Friday, May 24, 2013

Bucks Pre Draft Workout Features Guards Galore

Glen Rice Jr.
The Bucks held their first pre-draft workout yesterday in Milwaukee. Six guards headlined the day's ballot at the Cousins Center, all of impressive caliber to John Hammond, whose team is currently undergoing a bit of an identity crisis.

The current coaching vacancy for the Bucks is just one of the general manager's many pressing concerns this off-season. Talks of the team's future in Milwaukee have been reignited recently, and pressure to make a meaningful draft pick this June is only just starting. On top of that, add the need to boost morale among the Bucks staff and fans, and Hammond's summer calendar is daunting.  

Tuesday's initial workout was meant to address a more present issue, however. All three of Milwaukee's core guards enter unstable contract statuses this off-season, including restricted and unrestricted free agency. Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, and J.J. Redick will all be in limbo this summer, every one of the trio known to be entertaining offers from other organizations.

Glen Rice Jr., Will Clyburn, James Southerland, Tony Snell, Junior Cadougan, and Tyrone Gordon are the names of the first group brought in to protect against any loss from the guard corps in 2013. Clyburn, Southerland, Snell, Cadougan, and Gordon come into the session as recent college prospects, while Rice's 2012 was notable for leading the D-League's Rio Grande Valley Vipers to their second championship in four seasons.

Glen Rice Jr. Plays Well In D-League 

The son of 15-year NBA veteran Glen Rice, Rice Jr. was dismissed from the Georgia Bulldogs basketball team in March 2012 for drunken driving. He entered the D-League draft in November of that year, but did not see ample playing time in Texas until February. He quickly earned a starting spot with the Vipers, finishing the regular season with three double-doubles and a spot on the league's All-Rookie second team. In the playoffs, Rice Jr. wowed scouts by averaging nearly a double-double every contest, including a stunning 25 points per night.

The 22 year old Rice is the featured guard in the first round of team workouts, and is the only one of the six to have been interviewed by the Bucks at last week's combine in Chicago. Cadougan and Gordon will be names more recognizable to Milwaukeeans, however, both having careers in the city prior to the workout. Gordon played his high school ball at Pius XI on Milwaukee's west side before heading to South Dakota's Dakota State. Cadougan, meanwhile, started at point guard for Marquette last season, helping the Golden Eagles to the Elite Eight in March.

The three remaining prospects, Clyburn, Southerland, and Snell joined Rice at the combine, each putting up their best college stats in the 2012 season. Snell is the youngest of the three, opting out of his senior year at New Mexico, while Clyburn and Southerland both graduated in May from Iowa State and Syracuse, respectively.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bucks Interview Sloan, But Will Players Respect His Coaching Style?

Jerry Sloan Bucks
Jerry Sloan seems to be one name that survived the first round of interviews during the Bucks current hunt for potential head coaches. He was one of many that want to be the man to fill the team's vacant position. At least three other people have also been to Milwaukee to vie to replace Jim Boylan at the helm of the Bucks in the past two weeks, though Sloan is reported to be leading the pack as of now.
Rockets assistants J.B. Bickerstaff and Kelvin Sampson, Lakers assistant Steve Clifford, and former Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan are known to have interviewed prior to Sloan, who was had his initial meeting with team staff last week. The 71 year-old Hall of Fame inductee is eldest and most experienced person to be considered for the position so far, as well as arguably the most accomplished.

Sloan Played NBA Ball Before Coaching Career Took Off

Sloan began his career in the NBA as a player for the Baltimore Bullets in 1965. He left Baltimore just a year later to play with the Bulls under Johnny Kerr for ten years. Earning the nickname “The Original Bull”, Sloan was a two-time All-Star in the late-sixties, and he still stands as Chicago's fourth most-scoring player in franchise history. A number of knee troubles during the mid-seventies forced an early retirement, however, shifting Sloan's focus from playing to coaching. The Bulls provided him his first opportunity at the helm, promoting him from an assistant after just a year. He would win ninety-four games in three seasons in Chicago before being replaced in 1982.

