Welcome to Part II of my Bucks Media Day 2012 coverage, which is quickly turning into Bucks Media Week.
If you missed it yesterday, Part I featured head coach Scott Skiles.
I’ll be posting full audio and transcribed excerpts from the all of the Bucks players within the next couple of days. This section, however, focuses on general manager John Hammond – who, like Skiles, is in the final year of his extended contract and on the hot seat after consecutive lottery appearances.
Hammond answered questions at the podium for about 13 minutes. Below, I transcribed a few of his more interesting comments.
On comparing this team to others in the past:
We’re getting ready to start our fifth year. For the first four years, the bar has not been as high [as this season], except after year two, when we won the 46 games and went to the playoffs. We made some changes to our roster, and people expected us to have a great year [in 2010]. I think rightfully so. I thought we had a very good team and a very good roster. That season we were decimated by injuries. I could go on and on and sing the song and dance of Drew [Gooden] missing 40-plus games, Brandon [Jennings] breaking his foot and missing 20 or 22 games, [Carlos] Delfino missing 32 games with a concussion, Ersan [Ilyasova] missing 25 games with a concussion, and on and on. That season, expectations were extremely high. We made some changes to our roster last year – we were excited. Andrew had an injury again early on, and we were probably heading in a difficult direction. We made the trade and kind of got back into the playoff race. Where we are today, we have a team where we at least have size. We’re big. In order to compete, you need to have size…We expect to have a good season. We expect to have a playoff team – and that’s the goal.
On the depth at the guard positions:
The teams that are predicted to win the championship this year, maybe those teams have complete rosters. But for the most part, a lot of teams have incomplete rosters. We’d probably like to have a little more depth at the guard spot than we have. But we think we have some quality pieces – obviously in Brandon, Monta and Beno [Udrih]. We expect Beno to come in and have a good year for us….We really like Doron Lamb, and we think Doron has a chance to be a good player. Having a piece like Marquis [Daniels] should help us, especially defensively. Marquis is a reliable player offensively, also.
On what the fans should look forward to this year:
When I took this job four years ago, I made this comment: ‘We want to have a team that, when people walk out of the Bradley Center, they’re proud out of what they see on the floor – a team that competes every night, a team that doesn’t quit, a team that’s going to represent them, as fans, our organization and our owner, as a team they’re all proud of.’ I hope that’s still the case. I want that to be the case, and it has been. We want to win. That first part is a real nice story, but we want to win games – that’s really what it comes down to. I hope fans come here and see a winning product.
On whether fans should expect a winning product:
Sure they should. I promise you those guys in the locker room expect to win games. Scott Skiles and those coaches, they expect to win games. If we don’t expect to win, we shouldn’t be here. I’m always a little guarded in what I say in that regard, but I don’t know anyone who wants to win more than me, or expects to win more than I do.
On Tobias Harris’ summer:
Tobias had a great summer and a great offseason. I think I can say this honestly, I don’t know if anyone outworked Tobias Harris this summer…One thing about that kid is he’s a tremendous worker. Guys who have his kind of size and his ability – when you work that hard – good things are going to happen. I think this summer was just a little example of that.
On Ellis lifting pressure off Jennings:
Monta needs to do that. It’s great to have a one-two scoring punch in the backcourt. I think Brandon, a lot of times, looked around the court and said, ‘Look, if no one else is going to do it, I’ll do it myself.’ I think he’s very much assured that he can look over at Monta Ellis and say, ‘If I can’t do it, he can.’
On Jennings needing to become a better distributor:
I’ve always felt that the better we became as a team, the more he’d understand that.
On Jennings’ contract extension deadline:
It’s just kind of an ongoing process.
On Luc Mbah a Moute’s recovery from knee surgery:
We don’t have any expectations at this point. We’re just going to take it week to week. We expect him, when he does return, to return at 100 percent and help this team win games.
On Mbah a Moute missing training camp:
I’d rather not comment at that at this time, but that could be likely.
A few quick thoughts:
1. It was interesting how quickly and easily Hammond rattled off all the injuries and time missed during the 2010-11 season. Injuries were certainly a problem that season, but I’d rather see him take some accountability for the recent lack of success. It seemed he was quicker to make excuses (i.e. the injuries) than admit mistakes (i.e. signing veterans to five-year contracts and bringing in malcontent personalities).
2. As is usually the case, Hammond wasn’t quick to make promises about the upcoming season. The goal, it appears, is simply to make the playoffs.
3. Hammond, much like Skiles, spoke highly of Harris. This is another indicator, or perhaps endorsement, of Harris’ likely role as the opening-night small forward starter.
4. I wouldn’t expect any last-minute, roster-balancing changes to the team. Hammond alluded to the logjam at power forward, but thought it would end up working itself out.