The NBA is back...kind of.
Media day was Monday, meaning official practices are officially upon us. That also means all the questions brought about by a summer of upheaval start getting answered tomorrow. Who starts at the forward spots? Will Brandon Jennings be able to replace the departed Ramon Sessions? Will Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut be healthy enough to carry a team full of middling vets and young unknowns? Will the Bucks be as bad as
some most of the experts are predicting?
We won't have definitive answers to any of those questions soon, but we're at least getting some hints. As expected, the Bucks are taking things easy with their two biggest names, but the good news is that they've yet to have any setbacks. Take it away, Charles Gardner:
"I might hold them out of some things early on," Skiles said. "Andrew has already been in here playing five-on-five; Michael played a game the other day of five-on-five.
"If somebody comes to practice and they're sitting on the side, more than likely it won't be because they're out of anything. It will be because I took them out. I want to err on the side of caution, especially early on here, and build their minutes up during the exhibition season."
Hey, baby steps, people. Speaking of which, it's anyone's guess as to how quickly Jennings assumes the starting point guard position, but in the meantime Luke Ridnour is filling the role of unthreatening veteran quite nicely. Tom Enlund reports that Ridnour is saying all the right things:
"That’s what happens. I’m excited to be able to help him get better in any way I can and push him. The biggest thing for all of us is to make the team better. That’s what we have to focus on instead of individually. We all have to play individually but it’s about the team."
Fortunately, the public won't have to wait long to get a first look at the 09/10 Bucks: the team's having a free open practice this Saturday, October 3 at the BC, and their preseason opener is just a day later in Minnesota. There's a tailgate starting at 11:30 with $1 food items, with the practice starting at 1 pm. Say what you will about the Bucks' prospects for the season, but you can't complain about that deal. Tickets for the preseason home games go on sale Thursday, and while not free, the Bucks should be a fun team to watch in October given how many young guys they have fighting for minutes. Besides, there's no better deal than the MACC Fund game--watching hoops AND helping the best charity around. It's October 23, so mark your calendars.
The players' official numbers are also out, so you're now free to order that Roko Ukic jersey you've been pining for (#20!). The other new guys' numerical choices are: Jennings #3, Meeks #23, Hakim Warrick #21, Carlos Delfino #10, and Kurt Thomas #40. Ersan Ilyasova has been listed for a while on the Bucks.com team roster page as #8 (his national team number), but the training camp roster lists him as #7, so we'll see which is right.
There's no indication from the league transactions wire that Walter Sharpe has been waived, but since he's out for the season with a knee injury he's not participating in camp. However, the Bucks do have Marquette alum Dominic James, Temple SG Mark Tyndale and D-League big Marcus Hubbard on the training camp roster as extra bodies. Since the Bucks are at the max roster of 15 even without Sharpe, it's likely that they'll eat his guaranteed salary before the season begins in order to get down to 15. In the meantime, there's no harm in keeping him on the ledger, just in case the Bucks make a trade that requires some additional salary thrown in.