Here’s to the Deerly Departed
Sure was fun while it
lasted, though. From rookie Brandon Jennings' 55-point explosion in November to
John Salmons' energizing arrival in February and Bogut's season-long emergence
as a star, the Bucks trashed all the "expert" predictions. They
improved by 12 games, to 46 wins, finished sixth in the conference and almost
grabbed their first playoff series victory in 10 years.
So the Observers come to
praise the Bucks, not to bury them.
Frank: A couple of big runs
in Games 6 and 7 and removed any chance for drama.
Artie: Plus the Bucks just
couldn't buy a basket! From the third quarter in Game 6 right through Sunday's
finale, it was like the Bucks' slogan changed from "Fear the Deer" to
"Fear the Rim."
Frank: The three big outside
guns, Salmons, Jennings
and Carlos Delfino, shot about 29% over those two games (26 for 91). It shows
how much the Bucks relied on outside shooting without Bogut there to occupy the
Hawks' big men.
Artie: But still, in Game 6
the Bucks led at the half. If someone had gotten hot, the upset was there for
Frank: I sure didn't enjoy
watching the Hawks. All that isolation, backing down into the paint while four
guys stood around watching. But still the announcers said, "If you were on
the playground picking your team, you'd take five Hawks first and then Brandon
Artie: They were speaking
athletically, but that has nothing to do with playing team basketball.
Especially when you've got strong egos like, say, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson,
who both want to be "The Man." What Scott Skiles' guys had was their
willingness to play as a team.
Frank: This team had guys who
not only could pass, but would pass. And although Michael Redd is a good
guy and a fine shooter, I think his season-ending knee injury helped facilitate
the unselfish play.
Artie: If Bogut was healthy,
the games would have been played differently, and I've got to think the Bucks
would have been able to take one of those first two in Atlanta.
Frank: But now it's on to next
season for the Bucks. Looking at the payroll for 2010-’11, I saw two key
Artie: Involving two shooting
Frank: Yup. The numbers are
$18.3 million for Redd and $5.8 million for Salmons—each an option entirely up
to the player.
Artie: Redd's figure is way
too high, given his injuries the last two seasons. And Salmons' number might be
lower than he thinks he can get somewhere else—although he didn't feather his
nest with his shooting in the last two games.
Frank: It's not Redd's fault
he got a six-year, $91 million contract five years ago. What's he supposed to
do, turn down the money?
Artie: Speaking of bloated
contracts, is Dan Gadzuric still here next season?
Frank: Yup, for $7.2 million.
Sen. Kohl and former GM Larry Harris gave him a six-year, $36 million deal at
the same time as Redd's.
Artie: Gadzuric actually had
some good moments in the Hawks series, after hardly hitting the floor all
Frank: He's always been an
"energy guy," and for years I've thought they never gave him a real
shot. It seemed like he'd have some good games and then disappear. Until this
year, I was equally puzzled by how they used Bogut; it seemed like they'd get
the ball down to him a couple of times early and then ignore him.
Artie: Good thing Skiles
changed that. The inside-outside game with Bogut and the shooters was terrific.
And speaking of the shooters, what's Luke Ridnour's status for next season?
Frank: He's down for zero
dollars in 2010-’11, which means he must be a free agent.
Artie: He'd be a really tough
guy to lose. He played so well as Jennings' backup, and sometimes in combo with
him. I reckon he wants to start somewhere, but I think he stayed healthy this
year because he didn't have to play a starter's minutes.
Frank: It'd be nice if Ridnour
could be content as a backup—and Redd too, assuming the Bucks keep Salmons.
Remember, the NBA has economic problems. A lot of teams are losing money, so
there may not be too much out there for guys like Ridnour and Salmons.
Artie: I'm sure Salmons wants
to investigate his options, but the Bucks will try to head that off by working
out a new deal with him.
Frank: Maybe he and Ridnour
will decide they want to be a part of what's building here—especially if they
can't get hugely more money elsewhere.
Artie: After all, Salmons will
turn 31 next season and Ridnour will turn 30.
Frank: The rest of the Bucks'
core is set for next season—Bogut, Jennings, Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova, Luc Mbah
Artie: That's the key. Teams
that have playoff runs over several seasons keep their rosters together. You
don't see teams like Utah and San Antonio changing two or three starters every
Frank: The way the Bucks did
the last few years.
Artie: People can say,
"We'll have Bogut and Jennings so we'll be OK," but what happens if
you lose those other guys? Will Redd take over for Salmons? He sure won't play
defense like Salmons.
Frank: But before you turn to
full-time worrying over next season, enjoy this one. We never thought we'd be
talking in May about 46 wins and a seven-game playoff series.
Artie: True, true. It was a
wildly successful and encouraging year.
Wrong Spot, Wrong Time
Frank: Trevor Hoffman had to
return to San Diego to pick up his only save last week.
Artie: "Get back to where
you once belonged." The Beatles would be proud.
Frank: But here's the thing: I
think I have played a role in Hoffman's amazing flops at Miller Park.
Artie: Remember how I thought
I was "The Cooler" for years when I'd join you for a Brewers game and
they'd never win? Now you're Hoffman's personal cooler?
Frank: You know my routine. If
I have Terrace-level seats, in the ninth inning I move down and stand behind
the Loge seats so I can exit the ballpark more easily.
Artie: Sound strategy, to be
Frank: On April 9 I moved down
and was standing there, just to the left of the press box, and boom! The
Cardinals' Nick Stavinoha homers off Hoffman to win the game.
Artie: I get it. Two nights
Frank: You and I were there,
we moved down for the ninth and boom! boom! Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday
homered off Hoffman to tie the game.
Artie: The Brewers wound up
winning, but a blown save nonetheless.
Frank: And then on April 28 I
was standing in the same area and boom! Pittsburgh's Ryan Doumit homered to tie
Artie: Geez, as a Hoffman
cooler you're absolute zero!
Frank: In my defense, I was
NOT there the previous night when two Pirate homers, including Doumit's grand
slam, trashed Hoffman. But still, I have a solution. If the Brewers give me two
Club-level tickets for the rest of the season, I'll promise to stay put in the
Artie: Good luck with that.
It's just a good thing you didn't have any relatives to visit in San Diego last