Originally posted on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 5/1/14
The following exchange took place over the previous week in a series of emails between Sam Quinn and Shaun Ranft. Sam Quinn: I'd like to congratulate you, Shaun. Your Milwaukee Bucks are, at least on paper, the most valuable franchise in NBA history. No team has EVER sold for as much as the $550 million price tag paid by Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, which is amazing when you remember that their best player of the past decade was either Andrew Bogut or Michael Redd. At the very least now, we can fairly assume the Bucks are staying in Milwaukee. Does that make sense? I don't think so. If the NBA disbanded and a new league took its place, I'd have to imagine Milwaukee would be something like the 40th market they'd choose behind all current markets, another Chicago team, Seattle, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Virginia Beach, Vancouver, Austin, and maybe even Anaheim. The Bradley Center is older than Kevin Durant and the city doesn't seem too eager to replace it, the fans live and die with the Packers, and no 25-year-old millionaire has ever, ever, EVER thought to themselves, "man, wouldn't it be great to come live in Milwaukee?" So my first question to you is this: as someone who knows the Bucks a lot more intimately than I do, do you think paying absolute top dollar for the Bucks was a good move? And, on the other end, are you excited as a fan for this new ownership group? Shaun Ranft: You're already making me sad, Samuel. Michael Redd and a healthy Andrew Bogut were definitely the best players on this team in the last decade, which means Michael Redd was the best player on this team in the past decade. I remember when I got his autograph one afternoon and one of the old trainers said, "This kid is going to be the future." I suppose he was kind of right. Then Michael gave me a hug and tore his ACL. Okay, that last part was made up. The Bucks will be staying in Milwaukee because that was the major condition of good ol' Herb Kohl selling the team. I do have to give him credit for that. I didn't think for one second that the Bucks would stay here. Most fans, however many they've got left, haven't cared since they were within one game of the NBA Finals. They proceeded to trade their Big Three (Allen, Robinson, Cassell) and that was that. It's been pretty said to watch this team since those days. On the Packers note, fans here care more about Marquette and UW basketball than they do about the Bucks. Jeez, I'd be willing to bet the Admirals would get higher billing. Anyway, it's hard for me to understand how Milwaukee still has this market for basketball. I agree that they would be pretty far down the pecking order if a new league popped up. So, was it a good move to pay for this franchise? I genuinely don't think so. I personally wouldn't have done it, but then again, I'll never have $550 million to spend on a lousy sports franchise (or anything else for that matter). I'd say I'm more intrigued than excited about the new ownership group. Kohl and the new guys have each pledged $100 million towards a new arena, which is peanuts considering that a brand new arena will probably cost closer to $600 million. Not many people here care enough to want their own money to go towards that. I personally would rather have a professional soccer franchise. But I'm intrigued. This franchise has been beyond stagnant for the past 10-15 years. It will be interesting to see where this goes. They have a 25 percent chance at the first overall pick, so there's that! SQ: That Ray Allen trade still goes down as one of the more bizarre basketball moves of the past 20 years. They gave up a 27-year-old Ray Allen locked into a fair contract for an aging Gary Payton who everyone knew was leaving as a free agent anyway. The Bucks were never a very well-run organization on the floor, particularly over the past few years in which they've made active runs at the No. 8 seed in the East rather than tanking for draft picks. This year, after all, was supposed to be about "contention." Now they're on top of the lottery. We have to assume that the new guys are going to run this thing differently, right? At the very least, we're smart enough to know that a small market's only avenue to contention—short of an absolutely impossible to replicate string of draft picks like Indiana—is to strike gold on one guy in the lottery. This year, there are three players sitting at the top of the lottery who have the potential to be that guy. The Bucks have a 75 percent chance to get one of them, yet they make me more nervous than anyone else in the lottery. How toxic is that Milwaukee situation roster wise? I think Jabari Parker will be alright regardless—he's wired in such a way that his team will follow his lead from day one. But what about the insanely impressionable Andrew Wiggins? He's nowhere near ready to be the face of a franchise like that. Ideally, you want to send him to Boston or L.A., where he can watch Kobe and/or Rondo for a year or two before really becoming "the guy." God only knows what would happen if you stuck Joel Embiid's lousy back on a team with as much cursed history as the Bucks. We might have another Greg Oden situation on our hands. And all of this is before we take into account the really uninspiring nature of the rest of the roster. Yes, the Greek Freak is locked in for three more years, but what are you really doing with only him and Wiggins? Brandon Knight is the only other guy on that roster I'd qualify as an asset when you factor in contracts, and the Mayo/Illyasova/Sanders deals are just crippling. That's $25 million per year between those three