John Hammond's off-season to-do list is a long one. Let's see what the Milwaukee Bucks general manager has on his agenda before the team returns for training camp in October. • Find a coach. • Deal with the free-agent or contract status of the Bucks' top three guards, Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings and J.J. Redick. • Make a meaningful draft pick or picks (the Bucks pick 15th in the first round, the first non-lottery choice). • Make some trades or sign free agents to replace players leaving on expiring deals. • Instill a more positive attitude through player moves and the coaching selection. Whew. That's an imposing set of tasks for the summer after the Bucks fell short of the .500 mark for a third consecutive season. They did make the Eastern Conference playoffs as the eighth-seeded team but did not stay long, being bounced in four games by the defending league champion Miami Heat. Yet Hammond is not despairing. He believes he will have some options to make the team better, including a strong salary-cap situation that could leave the team with $20 million or more to spend on free agents. It's a much different situation from the one he encountered when he arrived in 2008 and the Bucks were still working with several big contracts, including the max deal awarded to Michael Redd in the summer of 2005. But digging out of the Bucks' current predicament will not be easy. The team is stuck in the middle of the league ranks with some decent players but no all-stars and seemingly no upward mobility. Jennings, in particular, hinted broadly that he wanted out and he changed agents during the season with an eye on his impending free agency. But the Bucks have the right to match any offer for Jennings, who is coming off his rookie-scale contract. Hammond's first order of business is to find a new head coach, after an unsatisfactory split season with Scott Skiles and Jim Boylan handling the duties in 2012-'13. "I don't think we're going to say we're going to hire a defensive-minded coach, we're going to hire a coach that likes to play in the open court," Hammond said. "We want to hire the best coach and the best person for the job." Ellis' decision on whether to pick up the $11 million option on his contract is due on or before June 20. That will affect the way the Bucks approach the free agency of both Jennings, who is restricted, and Redick, who is not. "I still say our season was at a pretty good solid point until mid- to late March," Hammond said. "Between those two guys (Ellis and Jennings), I think they were the Eastern Conference player of the week four times. "You say, 'Did it work?' I think those guys had success together at different points. They were rolling pretty strong together at points of the season. "I don't think you could look back and say it didn't work." Hammond sees plenty of promise in his frontcourt, including starters Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova and 6-foot-11 John Henson, who will return after an up-and-down rookie campaign.
Bucks' off-season laundry list very long
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | May 5