Media availability with Bucks Head Coach Terry Stotts and General Manager Larry Harris
Bucks Training Center - May 5, 2006
What are your thoughts on the season?
I have mixed feelings about the season because going into the year, the goals set before us were to make it to the playoffs with the young roster and improve the young talent. I think that all of our young players improved over the season. We accomplished the goals that were set before us in October. There were a lot of high points and low points throughout the year, which is normal in the NBA season. With that there were some disappointments with the way the season ended because we had a chance to have a higher seed in the playoffs and unfortunately that's what's fresh in people's minds. On the whole there were a lot of good things that happened in the year with the players and the franchise. I think everybody is looking forward to what we can do next year.
What can the team improve on?
The biggest thing is probably getting better. I think one of the weaknesses in general this year is the consistency, which is characteristic of a young team. At times we were a good offensive team and at times we were a good defensive team. We went a stretch where we held teams to 12 games under 95 points, so during that stretch we were a good defensive team. We started off the season as a running, scoring team. I think more than anything it's establishing a consistent way of playing that we can count on every night.
What do you think of the players on this team?
The players we had competed very hard. We did a lot of good things. We were a good shooting team, a good rebounding team at times. We were a good running team at times and we were a good defensive team at times. When you look through the course of the season, we just didn't have that consistency in necessarily one area or another.
How do you determine the number of minutes each player plays?
When you have consistency, there's consistent minutes. When there's inconsistent play, it gets to be a little more inconsistent. From a player-management rotation standpoint, we had a very deep team and with that we had 10, 11 guys who played well for us. When you have consistency throughout, you're able to establish something. When you look at Detroit, they have a great understanding of their starters. There's consistency there and with the players on the bench. The better the team you are, the more consistent you play, the more consistent the minutes are.
How did Andrew Bogut feel about his performance this season and do you agree?
Well I think Andrew was a little hard on himself. I think he had a good year. What he did being the number one pick and being in the playoffs isn't something that has been done often the last couple years. He should be proud of what he's done and how he's helped this team to succeed. That was his number one goal coming into the season and he accomplished that goal. The fact that he wants to do better, I think that's terrific. I think everybody on the roster wants to do better and to make the team better. I wouldn't expect anything less.
He will have a lot of confidence in his ability as he improves. As he improves and gets better, his responsibility will continue to grow. I would expect him to want to have a better role because he's a very important part of our franchise going forward and he showed great improvement throughout the year and he will show improvement through the next year and the next. I understand he's not satisfied with what he did - with what we did - but he should be proud of what we accomplished and what he did.
I think in the year he had, it was a tough adjustment. It's probably the reason why the #1 pick doesn't make it to the playoffs very often - the responsibility that is generally thrust on them. The year he had and playing power forward alongside Jamaal helped him, and I think helped the team. It'll probably help his growth as a player as he goes forward.
Do you believe this experience against the Detroit Pistons will help the team?
Its interesting hearing some of their comments or reading some of their comments - what they say to you - comparing us to Detroit. There are 29 teams out there who would love to be Detroit. Detroit is probably one of the most balanced and consistent teams that's come along in the NBA for a long time. They won a championship two years ago and they're favored to win a championship this year. There's not a basketball person that doesn't admire what they do. With that being said, I think the experience of playing Detroit in the playoffs, the experience of having the pressure to make it to the playoffs for a month, jockeying a race for a position, was an invaluable experience for all of them.
What are your thoughts on Bobby Simmons performance this season?
Bobby had a good year and what he did - if you look at his numbers - what he did this year is not far off what he did last year on a per-minute basis. The expectations that went up when he signed the contract are probably a little higher than they should be but I was really happy with what Bobby did. As a player coming in, he was unselfish. He tried to fit in. He didn't try to come in and justify anything. He was a constant professional. He played better the second half of the season as he adjusted to the team. He played the last two or three months of the season injured. He played through that and didn't complain. He just went out there and did his job every night. I think people put unrealistic expectations on him. I think going into next year, now having a better feeling for Bobby and for that matter all the players, he will be able to adjust to our offense and do different things because of how we as a coaching staff know the players and how the players know each other.
