Should the Hornets go the route of the Bucks?

Over on Hornets247, Michael McNamara argues that trading Chris Paul away would mean that New Orleans is adopting the philosophy of the Milwaukee Bucks, which just doesn’t work for him.

First off, it is necessary to acknowledge your own personal philosophy with regard to what qualifies as success in the NBA. Personally, I am an all or nothing guy and believe in only three directions: being a legitimate championship contender, building toward being a legit contender, and completely rebuilding. I look at a team like the Milwaukee Bucks, for instance, and see a direction that I would never take personally. They have a nice team that is built to make the playoffs for the next five to seven years, but have absolutely zero chance of ever winning an NBA title. Zero. A squad full of good, but not great pieces that play hard every night but will just not have enough talent to get through four quality teams come playoff time.

Now for some, they might be happy with Milwaukee’s future and consider their franchise a success considering the market they are in and the resources they have to work with.

As an all or nothing guy I can think of scenarios that are far worse than CP3 leaving in two years. I can imagine other players following Paul’s lead if we trade him out of fear. How do you say no to the next guy who feels entitled when you just appeased Chris Paul’s trade demands? I can imagine becoming a perennial playoff team terrified to blow up the roster; a team that overpays their own players just to remain slightly above average. (I am looking at you Atlanta). I can imagine an asylum run by the players, a front office with no control, and a coach who feels powerless. All of these things happen if you let fear of the future dictate the present. All of these things are worse case scenarios for me, but again it all depends on your definition of success.

With CP3 on the squad I know there is a chance. I know tha t with Kobe slowly declining, Howard not improving offensively, and Wade always one fall away from a serious injury that CP3 can be a top two player in this league if he puts it all together and stays healthy. I know that in at least seventy games per year the Hornets will have the best player on the floor and in the NBA that means more than it does in any other team sport. I know that if management makes the right moves and ownership is willing to pay the luxury tax that the Hornets at least have a shot. The same cannot be said for twenty to twenty five teams in this league.

As a Bucks fan, using the franchise’s current state/direction as a reason not to follow its philosophy is puzzling.

Milwaukee is a small market team in a cold-weather city in the Midwest. It is often ranked by NBA players as the least desirable place to play, even though when people stay for a few years they tend to warm up to the place. Given the circumstances, the Bucks are never going to be in a position to land a big name free agent unless the supporting cast gets so good that the player in question sees the Bucks as his best opportunity to win a title. It’s true — the Bucks would probably need a Reggie White-type signing to become a championship contender. (Football fans over 30 know what I mean.)

The author says that the Bucks have no chance to win a title with their current game plan, but GM John Hammond came from Detroit, where they won a championship a few years ago with very much the same philosophy. They had a group of star-less, yet talented castoffs and a defensive-minded coach to lead them all in the same direction. In the Finals, they beat a more talented (and a far more disjointed) Laker team.

Hammond knows the Bucks are never going to go into the season as championship favorites, but if the chemistry remains and Brandon Jennings develops, they could perhaps become the third- or fourth-best team in the East. The author looks at this like a death sentence, but what it really means is that the Bucks are an injury or two away from a Finals appearance.

(It’s really no different than the philosophy executed in small market San Antonio, only the Spurs have Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to build around instead of Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings. The Spurs have a better core because they had the #1 pick in the right draft and found a couple of stars later on in subsequent drafts.)

How does this relate to Chris Paul? If the Hornets elect to trade him and get a few prospects in return, they’ll be going the route of the Milwaukee Bucks, at best. If they hold onto him, he’s likely to only grow more disgruntled unless the franchise is quickly able to turn things around and suddenly becomes willing to spend. The Hornets need a Pau Gasol-type trade to keep Paul happy, and those kinds of deals don’t happen every season. Even if they did, the Hornets don’t spend like the Lakers, and New Orleans is not L.A., so retaining the talent would be difficult.

Considering the Hornets’ summer moves (lack of a free agent signing, trading away the #11 pick), the writing is on the wall. Do Hornets fans want to hold out hope that the franchise can quickly transform its declining roster around a pouting Paul, or roll the dice on players with upside like Anthony Randolph and Danilo Gallinari, along with a ton of cap space?

As for Paul, look at it this way — if a girl doesn’t want to stay with you, why would you want her to stay? By the time she tells you she wants to break up, she has already checked out. No amount of convincing will work, so what’s the point? Why not move on and give yourself the best chance to meet a new girl?

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Larry Sanders, the surprise of Summer League?

PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 19:  Alfred Aboya #12 of the UCLA Bruins shoots against Larry Sanders #1 of the VCU Rams during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Wachovia Center on March 19, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Maybe the term ‘surprise’ shouldn’t be applied to the 15th pick in the NBA Draft, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Bucks’ first rounder, who was most often described as ‘raw’ by the draft punditry.

