NBA / Jul 22, 2010 / 10:45 am

Milwaukee: Do the Right Thing for Michael Redd

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Summer of LeBron, it’s that too many fans/media treat athletes like fantasy-roster chips and only view things from a pure basketball standpoint.

Not once in all the anti-LeBron (and now anti-Chris Paul) arguments have I heard a critic acknowledge the biggest human element at play: That maybe LeBron just wanted to leave Cleveland, and didn’t want to live in New York, or live in Chicago, and just really wanted to relocate his life to Miami. No basketball. No business. No legacy. Just a man and his family’s life. How many of us have, for whatever personal reasons, just wanted to leave a job, a school, or a city? And we don’t have to justify it on paper. Breaking down an athlete’s future legacy and “He’ll never be The Man on a championship team” is an exercise that is 1,000 times more important to everybody who watches and chronicles the game than it is to the players who play the game. For us, it’s something to argue and make lists about. For them, it’s waking up every morning and living.

That’s why I had to applaud the Boston Celtics for signing Paul Pierce to a 4-year, $61 million contract earlier this summer. Is Pierce going to be producing like a $15 million player four years from now when he’s 36 years old? Most likely not. On paper, that’s too big of a contract for Pierce. But for the Celtics it was about taking care of their franchise guy. It was the right move to do. And it’s moves like that which make so many former and current Celtics praise the organization as a classy operation.

Which brings me to Michael Redd. As the Milwaukee Bucks make moves to capitalize on a 2010 playoff run, it’s pretty clear that Redd, not too long ago the team’s only thing resembling a star player, is not in the plans. After averaging 22.7 points per game in the ’07-08 season and winning an Olympic gold medal with Team USA, Redd’s career has taken a sharp turn towards retirement, with two major knee injuries limiting him to a total of 51 games over the last two seasons.

The latest reports out of Milwaukee are that Redd won’t be able to play again until at least February, by which time he’d have to attempt to earn minutes over John Salmons, Corey Maggette, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Carlos Delfino. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Garry D. Howard wrote about it yesterday:

With a humongous $18.3 million salary for next season and no spot in the lineup, Redd doesn’t have to rush back to training camp after tearing up his knee a second time last year in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

The Bucks, for their part, don’t want him to come back early for a couple of reasons.

One, if he’s injured again, he and whatever is left of his trade value would be a lost cause.

Second, you never want to handicap your coach on this level, and forcing Redd into the lineup would ruffle team chemistry, something the Bucks can’t afford this upcoming season.

It’s a fact Redd, 30, worked his tail off to return last season and had the right attitude even though his knee failed to hold up to the rigors of the NBA.

But don’t cry for Michael Redd.

When all is said and done, he will have been paid well over $100 million by Sen. Herb Kohl.

That is more than enough compensation — and most would say too much — for his albeit key contributions to a club that has been struggling mightily over the majority of his tenure in Milwaukee.

Yes, Redd averaged a very respectable 20.3 points per game during his 10-year career.

Yet he played in only 16 playoff games and suited up for just 51 of the last 164 regular-season games over the past two years.

And we can’t forget the excessive dribbling, the wave-at-your-man defense and his conspicuous absence last year as his teammates fought valiantly against Atlanta in the postseason.

We will, instead, remember his 11 40-plus scoring nights, including the 57 he dropped on the Utah Jazz in November 2006. We will remember that sweet shooting stroke, his lone all-star appearance and his Olympic gold medal.

Finally, we will remember his class and dignity.

Last year, progress was tangible. The Bradley Center was alive like a Jack Russell Terrier down the stretch and into that seven-game, first-round playoff battle with the Hawks.

Momentum must be kept intact. And the quickest way to kill it is to have Redd rejoin this team.

Watching Redd play his 18-game stint last season, I too felt he looked out of place on the new-look Bucks. It was like he was still convinced it was his team, even though all signs pointed to Brandon Jennings being the new headliner, with Andrew Bogut right alongside him. Maybe if Redd could have settled into a Ray Allen-in-Boston, third-option role — and of course if he didn’t get hurt again — it could have worked. But it’s hard to blame Redd for not immediately adjusting when he’d carried Milwaukee as the top dog for so long. Now he likely won’t get a chance to make the adjustment.

I know this sport is a business, but I hope there’s a way the Bucks can graciously find a way to end the Michael Redd era and not toss him out like an old pizza box. After all, he is the one guy who bridged the gap from the last really good Milwaukee team — the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals version — to this next really good team that will be led by Jennings and Bogut.