Bobby had a good year. He had a tough series against Detroit. I believe it was unfair sometimes that people complained about Bobby during the Detroit series when scoring points outside Game One was not an issue. We scored points as a team. But we had a hard time stopping them as much as anything else.
How will the team find the leaders on the team?
Leadership is one of those intangible things that every team and every coach wants and it has to come naturally. When you have a young team, how that works out - it has to come naturally. It comes with respect and trust amongst one another. To have leadership you have to have people that are willing to follow that leadership. [I remember Jerry Sloan saying that there are probably five or six great leaders in the league and he had about two of them in Stockton and Malone.] Almost every team I've been with in the NBA has talked about leadership. Some teams are 60-win teams and were still talking about leadership. It's one of those things, from a coaching standpoint, you crave to have that in your locker room and we're no different.
Will there be any changes within the coaching staff?
I've spent the last two days meeting with players. We're going to meet up with Larry, me and my staff. Everything is evaluated, but as of now there are no changes.
How well did Michael perform this year?
Michael, as you mentioned, has gotten better every year. His growth, I said it once when I got the job and will say it again, every challenge that has been put before him he's accepted and succeeded and this year was no different. He will have different challenges next year. He led the team after the pressure of signing a contract to get a team to the playoffs, improving in a lot of different areas and improving in not only scoring, but assists.
He had a very good series after Game 1 against Detroit, the way he bounced back. He's a unique individual and a unique talent and how he grows in the years to come, it's going to be fun to watch. It's going to be beyond basketball, it's going to be the next step. He wasn't satisfied with this season. He wasn't happy being the eighth seed, as all of us were disappointed, and I think that's going to be the driving motivator, not just for him, but everybody.
What was the most disappointing part of the season?
Not necessarily from a team perspective but the disappointment of when the fifth seed was right there with a week to go and we weren't able to get it. They were happy to be in the playoffs but disappointed with how it ended. Every player looks at it from their viewpoint, but from a team standpoint, I would say that's a common theme.
Was Toni Kukoc a joy to coach?
One of the great things for me this year was coaching Toni because I have always had such a respect and admiration for what he has done as a player, not only in the NBA but Europe. I hold him in very high esteem for a player, for what he was able to do for us this season. I was fortunate. If you go down the list of guys I am proud to have coached, Toni is one of them.
Will Toni return next season?
I know he wants to play next year and I know he likes Milwaukee.
Did you enjoy coaching a young team?
It was a roller coaster for me. We weren't able necessarily to string along good winning streaks and we didn't have long losing streaks. Coaching a young team has its challenges. How the season went as far as having a team in training camp and then having another team in the success we had early on. Me personally, I gained a lot of satisfaction about what we accomplished this year. An 82 game season is a long year. We had highs and lows, but I'm just as excited now as I was in July that I'm the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.
I will say that there are areas that we can certainly improve on and there are things that I probably would have done differently. I learned from it and it was a unique experience with the roster and the make up of the team, but winning some close games was great. It's disappointing we lost a lot of games late.
How do you feel about the season?
What I would say about the season is that we made a lot of progress certainly with the team we ended with last season and started with this season. [There were] a lot of acquisitions and a lot of players without playoff experience - added a new head coach. There were a lot of things that had to come together in a short amount of time.
Having Jamaal Magloire before the season started, putting him in as a starting center and moving Andrew to forward - the dynamics of that. Bringing Bobby Simmons into a new role as far as being a starter. He earned a large contract. There were a lot of expectations surrounding that as well and having the most improved player on your roster. T.J. was coming off a devastating injury and how the mixture of all that was going to develop. Saying all that, making it to the playoffs was the ultimate goal. That was the number one goal and we achieved that.
