By Jake McCormick
In his end of the year press conference, Milwaukee Bucks GM John Hammond was quick to deflect his NBA Executive of the Year accomplishments onto coach Scott Skiles and his players.
“Obviously, it was a very enjoyable season, any time you have a season where you overachieve, those are the most fun,” Hammond said. “I think Scott Skiles, his staff, and the players deserve so much credit for what they accomplished.”
Hammond addressed past, present and future issues facing the Bucks, and made it clear that there is no “formula” that will guarantee a repeat of Milwaukee’s improbable 46-win season, which is encouraging in an “at least the GM is realistic” way. Although a lot of people have stated that some of Hammond’s moves were more “cost-cutting” than anything, he was adamant that they were done with basketball success in mind.
“What happened for us this year is that it fit, it just fit,” he said. “At the end of the day, we put a group on the floor that fit, liked each other, liked playing together, and the next thing you know we were playing better and better as the season progressed.”
Milwaukee is handcuffed with around $30 million devoted to Dan Gazuric, Charlie Bell, and Michael Redd until next summer, and Hammond was practically licking at his chops discussing how that money would be thrown back into the team’s spending pot come July 1, 2011.
“Money is an issue for us, but every team has something to deal with,” Hammond said. “What won’t go away is we don’t have to take a step back, put a competitive team on the floor consistently.”
Even with the lack of financial flexibility, he is making the resigning of second half breakout pickup John Salmons a top priority, and said the team is prepared (at this point) to take the best available player in this year’s draft with the 15th pick.
“We really think we’re going to be in a position in this year’s draft to go best player on the board,” Hammond said. “We don’t have that core group where we can say we’re one piece away, we’re multiple pieces away.”
There was no indication of the future of Milwaukee’s most expensive commodity, Redd and his $18 million guaranteed, but Hammond said the team supports his choice to rehab in Ohio and is basically in the same position they were a year ago with Redd. Don’t bet on the former Bucks star to make more than an appearance or two off the bench, if he’s even able to play again.
Hammond came into Milwaukee with a full understanding that he would have to make do with bargain shopping until next summer. Now he is faced with one more year of patchworking with guys in the mold of Luke Ridnour, KurtThomas and Jerry Stackhouse, and it’s hard to argue against any decision Hammond might make with these players or any potential newcomers.
“I knew we still have restrictions from a salary standpoint and we have to be careful in how we address those needs,” he said. “Going into another season, do we have a nice core and base we could move forward with? Yeah I think we do. But we have to do the same thing, put it back together and see if it fits as well next season.”