Yes, he’s been paid a lot of money, but that’s how the market works. It shouldn’t be held against him now. Hopefully the Bucks remember the human element of this game and do the right thing. Whatever that may be, if it’s trading him to a decent team, negotiating a reasonable buyout, or letting him stay with the team and seeing if he can contribute down the stretch during a playoff run. Just remember, he’s not a poker chip.

-Follow Austin on Twitter at @AustinBurton206
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  • dukesman2000

    If I were Redd and was set to make 18MM next season, I would sign with Miami for the league minimum. The Heat need a shooter and Redd would be hard to pass up because he his still has some basketball capital left.

  • lk

    why would milwaukee let him go with his expiring contract when they can trade for another rotation player?

  • sh!tfaced

    Redd is 30???!!! Damn.

    If only it were possible… Wonder how much they’d get if they traded Redd to TEAM USA?

  • sh!tfaced

    Funny thing… They traded away Ray Allen because of Redd… Who looks older right now? LOL

  • Joe’s Momma

    Redd was a really good player when healthy. The problem is that was a while ago. 2 ACL injuries later the guy has 0 suitors for his talents. ZERO. He is this years TMac. Good once, but now injury riddled. Why would Milwaukee re-sign this guy next year with the depth at the wings they have? They will probably let his contract expire to off set all the money they spent this year.

    And I won’t remember Redd dropping 11 40pt games. I do remember that game he had against Utah. But this guy will be remembered for busting up his knee 2x. Sad but true. And Redd did play decent defense, coming out of college he was supposed to be a defensive force, but that lightning quick lefty release just captivated people. And his defense tailored off.

    That is still a silky jumper, looks so nice when he is playing.

  • superfreak

    There’s nothing wrong with LeBron wanting to leave Cleveland, not wanting to live in New York or live in Chicago. But when we change schools or jobs, we tell our principals and bosses, we don’t have a national televised one hour special on how we’re going to be moving to different school, job or city.
    LeBron made it a big deal, so the general public should be able to make a big deal about whether they think his decision was good or bad, or to be “anti-lebron” or not.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Austin, I feel like a 5th grade teacher here. What exactly was the point of this article?

    “Redd’s always been a nice guy, and he helped the Bucks out for the past few years, so they should…well, I don’t exactly know. I don’t really know what I’m saying.” Is kinda how this came out haha. What are you getting at? That they should waive him? Trade him? Play him?

  • vince

    “That maybe LeBron just wanted to leave Cleveland, and didn’t want to live in New York, or live in Chicago, and just really wanted to relocate his life to Miami. No basketball. No business. No legacy. Just a man and his family’s life.”

    Seriously now?

  • high release

    It has always been uncomfortable to talk about Redd in Milwaukee. He was a good story, coming from the second round to become one of the top scorers in the league. But he was never THAT good.

    The Bucks were .500 or lower during his best times, but we were satisfied that he averaged around 25 and was just a good man. Because of that respect, no one really noticed that he was a black hole when the ball got into his hands. No one took his role as ‘the man’ more seriously than he. As the Bucks sank further away from .500, more and more of his 3′s clanked hard off the rim, and his position as designated ‘star’ became less and less deserved. Players and coaches came and went, and they all had to be subordinate to that status quo. All the while, no criticism came Redd’s way.

    Now after a little success without him, everyone is ready to disrespect the guy. Sure, he’s overpaid, over-injured, and should have showed his face for the playoff run. But he was still a good guy, despite his faulty baller mindset.

    What do the Bucks owe him? Nothing. He was paid well, and allowed to do his thing for a long time. But I think Milwaukee owes it to him to keep our mouths shut now. As he walks out the door, it does no good to spit on him for his basketball faults. Redd wasn’t that great of a player, but he’s not bad.

  • control

    LeBron hasn’t been a family man since he started playing high school ball…he’s been a brand. He knows this, he embraces it and that is how he lives his life (and it’s also why he’s going to be a billionaire). Fuck where he wants to live, or him being a family man, he’s making enough money to make sure 10 generations of his family doesn’t have to work again…THAT is how he’s being a family man.

