Playing for Bucks 'dream come true' for Caron Butler - Fox Sports Wisconsin
We've spilled most of our virtual ink this offseason discussing the many moves of the Milwaukee Bucks in the larger context of their master plan. In the grand scheme, that's probably the smart way to do things. No transaction or coaching change or anything happens in a vacuum, and it's important to always keep that in mind whether you're building the team or just screaming at the guys who are.
But in isolation, the acquisition of Caron Butler in a trade with the Phoenix Suns last week is a great story, perhaps for nobody more than Butler himself. All the emotion and pride he was feeling, coming home to play for his childhood team, it was all on display in a tear-and-laugh-filled introductory presser. Fox Sports Wisconsin's Andrew Gruman brings us a few moving quotes from Caron himself:
"Now to be in that conference and to be out there on that floor wearing a Bucks uniform, having Racine and Milwaukee stand up loud and proud and represent, that's going to be extremely special. I'm going to put on for my city."
"I've been through a lot of adversity throughout my life. I've been a kid and a young man that has always been told what I couldn't accomplish or what I couldn't do. To be in this position and to be doing this at a high level for over these years, it's extremely special. Once again, I'm going to go out there and prove the doubters wrong. We are going to make it happen. We are going to make history again."
Butler certainly didn't sound like a man ready to hang up his uniform. Despite being 33 years old and occupying a more ancillary role with the Clippers the past two seasons, he's coming ready to play and compete. That was one of his main motivations when discussing his future with Phoenix's management staff:
"Very, very classy organization...I sat down and met with them one-on-one and I felt like the best situation for me was to be with a contending team. They went about this process, they handled me like a human being and as a professional."
"Contending team" is a bold way to describe the current version of the Milwaukee Bucks, and I think it's safe to assume that the hometown connection was the primary driver for Butler's return (as well as the ease with which Milwaukee could accommodate his salary). But Caron isn't going to be a locker room orator who sits on the bench all year. General manager John Hammond made it clear that while providing veteran leadership to the young players (he reiterated his commitment to the so-called "youth movement") is a big reason they brought him in, it's not the only reason:
"We know Caron can do that, but make no mistake, he's here for a lot more than just that. We need him on the floor."
So yeah, as far as the whole vacuum thing goes? Here's where it gets tough. Butler is still a capable player in his own right. He'll give the Bucks a shooter at the small forward position they haven't had in recent years and can still be at least an average defender. The risk is pushing a guy on the down slope of his career into much too big a role because, as a team, the Bucks aren't prepared to accept the limitations, let alone the possible failures, of the young players they seem to adore so much. At this point Butler probably represents the Bucks' best option at the 3, and that may still be true when Carlos Delfino returns to full strength. But he's far from a lead dog on a "contending team", and it's questionable whether his addition even pushes the Bucks into the playoff picture in an improved Eastern Conference.
The feel-good vibes are think in the air right now, and rightly so. I don't intend to diminish Butler's incredible story--it's a fantastic triumph of will and determination, a story that reaffirms your faith in the kindness of strangers and the power of positive thinking. Watching Caron take the Bradley Center court for the first time as a member of the home team is sure to be special. But after that there will be basketball to be played, and we're still not quite sure how that's going to work out.
2013 Offseason Report: Milwaukee Bucks - CBSSports.com
Matt Moore offers his take on the Bucks' offseason in typical Matt Moore style. I particularly like his point about "decisions, more than needs". What the Bucks needed this summer was direction more than anything, not a few roster plug-ins. So I'm with him there.
But honestly, it's getting hard for me to read any "comprehensive" review of the Bucks' offseason (or even individual moves) without rolling my eyes. Yes, they're stuck in no-man's land! They have an owner who wants to be competitive every year but no means to pull it off, and they're hanging in limbo with an arena that desperately needs replacing! WE GET IT! At this point, how could we not?
So please, stop framing every move in relation to how dumb it was trading away Tobias Harris. Stop acting surprised that the Bucks weren't willing to play an unbelievably raw 18-year-old from Greece major minutes right off the bat. It's dumb for me to get annoyed with this stuff, but the Bucks' poor decision-making at last year's trade deadline has been well-documented and now it's time to move on.
It's funny, because the Bucks are so focused on building a competitive team any way possible, and I think many people would agree that they will take a step back this year, if only because other teams around them improved so significantly. And asset accumulation, youth and development, those things we've been begging for? Well, they certainly did more of it, it just may not have gone far enough, or been the right assets.
Want more Bucks talk from Moore and Zach Harper? Check out the latest Eye on Basketball Podcast.
Bucks Trends | THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE MILWAUKEE BUCKS
Before the arrival of Scott Skiles, the Bucks' defense was pretty bad, wavering around the lower-third of the NBA for more than a decade. Of course, those were the days when Milwaukee could put up points with the best of them. Alex highlights the 5 best offenses in Milwaukee Bucks franchise history. Oh how far away they feel now...
The layup masters - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN
Ethan Sherwood Strauss discusses the best and worst players in the NBA when it comes to sinking layups. Surprising? Miniscule Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas rates as one of the best, thanks to his wide arsenal of finishing moves. Less surprising? Brandon Jennings is among the worst, making only 50 percent of his layups. His avoidance of contact kills him here, as he always seems to lean away from the rim while throwing up these wild runners. That's one thing that will be much more fun to watch when he's doing it for another team.
More Struggles for Ersan Ilyasova, Turkey at Eurobasket
After an upset loss to Finland on Wednesday, things didn't get much better for the Turkish National squad on Thursday. They were handled easily by Italy 90-75. Despite shooting 50% from the field, the Turks couldn't slow down a crisp Italian team that committed only 4 turnovers in the game. Ersan Ilyasova finished 5/10 (1/4 3PT) for 11 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.