rebounds, it’s hard to understand why he’d have such a journeyman’s career.
But none of this previous employment history was a deterrent to the Milwaukee Bucks GM  John Hammond, who ended up offering Gooden one of the most preposterous contracts residing in the NBA today.… Read more...

Will the Jennings and Ellis Backcourt Work? – Milwaukee Bucks Preview

Starting Five: PG Brandon Jennings, G Monta Ellis, SF Ersan Ilyasova, PF Drew Gooden, C Samuel Dalembert

Key Bench Players: G Beno Udrih, SF Mike Dunleavey, SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF/C Ekpe Udoh, F John Henson (14th overall pick)

Notable offseason additions: C Samuel Dalembert, PF John Henson

Offseason subtractions: F Jon Leuer, F John Brockman
In a lot of ways, the Milwaukee Bucks remind me of the New York Knicks. Both teams have so much talent and yet, I’m not sure if any of their pieces actually compliment each other.They’re both squads with a bunch of athletic scorers and rebounders, but I don’t know who’s going to pass these guys the ball or if any of them know how to defend without fouling. The comparisons stop there though: the Knicks might be a bunch of brash assholes with the ugliest tattooed starting five in the game that even the Bucks can’t compete with, but even their mismatched parts aren’t enough to keep their explosive talent out of the playoffs. The Bucks don’t have that luxury. And they’re in Wisconsin in the dead of winter. Buzz’s girlfriend, woof.

Ironically Milwaukee, pronounced Mily-walk-kay, is known in Algonquin as “The Good Land”. However, this land has been anything but good to the Bucks. They’ve made the playoffs a scant four times in the past decade, winning only seven postseason games and zero series. These playoff berths have actually been deceiving in regards to how much success they’ve had, as the Bucks have only finished over .500 twice in this stretch. Even in losing, the Bucks can’t do it right; they’ve only had a top 5 draft choice once, which they used on Andrew Bogut ahead of Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Milwaukee has been snake bitten in almost every regard, but mostly in that they’ve never been consistently bad enough to warrant wholesale changes or good enough to spend more money. They’ve just been fine.

Unfortunately for the Bucks, the 2012-2013 edition of their team isn’t going to change those fortunes. As I mentioned, this Bucks squad is full of mismatched parts that don’t necessarily complement each other. Starting with the most glaring potential problem is the backcourt tandem of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. On paper and in the box score, they look like extremely similar players:

2011-2012 Season
Jennings: 6’1″, 169 lbs, 20.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 6 apg, 3.1 turnovers pg, 19 FGA pg, 3.4 FTA pg,  43% shooting, 30% 3P, 81% FT

Ellis:  6’3″, 175 lbs, 19.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 5.5 apg, 2.2 turnovers pg, 17 FGA pg, 4.7 FTA pg, 42% shooting, 33% 3P, 81% FT

Essential…

Instant Trade Analysis: Bucks trade Bogut for Ellis

It’s amazing to think that tonight’s deal was the first actual trade since January 4th, when bench contributing forward Mareese Speights was dealt from Philadelphia, in a three way deal in which guard Xavier Henry ended up with the Hornets and Philly netted a couple 2nd round draft choices. With a furiously moving schedule, Linsanity, daily Dwight Howard trade demands and a trio of ex-Nuggets arriving from China, it’s hard to say that we noticed.  So thank you Milwaukee and Golden State for bringing back the true original Instant Trade Analysis.
The Good Land gets: G Monta Ellis, F Ekpe Udoh and C Kwame Brown
Golden State gets:  C Andrew Bogut and F Stephen Jackson

Every once in a while, something will come along that surprises you, like a 72 degree New York March day, or that fact that Steve Blake’s wife is really hot. No, this trade didn’t necessarily surprise me, as Bogut, Monta and S-Jax had asked out of their current situations in one way or another for a few weeks now. What was surprising is that deal seems to work for both teams.

For the Warriors, the goal was simple: give new coach Mark Jackson a defense-oriented center that the Warriors could build around. Bogut, who’s gigantic Aussie frame resembles something closer to a WWE powerhouse than a NBA player, has been essentially a walking MASH unit the past couple seasons, with a dislocated shoulder, broken hand, fractured ankle, sprained wrist and injured back. However, when healthy, he’s arguably the 3rd best center in the game, behind Dwight and Andrew Bynum.

