Bucks Diary

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Why didn't the Bucks make a run at Kevin Garnett?

Why didn't the Bucks at least attempt to acquire Kevin Garnett and a second impact player this summer? They were nearly in the same position with similar assets to the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics had a poor team with few real assets, and just one high level player to build upon: Paul Pierce. Yet somehow the Celtics transformed that hand, plus the 5th overall pick and Al Jefferson, into a huge player and a pretty good player to add to Pierce, and the fourth championship contention era in their illustrious history (Russell Era, Cowens/Havlicek Era, Bird Era, Garnett Era).

What in all that did the Bucks not have? Like the Celtics, the Bucks had only one high level player to build upon: Michael Redd. And the Bucks held similar trading assets: the 6th overall pick, and several young players with similar... if not greater... perceived value than the caravan of young players the Celtics ultimately traded to Minnesota: Andrew Bogut, Charlie Villanueva, and Mo Williams if necessary.

In fact, had Kevin McHale agreed to the Bucks package, he could have sold that trade to the Twolves fan base easier than the Celtic trade he made. All he would have had to say about the Bucks package would have been "I got us a number one overall pick for KG and another lottery player (never mind that the two players' actual productive value together probably doesn't match Jefferson's)."

Sidenote: I probably would not have made the move for Ray Allen because of redundancy with Redd, but that's beside the point here.

The point is, a once in a generation player was on the market this summer and the Bucks didn't even make an offer to get him when it looks as though they had the assets to get the deal done.

Why didn't they make an offer? I'll bet the Bucks front office: (a) didn't believe Garnett would play in Milwaukee; (b) considered his salary too high; or, (c) simply lacked the creativity, temperment, fortitude, and/or foresight to make such a move happen.

Here's what I say to that. If its the first excuse (a), that's extremely weak, especially in light of the Yi situation. Garnett could have been persuaded to play with an offer he couldn't refuse. Or the Bucks could have at least tried. If (b) is the reason, that's equally weak. Why would the team feel it could afford to continuously overpay mediocre middle class free agents like Charlie Bell, Desmond Mason, Dan Gadzuric, and Bobby Simmons, and then not be willing to spend on a player who actually might lead the team to a championship? Penny wise, pound foolish?

And if (c) is the reason, and I suspect it was, that goes a long way toward explaining why the Bucks have suffered in mediocrity for the last 20 years. The front office has no idea what it takes to build a championship contender. Yeah, it takes a lot of luck.. but fortune favors the bold, not the meek.

Building a championship basketball team is fundamentally different from building a championship baseball or football team. In the latter sports, especially baseball, you can build slowly and build around a bunch of middle class players while eschewing the elite producers. Not in basketball. You must do what it takes to get an elite producer. That means you have to be radical and you have to be bold and a little crazy if you want to build a championship contender. Ainge knew that. The Bucks forgot it (Harris once was all those things until he got his wings clipped last summer).


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