Bucks fans hope that after the media's cameras and recorders were put away, the players and coaching staff took a little time to introduce themselves to each other.
This offseason few teams in the NBA experienced as much turnover as the Milwaukee Bucks. From the front office to the coach to 10 -- count 'em, 10! -- new faces on the roster, these aren't your father's Milwaukee Bucks. Heck, they're not even my 1-year-old daughter's Milwaukee Bucks.
If any team needed to be scrubbed from top to bottom, besides the New York Knicks, the Bucks did. Last season, injuries, inexperience and egotism combined to make a toxic stew that culminated in a 26-56 record, the third-worst in franchise history. By the end of that season, even the casual fan could see those Bucks who staggered to the finish line didn't much care for the sight of each other.
Then again, most Bucks fans, who haven't seen this franchise win 43 or more games in a season since that glorious run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001, won't care about conflicting personalities in the locker room as long as those players can move the ball on offense and play some tough-nosed defense, both of which the Bucks either seemed uninterested in or incapable of doing last season.
So, this team needed tough love. New General Manager John Hammond had just the man for the job: Scott Skiles.
Though he holds the NBA single-game record for assists, 30 against the Nuggets in 1990, Skiles has become more famous for his pugnacity on the sidelines and getting into a spats with his players. Remember his tiff with then-Bulls center Ben Wallace over Big Ben's headband? Yeah. Fun. Skiles' abrasive, no punches-pulled style has rubbed players the wrong way, first in Phoenix and then in Chicago.
Yet, Skiles' philosophy of quick ball movement on offense and in-your-grille D often gets immediate results. In his first full seasons with the Suns and Bulls, Skiles had combined winning percentage of .597 (98-66). Can Skiles quickly turn things around in Milwaukee? That may depend on the one Buck who has seen plenty of change but has spent his entire eight-year career in the same place: Michael Redd.
The newly minted gold medalist must take charge on the court and in the locker room to make this team a playoff threat. Despite the addition of small forward Richard Jefferson and Andrew Bogut's post presence, this team, by virtue of his contract and longevity with the team, belongs to Redd. Yet, in the three seasons since he signed his six-year deal, Redd's Bucks have made the playoffs once and are a combined 94-152 in the regular season.
Maybe this is why Redd's value to the franchise has been debated on Bucks message boards and blogs (yes, there are such blogs: here, here, here and here) for the better part of two seasons now. Even Redd expressed surprise he wasn't part of Hammond's cleaning and dressing of last year's Bucks roster.
Redd can temporarily quiet his critics on the Intertubes and re-establish his All-Star credentials by synching with Skiles. Redd admitted he and former coach Larry Krystkowiak didn't see eye-to-eye last season, and not because Krystkowiak is four inches taller than Redd.
"There wasn't a huge chemistry there, obviously," Redd said. "But I'm professional and he was professional about it, and we had a professional working relationship."
Not exactly the warm-and-fuzzy relationship, especially in chilly Milwaukee, fans would like to see from their team leader and the coach. Will Redd be able to buy into Skiles' in-your-face, under-your-skin and on-your-nerves management style?
If Redd can do it, the Bucks have a chance to make some noise in the East. If not, it could be another lost season in Brew Town.
-- Rob Peterson