    The whole article seemed to miss the point about what exactly Milwaukee should do with Redd…honestly they should do whatever they want to do, and whatever will benefit the team the most, regardless of his feelings. They paid him 9 figures to be injured for a few years…it may not be Redd’s fault that he was injured, but it’s still a fact that he was very well compensated to sit on the bench watching games for two years. I can’t think of one person who wouldn’t want to be in Redd’s shoes right now. I’d let an NBA team play me 48mpg every night for the league min…haha.

  • seany_t

    What would be considered the right thing? I can’t see a contender taking him on unless Milwaukee gave him a buyout, and thats a valuable trade chip they’d be giving away. Best case scenario for Redd would be a buyout but then the Bucks get nothing. Made a sign and trade scenario next year…?

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @ 8 – great writeup, but I disagree slightly with one of your points.

    Since he was really the best player on some flawed teams (to say the least), he was FORCED to become a jacker. Name another player on those Bucks teams. Without using Wikipedia. Go ahead, I’ll be here all day.

    But he played on in Milwaukee, which is exactly why he deserves so much more respect. Curious that Austin is backing Redd and the amount of respect he deserves and still has the back for people like Chris Paul and LeBron James, who just want to cop out of situations in a smaller span of time than Redd played in Milwaukee.

    Remember when Redd could’ve done the Larry Hughes thing and left the team that made him big to join LeBron? He didn’t, and that’s exactly why he deserves respect above the amount we normally afford a simply “good” ballplayer.

  • high release

    @11

    Thanks. The best of those Bucks teams was around ’05 or ’06. There was Mo Williams, Redd, Desmond ‘Cowboy Dunks’ Mason, Gadzuric of course, ZaZa, Kukoc, Charlie Bell. I remember Joe Smith and …a guy who looked like the power forward version of Salmons. Those two worked well in the post, always talking to each other during a whistle. Crappy Bobby Simmons, a raw Bogut, Damon Jones! And Larry Harris at the GM…

    We had a guy like this on the Brewers too–Geoff Jenkins. Never as good as you wanted him to be, but he was always there. Which there is something to be said for.

    I’m pretty sure Redd stayed in the end because we maximized his $$ situation more than Cleveland could have. And Ohio isn’t that different or far off from Milwaukee. Big Dogg liked it here, and he was from Gary. Charlie Bell liked it because he’s a Flintstone. Lew Alcindor didn’t like it because he was from NYC.

    I rate Redd higher than Larry Hughes, but obviously less than the rest of the Redeem Teamers. Maybe like Mitch Richmond. If Jamal Crawford had stayed on one team and had been given the reigns for a decade, things could look differently for him. Opportunity counts for a lot.

    Thank you, Mike Redd, for being our guy. We all tried.

  • DurrtyInjun

    Really Dime? As long as its been since the decision, and I’m sure as many times as I’m sure its been discussed on these boards, do you really have to try and defend Lebron everytime you get a chance. Him joining superstars in Miami is only half the story, and not the main reason for hate. He would still be talked about for his leadership, but the hate is from his douchebag way of going about it. Please don’t defend peoples hate for an immature brat who has no respect for the fans that pay him. Chris Paul may get booed in NO if he forces a trade but few will hate him outside there.

  • Stunnaboy09

    Just let the contract expire…

    The Bucks payed Redd franchise money for a non-franchise player. It happens. He led them to some .500 win seasons and was classy. He was a black hole with sub par defense. He blew his knee. Twice. He’s done in the NBA. At this point even Minnesota won’t want him.

    Maybe he goes to Europe. maybe he retires. The Bucks owe him nothing, they payed his contract and treated him well. Unlike most stories in the league at least Redd and the Bucks end mutually.

  • the cynic

    The Bucks don’t owe Redd anything, they have treated him fairly throughout. Redd shouldn’t even try and play next year, hell he shouldn’t have tried to play last year.

    There is a braindead theory that has been going around the league for a while that players can now come back from major injuries a lot faster then the old day because of modern surgery. That’s BS, the body needs more then 5 or 6 months of working out to return to basketball shape (and no you can’t play yourself into game shape if you’ve been injuried, ex. Tony Parker). Surgery is a lot more efficient these day, but the recovery time hasn’t changed. Guys like Redd and T-Mac have practically ruined there careers because of this dumbass thinking

  • alf (from melmak)

    This is really getting ridiculous. It is sounding more and more like the boy who cried wolf. To the media, I know LeBron James is to basketball what Barack Obama is to the world. But please.

    I am just glad this was not placed inside “Latest News” or something similar. Thanks for that one Dime.

