Bobby Simmons an Expensive Bust
At this point in the season the free agent signing of GF Bobby Simmons looks like an expensive, cap-busting, mistake. The 6'6'' former De Paul player has not produced anywhere near the offensive numbers the team expected when they signed him away from the Los Angeles Clippers last summer. In fact, his production has actually declined, and declined substantially.
Coming into the season the Bucks had high hopes for Simmons. They signed him to an outrageously high contract based primarily on the numbers he produced last season in route to winning the NBA's Most Improved Player award.
The signing was the purest form of speculation. The Bucks were gambling that last season's numbers were a harbinger of things to come and not a one year aberration. If so, they believed they would come out ahead in the long run because they would have Simmons locked into a long term contract at what would turn out to be a pretty reasonable rate (if Simmons proved himself a top line player). Of course, the downside was that if last season turned out to be a fluke, the Bucks would be stuck with an overpriced contract for a mediocre player that would remain on their books for years to come. Unfortunately, the latter seems the more probable outcome at this point.
Simmons numbers are down from last year in virtually every important statistical category. His PPG average has dipped to a disappointing 11.8 (from 16.4); his FG percentage has fallen to an abysmal 40% (from a respectable 46.4%); his 3 pt percentage has dipped way down to 30% (from 43%); his rebounding is down; his assists are down; his steals are down. In short, Simmons has fallen short of the standards he set last year in almost every way imaginable. The Bucks have desperately searched for a third scoring option to compliment G Michael Redd and G Mo Williams all season long. They haven't found one in Simmons, even though the role seems tailor made for him. You have to say he's been a big bust.
Artest for Simmons? In a Heartbeat!
Which is why I find it so curious that so many Bucks fans would balk at trading Simmons for the troubled Indiana forward Ron Artest. Artest provides exactly what this team needs, toughness and defensive intensity, and at the same time he represents a huge upgrade from Simmons in virtually every offensive category. Yeah he's crazy, but I don't think he would be destructive. Most of his craziness comes from his desire to win. He's not Terrel Owens (sp?). He's not a self promoter. He's a guy with anger management issues. I hate to say it, but the Bucks could use a guy who gets a little mad and swings a little tough. They have no attitude. Artest would give them attitude and then some. If the deal presents itself, they have to do it. But you know they won't. The ghost of Anthony Mason continues to haunt this franchise. There's no straight analogy between Mason and Artest -- Artest's skill level and the upside of trading for him are so much greater than they ever were with Mason -- but I'll bet that is the argument that's winning the minds of those who matter down on 4th Street. Its too bad. No guts no glory, Mr. Harris.
Photos Courtesy of Associated Press