First thing's first: in case you've been living under a rock, the lottery is tonight at 7 pm Central on ESPN. Our lottery discussion thread will launch about an hour before then so join us for all the fun (/misery).
Big 1070 | John Hammond talks lottery, new ownership, rebuilding strategy
Bucks GM John Hammond has not surprisingly kept a low profile since the mid-April announcement of the team's sale to Marc Lasry and Wes Edens, but with the New York duo now officially in charge and his job looking increasingly safe, Hammond took to the airwaves Tuesday morning to talk draft, ownership, and the team's strategy going forward. Here's the part you'll probably care the most about:
"The most important thing today is you look forward and say 'what is going to be our direction going forward?' And we're going to try and build this thing in a manner in which we can build a championship-caliber team...that's the goal. The goal is not to say 'can we win today, can we be competitive today?'
"The goal is 'can we build a championship-caliber team?' and I think we have some pieces in place that we can do that with. We've got good flexibility moving forward, we've got young assets on our roster, we've got cap space, and we have all of our picks moving forward.
"We need to continue to be in asset acquisition mode, and if we can continue to do that and put good young pieces on the floor--and this pick is going to be a large part of our building process."
Regardless of whether you wanted a shakeup in the front office or not, we can agree that Hammond is saying the things we want to hear from a guy tasked with rebuilding a team like the Bucks. No talk of winning now or trying to make a splash with veteran free agents; right now this team has to be all about adding talent and managing its assets wisely, and the good news is that he's signaling the right things publicly. In many ways it's a continuation of the tone Hammond took after the Brandon Jennings deal last summer, though ultimately actions will of course speak louder than words (read: we don't need more Zaza and O.J. signings this summer).
Also of note: in response to a question about what Lasry and Edens will bring to the team, Hammond had some interesting comments regarding the "arms race" between teams in terms of staffing and facilities, hinting that the new ownership group would expand the resources available to the team going forward. To which I say: YES PLEASE. Here's the complete audio from The Big 1070:
Grantland | Lowe: Front-Office Chaos
The always-fantastic Zach Lowe writes that the Bucks' front office is leveraging the latest in super cool (fancy!) biometric technology in order to design player-specific offseason workout regimens--and that they appear likely to stick around to see the benefits of it.
The team’s medical staff has partnered with an outside consultant to develop a software program that tracks individual biological data for each player — which muscles are strong, which are weak, and what those findings mean for related muscles and joints. They’ve used the information to craft individual offseason workout plans for every player on the roster — a first for the team, according to John Hammond and David Morway, the team’s GM and assistant GM, respectively.
The team also hopes to start using small wearable devices from the company Catapult that track player movement and biometric data during practices, Hammond says.
The futures of Hammond and Morway are uncertain after the recent sale of the team to finance executives Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, and the new owners have at least held initial discussions about possible replacements, per sources around the league. But the growing consensus is that the current front office will have another year to make this lottery pick and hope the nucleus it’s put in place begins to perform.
Note: this is where we make a joke about the software telling O.J. Mayo to stop eating cheeseburgers.
But seriously: this is clearly a good thing, even if I have no idea how it works. How do I know? Well, the Spurs have been using biometric technology for at least the last year, and if it's good enough for Pop, it's good enough for me.
NBA.com | Joel Embiid tops among centers, may play hardball with Bucks
David Aldridge writes that agent Arn Tellem likely won't be shy about using concerns around Embiid's health to spook undesirable destinations--and guess who he uses as his example case?
This is the very smart, very calculating game Tellem is playing. He has a history of coming out on top in these sorts of things. My guess is he's not going to sit idly by and let the ping pong balls fall where they may. He knows exactly where he's going to walk Embiid. My guess is those medical records will be available to Milwaukee around the time that giraffes paint the Sistine Chapel.
ESPN | Goodman: Tellem could keep Embiid away from Bucks
Jeff Goodman echoes Aldridge's sentiments regarding Embiid, suggesting Tellem might angle to prevent the talented 7-footer from ending up with the Bucks--the same team that Tellem ironically was attempting to buy only a couple months ago. DON'T BE BITTER ARN!
High-powered agent Arn Tellem didn't even send Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker to Chicago. Shortly afterward, the third player in the conversation for the top pick -- Andrew Wiggins -- also withdrew from the camp. There was speculation that Parker is out of shape, but the more sensible reason is that Tellem didn't want all the teams to have access to Embiid's medical information.
Now he can try to impose leverage, not visit a certain lottery team (i.e., the Milwaukee Bucks) and make it more difficult for that particular franchise to draft Embiid without all the detailed medical info. In essence, he will try to control where Embiid -- and maybe even Parker -- lands.
Let's let the lottery play out before we start fretting about agents manipulating the draft, but let's also acknowledge that these sorts of shenanigans are also precisely why it pays to win the draft lottery. Pick first and everyone wants to be your guy; pick third or fourth and all of a sudden you're playing Magic the Gathering by yourself at recess.
Forbes | Heisler: Top picks trying to avoid Milwaukee?
Looking for a hat trick of Milwaukee-bashing? Mark Heisler is here to help.
With Embiid, Parker and Wiggins no-showing, there were the inevitable rumors about hiding something-Embiid's back injury, Parker's conditioning level and, according to some (hello), Wiggins' entire game.
Behind the scenes, it was no mystery. This was about staying out of Milwaukee, with the Bucks holding the best chance of drawing the No. 1 pick, a long way from Gotham, South Beach or LaLaLand.
"What the Clippers used to be, that's what the Bucks are now," said an NBA GM. "The place every agent says, ‘I don't want my player there.'"
Grantland | Simmons: Lottery karma rankings
The Bucks are fifth in Bill Simmons' annual (and imaginary) lottery karma rankings. Discuss.