The disappointment came in the Atlanta game when we could have put ourselves in the fifth or sixth spot. Certainly we would have taken a top four spot, but when it's in your grasp and there's a chance to get there, that disappointment is [still] there.
Speaking with Mo Williams yesterday, I'll share what he said about the playoffs. "It was like being back at the National Tournament." As much pain as he was going through he said, "I can't tell you what it was like to play in a playoff series and I don't want to ever not be a part of that again." As we talked about fourof the five starters have never played together. I think the experience is invaluable. When we talk about games that we should have and could have won last year we can focus to what it's like to play in the playoffs and where we don't want to be. You want to put yourself in a position where you're not playing the number one seed every year. Even though we finished 40-42, the goal was the playoffs and we'll be better next year. The continuity, a number of our players will return. How many players that is will remain to be seen in the offseason.
The keys are that we made progress. I like a lot of what happened individually with our team. There's a lot of good accolades individually. We've got to mold this team, find the pieces that we want and go in the direction of continuing to get better so we are a perennial playoff team, and we have a chance to get to the conference finals and a chance to eventually play for the big trophy.
What type of player does the team need for next season?
I think our biggest need is an athletic swingman. When I say that, I mean someone who can play the 3-2 or 2-3. Now he can be defensive minded. He doesn't have to be a person that's going to dunk and all those other really athletic things. I want him to be different than what Michael and Bobby bring to the table. Our biggest area of improvement that we need to get is in the defensive end of the floor. I think Terry is really aware of that and our numbers jump out at us - our opponents shot 46.6% for the season. In order for us to get better our players will get better individually, they're going to do things in the summer that will bring a skill back. Andrew will be better, Michael will be better, T.J. will be better and so on and so forth. If we don't get better [as a] team defensively and bring that field goal percentage shooting down, we're going to be treading this up and down inconsistency. If you look at the teams in the finals, those teams that are going to be there are going to be arguably two of the best defensive teams out there.
How will the team attain this defensive attribute?
Defense comes from effort, number one, and it also comes from schemes. It also comes from knowing your players, their strengths and as Terry defined earlier, I think he learned a lot about his feelings about how to use players in the offense and defense positions to succeed.
What would you like to get out of this four position?
[We want] a similar player that has athletic ability. We need a defensive player. If you said can we get a defensive player that can shoot the three, put it on the floor, guard some of the best twos and threes in the league and come off the bench and understand his role, that is the guy I want.
Do you believe the trade for Jamaal Magloire hindered the development of Andrew Bogut?
I say no because Andrew's development with Jamaal Magloire cannot be understated. To me, Andrew Bogut in the article[s] saying he didn't have a good year is who he is. If he were to come and say he had a good year you guys would be shocked to hear that end of it. That's more of who he is, the way he described himself in the paper. When I met with him [Bogut], it was all [about] I need to get better, I want to go to the World Championships this summer and I'm going to come back a new player. Not only is he proving it to himself, but he's proving it to me and the coaches. He also wants to prove it to the fans and you guys [the media] - that what you saw was a shell of who he is offensively, of where he can take his game to.
He's just scratched the surface and his competitiveness, his ability to feel the game and his basketball IQ is never going to change, but his basketball game is going to improve. He's going to improve with confidence, with playing. The reason Jamaal Magloire was brought here is because the one thing I thought could happen, and it did, what happens if Joe Smith or one of the big guys goes down? We're not solid enough and we're depending on Andrew to play five and put himself in a position where he can't feel his first year out with ups and downs. He has to be so good every night that there would have been so much undo pressure on him and I don't think its fair.
What type of style does the team have?
If you look at the style of play we have, we're a team that likes to open the floor. I think Andrew is better with spacing, the rest of our players like to play more of an open style of game where we're cutting, where we can post up Bobby, where we can post up Michael, where we can put Andrew down in the block, so someone that can space the floor.
