So it's official: John Hammond is the new GM of the Milwaukee Bucks. Read on for all the details.
- Listen to full audio, watch video and read the JS recap of the press conference.
- Hammond didn't reveal much about his feelings toward the Bucks' current roster, but Charles Gardner at the JS scored a good follow-up interview with Hammond after the press conference where he spoke about Bogut, Yi and Michael Redd. While Hammond doesn't seem like the type to tip his hand, he certainly sounded positive about the Bucks' two young big men. His praise of Redd was a little more measured, and we've heard nothing about Mo Williams.
"You look at two guys like that, you have to consider them keepers," Hammond said. "Bogut is a guy; if you have a big who can pass and catch like he can pass and catch, there aren't many bigs that have that skill. He's averaging basically 14 (points) and 10 (rebounds). Those are impressive numbers, especially for a young player."
Hammond also has watched the progress of Yi, the sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft.
"I absolutely love his game," Hammond said. "I think his upside is off the charts. I don't think he's afraid to stick his nose in there. I think he will rebound the basketball. If you ask him to go in the post, I think he will do that. When you have a big guy like that who can go out on the floor and stretch the defense, those guys are invaluable."
- Though Herb Kohl introduced Hammond as the "new head of basketball operations," there's no indication that Kohl is relinquishing his title as President of Basketball Operations, which is also the title Dumars holds in Detroit. Instead, Hammond will carry the titles of General Manager and VP of Basketball Operations.
- Hammond notably thanked Ron Walter, Mike Burr and John Steinmiller in his opening remarks, which no doubt drew groans from the hardcore fans who've grown wary of the perceived influence "Kohl's cronies" have had on the organization's basketball decision-making. However, there's no reason to expect Hammond to do anything but praise the Bucks' current executive group, even if Kohl is going to minimize their impact on basketball decisions going forward. If meaningful changes are occurring in that sense (and let's hope they are), Kohl wouldn't announce them at a press conference--after all, that would be acknowledging that there was a problem in the first place. No matter what arrangement Kohl and Hammond have, rest assured that the new GM wasn't going to begin his tenure by throwing Walter and company under the bus. Hammond went on to assert that he didn't come to Milwaukee to be meddled with, but only time will tell if he'll have the freedom he expects:
"Guys, I had a great job," Hammond told reporters in referring to his position as vice president of basketball operations with the Detroit Pistons. "I was with a great team, and I was working for a great guy. I'm here because I think I'm going to have the freedom to do this; otherwise I wouldn't be sitting here, mark my words."
- Gery Woelfel reports that Hammond's deal is for five years and roughly $8 million.
- Seeing Hammond speak publicly for the first time, it's obvious his style contrasts that of Larry Harris, who enjoyed being in front of the camera and excelled as a charming, accessible public figure. Hammond looks to be an honest, straight shooter who prefers working the phones to standing in front of a mic.
- All indications have been that director of player personnel Dave Babcock will continue on in that role, and Gery Woelfel even reported that a new multi-year contract might already be in place. Still, Hammond seemed rather non-committal on Babcock's role with the team. Even if Babcock doesn't stay with the team long-term, you'd expect him to be around through the draft given he's led the scouting effort on that front.
- Hammond sounded aware of the Bucks' main problems, noting that it's been his job to know other teams. So don't expect a long feeling-out period, despite Hammond's assertion that the team already had a solid base of talent. Hammond emphasized the importance the Pistons placed on character and hard work, and cited defense and rebounding as the key aspects any team needs to build around. One key trait that will likely help Hammond is his broad background in basketball--he's coached at both the college and NBA levels in addition to his experience as a scout, personnel and operations guy. That background undoubtedly helped Dumars and Hammond in building a perennial 50-win team in Detroit, as the pair showed an incredible feel for understanding personalities and team chemistry.