1070 AM Madison- John Hammond on Jabari, Giannis, Bucks' future
We hadn't heard much from GM John Hammond since the night of the NBA Draft and the press conference the following morning. Hammond, like most of the Bucks faithful, could hardly contain his excitement about the future of the franchise. If you'd like a reminder of how giddy Hammond was, here you are.
After heading out to Las Vegas to watch some of his young guys take part in the NBA Summer League, Hammond joined Bucks radio play-by-play announcer Ted Davis on The Mike Heller show to talk about the future Bucks. You can listen to that here:
Let's take you through some of the highlights.
On what he saw from Parker in Vegas:
"Ted, saw some very good things out of Jabari, and things that we hope we will help him as he moves forward in his NBA career that we believe he's got a chance to be a really special player in this league."
Where will he fit? Is he a power forward? Small forward? WHAT IS HE??
"I think he's a forward, because I keep looking at him and thinking, here's a guy that can...I think he's got the ability to be somewhat of a match-up problem. He's big and strong, so if you put a small forward on him, I think he can go inside and score around the basket, and if you have a bigger power forward on him, he can go out on the floor and he can take people off the dribble and create a shot for himself. So, I think offensively he can play both positions. But you know, it always comes down to 'what can you guard? What are you defensively?' Once again, that's going to play itself out, but I think if you look at our roster, you'd hope as we move forward, however soon that happens, that you'd look at the team and say that you hope Giannis could be a small forward and Jabari could be a power forward. But, ironically, Giannis is almost 6'11" so he's going to be able to guard some 4s at some point in his career, too."
In addition to the players on the roster before Vegas, Hammond also gave his analysis of the recently acquired Kendall Marshall.
"[He has] great vision. You know how some guys just have that gift? They just have that gift of vision, and you can't teach what that is. Kendall has that. He sees open people. I think he's going to be able to find our bigs that can get up above and face above the basket. He'll find perimeter guys in penetrate and pitch situations. One of my favorite things that he does (and Jason Kidd talked about this, too) was his ability just to make the simple play, take the ball, and throw ahead in transition. People think that's a simple play, an easy play, but the really good guards do it most effectively."
In addition to the young talent on the roster, the Bucks' next big asset is their cap room. Hammond has been carrying the torch on the asset accumulation and cap flexibility movement for a while now, and it doesn't appear like he's too eager to ditch that plan. How will that affect this summer, though?
"We're probably going to do one thing here, somewhat soon, that will probably do a guard position. It's not going to be an extremely high contract, just a little more of a conservative contract so to speak. Within reason, we're going to try and add a position that can help us, a guy that can play some 1 and 2 there, and help us in the back court.
"We're still going to carry some cap room into the season, [a] somewhat significant [amount] at least. We'll see how the season's going. Wes and Marc are still of that mindset that we want to build this, we want to build this into a championship caliber team. More than likely, it's not going to happen overnight, and I think the worst thing to do is try and rush us through the development and try to become as good as we can become as quickly as we can become. That's one way to look at it but, when you do it that way, usually you don't have long-term results from that. If we do it in a patient, proper process, once we do have success we're going to have it long-term and that's the real goal."
That one "conservative contract" will be Jerryd Bayless, whom the Bucks reportedly reached an agreement with on a two-year deal in the $6-7 million range a couple weeks ago. Not signing Bayless officially has allowed the Bucks to maintain some additional financial flexibility for the time being, but Hammond's suggestion that the Bucks carry cap room into the season would suggest that they're not banking on any moves that will require adding significant salary.
A large portion of that long-term success will have to do with big time improvement on the court, and Jason Kidd will be taking over most of the roster that won 15 games the previous season. Hey, how's that relationship going with Kidd going, John?
"It's gone extremely well. I really respect him. Obviously I respected him as a player and what he did. It's been great to spend time with him, and we've spent an awful lot of time together the last two and a half, three weeks. He's got an amazing insight on players. [I] love his view on players and how he thinks about a player, and how he looks at a player and how he can help a particular team. I also really like his vision as far as coaching a team, and what he thinks that it takes to win and how he hopes to play, and some of his ideas from a coaching standpoint. So it's been great and I think he's going to do a great job for this organization."--
Right now, things appear to be pretty exciting for Hammond and company. The "serving of two masters" is likely done away with for now, and Hammond now has a chance at a proper rebuild. Does he deserve that chance? Maybe. Hammond has done a fairly respectable job assembling quality pieces from the middle of the first round, but has also signed several players to deals that became toxic quickly. To his credit though, Hammond has been able to recover from those and move on quickly.
What Hammond has not been able to accomplish is being able to put his foot on the gas (if he's in a position to do so) and pull off a deal that pushes the Bucks forward into contender talks, or even consistent playoff participant talks. Being in a small market hasn't helped attract big names, but neither has toiling around in the middle of the standings year after year.
The Bucks are likely a few years away from making a big splash via free agency or a trade, so the organization will have to focus on walking before they try and run. The road ahead of the Bucks is long and will have its share of obstacles, so sticking to the path and continuing to move forward will be crucial. It's now on Hammond, more than ever, to see this process through all the way. He sure sounds like he's up for it. Here's to hoping that he'll be able to follow through.