Out with the Old, In with the New: The Rise of the Young Bucks
Out with the Old, In with the New
The Rise of the Young Bucks
It was only 8 months ago that our beloved Milwaukee Bucks lost a heartbreaking series to the Wizards, losing 4 straight after going up 2-0. That ending wasn’t as happy as GM Ian Quailmen envisioned, especially after making mid-season trades of starters Nick Van Exel and Mitch Richmond for Michael Finley and John Stockton (as well as a 1st round pick which would “net” the Bucks the #6 overall pick). The unsavory taste of defeat (peppered with aging wonders and expiring contracts) left Quailmen with two options: pair that #6 pick with his young defensive star Shawn Marion to form a formidable young core for an slightly aging team or pair that #6 pick with his young defensive star Shawn Marion to blow it up and start anew.
And the latter is just what he did.
Leaving the league in a shock-and-awe state, Quailmen traded Shawn Marion, #6 and a 2001 2nd round pick to the Pacers for sharpshooting defensive forward Rick Fox, the quietly efficient 2-guard Cedric Ceballos, and the #3 and #4 overall picks. Quickly, Ian Quailmen went to work retooling his team, drafting “Shawn Marion lite” in Gerald Wallace and the gunslinging guard Gilbert Arenas. “I’m happy to join a great team like the Bucks,” Arenas said in a post-draft interview. “They pulled the trigger on me, and I won’t shoot blanks. I’m locked and loaded, ready to blow up the league. I’m gunnin’ for a championship.”
Just when you thought the Bucks were done, they blow away their fan base by sending defensive leader and team captain Bo Outlaw to the Lakers for stud guard Doug Christie and the #25 pick (which the Lakers had recently acquired from the Timberwolves). Before the league and the fans have the chance to comprehend and recover this move, Quailmen shipped future Hall of Famer John Stockton to Minnesota, along with Minnesota’s own #25 pick and the Bucks own #20 pick, for the #12 overall pick. With this trade, the pick of center Brendan Haywood at #12, and the salary dump of Matt Geiger for the #24 pick (which would bring forward Michael Bradley to the Bucks), it was quite obvious to the fans that a full-blown rebuild was underway.
The additions of Gary Trent (a serviceable power forward) and backup center Vladimir Stepania to the team showed that the Bucks were not gearing up for an immediate title chase any time soon. That fact did not sit too well with Michael Finley. He was playing at an elite level, averaging over 20 points and 7 rebounds per game, but his heart just was not in Milwaukee. “The fans are wonderful, and my teammates are great. But sometimes I do have to question the decisions of the front office,” Finley said after a 93-105 loss to the Hornets 2 weeks ago, moving the Bucks to a record of 15-20.
The front office took that message to heart and gave him one last decision to question: a trade to Portland for the 3-point arch-assassin Jason “The Jet” Terry and veteran Walt Williams. Simultaneously, Quailmen worked his magic again with the Lakers, sending Rick Fox, Gary Trent, and Doug Christie off with a bow of the 2002 1st round pick. In return, the Bucks received the under-utilized, high-ceiling forward Lamar Odom and two 1st round picks (2002 and 2004 top 5 protected). Odom reveled in the opportunity to immediately come in and start for the Bucks. “I’m ready for my shot to be the man. The young Bucks have a talented core, and we will be around for a while. This isn’t going to be an ugly marriage. We came together to win together.”
Sources also claimed rumors were floating around the league of the Bucks attempting to trade for Jermaine O’Neal or Marc Jackson. Regardless the reliability of those sources, one thing is reliable and certain: the Bucks have a young, talented core and primed to become a force in the East for years to come. Perhaps this year? Only time will tell.