Are the Bucks better without Michael Redd?
In the last four games the Milwaukee Bucks have played without their star SG Michael Redd, they are 4-0. Of course, on the day of each one of those games the sun has also risen in the East and set in the West, so let's be careful. Is there an actual connection between Redd's absence and the winning result, or are the two events mere coincidence?
Its hard to say for sure. For one thing, the opening paragraph contains a classic misuse of statistical evidence. I drew an arbitrary boundary to make the case against Redd seem artificially stronger (beware of that trick -- ESPN uses it on an almost daily basis). In truth, there have been five games the Bucks have played without Redd this season. In the first game, the one I left out, the Bucks were destroyed by the same Bullets they beat in overtime yesterday. So the case is not so clear cut.
Besides which, the combined margin of victory in the four Reddless wins was a mere 17 points, and three of the wins came against teams whose combined record at tipoff was 33-69. So perhaps the team's play has not been as impressive as their record in those games might lead you to believe.
But with all that said, I can almost guarantee the Bucks will make a major effort to Michael Redd this offseason. Here's why:
(1) Redd's Good, But He Can't Carry the Weight of a Max Deal
On a small market team like the Bucks, your max dollar guy has to be a versatile contributor. Redd can be that guy, but either he doesn't want to be, he doesn't realize he needs to be, or he just can't sustain that kind of productivity over the long term. Because, after a promising start to the season in which he dramatically improved his all-around contributions, and after a summer in which he swore that was going to be his aim, Redd has reverted back to the one-trick scorer that he has been ever since he signed his big contract a few seasons ago.
Now, don't misunderstand, that "one trick" is good enough to make Redd an above average player, but you're maximum dollar guy has to be much better than just above average or your team will struggle (its the Pareto Principle at work -- the top 20% of your roster is almost always counted on to deliver around 80% of your team's wins).
Redd showed me signs in November that he was going to be a big time Win Contributor, transforming himself mid-career in the same way Rick Barry transformed himself from a volume scorer to an all-around superstar prior to Golden State's 1975 championship season, but I am beginning to think that what I saw was a mirage.
(2) Both Parties Might Be Better Off
For their part, the Bucks probably want to turn the page. The last few seasons have not exactly been filled with glory. A trade allows the team to wipe Redd's salary off the books, and it allows either Andrew Bogut or some as yet unacquired player to become their next cornerstone.
At the same time, Redd would most likely flourish in a secondary role on some other team. On the Milwaukee Bucks, he just seems to be a great character actor who is miscast as a leading man. But if you put him on a contending team that lacks a designated shooter, I think he would truly shine. In fact, had he gone to Cleveland to play with LeBron, that team probably has more than one conference championship, and maybe a world championship, already.
With that in mind, however, the Bucks can't simply give Redd away. They have to get value for him. And they will need to find someone capable of replacing Redd's scoring punch.
But we'll probably have all summer to discuss those things, so let's not get ahead of ourselves.