Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks selected T.J. Ford eighth overall in 2003
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
2005 DRAFT SELECTIONS
No. 1, No. 36
CURRENT FREE AGENTS
Marcus Fizer (unrestricted)
Dan Gadzuric (restricted)
Anthony Goldwire (unrestricted)
Toni Kukoc (unrestricted)
Zaza Pachulia (restricted)
Michael Redd (player option)
Daniel Santiago (unrestricted)
Erick Strickland (unrestricted)
RECENT DRAFT SELECTIONS
2003: 8. T.J. Ford, Texas
35. Szymon Szewczyk, Germany
43. Keith Bogans, Kentucky
2002: 13. Marcus Haislip, Tenn.
34. Dan Gadzuric, UCLA
42. Ronald Murray, Shaw
48. Chris Owens, Texas
2001: 52. Andre Hutson, Mich. St.
2000: 15. Jason Collier, Ga. Tech
43. Michael Redd, Ohio State
49. Jason Hart, Syracuse
1999: 48. Galen Young, UNC-Charlotte
By Bill Evans

When the 2004-05 season began: The Bucks were hoping to build upon Terry Porter's successful 41-win debut, while developing young talent around the explosive Desmond Mason and scoring machine Michael Redd.

What happened? The Bucks never recovered from a 3-15 swoon that began during the second week of the season and lingered like the Grinch through the holidays.

The team realized its worst-case scenario when T.J. Ford missed the entire season while continuing to recover from a neck injury that cut short his impressive rookie season. Replacements Mike James and Maurice Williams didn't provide the caliber of play that Ford and Damon Jones brought the previous season, though Williams did show promise with 10.2 points and 6.1 assists in his second NBA campaign.

Redd played under the specter of impending free agency and with the burden of carrying the franchise. His 23.0 ppg were a career-best, but didn't earn a return engagement to the All-Star game. Mason, a full-time starter for the first time in his career, also had his best scoring year (17.2 ppg), but his shooting percentage and rebounding totals swooned.

At the trading deadline, the team dealt James and Keith Van Horn to clear cap space for this summer, leaving journeymen Anthony Goldwire and Marcus Fizer among those logging big minutes.

Nevertheless, Porter was able to keep his charges motivated until the final six weeks of the season, when they managed only home wins against Orlando, New York and Charlotte during a 3-15 finish in which they were completely disinterested in playing defense. In a nadir that spanned their final two games, the Bucks allowed 122 and 127 points.

What now? The Bucks jump started their rebuilding effort when they defied the odds to win the draft lottery. The No. 1 pick will be little more than a consolation prize, however, if the they are unable to re-sign Redd, an unrestricted free agent.

Redd has publicly stated a desire to come back to Milwaukee. Until that agreement is reached, though, expect a lot of hand-wringing from Bucks execs vulnerable to a change of heart (see also: Boozer, Carlos) or an armored-car-offer from another franchise that Milwaukee is unwilling to match (see also: Nash, Steve).

The Bucks have plenty of needs (point guard, power forward, center) and will be a major player in the free agent market, after clearing cap room at the trade deadline and getting the bloated contracts of Jason Caffey and Anthony Mason off the books.

This is a team in search of talent at nearly every position, and General Manager Larry Harris has the assets to tab a potential franchise player, retain his top scorer and give the Bucks the depth they lacked a year ago.