  • ballin

    i apologize for being part of the lebron-jacking of this thread, but…

    about your comments regarding LBJ.

    it was a cop-out to win championships. it wasn’t because he simply wanted to live there (although i’m sure south beach didn’t hurt). it wasn’t about the money (he would’ve gotten paid more in cleveland). it wasn’t even about friendships (sure, he’s friends with Wade and Bosh but nobody makes a massive life and career-altering decision because they want to play on the same team as their friends). it was about winning, pure and simple.

    and a lot of fans, athletes, and even the media would argue that was the best criteria for making his decision. after all, how many times have we heard players/reporters/fans say “it’s all about winning”. if you interview ANY player right now i’ll guarantee you they drop that line.

    so it’s not necessarily a bad thing to care about winning. it’s just pretty fucking lame when you do it the easy way.

    this whole culture has become so damn obsessed with winning, we can’t even stand it when we don’t win. so the pressure to win grows and grows, and eventually, as we’ve seen with Lebron, the need to win at all costs will eventually eclipse the need to be loyal.

    THAT’S what i don’t like about lebron’s decision, and THAT’S why he’s no kevin durant. for him, winning became more important than being a good person to the management/city/state that treated him so well for years, and revered him almost like a god.

    in the end, lebron pissed all over his team and entire state for an easier time at getting a trophy. THAT’S what the real issue is.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @ballin — I see what you’re saying, but how much “loyalty” does LeBron really owe Cleveland? He gave them seven years of high-quality, R.O.Y.-to-MVP caliber basketball, he took their team to the playoffs almost every year, had them in contention for championships, made the franchise and the city millions of dollars, made the team internationally relevant, gave back to the community … Are you saying he should never be able to leave the state because the fans love him?

    Second, it’s not going to be “easy” for LeBron to win championships in Miami. It’s never been easy for any NBA star to win championships anywhere. Will he have less of a load to carry because of Wade and Bosh? Of course. But in no way will it be “easy” to get it done. Go ask Magic (who had Hall of Fame teammates) or Duncan (same) or Bird (same) if their championships were ever easy.

  • ballin

    I’m not saying Lebron can’t ever leave, but if he were truly a loyal person, he would’ve left once it became totally clear Cleveland would never win a ring with him. Nobody gave Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen crap for going to the Celtics, but that’s because they paid their dues. In fact, I remember a few writers stating that Kevin was so good to the Timberwolves that he stayed longer than he probably even should have.

    Loyalty is an undervalued commodity in this day and age, and particularly in the NBA. Whether guys are chasing money or rings, or maybe just warm weather, those reasons are selfish (although completely understandable, and in most cases totally appropriate). When it’s not appropriate is when it happens at the expense of loyalty.

    If Lebron had signed a 3 year deal with an opt-out clause in the 3rd year, I would’ve said he’s completely immunized himself from criticism. He’s giving the Cavs two more chances, and if they fail him, he has a right to move on with his life. But the timing and manner of his leaving… that’s what made his actions disloyal

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @ballin — And at the same time, Kevin Garnett said himself that if he could do it all over again, he wouldn’t have stayed in Minnesota so long out of loyalty when they weren’t putting the pieces around him. Other players heard that loud and clear, which is why they don’t wanna wait until they’re 30-something and their bodies are starting to break down before finally leaving a no-win situation.

    If you’re not in LeBron’s shoes you can’t question his loyalty. A man only has to be loyal to his family and maybe his friends; not his job. Because you know if LeBron suddenly became injury-prone (e.g. T-Mac) or wasn’t producing like the Cavs wanted, they would have traded him given the opportunity. No loyalty. That’s how pro sports works.

    You say you would have been fine with LeBron staying 9 years in Cleveland before leaving, so what’s the big difference between 7 years and 9 years? It’s pretty obvious from this offseason alone that free agents aren’t attracted to Cleveland, so what would make LeBron think things were going to get better?

  • mike

    wow this went from a story about Redd to another lebron bashing, loyalty is a undervalued commodity, looking out for oneself is more important these days, congratulations you state the obvious. Guess what that’s how it is these days, and sorry if that’s not suited to you but that’s the harsh reality of life. This is a business, and not the fantasy perfect world where loyalty is the biggest thing. So stop the complaining, hate all you want, but guess what that’s how this world is. Loyalty and stuff is great to talk about as a kid, but in the ADULT world, loyalty doesn’t grant you your goals all the time.