guys! That's more than LeBron! That's more than Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala COMBINED! You have to wonder if the mistakes of the past are going to ruin whatever rookie comes in through the lottery. So what say you, Shaun? As a fan of this team, what are you looking for in the way of roster moves? Is there a particular prospect you like more than the others? Are there guys you want to target or get rid of? Where would you take this team? Because, really, I'm at a loss. SR: You're being far too kind, Sam. We also dealt Ronald Murray—who was more productive with Seattle than 'The Glove' and Desmond Mason were with the Bucks combined—and, AND let's not forget, a first round draft pick. That's a trade I rip the other team off on in games like NBA 2Kwhatevertheyear. This season was a train wreck, and I'm glad it was. Didn't the current GM, Hammond, build quite the successful franchise over in Detroit for awhile? The Ben Wallace, Prince, and Rip Hamilton days? Where have those been in Milwaukee? I can tell you... It seems like he signs a handful of veterans on a yearly basis, then dumps them all within a season and a half to cut salary. Then they give monster contracts (for teams like the Bucks, at least) to players like Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova who have one good season (or half of a good season). Ilyasova has been horrendous this year and Larry has been even worse; his off-court issues haven't helped his case, either. He was supposed to be the face of the franchise... how'd that turn out? I'm all for shopping Sanders, Ilyasova, AND Mayo. They offer almost nothing. They signed Carlos Delfino and Zaza Pachulia at the beginning of the season, which was quite the reunion—except that Delfino was injured when they signed him and hasn't played all year because of it and Zaza was 30 years old. I don't understand it. Oh, they also brought in Caron Butler. That worked out, too. And O.J. Mayo. My goodness what a train wreck this season has been. The Bucks should stray from centers because they all get hurt all of the time and I can't keep living through it. Anyway, for my money, I take Parker first overall and never look back. But, they're the Bucks, so I doubt it happens. I'm all for shopping Sanders, Ilyasova, AND Mayo. They offer almost nothing. Maybe that's short-sighted, I don't know. At the very least, I'd shop Sanders and Ilyasova. It'd be okay to keep Mayo around. I like Brandon Knight, Wolters could be decent, and Udoh was a top-5 pick that they traded for a couple years back but is rarely used. I still think Henson could be good. It seems like they have so many big guys and no idea what to do with them. I'll break it down like this: Keep: Greek Freak, Henson, Knight, Middleton, Udoh, Wolters, Adrien (yup), and possibly Mayo, Sessions... Yikes. Shop/Cut: Ilyasova, Delfino, Zaza, Raduljica, Sanders, Wright. Sound like an overhaul? Welcome to the Bucks. It should also be noted that I like Larry Drew. None of this is his fault other than the fact he took this job. I would have only taken this job if I were also going to be part GM. I would tear a lot of this team down and play the young guys plenty because that's what I do in video games, so it must work in real life, right? Even if they take Parker, this team won't be competitive for as long as Hammond is in charge of making personnel decisions. It'll be 3-4 years, probably. I don't know. SQ: The sad thing is that we're speaking as if it's a certainty that the Bucks win the lottery—it isn't. In fact, recent history suggests that they won't. You know who the last player to be selected No. 1 by the team with the best lottery odds was? LeBron James. There's a curse on that No. 1 lottery slot, so Milwaukee's only real hope is that their mounting number of curses work to cancel each other out and they strike lottery gold. Realistically, though, I have this nagging feeling that something bad happens to the Bucks on lottery night. Let's say they slip all the way down to No. 4. What's the move there? My stance on Julius Randle all season is that he's Brandon Bass 85% of the time and Charles Barkley 15% of the time. Marcus Smart can't shoot, Aaron Gordon can't shoot, and Dante Exum also might not be able to shoot. I don't feel comfortable with ANY of those guys as a franchise player, yet there's a decent chance they could end up with one. But enough about the gloom and doom of the roster situation. I want to rebuild this organization from the ground up, and here's how I'm going to do it. First of all, Hammond and Drew are gone. Neither of them will be missed, and neither will ever get another head job in the NBA. With those two out of the way, I'm throwing a big pile of money at my next head coach: Wisconsin's Bo Ryan. He's an in-state guy, he wins pretty consistently without NBA talent (which is what he'd be tasked with doing with the Bucks, anyway), and, at the very least, he can't be any worse than Drew, right? If I'm running the Bucks, Ryan is my coach. The GM spot is a bit trickier. There aren't any notable former Bucks or former star GMs waiting around for jobs, so there isn't exactly an obvious choice here. But I have a nice sleeper pick: why can't George Karl be an NBA GM? He came about as close as Milwaukee is legally allowed to getting to the NBA Finals with the Bucks, he's won all over the league and has a knack for turning around the careers of head cases (see Smith, J.R.), and, considering his cancer treatment and age, he probably doesn't want to deal with the day-to-day grind of coaching anyway. I think that'd be a really interesting choice, and a nice mix considering his style clashes so much with Ryan's. So that's how I'm fixing the Bucks. George