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Team can't afford to lose Redd



Published: Wed, July 6, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



To keep their best player, the Bucks will have to overpay.

MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

MILWAUKEE -- If the Milwaukee Bucks spend somewhere between $80 million and $90 million over the next six years on Michael Redd, they will have overpaid. But what else can they do?

Redd is a tremendous shooter, an all-star talent, but he is not a maximum-contract player, among the best of the best in the NBA, the kind of player you would choose to build a from-scratch team around. He is the ideal complement to an elite player, which is why he would be a perfect fit alongside LeBron James in Cleveland.

But the Bucks cannot allow that because it would be a public-relations nightmare the franchise could afford less than overspending on its best player. The Bucks chose not to move Redd at the trading deadline, thus risking losing him without compensation, because they were that confident he would re-sign.

So that's the price -- roughly $15 million a season or a fivefold boost in salary for Redd -- a small-market team with arena issues must pay as a show of good faith that it remains committed to competitiveness.

Bargaining table

As allowed by the collective-bargaining agreement, the Bucks must eclipse Cleveland's offer by an extra season to remove any doubt to a skeptical fan base that they still want to win. And then if Redd decides to leave $20 million or so on the table to accept the Cavs' offer to come home and join James, no one could say the Bucks did not do all in their power to prevent such an embarrassing occurrence. If Redd wants to go to Cleveland so badly that he would accept substantially less money to be LeBron's sidekick instead of the man in Milwaukee, then you could only accuse the Bucks of incredibly poor judgment at the trading deadline.

But if all reports are accurate, that the Bucks have presented a maximum offer, there is no reason to believe that he would not return.

In return for being overpaid, Redd must condition himself to become more of a take-charge leader, even if it is not in his nature. He will have to be even more aggressive and adopt a ruthless edge for scoring; such will be the burden of the $15 million man.

In what amounted to a sacrificing of last season to clear salary space, the Bucks put themselves in a position to afford Redd and good players around him for the foreseeable future. Who knows what the long-term view portends, but for right here, right now, the Bucks have no choice but to overbid for the incredibly well-positioned Redd. The market is demanding it.




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