Monday, March 24, 2008

Bucks Fire GM Larry Harris

The Milwaukee Bucks have fired their General Manager - Larry Harris. I believe he should have been given more time to build the team, but the Bucks felt that he’d had enough time without positive results and that his questionable personnel decisions made him expendable.

In 2005 the Bucks had the first pick in the draft and Harris selected Andrew Bogut. He was widely regarded as the most NBA-ready player in that draft and talented 7-footers are hard to find, but he’s been just average so far. Also, two players that Harris passed on – Chris Paul and Deron Williams - have become two of the most promising young stars in the league. Perhaps every other GM would have also taken Bogut first in that draft, but it was Harris that had to decide and he decided incorrectly.

Last year Harris used the sixth pick in the draft to select Yi Jianlian, a 6’11 power forward from China. The problem is that Yi Jianlian had almost no contact with the Bucks before the draft, refused to work out privately for them, and then warned that they are on a short list of teams that he wouldn’t want to play for. Harris selected him anyway and then ignored Yi’s trade demands before signing him. The results have been uninspiring. Yi averaged 8 points and 5 rebounds before suffering a season ending injury. He looks like a project at best, and it’s hard to justify going through all that grief for a project.

Harris has nobody to blame for his termination but himself. He gambled on a few draft picks and lost, hired coaches that didn’t generate enough excitement (or wins), and failed to build a roster that could compete every night. He’s a young, charismatic guy and his father (Del Harris) is a respected NBA coaching veteran so he’ll get another chance elsewhere, but he’ll need to do much better next time.

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