USA TODAY Sports
Fresh off road wins over the Mavericks and Rockets, the Bucks return home to face Rudy Gay and the new-look Raptors, whose current three-game losing streak has dropped them 6.5 games behind the 8th-seeded Bucks.
|2012/2013 NBA Season|
|March 2, 2013|
|BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI|
|FS Wisconsin HD | 620 WTMJ|
|DeMar DeRozan||SG||Monta Ellis|
|Rudy Gay||SF||Luc Mbah a Moute|
|Amir Johnson||PF||Ersan Ilyasova|
|Jonas Valanciunas||C||Larry Sanders|
|2012/13 Advanced Stats|
If you were to have asked me this question a week ago I would have said better than expected but of late, yep, this is pretty much the outcome I envisioned when the Raptors acquired him. There's no question that Gay is the most talented swingman this team has had since Vince Carter, but to me his acquisition really didn't move the needle considering what the club gave up. They essentially exchanged two very efficient offensive players in Jose Calderon and Ed Davis, for one high-scoring, albeit inefficient one, and we've really seen that the past few games. Add on Rudy Gay's salary obligations and while I agree that you had to try and get something for Calderon before he expired, I'm not sure this was the move unless you could move other pieces around too. However the salary obligations to said other pieces (Andrea Bargnani, Landry Fields, Linas Kleiza etc) have made that impossible at least in the short term, so you're stuck with a club that to me, is pretty much as good as it was before the trade.
Q: How would you handicap the Raps' playoff odds with about 1/3 of the season remaining?
Zero. In all honesty the idea of playoffs considering the Raptors' woeful 4 and 19 start, was a bit of a pipe dream to start with, but with losses to Cleveland, Washington and Indiana, last night, we should just close the book on any post-season aspirations. Yes, mathematically there's still a chance but Toronto would need to win the lion's share of games from here on out to get to 42 or so wins (likely the number needed for eighth in the East) and as of now, the club's on pace for about 10 less wins.
Q: Where do you see the team heading in the long term? Is it a Jonas/Rudy/DeMar core at this point, or is even that up in the air?
That's the million dollar question as for the umpteenth time during the Bryan Colangelo era, I have no idea. The club is constantly stuck between doing a proper rebuild and eking into the playoffs and we're seeing this movie yet again this season.
Last summer it looked like the club was back on track, hiring a defensive-minded coach in Dwane Casey, stockpiling talented young assets like Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross, and keeping the club's financial obligations reasonable. Add on the giant leap forward in development from Ed Davis, and Kyle Lowry's arrival, and it looked like things were at least heading in the right direction.
However soon after Colangelo doled out a pretty generous and optimistic contract extension for DeMar DeRozan, and then things began to unravel. He again held onto a depreciating asset too long in terms of Andrea Bargnani (Bosh would have been the first go-round of this sort), and made the move for Rudy Gay, putting the club squarely in luxury tax territory, without a playoff round to show for it.
Minus some of the other contracts and players on the club, the Rudy Gay deal makes some sense as paired with Lowry, Ross and Valanciunas, that's not a bad core going forward. However what do you do with the near $61M owed to Bargnani, DeRozan, Kleiza and Fields over the next couple seasons? Even if you can move a few of those deals under the tighter CBA, can you get anything of value in return?
So to answer your question, there really is a lot up in the air, especially since Colangelo may not even be the man in charge next season. He's in the final year of his current contract and needs an extension to remain the one pulling the club's proverbial strings.
Bucks' big man depth tested. Ekpe Udoh is listed as doubtful for tonight's game with a sprained ankle, and it's not clear how Sam Dalembert fits in the Bucks' rotation after missing the last two games. Dalembert reportedly wanted a buyout after not being traded at the deadline, which may or may not explain why he was late for shootaround ahead of the win in Dallas. He was suspended for that game and didn't play the following night in Houston either, so it would certainly seem as though he's worked his way into Jim Boylan's doghouse after accomplishing the same feat with Scott Skiles earlier in the year. That would mean more minutes for Henson, who scored 12 points on six shots in 13 minutes in Houston.
Otherwise, Brandon Jennings was excused from Friday's practice to tend to a sick relative in L.A., while Mike Dunleavy practiced despite an ankle sprain suffered in Houston. Both are expected to play tonight.