Milwaukee Bucks general John Hammond took a risk when he traded 20-year-old forward Tobias Harris to the Orlando Magic in a deal for veteran shooting guard J.J. Redick, but he couldn't have possibly anticipated the latest development in the Redick saga.
Hammond acquired the 28-year-old guard with a playoff push in mind, and the Bucks did make it to the postseason as the No. 8 seed in the East. but after the Game 3 loss on Thursday, Redick said he isn't on speaking terms with head coach Jim Boylan. That's bad news for a team that has reportedly primed a five-year, $40 million offer for Redick this offseason.
Boylan played Redick just 24 minutes over the first two games of the team's series against the Heat, and he chose to bench the veteran in the second half of the Game 2 loss. After that game, Boylan was asked about the minute shortage for his most experienced guard and said, "We've got to find a way to get him scoring for us."
When Redick came out and scored 11 quick points on 4-6 shooting in ten first-half minutes of Game 3, the whole situation looked as if it had resolved itself. Then he played only seven minutes in the second half and failed to score again.
Boylan said he talked to Redick before the game and told him to go out and shoot the ball with some confidence. Redick specifically denied that the talk ever happened, and claimed that he hasn't spoken to his head coach during the playoffs (via Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel):
Bucks coach Jim Boylan said in his pregame remarks that he told Redick to shoot with confidence but Redick disputed that.
"Jim never talked to me," Redick said. "He didn't say anything to me. I haven't spoken to him during the playoffs. I did not get that message.
"I don't need anybody telling me to be confident. I would have appreciated it.
"It wasn't a matter of Jim or my dad or my wife or God saying be confident.
"Be on the court, take your shots. They'll be there."
Hammond made the swap with the Magic to bolster the backcourt for a playoff run. The GM even called for Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis to make sacrifices as Boylan carved out minutes for Redick in his post-trade press conference. During the regular season with Milwaukee, Redick established himself as an excellent compliment to Monta Ellis (but not to Brandon Jennings) and played 28 minutes per game.
That number is down to 13.7 minutes per contest in the postseason, and through three games he has only taken 14 shots despite posting a 62.0 true shooting percentage. When asked about it after Game 3, Redick simply said: "the rotation is the rotation."
Miami's suffocating perimeter defense has been an issue for the former Duke star, but Redick is a proven shooter and he should have a green light on offense that shines bolder and brighter than inefficient lead guards like Ellis and Jennings. That hasn't been the case.
Boylan's decision to keep Redick on the bench has befuddled everyone. The longtime assistant assumed head coaching duties when Scott Skiles left the team 32 games into the season, and under Boylan's direction the Bucks finished the season with a 22-28 slump. Tom Ziller of SB Nation made the excellent point that a win-now move for Redick never quite fit with the team's decision to put Boylan in charge:
...the Bucks probably wouldn't have been competitive in the East in any scenario, though a better coach could have coaxed the team into the No. 7 seed and maybe even that whole 4-5-6 mix, all of which provide a more reasonable chance than a best-of-7 with the Miami Heat does. The Bucks roster, while interesting, isn't a filet mignon. It's a solid ham.
And like that filet mignon, you don't cook a good ham in the microwave. That's essentially what the Bucks have done: taken some good ingredients and trusted them to a chef who is going to use the microwave.
Good luck trying to choke it down, Milwaukee.
As noted at Bucks blog Brew Hoop, there's no way for the Bucks to officially sign Redick until he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July because he isn't eligible for an extension to the three-year, $21 million deal he signed with Orlando back in 2010. Only players whose original deals were for four years or longer can get an extension.
It's probably too late to smooth things out with Redick this season, so the free agent pitch may come down to who John Hammond finds as a replacement for Boylan as head coach. It's an ugly turn for a team that traded for Redick with high hopes, and that's without even mentioning how well Tobias Harris played for the Magic.