http://www.jsonline.com/sports/bucks/patient-gm-believes-in-current-bucks-roster-b99658054z1-366505131.htmlMilwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond said the team is not in a "rebuild mode" but instead is building with its young core and believes those players can form the nucleus of a championship-contending team in the future.
In the present he maintains the team is trying to win as many games as possible while not rushing the process.
Following is a question-and-answer session conducted in Houston on the Bucks' recent road trip:
Q. The team struggled at the start of the season but has been playing better recently. Does that change the focus in the second half of the season?
A. We've never been a team that has been in that 'tanking' mode. We've always tried to be as competitive as possible. We've been in the playoffs two of the last three years. Nothing has changed as we sit here today. We want to be competitive; of course we'd love to be a playoff team.
Q. What is the vision for the future?
A. Right now there is a definite vision. Our goal is to become a championship-caliber team. There are no shortcuts for getting there. We like our young players; we still believe in these young players. We believe these young players as a core can become that team. We just might need to be a little patient as we get to that point. You don't go out and add a player like Greg Monroe and say we're not trying to be competitive, and sign Khris Middleton back and make a trade for Greivis (Vasquez), some of the things that we did. We're trying to be as good a team as we possibly can be, but at the end of the day, it's not about who we are today. It's who we're going to be in the future.
Q. Will Vasquez be back this season (following right ankle surgery) and in hindsight was it a gamble to give up a 2017 lottery protected first-round pick in the trade for him?
A. There is no timetable. We're hopeful that he can (return). I think he's going to do everything that he can to get himself back on the floor. I think he wanted to play; he wanted to be on the floor. But at the end of the day he had to have the surgery. It's a part of business. Look, he played 82 games last year, almost 2,000 minutes and was a great contributor for that Toronto organization. We thought he could play well for us.
Q. Would you classify this as a rebuilding situation for the team or is it something else? Expectations were high after jumping from 15 victories to 41 last season under coach Jason Kidd. Now the team is 19-27 with 36 games remaining.
A. Absolutely not. A rebuild is saying, 'We don't have players.' We like the players we have. For that reason I say it's not a rebuild, not even close to a rebuild. We took two major steps forward last year, going from a 15-win season to a 41-win season. Those were historic measures. Sometimes this happens. It happens in life, it happens in business, it happens in sports. Sometimes you take two major steps forward, you might take a step backward. Maybe the step backward might be healthy; maybe it's the right thing for you. The most important thing is not to panic.
Q. What do you think center Greg Monroe has brought to the team after being signed in free agency last summer?
A. I think Greg has done a great job for us. He's a guy that has helped us so many games scoring the ball; he's been an excellent rebounder for us night in and night out. I can't imagine life without him on this team right now.
Q. How do you measure Jabari Parker's progress after he missed most of last season with his serious knee injury?
A. He's at 60-some (65) games into his career. It's still a process for him. Not only the fact he has that amount of games under his belt but the fact he had to go through an injury; it's twofold. I think Jabari is in a good spot. I respect him for the fact he's being patient. I thought he was patient in his rehabilitation process, working as hard as he can, and I think he's doing the same thing on the floor. He's showing a sense of patience and he's willing to grow and learn. There's a certain self-confidence about him. I think he knows he's going to be a good player, and I think he wants to be a great player in this league. He has the confidence he'll be able to do that.
Q. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been sensational many times and struggled in other moments this season. How is he doing in his third pro season, at age 21?
A. I would challenge you to say at 21 years old, find me a player who is going out and consistently scoring 20 every night. They're few and far between and those guys who have done so are perennial all-stars today. I think Giannis is going to be an all-star someday. There's no doubt in my mind that he can do that. It's all of us — and I'm as guilty as anyone in this — it's all of us saying, 'We want it now. We want to be that championship-caliber team now; we want to win 50 games now; we want to be a playoff team now; we want Giannis to be great now.' That's not where we're at yet. I think if we push the envelope and try to get there too quickly, force Giannis to be something he's not yet today, it's not fair to him.
Q. Joe Prunty filled in as interim coach for Kidd during the past month while he was recovering from hip surgery. It seemed to be a smooth transition and how did it work out?
A. This is absolutely no surprise to me. I watched them last year. It's the hardest working staff I've ever been around and I've been in the NBA 26 years, and I've been a part of staffs and I've observed staffs. I think these guys are tremendous workers. You hope there's someone on the bench that's capable of taking over, should something happen. Joe was the guy, but take nothing away from the rest of the staff. All of the guys have done a great job, from our video guys to our assistant coaches.
Q. Are you anticipating making any moves before the Feb. 18 trade deadline?
A. This time of the year we're doing our due diligence. We're on the phone; we're talking to the other teams. We're making calls; we're receiving calls. We'll evaluate and as the trade deadline draws near, we'll see if there's something we can do that may help our team.
Q. What is the benchmark for a team that has arrived in the NBA?
A. The mark of excellence in our league is a 50-win season. The question is can we move toward that 50-win season mark, and once we get there the most important thing is can we stay there. If you're doing that, when you walk into the season and say we have 50 wins in our hip pocket, you know with that being said, you also have a chance to win a championship.