The NBA offseason is driven by wild speculation, energetic debate, and unrealistic hypotheticals. It is one of the reasons why the NBA is the best professional sport. Fans of the Milwaukee Bucks are no strangers to the highs (and the lows) brought in the summer, and many have grown nervous with the franchise’s looming decision: choosing the team’s next permanent head coach. So far, it’s been relatively quiet, but it’s also extremely early. We just got done with a tough year! Joe Prunty just recently got to do an exit interview, and while everybody has their pick for his replacement, he hasn’t even finished cleaning out his office yet.
Coach Prunty’s Full 2017-18 End of Season Media Availability: https://t.co/5eBUtoaCRa— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) April 30, 2018
For years, decades really, the Bucks have been a team that constantly sought a path that would elevate them beyond their “also-ran” status. With the surprising superstardom of Giannis Antetokoumpo, fans are far more optimistic about the franchise’s chances. Sure, the team hasn’t won a playoff series in nearly 20 years (17 now, after the first round loss to the Boston Celtics), but a young do-it-all star flanked by a half-dozen promising teammates and growing prospects at least makes the future brighter.
And the future is indeed bright for the Bucks, in no small part because the Bucks have remained in Milwaukee, will take up residence in a brand new arena next season, and have an ownership group that appears to be dedicated to building a championship-caliber culture. Next on the list is filling that vacancy on the bench (sorry, Joe Prunty), and we’ll be publishing a companion piece to tomorrow’s Locked on Bucks episode that goes over how the Bucks’ head coaching opening is the hottest job on the market. It’s an exciting place to be!
But then why does every Bucks fan have that nagging feeling in the back of their mind about what might happen with this specific search? In short, it’s because the Bucks’ ownership has failed to demonstrate a solid grasp on the business of basketball operations on three separate, highly-visible occasions.
Our very own Corey Gloor penned a summary back in January, and went over the team’s three major scandals since the triumvirate of Wes Edens, Mark Lasry, and Jamie Dinan took control of the franchise: the ousting of Larry Drew for Jason Kidd, the general manager search free-for-all that exiled “GM in-waiting” Justin Zanik in favor of Jon Horst, and the firing of Jason Kidd this past season. Here’s what Corey had to say at the time:
All of this dysfunction points to one thing…the Bucks are owned by businessmen, not men in the business of basketball. These three have no doubt hired, fired, shuffled, promoted and demoted people in similar ways to this in their other ventures. The world of hedge funds was not built on playing nice. Neither is basketball, to be fair, but parameters exist within this sport that owners oblige by. You don’t hire a coach when you have one already. You don’t wait to tell a coach he’s been fired after you tell his team.
Where does the relationship between Wes Edens and Marc Lasry sit now? What is Jamie Dinan’s impact on the power structure? Are three people jockeying for control of this team, and has Horst aligned himself with the one he feels will win out? Are they actually in alignment, as they had advertised originally? Whatever the current hierarchy is, the Bucks certainly aren’t being run in the harmonious manner we were told about in the spring of 2014.
We must be absolutely clear before the conversation moves ahead: past performance is not indicative of future success, or in this case, frustration. There is no reason to assume that this process will not go smoothly! People learn from mistakes, change their views over time, and update their processes to implement new ideas and jettison old ones. But in the case of the Bucks’ ownership trio, if they manage to conduct the search for a new head coach without any drama or dissent leaking out into the public eye, it will be a first for them. Until then, all we can do is hope that the past does not repeat itself, and that the both the process and the results are worth getting excited about.