Sometime this July, a free-agent free-for-all will ensue. Executives from the Knicks, Heat, Nets, Bulls and Clippers will burn up the phone lines trying to persuade the likes of
As all this plays out, the Bucks (28-28) will be watching. Not because general manager
When Hammond took control of the franchise after the 2007-08 season, the Bucks were a 26-56 team saddled with mediocre players who were locked into ungodly contracts handed out by his predecessor,
"It's the hand we were dealt," Hammond said.
For a while, Hammond worked to serve two masters and marry winning with rebuilding. He shipped former lottery pick
Since then, each of the Bucks' personnel decisions has been geared toward 2011, when the contracts of
"Unless you are talking about someone really special," Skiles said, "we don't want to interrupt our future flexibility."
With a chilly climate and a downtown more like a county fair when compared to South Beach, lower Manhattan or Hollywood, Milwaukee won't be a desired destination for free agents. Luring a prized player in the summer of '11 is possible --
"That could easily be what is available to us," Hammond said. "Our first two trading deadlines, we haven't had that ability. Next year we could do that. We could trade into that [cap space]."
One All-Star ought to do it because several key pieces are already in place. The Bucks have a budding star in point guard
Even with the team focused on 2011, the Bucks, unlike other rebuilding teams, have stayed competitive. Through Wednesday, they had won four straight games and occupied the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. Skiles believes playoff experience --
And the Bucks will pay. Hammond disputes the notion that any of his recent transactions have been a result of an edict from ownership to cut payroll. He calls all his moves "basketball decisions" and says that despite bleeding red ink and being forced to cover most of the team's losses out of his own pocket, owner
"We have an owner who is committed to winning," Hammond said. "He has proven that. That showed in the salary structure [more than $170 million committed to Redd, Gadzuric and Simmons] we inherited. He was willing to pay whatever it took to put a winning product on the floor. We came in and evaluated things and decided that from where we are at as far as a salary structure, we are not getting back what we should be in regard to win and losses."
Such talk of the future is generally fodder for executives and talk radio, but even the players are getting into it. Ask around the Milwaukee locker room and there is genuine optimism about what the team could look like in two seasons.
"We have some great pieces," Bogut said. "A lot of the guys who are on three- or four-year deals are young guys. Once we get to 2011, we can solidify our starting five and compete with the top teams in our conference."