Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Skiles reportedly intends to leave the Milwaukee Bucks when his contract expires after this season. The report speaks to an uncertain future for the Bucks, who seem as stuck in neutral as ever.
Update: Scott Skiles and the Bucks have reportedly agreed to end Skiles' tenure as head coach immediately. Check out our StoryStream for up-to-date coverage.
Even moderately tuned-in Bucks fans were likely less than shocked at a report from NBA.com's David Aldridge suggesting Scott Skiles will not seek a contract extension with the Bucks and intends to move on with his coaching career when his current contract expires after this season. There were loose reports over the summer that Skiles had cleaned out his desk and was seeking a buyout, but one way or another he was convinced to stay on at least one more year. This gave the Bucks a pair of figureheads with lame-duck statuses this season, as GM John Hammond is also in the final year of his deal.
According to Aldridge, Skiles has made his intentions known to the Bucks. Milwaukee has apparently encouraged Skiles to keep an open mind, and remain willing to discuss an extension, though such talks would likely hinge on the Bucks' performance over the remainder of this season. And for what it's worth, the two sides are apparently still on friendly terms.
Skiles' desire to extricate himself from the Milwaukee Bucks' organization might feel like a failed leader throwing his hands up in the air. When LeBron James admitted "defeat" in Cleveland and signed with the Miami Heat, he was vilified like perhaps no player before him. Scott Skiles' inability to construct a consistent, winning team following the Bucks' surprise playoff appearance in 2009-2010 is likely more than enough to have some fans labeling his departure a cut-and-run maneuver, a pursuit of greener pastures after finding the ground just too barren in Milwaukee.
But while Skiles' tenure has deserved its fair share of criticism, this report speaks to the larger issue that seems to dominate every aspect of the Bucks' franchise: this remains a team seemingly without a plan.
In fact, the intriguing part of Aldridge's article isn't that Skiles wants to leave, it's why he wants to leave.
Skiles, according to sources, has wondered about the team's overall plan going forward, and whether it would be willing to either completely rebuild the roster through high draft picks like Jennings, or make a trade for a dynamic, superstar-caliber player that the existing core could complement.
John Hammond is also quoted in the article as saying "the [salary] cap is a non-factor for us...we have a lot of flexibility as we move forward", before indicating the Bucks love all their players and would love to have them all back and just keep right on keepin' on. So the team has built substantial flexibility, thus allowing them to continue with the same roster that has them sitting in the 7th seed in a ravaged Eastern Conference?
Are the Bucks really content with more of the same? Does the organization, particularly Herb Kohl, look back on recent history and say "We're on the right track"? Skiles doesn't appear to know the answer to that question, and he doesn't appear interested in sticking around while the Bucks figure it out.
More important than who's coaching the team, who's drafting the players, and who's writing the checks, the Bucks have to figure out what direction the franchise is headed. Can they continue to tread water, hoping they catch a break or somebody on the roster suddenly breaks through to superstardom? Are they willing to hit the reset button and admit defeat on a playoff mandate three years in the making? Without answers to these most fundamental questions, the Bucks can hardly commit to anything: personnel, coaches, whatever. Frankly, it's no wonder Scott Skiles is willing to hand the flickering torch to someone else.