The Bucks have had one of the NBA’s busiest offseasons. They traded Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Ish Smith, waived Drew Gooden and Gustavo Ayon, let Monta Ellis, Samuel Dalembert and Mike Dunleavy Jr. walk in free agency and signed-and-traded Brandon Jennings and J.J. Redick.
That’s most of the roster turned over, yet it’s not clear the Bucks made any progress. They’ve just replaced those eight with players of similar ability.
Why? Perhaps this is a clue.
Without an assertive leader last season, the Bucks’ locker room was a cesspool. Players didn’t get along with each other. Players didn’t along with the coaches and vice versa.One longtime NBA employee who witnessed all the shenanigans told me it was the worst locker room he had ever observed.
Milwaukee certainly hopes it has progressed off the court, but it’s not just about dumping the troublemakers. It’s about adding players like Caron Butler, who recently organized a team dinner.Woelfel:
“I just wanted to get off to a good start with my teammates,” Butler said. “I think it was a good way to build camaraderie.“All the guys showed up and we had a great dinner and talked about expectations for the season together on and off the court.“It was a good session.”It was also a tad expensive. Often times when a group of athletes congregate for a night out on the town, they’ll throw their respective credit cards into a hat. The person whose credit card is withdrawn winds up picking the tab.Not this time. The only credit card that made its way on to the table was Butler’s.
Butler has talked about being a good leader, and now he’s putting his money where his mouth is. I can’t claim to know exactly which players were causing problems last season, and subsequently, whether they’re among the jettisoned. But Butler has to be an improvement in the locker room, even if the Bucks are running in place on the court.