Continuing our series of Question and Answer sessions with
evil opposition bloggers, today we check in with Alex and Frank from fellow SBNation site BrewHoop. Here are their answers to my questions.
ClipperSteve: Seems like maybe those Zach Randolph trade rumors (Zach for Villanueva, Gadzuric and Simmons) are dead once and for all. You must be relieved. What was your take on that whole thing? Was there really any 'there' there? The whole thing struck me as... what's the word? Bat poop crazy? Franchisicidal?
BrewHoop: The apparent explanation is that Larry Harris came to owner Herb Kohl with this deal, but that Kohl both likes Villanueva and was very nervous about taking on a guy with Randolph's baggage. Harris is in the last year of his contract so he might be forgiven for showing some desperation, but Kohl is known to keep Harris on an extremely short leash and this was the rare example where that was a good thing. Apparently the offer is still on the table, so hopefully the Bucks don't change their mind.
Clearly the Bucks as currently constructed are not going to contend in the East, so to me it's about picking the pieces you're going to build around. Bogut and Yi are the most obvious building blocks, so acquiring a guy like Randolph doesn't do anything for you in the big picture. The Bucks would probably be more likely to squeak into the playoffs this year, but starting Randolph cuts into Yi's development and I don't see him complementing Bogut well either. You'd basically be looking at a couple more years of struggling to win 40 games, and while that's an understandable goal for this year it's not something anyone wants for the long term. From a team perspective, I'd rather keep Villanueva than add Randolph...even if it meant dumping Simmons and Gadzuric. And that's saying a lot.
I imagine Villanueva will be moved by the summer at the latest, but the Bucks have generally been a team that waits until the offseason to make any major deals, so the going assumption is that the Bucks will wait for the offseason to hire a new GM and reshuffle the roster a bit. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing them shake things up before the trade deadline but I'm not getting my hopes up. And while I'd like to see some move to improve the team, I'll take inaction over a short-sighted panic move like acquiring Randolph.
ClipperSteve: I love Yi Jianlian's game more each time I see him. How good is this guy going to be? More importantly, is the quality of Chinese restaurants in Milwaukee improving?
BrewHoop: Yi certainly has a lot of things going for him: a base of great fundamental skills, atypical athleticism for a 7-footer, and a terrific attitude and work ethic. He had a really solid December and showed flashes of stardom, but he's hit the wall hard in 2008, perhaps understandable considering he's played almost non-stop since the draft. He's likely already 23, but I think you have to give him at least one year to adapt to playing in the NBA, and he's certainly held his own this year. I don't expect him to be more than a complementary player for the rest of this year, so I think next year is really when we'll find out how good he can become.
Based on our limited sample size, I think he could be an 18-20 ppg guy in his prime who can also give you eight boards and a couple blocks. He has the tools to be better, but he's got some major work to do as well. Right now he really struggles finishing around the hoop and hasn't been able to create his own shot off the dribble or out of the post. If those are still major issues next year then I think there will be more reason for concern. Just as importantly, he's been much better defensively than anyone expected, which is probably the main reason why he'd started every game until he picked up an injury last week. Yi still makes mental mistakes at times on both ends, but it's difficult to imagine a guy with so much talent and a great work ethic NOT becoming a good NBA player.
ClipperSteve: Please explain Michael Redd to me. I mean, this guy has been a top 10 scorer for 4 seasons, but he hasn't made the all star team any of those seasons. IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE. So, seriously, what's wrong with the guy? Does he play no defense? Did he do something really, really bad? Or is just that the Bucks stink (you can tell me, I'm a Clippers blogger)? What's the knock on Redd
BrewHoop: As far as the all-star game, I can't say I've been particularly outraged by any of his all-star snubs. He's missed a fair amount of time in January the past two seasons, which makes it harder to make the all-star team, and obviously playing on an also-ran in a small market is a major hurdle to overcome. You could make a much better case for him in 2006, when Vince Carter was the fans' choice and Rip Hamilton was a reserve.
We've now seen a couple years of the Mo Williams/Redd backcourt and I think many Bucks fans question whether that combination can ever work, especially if you're trying to build around two big men. Redd's obviously a great scorer but the bottom line is that he's never likely to be the best player on a good team. Neither Redd nor Mo is a good defender and they're both at their best with the ball in their hands creating scoring opportunities. Redd could probably be an awesome second banana somewhere, but being an alpha dog in Milwaukee just hasn't worked out and I think this summer you'll see the Bucks test the market to see what his value is.
Redd, while a nice guy, also doesn't have a rep for being a very convincing leader, which is tough considering he's a max player on a fairly young team. He had some great performances early in the season where he was racking up assists and crashing the boards, but lately the offense has gone more through Bogut and Redd's been more of a gunner. I think both sides could be better off with a change of scenery, but he's been the face of the franchise so the optics of any trade will likely make the front office look bad to the casual fan.
In fairness, Redd has also never had an all-star caliber teammate since he became the man in Milwaukee, and this season the team has struggled for an identity all year. Pretty much everyone aside from Redd, Bogut and Williams has been below average, so it's not like his supporting cast has done him any favors. The Bucks tried to play more of a halfcourt game early in the season to shore up their defense, but it didn't do any good and they were less effective offensively as well. At the same time, Redd and Mo were focal points the first two months and now Bogut has taken on a much bigger role. It seems like the latter will continue for the rest of this season.
ClipperSteve: Sorry about the Bobby Simmons thing. If you'd just called me, I would have told you he wasn't worth that money. And then he went and got hurt. What do Bucks fans think of Bobby? He was a fan favorite making the minimum for the Clippers. How does the same player look when he's making close to $10M?
BrewHoop: Come on Steve, no need to rub it in...
I think going in most people assumed Simmons wasn't worth five years, $47 million, but as a solid shooter/defender he looked like a nice addition to a young team. Unfortunately he's really come nowhere close to his 04/05 production since moving to the Bucks and the SF spot has generally been a huge source of weakness for us.
People were somewhat disappointed with his first year in Milwaukee, but he was battling shoulder and foot injuries much of the year and at least shot the ball well. Then his heel spontaneously combusted, he missed all of last year, and he's been a shell of his former self for most of this year. He appears to be moving much better now than at the beginning of the season, but his shot is still inconsistent and I think he's been somewhat underutilized at times as well. As some consolation, he's a guy who works hard and does little things like make good post entry passes, but he probably needs to get a bit slimmer if he's going to get close to where he was three years ago. We'll probably get at least one more year of him in Milwaukee given his contract will make him hard to move, but in general his signing has to rank among the worst decisions of Larry Harris' tenure as GM. Considering the injuries, I'm not sure many fans have it out for him, but that's not to say they wouldn't want to dump his contract in a second if it were possible.
Thanks for taking the time guys. Although I am a little peeved that you dodged the Chinese food question. If I end up in Milwaukee and I can only order Cantonese, I'm going to be ticked.