A little background: Sanders is 21 and left VCU after his junior season. He averaged 14-9 with 2.7 blocks per game last season. He’s 6-10.5 in shoes and has a monstrous 7-5.75 wingspan, giving him a standing reach of 9-4, which in his draft class trails only DeMarcus Cousins, Solomon Alabi and Jerome Jordan, who all have a standing reach of 9-5. His athletic tests (vertical 28″, lane agility 12.49) were not good, though he can really run the floor for a guy his size.

He also had a good Summer League…here are a few comments from around the internets:

Matt Moore, CBS Sports: The Bucks are going to have a fleet of capable, talented power forwards this season. Sanders was one of the most impressive rookies in Vegas, playing solid defense, showing off a well-balanced frame, and looking very much like a versatile offensive option. Sanders’ mid-range game was considerably better than expected. He showed nice tough with the ball and again, is a mountain in terms of size. He needs to work on his spacing and defensive awareness, but it was a very impressive showing.

TrueHoop: How will Larry Sanders’ game fit in with Milwaukee’s existing parts? His sound face-up 18-footer will help a Bucks offense that was choked for open space in the half court. He also gives Brandon Jennings another dependable partner on the pick-and-roll and wins almost every race to the rim in transition. A Sanders-Andrew Bogut tandem could eventually constitute the best defensive frontcourt in the league. Milwaukee is unlikely to reach the highest echelon in the East with its firepower, but by blanketing the paint with two capable pick-and-roll defenders who can block shots and clean the glass, the Bucks have the makings of a team that could post a stingy defensive efficiency rating in the high 90s.

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Maggette traded to Bucks

The Golden State Warriors have traded Corey Maggette to the Bucks for Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell.

Seeking a scoring threat and willing to take on a significant contract, the Milwaukee Bucks acquired forward Corey Maggette in a trade with the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.

The Bucks also got a second-round draft pick from the Warriors, giving up guard Charlie Bell and center Dan Gadzuric in return.

Maggette has three years and $30.8 million remaining on his contract, but this trade will actually save the Bucks $1.5 million next season because they are now rid of the contracts of Gadzuric (one year, $7.2 million) and Charlie Bell (two years, $7.9 million). The deal will eat up $6.2 million in cap space next summer, leaving the Bucks with a payroll of about $31 million heading into the 2011-12 season.

So, from a salary cap standpoint, it’s not quite as bad as it might seem. Maggette is a career 17-5-2 player and is one of the best in the league at getting to the line. He has averaged at least 7.9 free throw attempts in each of the last seven seasons.

The two strikes against Maggette is his injury history and his commitment (or lack thereof) on the defensive end. The Bucks can’t do anything about the first one, but Scott Skiles will demand that he play defense, or he won’t get minutes.

From a defensive mindset, I can’t imagine going from Don Nelson to Scott Skiles. That’s like night and day. Maggette is in for a wake up call on the defensive end.

The Bucks also acquired Chris Douglas-Roberts from the New Jersey Nets.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Brandon Jennings sounds like he might stay put

Jennings appeared on “Rome Is Burning” and said the following about Scott Skiles and the city of Milwaukee.

“I can’t complain where I am now, with a great coach,” Jennings said when Jim Rome asked how he felt about being selected a bit lower in the draft than he expected. “He’s been teaching me a lot this year and he’s the reason why I’ve had a successful season.”

Jennings was asked about Skiles’ approach.

“He’s real tough,” Jennings said. “But he’s a great teacher. He’s the guy that, hopefully, he’ll be my coach for the rest of my career. I feel that my game can elevate with having him on the sideline.”

Rome asked Jennings if he can see himself remaining in Milwaukee long term.

“I can,” Jennings said. “I like it. It reminds me of Italy.  . . . (a) laid back town, small little market and they’re real big on sports.”

This should quell any feelings of dread surrounding Jennings’ free agency. I realize that it’s five seasons a way, but we long-suffering Bucks fans are worry warts. Now that we’ve had a taste of (albeit mild) success, we want to build on it, not lose our star point guard to the Mavs in four years.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Finally, Andrew Bogut gets his due

After being snubbed for an All-Star nod, Most Improved Player and All-Defensive Team honors, Andrew Bogut was named to the All-NBA Third Team.

The fifth-year center averaged 15.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game this season. Moreover, he was second in the league in DEF (the sum of a player’s blocks, steals and charges) with 3.83. This, along with Tim Duncan’s presence on the All-NBA Third Team as a forward — Duncan was listed as a center on the All-Defensive Team — makes Bogut’s exclusion from the All-Defensive Team all the more perplexing.

Bogut received the 11th most points (149) in the voting, but didn’t receive any First Team votes. Amare Stoudemire finished 10th with 239 points.

Click here for a complete list of the All-NBA teams. I don’t take issue with any of the selections, though I doubt Chris Bosh is too happy right now.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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