Karl, Bo Ryan, and praying that the lottery gods grant me Wiggins. Any objections, Shaun? SR: I'm almost willing to put money on them not getting that top lottery pick. Remember when the No. 1 overall pick landed in their lap and they got Bogut? They had almost the slimmest of chances in securing the top pick and wasted it. Therefore, there's no freaking way they get the top pick this time around. If they do get the No. 1 pick, it has to be Parker. If they land outside the top three and Parker, Wiggins, and Embiid are all gone, then... I guess Randle? If we're going on potential then he may be the best bet. The thing with the Bucks is they have a lot of size, but a lot of inexperienced size. They desperately need someone like Parker who can score a lot, but I'm already assuming they won't get that chance. They probably won't get Wiggins, either. Their situation is always a sad one. I love how the SI tidbit says Randle has drawn comparisons to Zach Randolph... which means for them he would get hurt in the first two months and never pan out. I've seen this movie before. Don't they rebuild (or attempt to) every year? I agree about Hammond being shown the door. I also more or less agree with Drew leaving, but he should get at least one more season to see this disaster through. You present a very interesting scenario. I love Bo Ryan; he's a helluva coach and what he has done with the Wisconsin program has been nothing short of excellent. I never could see him jumping to the NBA, but the majority of Milwaukee (and WI as a whole) would flip—mostly in a good way. The Marquette fan base would hate everything, though. I just could never in my life see Bo taking a head job in the NBA. You've stumped me completely by throwing George Karl's name into the mix. I guess, why not? Like you, I cannot think of an obvious choice—who in the hell would want to be the GM of this team, right? So unless I can think of a better name (which I probably can't), Karl it is. The reaction to that would be priceless, I think, but I can't imagine a world in which Bo Ryan coaches the Bucks. He'd hate himself for taking that job. But, maybe he'd at least get them to play some semi-watchable basketball. SQ: What I always loved about the Bogut pick is that there were no injuries involved, like Bowie over Jordan, and no outright busts involved, like Olowokandi going over Dirk, Pierce, and Vince Carter. Both Andrew Bogut and Chris Paul are EXACTLY what we expected them to be, and the Bucks still managed to screw that one up. I get the idea of drafting a franchise center, I do, but there were never any signs that Bogut was going to be that guy. He dominated a weak conference and got bounced in the Sweet 16 the moment he played against any real NBA talent (that Kentucky team had Rondo, Chuck Hayes, and Kelenna Azubuike). Meanwhile, anyone with two brain cells to rub together could've seen what Chris Paul was going to become. I remember screaming from the mountain tops for Milwaukee to take Paul, but they took the center with limited upside. They were totally fine with accepting an above average center instead of taking a perceived risk on Paul. That pick really ended up being a microcosm of the later Kohl years. They were always fine with mediocrity, so they never really had a chance to add stars. I mean... what was the brightest moment of the past decade of Bucks basketball? The "Fear the Deer" series against Atlanta? That night Brandon Jennings randomly scored 55? It's laughable, yet they've made the playoffs several times. It's always about being good enough, which meant they were never actually good enough. I think that's the best part of this new ownership group. I don't think they'll settle for good enough. They'll get the Bucks a shiny new arena and demolish the Bradley Toilet... err... Center. They'll actually try to win championships instead of No. 8 seeds. Overall, they'll actually strive for greatness instead of the slight chance at being above average, and that's pretty much the point of owning a team. The goal is to win championships. If you're not doing that, you should be doing everything possible to get closer to doing that. Even if the Bucks aren't going to win a championship next year or even in the next decade, they seem to have a group in place that actually wants to get there eventually. For now, that's more than enough for me. Any last thoughts, Shaun? SR: I'm fairly certain that the highlight of the last decade or so was trading The Big Dog Glenn Robinson to Atlanta for a first round pick and Toni Kukoc. I might be wrong, though. Ah, yes, the ups and downs of Brandon Jennings were always intriguing; the half season of basketball that John Salmons played well in was entertaining; a guard duo of Cassell/Payton was stomach-turning; and all the failed lottery picks along the way were cherries on top. I don't count the No. 8 seed as a playoff team, at least not the No. 8 seeds the Bucks have "earned." I understand that they do in fact count as playoff appearances, but it's just sad, really. It's also sad that a few fans here defend the No. 8 seed like it means something. It's as if they don't realize that they're going to get swept in the first round. It was hilarious last season when the official Miami Heat Twitter handle announced who their second round opponent might be even before Game 1 of their first round series against the Bucks. That is how bad they are and how lowly regarded and respected they are by other franchises. It's truly pitiful. The new group should not be as poor as the old ownership, so I'll sound off with this: If the new ownership team IS going to settle for mediocrity, then there was no point in Kohl selling them the franchise to begin with.

