Wojnarowski: Bucks coaching search continues
After interviewing former Blazers coach Nate McMillan and current Houston Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson earlier in the week, the Bucks met with a second member of Kevin McHale's staff on Friday when they interviewed J.B. Bickerstaff. The name is probably familiar: his father Bernie has bounced around the coaching ranks for the past three decades, including in Charlotte where J.B. got his first assistant's gig at the tender age of 25. He later spent four seasons as an assistant in Minnesota before joining the Rockets in 2011. His full bio is over at Rockets.com.
Whether the younger Bickerstaff is ready for a head coaching gig is an open question, but you won't find a 34-year-old with more experience at the NBA level. Like McMillan, Bickerstaff has also interviewed with the Pistons, though a couple weeks ago it was suggested that McMillan would be the likely front-runner for that job while Sampson "has no chance." With Phil Jackson now "consulting" on Detroit's coaching search, the Pistons have also met with Darrell Walker, Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer and Suns assistant Lindsey Hunter.
Wojnarowski writes that Lakers assistant Steve Clifford is also likely to get a call from the Bucks soon. Like Sampson, Clifford has already interviewed with the Bobcats and is among the league's most sought-after assistants, though he brings a more obvious defensive pedigree to the table. Before joining Mike Brown's staff in L.A. a year ago, Clifford spent nearly a decade working for Jeff Van Gundy in Houston ('03-'07) and his brother Stan in Orlando ('07-'12), so he's an unsurprising option for Milwaukee given the Bucks reportedly had Stan at the top of their wish list a couple weeks ago. An L.A. Times' profile from last fall has more:
Clifford models himself after Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau and considers both the Van Gundy brothers as mentors. While Clifford was an assistant the past four years, the Magic finished in the top 10 defensively each season.
That should come in handy with the Lakers for two reasons. Clifford's attention to defense matches Brown's coaching expertise. Clifford also already has experience working with Dwight Howard. Clifford was often viewed in his assistant coaching roles as both a mentor and teacher.
Homer: Open letter to Herb Kohl
Some good chatter over on ESPN Milwaukee's Homer show about the Bucks' lack of direction, starting with Mitch Nelles' full-throated rant on John Hammond (4 minute mark of the audio) that then re-oriented itself to focus on Herb Kohl's larger 25-year run of disappointment (around 7 minute mark). That sparked plenty of talk over at RealGM which is referenced in the audio as well.
As always, present-day frustration--and the front office is certainly complicit in that--always seems to devolve into a discussion of Kohl's long-term management of the team. The sad part is that there probably isn't anyone who still views Kohl as capable of leading the franchise back to true contention at this point. But as of this moment there's no one sitting around with a few briefcases full of cash willing to take the team off Kohl's hands while keeping them in Wisconsin (Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer would happily pay up if not for the "keep them in Milwaukee" catch). So the "Herb should sell the team!" demand isn't new and is as right as it ever was. But the only way the team does become an attractive option to keep in Milwaukee long term is if Kohl and civic leaders can hammer out an agreement to build a new
Bucks arena multi-use sports and entertainment complex downtown, with Kohl needing to shell out a hefty chunk of change to make it happen.
With the majority of Kohl's net worth seemingly tied up in the Bucks at this point, there's one option that would seemingly make everyone happy: Kohl works out a combination sale and arena plan that would see him sell the team to local investors--or at least ones that would keep the team in Milwaukee a la Mark Attanasio--subject to Kohl reinvesting a sizable chunk of the sale price back into the arena itself. Kohl's legacy as the man who saved basketball in Milwaukee would be reinstated, fans would get a new building and ownership to take the team in a new direction, and taxpayers would hopefully see enough private dollars invested to feel like they're getting their money's worth as well. No one is saying it will be easy or not require sacrifice, but the probability of finding new local ownership without a new arena seems like a pipe dream at this point. The discussion of a new arena has thankfully begun, but it's going to take a big ante from Kohl to move it forward.
FS Wisconsin: Redick faced 'uphill battle' in crowded backcourt
Andrew Gruman talks to J.J. Redick about his disappointing 28-game stint in Milwaukee.
"I think you learn something from every situation," Redick said of his time with the Bucks. "I think it was a great, great learning experience. I'm a Christian, so my faith is a big part of my life and how I view the world and how I view things. I think that God doesn't want us to be complacent. I'm a believer in that. Often times we are placed in challenging situations or what we thought we were comfortable is now we are placed in a situation where we are playing catch up. It's all an opportunity to get better. I will reflect and learn and get better this summer."
Despite his underwhelming tenure in Milwaukee, Redick is a fairly known quantity at this point: he scores efficiently, moves the ball fairly well (even if he gets himself into trouble off the dribble) and he works hard enough on defense that he generally won't hurt you in spite of his lack of length. In short, he's useful but not much more. So I'd endorse the Bucks trying to keep him--they're going to have to spend their money somehow this summer--even if anything north of $6 million starts to feel a bit rich. Realistically, I'd rather see the Bucks give the same money over two years to keep Mike Dunleavy, if only because two-year deals are never cap-killers.
Broussard: Bucks 9th among 11 open coaching positions
You'll be shocked to find out that the Bucks' coaching gig isn't perceived all that favorably around the league. Chris Broussard's latest at ESPN features an anonymous assistant (insert disclaimer here) rattling off random stuff about every open job in the league, with only Sacramento and Charlotte ranking lower than the Bucks' in terms of attractiveness.
There's a ton of uncertainty there. I've heard through the grapevine that they could move, so you don't know where they potentially could be. It's a poor market. It's a tough city. You're going to have to undo some things there. You can't brag on the facilities. You're not going to be able to just walk in there and attract free agents. [GM] John Hammond does a good job, but how do you sell free agents on this place? They got into the playoffs this year, which probably was worse than if they didn't make the playoffs. Being mediocre is not what you want to be. I think you keep either [Brandon] Jennings or [Monta] Ellis. I don't think you want both from a cultural standpoint. You're going to want some change. They haven't been terrible, but they haven't been good enough.
The notion of the Bucks' long-term future being an issue for a head coach would seem rather overstated--while I'm not naive enough to rule out the possibility of civic indifference leading to the Bucks' eventual departure, I don't see it happening until the Bradley Center lease is up in 2017. And honestly? Given the average shelf life of an NBA head coach, that's most likely not going to be a concern for whoever the Bucks hire this summer.
Woelfel: NBA officials rank top draft prospects
The Bucks reward for getting destroyed in the first round by Miami? They're on the outside looking in on the lottery. So don't get too excited by the names in Gery Woelfel's poll of the top ten prospects in this year's draft, as the Bucks' 15th overall pick likely won't offer up an immediate impact player or a long-term star. The good news: talent is always on the board in the middle of the first round, with Larry Sanders (15th in '10), Tobias Harris (19th in '11) and John Henson (14th in '12) serving as prime examples. The problem? Your odds of missing get a lot higher outside the top ten while the odds of finding an elite talent are minimal.