According to a tweet from Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Scott Skiles will return as the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks for the 2012-2013 season. Skiles met this week with team owner Herb Kohl to discuss his future with the organization, and was expected by many to reach a buyout agreement with the team to leave his position as head coach. Instead, Skiles confirmed to the Journal-Sentinel today that he will remain with the team for the final year of his contract, which will pay him roughly $5 million. Gardner reports:
"We want to hit the ground running," Skiles said. "With a full camp and a full season we have reason to be optimistic."
This comes as a bit of a surprise given the rumors that had been swirling over the situation. ESPN's Chris Broussard had suggested last week that Skiles himself was frustrated in Milwaukee and wished to arrange buyout. Two of Milwaukee's prominent players--Brandon Jennings and Mike Dunleavy--voiced their support for the coach just days ago.
Assuming Skiles is back, the obvious follow-up question is for how long. With just a year remaining on his deal, Skiles' credibility won't be helped by his lame duck status and there's been no word yet from the organization on what happens next.
Skiles is known as a defensive coach, but in 2011-12 he shifted his philosophy to maximize the talents of Brandon Jennings and mask the deficiencies of Drew Gooden as a center after defensive ace Andrew Bogut suffered a broken ankle was eventually traded to the Golden State Warriors along with Stephen Jackson in exchange for Monta Ellis,Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown's expiring contract. In fact, prior to this past season Skiles had never coached a team ranked in the top-20 for offensive efficiency or outside the top-15 in defensive efficiency at the end of the year -- the Bucks finished 13th in offensive efficiency and 16th in defensive efficiency during 2011-12.
Skiles, and in all likelihood Herb Kohl as well, saw this particular iteration of the Milwaukee Bucks barely miss out on the playoffs after drastically altering the roster at the deadline. Now with another offseason to add talent through the draft and free agency (the Bucks' cap situation is fairly flexible, though a significant chunk could end up in Ersan Ilyasova's pocket), the Bucks clearly feel the postseason is within reach.
The situation bears a certain resemblance to the past, one not lost on Frank Madden:
Btw, I'm not the only one thinking back to the Larry Harris "sink or swim" moment with Terry Porter, right?— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) May 1, 2012
On the bright side, that press conference was followed a few weeks later by Milwaukee's hitting the lottery jackpot, when they won the top overall selection used to draft Andrew Bogut. Terry Porter had a year remaining on his contract at the time, and for a multitude of rumored reasons, the Bucks decided that their lottery windfall changed the situation sufficiently to move on from their coach of two years.
Until Skiles signs his name on a contract extension, questions will remain. For now, though, this news suggests not just continuity in the coaching staff, but in the mindset of the franchise as a whole.