Changing of the guard, forward and center, Part II
Part II: Bucks newcomers echo holdovers' approval of moves
By Truman Reed
"All of these guys want to win," Gooden said.
One cannot blame Drew Gooden, Corey Maggette, Keyon Dooling, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Jon Brockman and Earl Boykins for welcoming the changes of scenery they experienced during the summer of 2010.
After all, the teams for which they played during the 2009-10 National Basketball Association season finished a combined 174 games below .500 -- or an average of 35 games below the break-even mark. Needless to say, none of them participated in the 2010 NBA Playoffs.
And as they prepare to start the 2010-11 campaign in different uniforms, they're enthusiastic that they'll all be wearing the forest green, red and white of the Milwaukee Bucks.
The six players, who have a combined 44 years of NBA experience, were the products of a dramatic roster makeover by third-year Bucks General Manager John Hammond, who rebuilt the Bucks into a playoff team in his second year at the helm.
The first to join the Bucks fold was Maggette, acquired along with a 2010 second-round draft pick from Golden State on June 22 in exchange for Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell.
Three days later, Douglas-Roberts was obtained from the New Jersey Nets in exchange for the 2012 second-round pick the Bucks had received from the Chicago Bulls in the John Salmons trade last February.
On July 8, the Bucks not only re-signed Salmons, whose acquisition helped launch them toward their first playoff trip in four years, but signed Gooden - a thorn in their side for years - to a multiyear free-agent deal.
Dooling, who like Douglas-Roberts played for the New Jersey Nets in 2009-10, inked a free-agent deal with Milwaukee on July 19, and two days after that, the Bucks traded Darnell Jackson and a 2011 second-round draft choice to Sacramento for Brockman.
Boykins, who played 35 games for Milwaukee during the 2006-07 season and was a member of the Washington Wizards last season, became the latest piece of the Bucks puzzle Aug. 20 when he signed free-agent contract to begin a second tour of duty in Milwaukee.
Maggette didn't see his trade to the Bucks coming until learning they were interested in him and he had the opportunity to talk to Hammond and Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles. And they were convincing.
"I had an opportunity to talk to John and Scott," Maggette said. "At the end of the day, they gave me a choice. They told me, 'If you want to be here, we'll get you here.' It was great to actually talk to the guys and feel comfortable about it. So at the end of the day, it was a good decision, I think, because I have such a good relationship with John Hammond and I totally respect Scott Skiles.
"If it's about playing basketball, you want to go where you have the best opportunity to win and be successful. And this is a great opportunity. The guys here are young, but they want to win. They're very competitive and very confident. I'm just looking forward to playing with these guys. I believe in Scott and I believe in John, and now I believe in my teammates."
Maggette has averaged better than 20 points per game in three of his 11 NBA seasons, but he did not anticipate stepping into the Bucks mix and becoming the go-to guy. He considers himself one of the guys.
"The core of this team is still here," he said. "I'm just an addition to this team to try to help the ballclub. I'm here to help out, maybe get us to the foul line more often. But I'm just an addition."
Gooden, too, is an established NBA player, but he is also beginning his Milwaukee experience with a team-first approach. He likes what the Bucks accomplished last season and the personnel that has been acquired to join the holdovers.
"All of these guys want to win," Gooden said., "I was talking to Corey and Keyon. We're at the point of our careers where we want to win. There's not much point in talking about what team we might be on next. We're focusing on what we can do on this team this year.
"It's good to have the group of guys around us that we have. They did it. The guys who were here before did it last year and set this team up to where it is now. All we want to do is help add to that."
Dooling, who was a playoff competitor with Miami and Orlando earlier in his career, is also grateful to be part of a progressive organization after suffering through a 12-70 campaign with New Jersey last season.
"I was excited to be coming here," Dooling said. "Obviously the team was good without me being on the roster. So just to have an opportunity to come from the situation I was in last year to a legitimate contender is exciting for me.
`I've played with a few of these guys before, so that's exciting as well. It should be good for me and it should be fun for us. I'm as hungry as I've ever been. I'm excited to get back to winning, first of all. Coming from New Jersey, winning is very important to me. I'll do whatever it is I need to do. I've developed a 3-ball. I can manage the game, make open shots, play solid defense, and try to do those things every night."
Douglas-Roberts has just two seasons of NBA experience, but he did not want to live through another one like the one he spent with New Jersey last year. He was thrilled when he learned he had been acquired by the Bucks.
"The Bucks reached out early in the offseason, so I had a feeling I might be coming to Milwaukee," Douglas-Roberts said. "Once it was official, I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to get here. It was just a total 360 from team to team. This is definitely an up-and-coming organization. You want to be a part of something like this. Once I found out, I was happy. I was ready to get it going.
"The guys they've brought in here, first of all, are great character guys, especially the veterans. You can't ask for nothing more out of veteran guys. The guys who have been in the league a long time really don't have to care about that, but they're here, they want to be here, they're encouraging, and they always give words of advice. It's great to have veteran guys with character here with us young players."
Brockman was the first of the Bucks newcomers to arrive in Milwaukee to put down his roots. His blue-collar work ethic will no doubt make him a fast favorite of Bucks fans, and he is excited to join forces with both the Bucks holdovers and his fellow newcomers.
"I was pumped-up, really excited, when I heard I'd been traded here," Brockman said. "I think it's a great fit. The city has made me feel really welcome and I'm really excited to be here and be a part of this program.
"The Bucks were a great team last year. There are a lot of new faces, but the main core is still here. I think in Brandon and Andrew, they're two great players. They've made some good. On paper, we have a lot of good pieces. But everyone knows you have to put those pieces together and you've got to play together. You've got to adapt and change sometimes. It's good that we're very versatile and can play different ways. The more tools you have in your tool chest, the better."
Boykins was impressed with the Bucks marked improvement last season. He believes he and the team's other additions can bolster the nucleus and continue the progression.
"I'm very much looking forward to being a part of the Bucks, a team that has a chance to compete and win basketball games," Boykins said. "At this point of my career, it's really about being on a team that has a chance to win.
"I think all of the new guys are going to bring leadership. We're all veterans. We've all been around the league. We all know what it takes to win basketball games. And in order to be successful and go deep into the playoffs, you're going to need depth. I think, with the additions of myself and the other new veterans on this team, we're a much deeper team than the Bucks were last year
"It's very exciting to be back on a team that has a chance to make a deep run into the playoffs."
Let the games begin.