- It's now four straight losses for the Bucks as they fall at home 117-91 to the Pistons ( AP recap / JS Recap / video). Pretty bizarre box score for the Bucks: Charlie Bell and Royal Ivey were the only guys to shoot less than 50% from the field as the Bucks got balanced scoring en route to a scorching 56% and 25 assists. And yet they score only 91 points and lose by 26, thanks to allowing 15 offensive rebounds, making only 43% of their free throws (9/21), and turning the ball over seven more times than the Pistons (19-12).
- Charles Gardner writes that the team had a meeting following the latest loss.
"Through the course of the meeting, Jake (Voskuhl) said something that was important again," forward Desmond Mason said. "We don't want to get complacent with where we are.
"A lot of good teams have lost four games and come back and played good basketball. Again, it's to step out and put the product on the floor that was winning us games.
"Coach opened it up for anybody to say anything, any opinions and feelings. A lot of coaches won't do that. A lot of coaches just come in and scream."
Perhaps more worrying than the number of recent losses is the decisiveness with which they've come. Only the Knicks loss came by fewer than 15 points, a sad indictment considering that two of those losses were to the Hawks and Sixers and the latest loss, though coming to a superior team, was at home. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that the Bucks record-wise (7-8) are still as good or better than many projected them to be, and are still ninth in the East. But even their mediocre record is flattering considering how many times they've shown up flat and been run out of the building. They've lost by 15 or more points in six of their 16 games, meaning that on any given night there's been a nearly 40% chance the Bucks would not only lose, but get absolutely wrecked.
- In that same vein, Tom Enlund writes that the Bucks are at a crossroads and their practice tomorrow is likely to be a bit more intense than usual.
- Gardner writes that Herb Kohl came by Krystkowiak's office for a pregame chat last night. I guess it didn't work, but at least Herb could tell what was going on in the Knicks' game.
"Last night was a killer, you know," Sen. Kohl said. "We had the game won. But on the road, it's always hard. I think if (Stephon) Marbury would have stayed in the game, we probably win that game. Somehow the momentum changed.
"They just caught fire, and we couldn't make a shot. Tough, tough game. But that's the NBA. That's just the way it works."
- Chris Mannix at SI writes about that the Bucks seemed unprepared for their early season success.
Against the Knicks, the Bucks abandoned the fluid offense that helped them build a seemingly insurmountable lead and became an isolation team.
"What are they doing?" asked a scout seated nearby. "They're just pounding the ball into the floor."
After draining a deep three midway through the fourth quarter, Redd mouthed to point guard Maurice Williams to "give me the ball." Williams did and Redd proceeded to miss four of his next five shots, including a 25-foot shot from the corner that would have sent the game into overtime.
The silver lining to the game was that the Bucks weren't rewarded for that sort of unimaginative offense at the end of the game. I can't say with a straight face I preferred a loss, but I do think winning could have reinforced some bad habits, especially in the way the team deferred to Redd late. At least they shared the ball much better last night. And if losing to the Knicks allowed Isiah Thomas' Rasputin-like tenure as Knicks coach to continue, then all of the Eastern conference probably owes the Bucks a thank you.
- Jim Paschke writes about the Bucks' day in NYC.
- Ty at Bucks Diary wants to know why the Bucks didn't make a run at Kevin Garnett.
What in all that did the Bucks not have? Like the Celtics, the Bucks had only one high level player to build upon: Michael Redd. And the Bucks held similar trading assets: the 6th overall pick, and several young players with similar... if not greater... perceived value than the caravan of young players the Celtics ultimately traded to Minnesota: Andrew Bogut, Charlie Villanueva, and Mo Williams if necessary.
In fact, had Kevin McHale agreed to the Bucks package, he could have sold that trade to the Twolves fan base easier than the Celtic trade he made. All he would have had to say about the Bucks package would have been "I got us a number one overall pick for KG and another lottery player (never mind that the two players' actual productive value together probably doesn't match Jefferson's)."
I think it's pretty clear the Celtics' had much better trading chips than the Bucks this summer. Both teams had similar draft picks, but there are a bunch of reasons why the Bucks weren't likely to win the KG sweepstakes:
- Al Jefferson clearly has bigger value in the NBA than any of the Bucks' young players. I don't see how Bogut is easier to "sell" to your fans when everyone thinks Jefferson is better.
- The Bucks had no big expiring contracts, which was crucial to getting the KG deal done for cap reasons. Before re-signing Mo and Bell the Bucks did have some excess cap space that could have made a trade easier, but the size of Garnett's contract meant young players alone wouldn't have been able to pass cap muster. Would you rather be on the hook to pay Theo Ratliff $11.7 million this year or Bobby Simmons $30 million over the next three? The bottom line is Simmons was extremely difficult to move this summer because of the length of his deal and the major questions about his health.
- Mo Williams was an unrestricted free agent, so both he and Minnesota would have had to agree to a sign-and-trade, which is assuming a lot. Personally I don't think Mo would have moved for a team so blatantly going backwards (insert Bucks joke here).
I agree with Ty that Garnett's willingness to sign an extension in Milwaukee would have been a huge question mark. The real question though is whether it's worth making an attempt at Garnett if you have no real chance of getting him. I think the odds were remote enough that it's not worth criticizing them now for it. And if they had acquired Garnett, would they have had the pieces left over to make a run in the East? With the way the Celtics are playing now it's certainly possible.
Yi Jianlian's move to the NBA hasn't helped the Chinese Basketball Association, at least in the short term. You have to think that doubling the number of high-profile Chinese NBA players will only help basketball in China, but for now many Chinese teams are struggling.
Six of the 17 teams in the professional Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league have no TV coverage of their home games due to "low audience ratings and limited marketing opportunities", the China Daily reported.
Unlike in other markets, CBA teams have to pay local television stations if they want their games shown. The paper cited the example of Fujian Xunxing who were asked for 600,000 yuan ($81,080) to have one game shown live each week.
"The charge is very high for clubs," said Hao, "We will have some specific regulation for the bottom-ranked clubs and try to help improve their (income)."