How the Bucks got Gooden, Vegas roster finalized, Ridnour on the outs?

Woelfel: Bucks finally get Gooden
Just catching up on stuff from last week, Gery Woelfel has some quotes from Drew Gooden's people about how the deal went down.

"Both John Hammond and Jeff Weltman were on the phone with us, like probably one or two minutes, after midnight Eastern time,’’ said Stu Lash of Lagarde-Unlimited who, along with Dan Fegan, represent Gooden. "They were very aggressive and had put together a great offer. 

"We then called Drew and talked about it, and then they (the Bucks) called Drew to personally extend the offer.

"It didn’t take long to get it done. We think it’s a great fit for everybody.’’

And in case you're curious, the $32 million number being quoted would imply a starting salary of around $5.5 million if the maximum allowable 8% annual raises are included. Last year's MLE was $5.85 million, though we won't know the official MLE for 10/11 until later this week. I'm assuming the $32 million figure that's been reported is based on an assumption the new MLE will be around $5.5 million, but the total contract value could be higher if the MLE comes out above expectations.

Yahoo: Ridnour nearly signed w/Lakers
Woj reports that Luke Ridnour was ready to sign with the Lakers for four years and $12 millon before settling on Steve Blake for four years and $16 million. That might imply the Bucks could lock up Ridnour at similar terms, but it's not at all clear that the Bucks intend to do so. If they don't use their Bird rights to re-sign Ridnour, then they'll be limited to using either the bi-annual exception (around $2 million per season for up to two years) or a minimum-level salary to add a backup point guard. For more on the FA options, check out our discussion in the FanPosts.

I'm not the biggest Ridnour fan in the world--mainly because I think his terrific play last year was a bit of a fluke--but he wouldn't be too big or a risk at $3 million per season. The key question is probably whether the Bucks can even sign Ridnour without going over the luxury tax threshold. We won't know the luxury tax level until the end of this week (it's currently projected at $68 million), and there's also the matter of how much they're going to pay Salmons this coming season. If Salmons' new deal is flat, then they'd only have a little over $3 million before they hit the tax, assuming they sign their second rounders to minimum-level deals. If it's front-loaded then it would be a fair bit less, while an escalating deal would create more room (but make the deal look uglier as Salmons' game deteriorates down the road). Do the Bucks not want to cut it too close until they find out the actual tax level? Do they want to sign another player beyond a backup PG?

It's also very possible the Bucks give the 2nd rounders a bit more up front to lock in a third year at a favorable rate, which is what the Bucks did the past two years with Luc Mbah a Moute and Jodie Meeks. That would also bring the Bucks a few hundred grand closer to the tax. In any case, the Bucks figure to be right up against the tax level yet again, and it could very well result in the departure of a point guard for the second year in a row (see Sessions, Ramon).

Bucks.com: Tucker missing from Vegas Bucks
No surprises on the Bucks' official Vegas roster--except there's no Alando Tucker to be found. The Bucks Tucker's agent announced in May that the out-of-work Tucker would be joining the Bucks in Vegas, but adding Corey Maggette, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Darington Hobson while retaining John Salmons meant there was really no chance for Tucker to land the full-time gig he's searching for. Presumably that's why Tucker's name is not on the roster, though former Gonzaga forward Micah Downs is there. Darnell Jackson is still on the roster as well, but the odds of his non-guaranteed deal sticking through training camp are looking increasingly bleak with Gooden, Larry Sanders and Tiny Gallon now on board. Wisconsin native Jerry Smith, last seen at Louisville, was also added to provide more depth at the fairly weak point guard spot.

The Bucks' draft picks also have their new numbers, though they could still change by opening night: Sanders #8, Hobson #9, and Gallon #23. Gallon tweeted last week that he took 23 after the Bucks told him Jerry Stackhouse's #24 was being kept vacant for the time being, triggering some discussion about whether the Bucks were surprisingly planning to keep Stackhouse. But I've been told it's merely protocol not to give away veterans free agents' numbers over the summer until they sign with another team. Gallon wore #24 at Oklahoma, and he'll likely get it eventually since Stackhouse is a longshot at best to return.

Meanwhile, Sanders wore #1 at VCU, but that's of course Oscar Robertson's retired number. Aside from the retired numbers (#1, 2 and 4), the Bucks' roster is increasingly looking like a soccer lineup with all the low jersey numbers: Jennings #3, Bogut #6, Ilyasova #7, Sanders #8, Hobson #9 and Delfino #10. World Cup fever!