On the other side of the deal, Stephen Jackson is registering near career-low numbers in every category after philosophical differences (which is sports code for “Jax doesn’t like that bald bastard who coaches him” and “Coach Skiles thinks Jackson is a lazy gunner who only cares depending on the situation”) have made him ride the pine for the Bucks. Jackson remains a very talented player, but at over $9.2 million this year and over $10 million the next, the small-market Bucks can’t afford to pay an unproductive whiner. Jackson might end up being a steal for the Warriors, because, as he’s shown in the past when he was unhappy in Indiana and, ironically, Golden State, his numbers take a distinct bump when he’s dealt to a different team. Perhaps a move back to the bay and out of Skiles’ system will reinvigorate the still-talented Captain Jack.

The Bucks are taking a bit more of a gamble here, but still get what they’ve been seeking to acquire for the past two years in Monta Ellis: points. Scoring production, pure and simple. Perimeter swingmen, including Jackson, have all failed to a certain degree in The Good Land, and GM John Hammond needed to do something drastic to get the scorer who can elevate one of the league’s worst offenses. The loss of Bogut was somewhat diminished when taking into account how snake-bitten the former first-overall pick’s been, but giving away the player that they selected over Chris Paul and Deron Williams still represents a loss in investment. Though Kwame was inserted into the deal for pure salary cap reasons, Ekpe Udoh is just 24, in his second season (after a broken hand affected his play his entire rookie year) and is a defense-first player. Of course he won’t replicate Bogut’s production, but he is a young project that could turn into a Tyson Chandler-like defensive difference-maker. Another plus to this trade is that the Bucks will now be around $14 mill

WWE for an NBA Fan – Central Divison (Part 3)

The Central Division is the worst in the NBA. Even if all the marquee free agents were evenly distributed amongst Cleveland, Indiana, Milwaukee and Detroit, at best this would be the second worst in the league, ahead of the hapless Atlantic Division. We’re potentially looking at 5 teams in which only 1 might make the playoffs. For all of our hoophead brothers in the Midwest, I can see how a once-nuclear winter has now only morphed into a just a really, really long one.

So why would you follow exclusively the predictable and inevitably disappointing journey to a 8th seed playoff team and a 4 game sweep by the vengeful Heat, when you could instead follow the scripted greatness of the WWE?

In the next of my 6-part series, here are the best possible comparisons I could come up with for these 5 NBA fan bases. I matched up the characteristics that defined, say, Deeeee-troit basketball with the professional wrestler that best personified the culture and history of these storied teams.

Cleveland Cavaliers
WWE Comparable: Santino Marella

The Cavaliers are coming off an unbelievable run that included the best record in the NBA and a Finals appearance. This was, without argument, the greatest stretch in Cleveland sports history in the last 10 years, and with the 2-time American champion Indians of the 90s, one of the greatest squads since Jim Brown’s Cleveland Browns teams in the 1960’s.

But then came The Decision. Without the need to rehash old history here, the hapless Cavaliers limped through the 2010-2011 season to 19 wins and 63 losses, while setting the record for longest losing streak in NBA history. I can’t even define this as adding insult to injury; this is like a roast at a Holocaust memorial. Just terrible. Like that line.

So Cleveland, for you I’d prescribe a WWE Superstar that will be entertaining, but not nearly important enough for any potential investment and emotional distress. The 2011-2012 season isn’t going to be much better than last year – even with the addition of Omri Casspi, rookies Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, this will be a largely undersized squad with two vets (Antawn Jamison and Baron Davis) that likely won’t be there before the trade deadline is up. Cleveland, what you need is someone to give you a few lighter moments in yet another season of despair. You need someone to keep you laughing while your basketball team is going to murder your heart…again. You need Santino Marella.

Santino Marella is an undersized professional wrestler from Canada masquerading as a Italian import. He was dubbed the “Milan Miracle” in his entrance to the WWE for his early upset victories over established Superstar Chris Masters during an European tour. He went on to hold the Intercontinental title but despite all his success, everything that Marella has accomplished during his time in the WWE has been done with a humorous slant. Though I cannot deny my own love and admiration for Santino as a performer, the truth is that his holding of any title while playing his clownish, arrogant and smart-alec character only devalues that championship. He is a man who plays for laughs and when he’s not performing a match for comedy, is proficient enough in the ring to look like something of an actual fighter. After all, this is his finishing move.

You need someone to invest in with measured expectations Cleveland. At least for a few years. Here’s your man. Have fun. And only fun.

Indiana Pacers
WWE Comparable: Rey Mysterio

A couple years ago, ESPN’s 30 for 30 … Read more...