For three years following his ousting from Chicago, Sloan found work as a coach in the Continental Basketball Association and as a scout for the Utah Jazz. It wouldn't be until 1985 that the Jazz would bring him back into the NBA as an assistant. In 1988 he was awarded the head coaching position in Utah, beginning a storied twenty-three season career leading the Jazz.
With double-digit seasons of fifty or more wins, nineteen playoff appearances, and a pair of trips to the NBA finals, Sloan became the most successful coach in Utah before abruptly resigning in 2011.  He was tired of the way his young talent was performing, and perhaps the ranks of those new NBA players were tired of him. Either way, he has been publicly flirting over whether or not to attempt a return to the bench since bouncing mid season.  Jazz fans have seen Sloan hanging around at games for some time now.  He’s taken some time to reflect on what’s important in life, but the NBA may be just fine without him.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Kelvin Sampson To Check Out Bucks Coaching Position | Would Sampson Mesh With Jennings?

Kelving Sampson Bucks Coach
Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson will interview for a trio of vacant head coaching positions in the coming weeks, including with the Milwaukee Bucks. Currently serving under Kevin McHale in Houston, Sampson got the go-ahead from Rockets general manager Daryl Morey on Monday to accept invitations from the Bucks, the Philadelphia 76ers, and Charlotte. The move is the first from all three teams in an off-season effort to revamp their organizations, as a number of staff and coaching changes are expected in the coming months. 

The first person to be publicly considered for the job since the team refused to renew a relationship with interim head coach Jim Boylan last week, Sampson is a familiar face to some in Milwaukee. Scott Skiles hired him for his first assistant position in the professionals in 2008. He remained in Milwaukee for three seasons before signing a contract with the Rockets in early 2011. His only other experience in the NBA was as an advisory for the Spurs in early 2008.

Despite Sampson's limited time in the professional ranks, his resume is otherwise extensive. The 57 year old North Carolina native spent nearly thirty years at the helm of four different colleges starting in the early eighties. Debuting at Montana Tech in 1981, Sampson managed to win 496 games before a recruitment scandal in 2008 cost him his job at Indiana. He had lost just fifteen games in two seasons with the Hoosiers by that time, on track to mimic the 279-109 record he posted while at Oklahoma between 1994 and 2006. He led the Sooners to 11 NCAA tournaments during that time, though a 2002 final four appearance was their best showing.

Sampson has also been selected to head multiple international teams representing the United States throughout his career, as well as the 2012 Canadian national team.

Along with his past coaching accomplishments, Sampson's dealings during a controversial and heavily investigated period starting in 2003 will likely be discussed with the Bucks. President of the National Association of Basketball Coaches that year, Sampson came under-fire for making over 500 impermissible contacts with Oklahoma prospects, violating recruitment rules. The NCAA imposed a one-year ban on off-campus and telephone recruitment by Sampson starting in 2006. He avoided any more trouble until October 2007, when he was found to have ignored the NCAA sanctions on his recruitment abilities during his inaugural season at Indiana. The league further punished Sampson with a show-cause order, which effectively black-lists coaches from positions in the NCAA.

Jennings Likes Sampson 

Skiles saw beyond the mistakes, however, and Sampson's previous tenure in Milwaukee could be a valuable bargaining chip during negotiations. Star point guard Brandon Jennings built a lasting relationship with Sampson in his rookie season with the Bucks. Currently a restricted free-agent, Jennings reportedly was put-off by the coaching styles of both Skiles and Boylan. Should Milwaukee wish to retain him, hiring Sampson could be a major enticement.

Fired from Portland in 2012, Nate McMillan is also said to have been asked to interview with the Bucks. A 12-year veteran of the league, McMillan led the Seattle SuperSonics to their final postseason as an organization in 2005. He signed with the Trailblazers that off-season, and managed three playoff appearances with them before being let-go mid-way through 2011.