|Bucks new GM John Hammond says he sees strong core of players|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 12 April 2008 14:32|
Hammond stopped the Friday night chat when Dumars slipped up.
``He said, 'I was looking at our team and I think we need this.' I said, 'What do you mean our team?''' recalled Hammond, introduced as the Milwaukee Bucks new GM on Saturday.
Hammond, who spent the last seven seasons in Detroit as the vice president of basketball operations, said the time was right to move to a new challenge.
``I'm anxious, I'm real anxious, and I think that's healthy to be anxious,'' Hammond said. ``A little fear is healthy, to say I want to do this. I want to do this in the worst way.''
Bucks owner and Sen. Herb Kohl is giving Hammond a five-year contract to turn around a team that's made just one playoff appearance in the last four seasons and one Eastern Conference final since 1986.
``We have work to do, but we think this is a great opportunity that we can get better, we can improve,'' said Hammond, who's replacing Larry Harris after he left the team March 19.
Hammond twice met with Kohl beginning Tuesday with a follow-up interview Thursday.
``There was a quick feeling ... that this was the man for us,'' Kohl said. ``You know it when you see it.''
After his news conference, Hammond posed for pictures with his family and Kohl behind a Bucks backdrop.
``I guess this is the honeymoon, huh?'' he said.
The honeymoon will quickly be over, beginning with the coaching staff.
Hammond said he hasn't made any decisions about Larry Krystkowiak, who has a year left on his first NBA coaching contract.
``I know Larry, I know a lot of people who know Larry,'' Hammond said. ``There aren't better people than Larry Krystkowiak.''
But Hammond also has worked with well-known coaches like Larry Brown and Rick Carlisle during his time in Detroit and could make a move.
He'll also have roster issues to deal with. First off, a majority of the Bucks are signed through 2009 and they already have more than $60 million committed in salary next season.
``We may make a move that people might question at times, and people may not agree with or think it's the wrong thing and it might be considered unpopular,'' Hammond said. ``Maybe we do it sooner than later.''
The Bucks have a core that includes Mo Williams, Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut and rookie Yi Jianlian, but the group hasn't always played well together and Milwaukee's role players have failed to consistently contribute.
``We have a nice young, core group of players here,'' Hammond said. ``What has happened for us in Detroit is we've had seven straight 50-win seasons. For the most part, that core has been with us, the entire group.
``If we can ever get to a point like that in Milwaukee, we could say, 'Hey, we like this group, we believe in this group, we think we can win with this group and we can keep this group together,' that would be good.''
Hammond's track record in Detroit includes an NBA title in 2004, another Eastern Conference title and five conference championship appearances with a .676 winning percentage.
``We got a little lucky along the way. We acquired a couple of pieces that turned out to be better players than we realized they were even going to be to a certain extent,'' Hammond said. ``You need a little luck along the way.''
That could start this summer.
Milwaukee, which came into its game against New Jersey on Saturday night 26-53, will have another high lottery pick in the NBA draft.
``Hopefully we can get a good player there, maybe a player that will help immediately,'' Hammond said. ``We could trade, or do it through free agency, (but) that may not be something quite as realistic because it's not realistic for many teams nowadays.''
Before his time in Detroit, Hammond spent time as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Pistons in a separate stint with the team.
``Guys, I had a great job, I was with a great team,'' said Hammond, dismissing the notion that Kohl would be overly influential on the Bucks' new direction. ``I'm here because I think I'm going to have freedom to do this. Otherwise, I wouldn't be sitting here. Mark my words.''