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Seeing Redd: A Franchise Blunder Reviewed

By Bobby Malecki
11/6/09

Just as quickly as Brandon Jennings dazzled in the home opener to rejuvenate the city of Milwaukee for Bucks basketball as I had predicted in my previous column, Michael Redd went down. Again.

Michael Redd re-injured his left knee that was hurt in 2007 following a dunk attempt. It's not the same injury that caused him to have season- ending surgery last January, or so he claims. Early in the third-quarter of the Milwaukee Bucks' action-packed home opener against the Detroit Pistons, Michael Redd went where many-a players boldly go on a nightly basis in the NBA... the rim! Redd dunked home two of his nine points and consequently re-aggravated an old injury. He 'toughed' it out, and ground out the majority of the third- quarter before retiring to the locker room for the remainder of the game near the end of that very same third- quarter. He is projected to miss about two weeks. I'm not buying it, and neither is the city of Milwaukee. In a poll conducted by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, an eye-opening 92% of the 936 respondents believe that Michael Redd will miss more than the allotted two weeks, with 74% thinking it will be a month or longer. Quite frankly, I'm tired of our 'franchise player.' Let's explore Redd's contributions since signing his six-year, $91 million max contract following the '04-'05 season.

Arguably the only season he earned the contract he put his John Hancock on, was his first season after signing it. He played in 80 games in '05-'06 and led the Bucks to the playoffs. That season he averaged a workman-like 39.1 minutes a night and knocked down 45% of his shots and was 39.5% from beyond the arc. He put in 25.4 ppg while also getting on the boards for 4.3 per night and handing out 2.9 assists per game. At the time, it looked like the Bucks did the right thing by not letting Redd leave. Who can argue with that sort of production?

Redd followed up that banner year in '06-'07 by playing in 53 of the 82 games. 29 missed games. The dunk. The knee injury. In the games he did play, he put in 26.7 ppg. Impressive? Sure. But 29 missed games is the key stat. His rebounding total went down to 3.7 per game as did his assists, down to 2.3. Evidence of a 'me-first' player, not a franchise player. The Bucks didn't qualify for the playoffs.

Coming off the injury in '07-'08 and presumably with something to prove, Redd played in 72 of the 82 games. Raise the roof! He shot a respectable 44.2% from the floor, his three-point shooting was down to 36.2%, still a solid clip, and he clocked out at 22.7 points a night. He showed some unselfishness by distributing 3.4 assists per night and also got on the glass for 4.3 rebounds per game. In my opinion, a more complete season than '05-'06, but his shooting was down a little bit from '05-'06 and again, most importantly, the Bucks failed to qualify for the playoffs.

By far his worst season since signing the max deal, was his 2008-'09 campaign. Boy, did the wheels fall off. He managed to play in only 33 games last year after the devastating MCL and ACL tears in his left knee ended his season in late- January. When he went down, he was averaging 21.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg and 2.7 assists per game. He was shooting 45.5% from the floor and 36.6% from beyond the arc. He proved fragile yet again however, and the Bucks missed the playoffs for the third straight year with him as our 'franchise player.' And yet another season with far too many games missed by Redd.

Heading into this season, the 30-year old guard out of Ohio State had a lot to prove to Bucks nation. He has two more years left on his franchise deal, appeared to be healthy and vowed to be a better player. He figured to have the opportunity to establish himself as an elite, reliable player. I certainly felt Redd would have a great year. Brandon Jennings is everything I anticipated he would be so far, Bogut is rounding into form, Warrick looks great, with Redd's ability to score, this Bucks team had the potential to do some damage. Two games in, Redd goes down on what seemed to be a routine, harmless dunk. 'Franchise player' on the shelf. AGAIN!

Redd very well could come back in the allotted two- week time frame and go on to have an all-star year, lead the Bucks to the playoffs and earn his contract once again and make me look foolish for questioning his ability to be a franchise player. It's in the realm of possibility. I'm rooting for him. I hope he does. I fear, he won't. Simply put, great players, franchise players, are tough, reliable, don't miss chunks of games year-in and year-out. Franchise players look to get their teammates more involved in the game, they're play makers. Redd was always a shooter first, shooter second, play maker third, passer fourth. It's not a knock, it's his nature. A franchise player is a leader, plays aggressive, hard-nosed defense. Is Michael Redd any of those things? Simply put, no. When you mortgage the future of a franchise on a player, as the Bucks did with Redd, you just simply need someone who brings more to the table than Michael Redd does on a night to night, game to game basis.

Make no mistake about it, Michael Redd is an outstanding shooter (45.1% career), a prolific scorer (20.5 ppg career) and I firmly believe a tremendous second or third option. He's just not a franchise player. Never was, never will be. Put him on a team where all he has to do is put the ball in the bucket, and there's no one better outside of Ray Allen, than Redd. That's why Redd was a great fit on the 2008 Olympic team. Imagine if Redd signed with Cleveland and teamed with LeBron James in the '05-'06 off season, which was Redd's second choice? Redd playing 'Robin' to LeBron's 'Batman'. That would have been a match made in heaven. Redd may have stayed healthy. The Cavs may have a championship or two by now. The Bucks may have had a legitimate franchise player by now, before the drafting of Jennings. They'd certainly have had cap space to work with the last few years and more than likely for the upcoming, bally-hoed free agent Class of 2010. But that's not what happened. We're stuck with this muddled mess of the present and one more year left on Redd's contract at the conclusion of this season.

In the meantime, root for a Redd recovery. Maybe we can get something out him yet. If not, let's see what second-round draft pick Jodie Meeks is made of. He made his debut against the Bulls on Tuesday but only played two or three minutes and missed his only shot attempt. Jodie Meeks is a sharp-shooter. He set the single-game scoring record for the perennial powerhouse Kentucky NCAA men's basketball program with 54 points and 10 three's in a game at Tennessee on January 13, 2009. He's very similar to what Redd was coming out of college. I'd love to see what this kid can do with five or six open looks a night from three-point range and it was extremely disappointing that he didn't get much floor time at Chicago. Look for him to get some more minutes in the near future. Or at least, let's hope so. Charlie Bell is a solid fill-in, more of a reserve- type player, a good stop-gap starter. Bell can definitely give a quality 25-30 minutes a night. The rest should be left to Jodie Meeks. Let's see what the kid can do.

In conclusion Bucks fans, hope for the best with Redd, cheer him on, support him and let's ride out these next two years and see what happens. Once 2011-'12 rolls around, it'll be time to hand the keys of the franchise over to Mr. Brandon Jennings and let the good times roll! We've been seeing Redd far too long.

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