Hunt: Bucks can focus on defense now
It's true that the Bucks' latest acquisitions will probably help more on the offensive than defensive ends, but I think there are a couple questionable stats that underpin Michael Hunt's latest column on the Bucks:

Last year, the Bucks were the league's seventh-best team in points allowed. It's no coincidence that the fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth teams were Orlando, Boston, Cleveland, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers. Defense wins. The Bucks were among the best last season, good but not great. If they adopt Skiles' exacting defensive principles to a higher degree this season, they'll have a chance to be something more than a first-round playoff team.

The Lakers were No. 12 in scoring last season; the Celtics were 19th. They won with defense, active length and rebounding.

I'd like to take this opportunity to once again point out the myopia of using raw scoring stats to measure offensive and defensive effectiveness. I mean, we can all agree that points per possession is a more accurate measure of offensive and defensive efficiency, right? How else can you compare teams that play at vastly different speeds?

And as you probably know, by that measure the Bucks were great defensively, not just good. They ranked second after adjusting for pace, and that was without much size up front to complement Andrew Bogut. It also shows the Magic (3rd), Lakers (4th) and Celtics (5th) were even better than if you only look at raw points allowed. So long as the new acquisitions buy into Skiles' system as much as the 09/10 team did, the Bucks will have no problems defending. The problem is that it's very difficult to be both a tremendous offensive and defensive team at the same time. Skiles' system has worked time and again on the defensive end, but it seems to require a tradeoff on the other end. Consider his records and team efficiencies in his six full seasons as a head coach:

Year W-L Def Rank Off Rank
00/01 51-31 2 22
04/05 47-35 2 27
05/06 41-41 7 23
06/07 49-33 1 21
08/09 34-48 15 23
09/10 46-36 2 23

It's true that Skiles hasn't always had the best offensive talent at his disposal, but let's be realistic: his teams are always going to be better defensively than offensively, and that's not a bad thing. The real question seems to be if he can get his team to keep playing up to his usual defensive standards while also scoring at an above-average clip. So far it hasn't happened, which is probably why he's had a ton of good-but-not-great teams. Hopefully this is the year he pulls it off--he seems to have the personnel available to do it--but until it happens I'll expect great defense and mediocre offense.

Bucksketball: Building around Bogut/Jennings
Jeremy with a great read on what appears to be the Bucks' summer strategy.

Milwaukee’s now looking at a roster flush with role players willing to either defend, score or rebound. They can match-up well with most teams in the league and still have their defensive minded coach in Skiles along with defensive anchor in Bogut. Maybe Milwaukee doesn’t have a top 20 player in the league, but they may own an entire roster that fits in the top half of the league in terms of talent (rookies not included). Think of Milwaukee as the anti-Miami Heat. Is that going to win a title? We won’t know until this thing shakes out.

The only thing I'd add is that the Bucks do have one last trump card in their back pocket: Michael Redd's expiring deal. I'm not sure that's going to net them a star, and it's very possible they simply let it expire rather than add a talented-but-overpaid player that another team didn't want. But they do at least have some ammo if a star becomes available around the deadline.

Enlund: Hobson learns about NBA life
He's been overshadowed by Sanders and Gallon so far, but I have to say I'm just as excited to watch Hobson when Summer League kicks off a week from now.

"We (rookies) don't get no calls," he said. "So you have to be able to play through that and not let it affect your game. You have to be able to take the bumps for 82 games.

"I don't know if I want to beef up. I just want to get stronger."

Hobson, who has a long and slender frame, said that his favorite player growing up was Penny Hardaway because of their similar body types. Hobson weighs about 205 and figures if he can get that up to about 210 he should be OK.

Dwyer: How long can Salmons hang on?
Another ex-Bull, another great dose of perspective from Kelly Dwyer. By the way, Gery Woelfel reports that only $1 million of Salmons' final year is guaranteed. Here's your sampler:

Now, we don't know how the deal is put together. It could be front-loaded (which would leave Salmons still pretty overpaid initially, in my book), with the numbers dwindling from next season until 2015, but we're just a day and a half into negotiating time. And even with all the massive contracts floating around, couldn't we just get a bit of patience?

Because Salmons is a wing player. He depends on his quickness and just enough hops to get free to work shots over the tops of defenders. And shooting guards like Salmons just don't age well. In fact, by the time they hit 33 or so, they look pretty awful. And Salmons, for the first half of his first half of 2009-10, looked absolutely terrible with Chicago. Anyone who was watching closely surely saw that as a sign of things to come, even if the 30-year-old picked it up as the year moved along.

Jennings balling at Rucker Park
Thanks to Speedingtime for finding some cool video of Brandon playing summer ball in New York City a couple weeks ago.

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