So, uh, that all happened, eh?
Just a week ago you had found me here wallowing in the hopelessness of it all. The Bucks appeared oblivious to the travesty that was slowly unfolding within the organization and more than happy to ride out another rocky season on their way to a first-round exit from the playoffs. Woe be to the fanbase!
And then, it happened. Jason Kidd was let go as head coach and suddenly everything was in flux. Firing the coach mid-season normally signals a lost year, but a stretch of winning could easily see them shoot up the Eastern Conference standings and into an intriguing post-season. If Kidd truly had become a smothering presence on an impressionable group of players, then Milwaukee may have given itself a chance to save the season.
Either way, the team's fate once again features a hint of hope. Now it is up to ownership and management to make the most of this welcome second-chance.
Q&A with Bucks general manager Jon Horst on the Jason Kidd firing and what’s next (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
This sit down between MJS beat guy Matt Velasquez and GM Jon Horst features a lot of “executive speak” on the part of Horst, but it is interesting if only for the confirmation that Joe Prunty is a legitimate candidate for filling the head coach spot permanently after the season.
It is unclear what process will be followed in the off-season in determining a future hire (Will Horst be given de facto control over the selection? Will ownership try to find a President of Basketball Operations to lead the search?), but don't be surprised if Prunty is retained given the owners’ difficulty in coming to consensus on figures outside the organization.
Amid the smoldering ash of Jason Kidd’s Bucks tenure sits the NBA’s best open coaching job (Washington Post)
“Smoldering ash” seems a bit excessive, but things sure felt like they were on fire in Milwaukee just about a week ago. There was the chaos of the actual firing, the up-in-the-air status of Joe Prunty as interim head coach for a few days, curiosity about how Giannis Antetokounmpo would fare in his first media appearance since the firing, and of course the slow drip of leaks and rumors about everything that went on behind the scenes.
Rising out of that maelstrom, though, is a chance for a fresh start for the rest of the season and this coming off-season. There's legitimate consternation about ownership meddling, but the Bucks look primed to be the first choice for any number of potential head coaches this summer.
Perhaps Joe Prunty leads the Bucks through a whirlwind second half of the season and impressive playoff showing, perhaps a “name” coach like Jeff Van Gundy will be brought to town, and perhaps a relative-unknown in the form of an assistant in another franchise will turn up. The path getting to that hire will be fascinating to watch, and it isn't hyperbole to say that getting the next head coach right might make or break the championship aspirations of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Can the Milwaukee Bucks Be Saved This Season After Firing Jason Kidd? (Bleacher Report)
I included this piece as an example of a pretty typical take from national media this past week regarding the Kidd firing; namely, plenty are questioning the wisdom of such a move.
It is fair to question just how much things will change on the court as the assistant staff was known to mastermind the offensive and defensive schemes, but if any amount of the reports of “mind games” and penchant for playing teammates off one another are true then the Bucks were justified in their decision to finally move on.
Of course, maybe Kidd just needed more time, or better yet, some more energy and effort from his squad before they started to live up to expectations he had previously set for the team.
I've reached the point where this season is essentially a wash no matter the outcome. Ideally, GM Jon Horst can shore up the interior with a small move and review the status of the roster when Jabari Parker gets a few months with the starting unit.
Reaching the playoffs is still a viable goal, and winning a round would be quite a way to cap off an uncertain year, but cementing the building blocks for next season and seasons to come are what matters most now that the coaching situation is in flux.
Jabari Parker's future is certainly divisive, but you have to feel good for him as he closes in on a return from his second ACL surgery last year.
Swapping him into the regular rotation should offer coach Joe Prunty a semblance of flexibility in approaching the offense the rest of the season. On the defensive end, it will be interesting to see if a less-aggressive scheme becomes Milwaukee's norm and just how that will change when Parker is getting regular minutes.
Either way, Parker being back should incite the warm and fuzzys, even if only for a few minutes before Bucks Twitter viciously tears itself to pieces in equally vocal pro- and anti-Jabari camps.
Sterling Brown now part of Bucks’ rotation (FOX Sports)
I went ahead and looked up Sterling Brown’s rebound percentages so far this season, and it turns out he's got a 10.5% TRB% and actually grabs 17.1% of potential defensive rebounds while he's on the court. That seems to speak to the tenacity with which he plays defensively and makes him a valuable tool on the court even when he's not hitting shots.
For comparison, so far this year Thon Maker has a TRB% of 11.6% and a DRB% of 16.0%. Those numbers could be an indictment of Thon, a big plus for Sterling, a function of how these guys are fit on the floor schematically, and so much more, but for Brown to post such percentages so early in his career is something to behold and something worth keeping an eye on as we go forward.
From the Social Media Realm
Nothing signals “the end is nigh” more than when an argument comes down to “ringz”:
In case you didn't hear, Vin Baker was moved from the broadcast set to the sidelines as an assistant coach under Joe Prunty. Congrats, Vin!
.@johnhenson31 yelling across the court to Vin Baker congratulating him on getting the @Bucks assistant job is the best thing you will see today.— Stephen Watson (@WISN_Watson) January 26, 2018
Also, this needs to be turned into a GIF immediately. pic.twitter.com/aIXgM6ng6z
Looks like we're on the verge of getting the greatest 60 Minutes segment of all time:
Wow. 60 minutes is doing a Giannis story and they arrive the day after Kidd is fired. This is going to be a compelling interview for sure. https://t.co/wrLb7g4Gun— Paul Henning (@brewcitypaul) January 23, 2018
There were some reports floating around that Kidd may have his eyes set on that franchise down in Arizona. I wonder how our friends at Bright Side of the Sun are taking that?
How about Greg Monroe?
Greg Monroe's reaction when he sees the report that Kidd apparently had his eyes on the Suns coaching job. pic.twitter.com/04U9PIWA8q— Jordan Treske (@JordanTreske) January 25, 2018
RIP in peace, Greg.
And finally, with the end of the Jason Kidd era comes the definitive retrospective on his time with the Milwaukee Bucks (courtesy Teutonia World/@DavidDunn21):
This is it. This is the week where the Bucks begin their voyage to a 27+ win second half of the season. You heard it here first.
Before they get there, they have a slate of four games coming up this week. Tonight they begin by hosting the Philadelphia 76ers, Thursday they head to Minneapolis to face the Timberwolves, return to Milwaukee Friday to play the New York Knicks, and then finish their work week Sunday for a matinee game against the Brooklyn Nets.
I've got a feeling the team will go 3-1 this week to keep the good vibes going with their only loss coming against Minnesota. Why the T’Wolves? The explanation is simple: I'll be in attendance at the Target Center to ruin my vocal chords screaming support for the Bucks. Thus, they will let me down and ensure I am not rewarded for my energy and effort.
But, the fact that I'll get the chance to see the team in-person has me feeling sunny this Monday morning, and I hope you're feeling the same after a tumultuous week.