Milwaukee Bucks Links: Season-Circling-the-Drain Edition

New York Times: The Bucks got a brief mention on page A1 of the New York Times, tucked in between stories on Republican power brokers and the aftermath of the Chilean mine accident.  Unfortunately, the Bucks were noted for being on the wrong side of the NBA’s competitive imbalance problem.

N.B.A. owners want strict new controls on payrolls, to close a widening gap between big-market and small-market franchises. They want shorter, smaller player contracts, so teams can overcome injuries and mistakes. They want, in effect, to ensure that the Milwaukee Bucks have as much a chance as the Green Bay Packers of bringing a title to Wisconsin.

Although the N.B.A.’s labor crisis is certainly about money, how best to divide its billions, the negotiations ultimately stalled over broader, systemic concerns.

Yes, harder caps/harsher luxury taxes would benefit the small-market Bucks.  And yes, author Howard Beck does mention that the lockout is about money here and again once later when detailing the union’s point of view.  But those were two brief asides on a story straight from the NBA PR smokescreen.

There are numbers in the piece exposing in detail how teams that spend more money win more games.  Of course they do, silly.  But there’s a fine line between correlation and causation, and Mr. Beck has missed it completely. Spending doesn’t imply winning; if anything, it’s just the opposite:  winning causes spending.Teams that spend more money win more precisely because they know they are on the cusp of success.  They sign big free agents in the offseason, hoping to make the push from 47 wins to 58 wins.  They add a pricey mid-season acquisition with the idea of fixing a team weakness before the playoffs begin.  Successful teams spend money to add to their success.

Inversely, sub-.500 teams dump salary at every turn.  Once it is clear that losing is inevitable, bottom-feeders trade away expensive talent, knowing that it’s better to get a front-row seat in the draft lottery than it is to go to battle for a #8 seed.

It is disappointing to see Mr. Beck regurgitating the NBA’s company line and backing it up with faux statistics.

Racine Journal Times:  Gery Woelfel reports on Caron Butler and his recovery from knee surgery.  The closing line of his story leaves open the possibility of Butler coming home to Wisconsin.

The Mavericks have made it clear they want to retain Butler’s services, but several teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks, are expected to seriously court him.

Would Butler be a good fit in Milwaukee?  Consider my interest piqued.

Orlando Business Journal:  Drew Gooden wants to buy a lot of chicken wings. No, you don’t understand; he literally wants to purchase millions of them.  Fortunately, his main purpose is to resell them.

Gooden — who played last season with the Milwaukee Bucks and had two seasons with Orlando in the early 2000s — along with operating partner George Taylor III last month inked a deal with Texas restaurant chain Wingstop Inc. to open four new restaurants in the Orlando area. The pair, as Zerocon Food Systems LLC, plan to open the eatery in areas such as Altamonte Springs, Dr. Phillips, Lake Mary, the University of Central Florida main campus area in east Orlando and Winter Park, just to name a few possible locations.

(Side note:  I think I understand the ‘zero‘ in Zerocon, but if that name is an amalgam then what does this say about his partner? )

Gooden said he expects to sign the first lease by the end of this month, most likely in the Altamonte Springs area.

Gooden’s goal: To grow Wingstop in Orlando to the proportions of Five Guys Burgers and Fries or Jimmy Johns.

“I did lot of research on different franchises,” he said, adding that he wanted to land a Five Guys deal, but that the only franchises available were outside of the United States. “Wingstop is where Five Guys was four years ago, and now it’s got 15-20 locations throughout Orlando.”

Junior Bridgeman, eat your Baconator-loving heart out.

Clipperblog:  The Drew/Goodman rematch game took place over the weekend.  The sole Buck in the proceedings, Brandon Jennings, laid an egg.  And a brick.  And another brick.  And a turnover.  Needless to say, it was rather an eyesore.  As Jovan Buha put it,

Whenever Jennings had the ball, his thought process was:

1) Can I pull up and hit this jumper?

2) Can I attack the rim and try some flashy, fancy lay-up (that I’ll most likely miss)?

3) Can I try and cross up John Wall (or Marcus Banks) and/or embarrass him in some manner?

4) How can I make my teammates life harder? Bad pass? Turnover? What? Come on guys, I need to know!

5) Why is John Wall showing me up right now? I’m better than him… Let me prove it (clanks jumper).

Please don’t flow-chart that one for me.  Thanks.  I don’t want to be depressed any further than I already am by this lockout.  Perhaps Lee Jenkins’ piece on Brandon will make me feel better about his play (and yet much worse about my own writing skills.)

Huffington Post:  If Congress needs to get involved in the NBA lockout as some point, would they pull the trigger and do it?  Does Herb Kohl’s role in the Senate play any role in that decision?

So if the NBA’s lockout of its players, workers and fans is not in the best interest of the public, Congress can and should investigate. The Senate Judiciary Committee has a subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights, which would seem to be the appropriate body to investigate the lockout.

Guess who chairs that subcommittee? Milwaukee Bucks owner and Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl.

Now, if the Judiciary Committee did take up the issue, Kohl would likely recuse himself. But what are the odds it takes up the issue in the first place with Kohl on the committee?

Ideally, Kohl should turn over his gavel to someone else on the committee without a direct conflict of interest — someone like Sen. Al Franken or Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Then, the committee could call as its first witness none other than Kohl, so he could explain why he and the other owners are willing to shut out local businesses and workers in the interests of his own profits.

This article is reactionary and a bit over the top, but it does raise a valid question about the conflict of interest that arises before the conflict of interest.

WISN.com:  What’s the economic impact of a Bucks season? The Milwaukee Association of Commerce says it’s $86 million and a thousand jobs.

Tags: Brandon Jennings Caron Butler Drew Gooden Herb Kohl

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