When last we saw the Milwaukee Bucks, they were being chew-toyed out of the NBA playoffs by the Miami Heat. The eventual champs demonstrated during a four-game sweep in April that they could switch on and off at will and dominate an inferior team whenever they felt like it.
General manager John Hammond saw that the Bucks were out of their league and knew that both his starting guards were free agents, so he decided on a prudent, careful approach to rebuilding: He blew up the entire roster. Interim coach Jim Boylan and the rest of the coaching staff were shown the door. Inconsistent point guard Brandon Jennings was traded to Detroit, while Dallas signed shooting guard Monta Ellis. By the time Hammond was finished, the Bucks had 11 new players for their season opener Wednesday against the Knicks.
If you still cop to being a Bucks fan, this is beyond frustrating. Milwaukee has had one winning season in the past decade, and now it's starting over. Jennings took terrible shots and played no defense, so a new Brandon (Knight) is the team's floor leader at age 21. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the latest risky draft pick in a trail of tears that includes Yi Jianlian, Joe Alexander and Andrew Bogut. In fairness, Bogut wasn't a complete failure, but he was chronically injured and a disappointment after being the first selection in the 2005 draft.
It could get worse. Adam Silver, the NBA's new commissioner as of next February, has decreed that Milwaukee needs a better arena. If the franchise can't find the money to modernize the Bradley Center or build a new playhouse, the Bucks might be gone by 2017. Owner Herb Kohl says the team will stay in Milwaukee, but he knows better than anyone that raising public revenue for an unloved franchise could prove tough in Wisconsin's toxic political environment.