Has any team been more disappointing this season than the Milwaukee Bucks?
Injuries and their anemic offense — despite having Brandon Jennings, John Salmons and Andrew Bogut — have held them back. All the way back out of the playoffs. The Bucks are three games behind the Pacers with a dozen to play.
And the next week will determine their fate. The Bucks face the slumping Knicks Friday, then a tough test against the Bulls Saturday. Then it is three in a row the Bucks must have — Charlotte, Toronto and at Indiana.
The Bucks put out a lackluster effort and got beat by Sacramento Wednesday, so heading into Friday night coach Scott Skiles knows his team can’t have any more lapses like that if they want to make the playoffs, he told the Journal Sentinel.
“We’ve got to show up,” Skiles said of facing the Knicks for the second time in six days following Milwaukee’s 100-95 victory over New York on Sunday.
“We’ve got to play hard; we’ve got to execute and know what we’re doing. That’s all just to have a chance, we’ve got to do those things.”
Milwaukee has gotten a nice scoring boost from Carlos Delfino, who dropped 30 in each of the team’s last two games and is is hitting 49.1 percent of his threes in his last 10 games. But they will need more efficient play from Brandon Jennings, and more production out of what has been a less-than-impressive bench. They need Salmons to be on his game. The Bucks will defend as always, but they need some buckets.
Michael Redd will return to the team this weekend, but who knows what that will bring. Maybe some buckets.
Tonight the Bucks and Knicks both should be playing with a sense of desperation. Both need wins, badly. But if the Bucks don’t get it this may be the practical end of their season. And that would be disappointing.
Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).
But good news could be on the way.
Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:
The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.
Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.
John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.
Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.
It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.
But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.
Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.
This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.
Richard Jefferson announced his retirement after the Cavaliers won the 2016 championship, changed his mind, re-signed with Cleveland then played another season there. He played big playoff minutes for the Cavs both years.
But they traded him to the Hawks (who waived him, allowing him to sign with the Nuggets) in a rather abrupt end to his Cleveland tenure.
His exit could have been far more strained.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
Then he was nearly traded the summer after the championship because he revealed what the Cavs’ rings looked like on his Snapchat account before the team was ready to release them to the public. Then-GM David Griffin was so ticked that he was ready to ship him out of town, sources told ESPN, before eventually calming down and accepting Jefferson’s apology.
Talk about some petty nonsense. And Griffin was known for soothing tension!
Thankfully for Jefferson – at least if he wanted to stay in Cleveland – he revealed the ring design in September. As a newly signed player, he couldn’t be traded until Dec. 15. That gave Griffin time to cool down.
Carmelo Anthony wanted to be traded to the Houston Rockets. Badly. (Whether that was good for Houston is a different discussion.) His time in New York was over by mutual consent, but now was time to move on, however, thanks to a no-trade clause Phil Jackson gave him, Anthony had leverage. And he wanted to be a Rocket with James Harden and Chris Paul.
It looked at one point like a deal would get done between New York and Houston, then it fell apart. So what happened?
Phil Jackson was booted, that’s what happened, Anthony told Marc Stein the New York Times.
The delay to find a workable trade, in Anthony’s view, stemmed from the fact that Jackson was willing “to trade me for a bag of chips,” while Scott Perry, who became the Knicks’ new general manager after Jackson’s departure, took a harder line in trade talks with Houston and Cleveland that eventually fizzled.
“They went from asking for peanuts to asking for steak,” Anthony said with a laugh.
‘Melo can laugh, he landed in a good spot with Oklahoma City. He’s on a potential contender.
As for his feelings on Jackson and leaving the organization? Still some hard feelings there.
“There was no support from the organization,” he said. “When you feel like you’re on your own and then on top of that you feel like you’re being pushed out …”