MILWAUKEE (AP) — After another double-digit loss, Bucks coach Larry Drew received encouraging words from Clippers counterpart Doc Rivers. It went along the lines of, "Hang in there, things will get better."
Really, it would be difficult for it to get much worse for Milwaukee, owner of the NBA's worst record.
Injuries from the outset disrupted the lineup. The team has transitioned to a full-fledged youth movement. A few veterans have voiced frustration with playing time.
"It's tough, but it's called a rebuild," Rivers said this week after Los Angeles' 28-point blowout of the Bucks. "It's hard on the coaches. Every night as a coach, you have to think you are going to win the game and it's hard."
Stopping to talk to an opposing coach usually isn't part of Drew's postgame routine. But Drew is good friends with Rivers, and the words meant a lot.
"I'll continue, moving forward, every game we play," Drew said after another loss, 126-117 to Phoenix on Wednesday. "But I will continue to take — even the negatives — I will try to find the positives from it and try to build and grow from that."
The Bucks were 8-37 entering Friday night's game against the Orlando Magic, the next worst team in the league with 12 wins. For now, Milwaukee has the best odds to get the top pick in the talent-rich NBA draft.
The Bucks have never called this a rebuilding year. Don't use the term "tanking" either.
"Simply, that's not the case," general manager John Hammond said in an interview. "If you look at our roster and some of the things we did, the players that we signed in the offseason — it was obvious that was not what we were looking to do."
Among the acquisitions was guard O.J. Mayo, signed to a three year, $24 million deal as a free agent. Veteran Caron Butler was acquired by trade to return to his hometown team.
They joined younger players led by promising center Larry Sanders, 25, signed to a four-year extension worth roughly $44 million.
They're among the players who have missed time due to injuries. Sanders missed about seven weeks with a thumb injury sustained in a nightclub scrum in November.
Drew has never had a steady roster. Lately, shooting has especially been problematic. Growing pains accompany the youth movement.
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