Are there any more positions the team needs to fill?
I think we might need another guard. We brought in Jermaine Jackson toward the end of the season and stayed with us after the cut-down date. You never know about injuries, you never know what's happening. I don't think you can ever have enough positions especially in your backcourt with your point guard and your two.
Will there be any trades for next season?
I haven't gotten in the position where we decide trades or what free agents [to sign]. For us, we're more locked into free agency. We have a lot of assets. We have a lot of people with varying contracts with one year left. We have a lot of pieces to our team that are very appealing to a lot of teams. We have depth in a lot of different positions. We need help in some positions, so there could be a lot of movement. We have ten players under contract coming back next year. There are a number of things that will come into factor as we move along in the summer and try to decide where we want to put the main pieces - the core of our team and where their true positions are.
Are there some determinates as to who will be traded?
Many of the players are in different stages of their career. When you look for certain trades or teams that are trying to cut payroll with a player because they want to go a different direction or given a massive contract to [a player] that they want to make a change to. That's generally why people with one-year contracts are more appealing because they can be moved around. With Jamaal, he's a starting center on a playoff team. He's a person that was 10th in league in rebounding and 10th in rebounds per minute. What he did, setting a career high, the guy has skill. He has talent. If you look at a lot of teams, there aren't a lot of true centers. As you get into the playoffs and do better you need some kind of size on your team. When you're moving people around, you have to make sure you have pieces that compliment your needs.
How did the team respond to being in the playoffs?
They all identified the fans in the playoffs in Game 3 and Game 4. When they left Detroit, they didn't know what they were really going to see especially those who haven't been around before. Our fans were great this year. I thought they enjoyed our team. I thought they enjoyed the way we played. For the most part everyone was excited with what we're doing, the team that we have, the team we have assembled and that was a reflection with the seven sellouts. I think we had over 16,700 in attendance on average. The fans have to understand that as much we like being in the playoffs, we're not satisfied with that. We're going to do better, we're going to make progress and I think that comes from everybody. They can't take away those experiences they learned with Detroit, but they understand what it will take during the regular season to put themselves in a position to have homecourt advantage and put themselves in a position to play a favorable matchup no matter what our record is next year.
How will the team's salary cap affect the addition or changes to the players and contracts?
We have the ability with our cap situation and salaries where they're at. There are two [options] out there. There's the mid-level exception that'll be a little over $5 million used a lot of different ways. You can add players up to that and a lot can be used. You can use a biennial exception where you can take approximately $1.75 million, but that's used every other year. We did not use it last year because we were under the cap.
Will the development come from the core team or additions?
I think where we will get better with the improvement within the team we have. I think we'll look at that and if that opens up some slots we'll look at free agency.
What will occur after the draft and draft interviews?
After that, we'll start bringing players in and we'll open that up. I want you guys to be apart of that.
Of the non-contract players, who wants to continue to play in the NBA?
All of the guys are in varying parts of their career. Ervin wants to play one more year. Toni certainly wants to play one more year. Jermaine Jackson would like to play one more year. Jiri Welsch wants to be in a position where he can play and Reece really needs to take this summer to be on some summer league teams and be in the position where he can define what he's going to be whether a two or three guard.
What are your thoughts on Reece as a player?
He's [got] a great character - a great person to work with. He just hasn't really had a chance and also hasn't really defined himself as a player.
How do you feel about Terry Stotts coaching technique?
As a general manager, you have to put your coach in a position to help him along the way. I don't think it's the GM's place to say this guy needs to play 12 minutes and get this many shots. You need to set the table and define your team. This past year, I always thought depth in Milwaukee was the key and two, you see people involved in what Michael Redd did, T.J. Ford and Andrew Bogut. When you can really define three or four and say these are your guys, [you can] put them around players that compliment them and you can exchange the pieces.
When you have those 9 or 10 guys, you have to give him the best players to succeed under his style of play. Finding out Terry's style of play is more of an open style of play, moving the basketball and wants to play where there is more freedom to make plays for one another.