This article first appeared on The Sports Post and was syndicated with permission.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Pete Carroll refutes report that Kam Chancellor will miss rest of season

Pete Carroll not ruling out possibility Kam Chancellor injury is career-ending

Top prospect Anfernee Simons may enter NBA Draft

Kam Chancellor will miss remainder of 2017 season with neck injury

It's all on Russell Wilson as injuries decimate Legion of Boom

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Simone Biles criticism leads to apology from Gabby Douglas

Lonzo Ball explains why he skipped Lakers-Suns fight

Dale Earnhardt Jr. shares early-career regrets

LaVar Ball downplays President Trump’s role in helping son

Philip Rivers cleared to play Sunday against Bills

Simone Biles blasts Gabby Douglas over response to sexual abuse post

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

The 'An I, Tonya for an eye (or knee)' quiz

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

NCAA college football 2017 Week 12 predictions

NFL Week 11 predictions

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

The Saints flipped the script to revive their season

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

The 'It's a major award!' quiz

Vikings' unnecessary quarterback conundrum is Mike Zimmer's doing

Time to admit the Blues are good, but can they be great?

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

The 'An I, Tonya for an eye (or knee)' quiz

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

The 'It's a major award!' quiz

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

The Saints flipped the script to revive their season

NFL Week 11 predictions

NCAA college football 2017 Week 12 predictions

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker