The Philadelphia 76ers are doing the Milwaukee Bucks a big favor. The Sixers are now on a 26-game losing streak, tying the NBA mark for most consecutive losses in the league's 67-year history. Philly's ineptitude is front-page news for all the wrong reasons.
And yet, there's one thing that even this Sixers team can hang over the Bucks' collective heads: They're better than them.
Yes, these Bucks and their 14-58 record are first in line to receive the most ping-pong balls in the upcoming 2014 NBA Lottery. How did the Bucks get here? Let us count the ways.
The Larry Sanders Saga
Let's be perfectly clear: The Milwaukee Bucks would be a bad basketball team even if Larry Sanders didn't miss 25 games after tearing a ligament in his thumb following a scrap in the club and even if he didn't also miss the remainder of the season with a fractured right orbital bone. Now, the Bucks are in a position where "trading Larry Sanders" is an option.
Problem is, his four-year, $44 million dollar contract kicks in next season. They won't trade Larry Sanders. Also, the man's only 25 years old. Let's just hope he can get healthy and help the Bucks become worth a damn once again.
Speaking of contracts ...
When the Bucks gave Sanders the $44 million dollar deal after putting up a 10-point, 10-rebound, three-block season in 2012-13, I raised my eyebrow a bit, but I understood what Milwaukee was trying to do. Invest in a young player who has upside? Cool.
But these free-agent decisions, I'll never understand:
- Ersan Ilyasova was given $40 million over five years after putting up a 13-point, nine-rebound season. Since then, Ilyasova's evidently forgotten how to shoot threes and is still a sieve defensively. That's your future at the power forward position? Yikes.
- O.J. Mayo got $24 million over three years, while Nick Young is making $2.3 million over two years. Let's look at a comparison of production:
This doesn't mean that the Bucks should've signed Swaggy P, but it does show a classic case of how to waste $8 million a year. Mayo was a nice player coming into free agency last year who fell off a cliff this season due to conditioning issues, but $8 million a season? Yikes.
- Zaza Pachulia was given $15.6 million over three years. HAH.
NBA Power Rankings
Poor Larry Drew
No man deserves what's been dumped on Drew's plate, though 76ers coach Brett Brown has a case. Drew used to coach the Atlanta Hawks, who defined what being "average" was all about, but at least that's better than this. For goodness' sake, look at this man's face:
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports
Judging Drew's coaching performance this season would be like judging a toddler on whether he can make a four-cheese lasagna meal. It's impossible. Until this roster can mature and come together, all we can do is pray for Larry Drew.
The Seattle SuperBucks?
While it's very, very unlikely that majority owner Herb Kohl would be willing to sell his team to new ownership that would move the Bucks to another location, the fact that this has hung over the team's head is never a good thing. Per Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times, multiple local groups have shown interest in taking over ownership from Kohl. Kohl wants to keep a relationship with the team, but would be willing to sell his majority stake to a group that would keep the team in Milwaukee. Removing this cloud of uncertainty could go a long way for the future of the franchise and to settle the fan base.
But the reality of the current Milwaukee Bucks roster is bleak. Outside of Giannis Antetokounmpo's freakishly beautiful game and the potential of a No.1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Bucks are officially in NBA Siberia. Out of sight, out of mind.
This is their own fault, thanks to poor free-agent decisions. If they find a way to finish below these woeful Sixers, they should be mocked for far longer than the team that lost 26 straight games.
Happy Hour drink recommendation: Milwaukee's Best. Just kidding. You might call this Milwaukee's Best, but people who drink this regularly only refer to this as "Beast." You know what else? You shouldn't drink this beer. You should only drink this beer if you have to watch these Milwaukee Bucks consistently. If you order this, be prepared to have the bartender pull up a stool and ask how your life is.