I want to put together players who know that they will get this amount of minutes so they'll be able to get this kind of consistency. I don't want to put someone like Toni, in a point where in is career, or Jiri or some of these other guys - do you understand it may only be eight minutes, that it may be some DNDs, that it may not be every night. Can you handle that? And sometimes because you don't know about injuries, I want to make sure that when I put this team together this summer that it will be defined more by the depth that is there and that you can win with this team. [I want to be] putting together a list of 9 or 10 guys in rotation that Terry can work with and that is something I will work with.
Should the team be disappointed about playing against the top Eastern seed?
When you're within the last week and you have a chance [to get to the 5th and 6th seed] and you're really in control of that. That you're disappointed because you belonged in the playoffs - you competed against a team that may win it all. A team that's been together, that's got all the experience. The disappointment is that we can play with this team and why didn't we show that in times where it really could have helped us. You give yourself a better chance because of the team you're playing. To be in that last couple weeks and have that ability to do it and not get it done, hopefully that will carry over to next season. Why there is not a little bit of being satisfied and being disappointed is a little frustrating because you had it right there and you let it slip away. What do you do as a team? Do you say well me, it's this guy's fault and it's not me? No, you take responsibility for what you do. I have to do better, Terry's got to do better and challenge the player's that they have to do better - the core that we bring back.
Will this press conference serve as a confirmation of no changes to the management and coaching staff?
Certainly when you go back a year prior to this what transpired, but really it was one of those things where you learn from past experiences. If you know where you're going, you have direction, you understand what you need to do to get better - we've met with some of the players, met with Senator Kohl, met with Terry and we have done some of these preliminary meetings. We know what we're doing. We're moving on.
Management and coaching are coming back and we're going to get better. It's coincidental if anything. The season is over. We have made progress and we need to get better, but [the purpose of the conference], it's to talk to you guys [reporters] about where we're going, give you a plan and move on.
How do you feel about Terry as a coach?
He learned a lot about being with a young team, being with a team that had a lot of expectations that were put upon themselves by myself, by himself, by the team and how to adjust to that. I think he's learned a lot about his own players. Things he will make adjustments [to] both offensively and defensively. I think things will happen next year that he saw transpiring this past year. As we all learned from experiences, he will get better. I think he brought together a coaching staff that he felt needed to be hard-working once it was going to work with the players knowing it's a young team. I think he put together that kind of staff yet he's in a position where he knows a lot of pressure, as myself, we have to get better.
We have to have more wins. Its important. We have to show improvement in different areas. He [Terry] will be the first to tell you it's going to start with him as the head coach. He's got to find a way to maximize Bobby, and how does Michael come back and do what he did - maybe on a higher level. Now T.J., in his second full season, how he gets better. Bringing Andrew back and maximizing what he can do because all of you, the fans [and] everybody that's associated with this organization is excited about the progress we made and where we're going. There's going to be a buzz six months from now about this team and what we've put together. How good are we going to be? I think Terry's up to the challenge for that as well as our players.
Are there any changes from this year you would like to reverse?
You have to give up something to get something and I think when you get a starting center, whatever position, you have to give up something. You have to evaluate what you can do to get this done. Speaking of Jamaal, it wasn't like the Milwaukee Bucks were the only ones that made an offer to him. We had to decide what was important. What was important to me was size and we needed to make the playoffs. It's a decision I had to make. It's one I don't regret doing.
How will the draft pick situation affect the team?
The possibility of things that can happen to develop our team. The 15th pick would probably be a good player in time. I think the draft - it's a good draft. I don't know if there's going to be a guy who's going to step in and make a big significant difference like Andrew Bogut, Chris Paul or Deron Williams. I don't know if he's going to be that impactful, but the 15th pick will probably play and at some point have a career. We have a young enough team. These guys need to play together. We need to develop [as a team].