By RICK SOLEM
In case you’re wondering, the Milwaukee Bucks won’t have the worst season in NBA history.
That belongs to the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats (7-59). As of right now, the Bucks are on pace to break the second-worst record – the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers (9-73) – with their current one-win-per-month momentum.
Milwaukee (9-43) won once in January, once again in February and the season goes through mid-April – barring they don’t make the playoffs … … … – so, it looks like the Bucks could finish the season 11-71.
OK, enough semi-sarcasm on the Bucks, though they’re easily going to have the most ping pong balls heading into the draft lottery, as the Sixers have the second-worst record at 15-39.
There have been a couple interesting things to surface this week dealing with Bucks’ player personnel and the trade deadline looming Thursday.
Milwaukee has been rumored to favor Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid in the upcoming draft, it's considering a trade for New Orleans shooting guard Eric Gordon and center Larry Sanders is out six more weeks.
Bucks want Gordon?
The former Indiana Hoosier is rumored to be on the block along with teammate Darius Miller for O.J. Mayo and Gary Neal.
Gordon is due $30.42 million over the next two seasons, while Mayo is on the hook for $16 million and Neal is due $6.5 million over that span.
The six-year, oft-injured guard who just turned 25 not too long ago had 21 points, six assists, two steals and just one turnover against the Bucks on Wednesday.
He missed 86 games the last two seasons because of wrist and knee injuries. This year, however, he’s been healthy, missing just three of 52 games.
His game isn’t a lot different than Michael Redd’s, and his career seemed to be headed down a similar path. Redd signed a max deal with Milwaukee – instead of heading to play with LeBron James and Cleveland for less money - then watched his career disintegrate two years later after tearing his ACL and MCL.
Gordon, who was part of the controversial trade that sent Chris Paul to the L.A. Clippers, appears finally healthy after knee and wrist issues.
He’s a physical guard, but may settle for too many jump shots. Playing, now, with Anthony Davis, arguably the best center in the league, he still seems to have to get up his 12-15 shots a game, instead of letting the young center go to work down low and feeding off that.
The trade is risky, considering Gordon’s injury history, but he’s an upgrade from Mayo. The 26-year-old Mayo has been inconsistent year to year, and isn’t getting minutes for whatever reason this season.
The Bucks may be bailing too soon on Mayo, when they should, perhaps, bail on a coaching staff that doesn’t have a consistent rotation over halfway through the season. Gordon is an upgrade, but he’ll cost nearly double.
But Neal’s and Mayo’s contracts together equal Gordon's, and Neal is expendable. He’s a 29-year-old shooting guard that can’t shoot. He’s hit just 39.7 percent the last two seasons in 21 minutes a game.
The theory in NBA trades is always get the better player and Gordon is an upgrade and younger than Mayo.
Bucks want Embiid?
The same day Gordon went off on the Bucks, ESPN reported Milwaukee General Manager John Hammond is in favor of Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid in the upcoming draft.
The way the Bucks’ season has turned out, however, one of two things will probably happen in the draft: A. Milwaukee won’t get the first pick and another team will take Embiid, and he’ll go on to be the next Hakeem Olajuwon, or B. The Bucks will get the first pick and Embiid will stay at Kansas another year, as he has considered already.
"I'm not even thinking about it right now," Embiid told ESPN on Feb. 5. "I'll make a decision after the season, but I'm definitely considering coming back to school."
Embiid has only been playing basketball for three years, but, if you’ve seen him play, the 7-footer is taking strides as long as his strides.
The 19-year-old grew up playing soccer and volleyball, so his footwork and hand-eye coordination are amazing, and the transition to basketball has been quick and seamless – except for recent back and knee issues, which could raise red flags if he came out.
"Joel is beat up. He's beat up," Kansas coach Bill Self told ESPN. "I'm not going to make an excuse for him because you have to perform. But he's going to need some time off. I don't know how much time, but he's going to need some time off."
Sanders out after surgery
When it rains it pours and it’s been pouring a lot – could it be from the booze bottles he was throwing during a nightclub fight a few months ago? - on the Milwaukee center.
Sanders is out six weeks after surgery to repair fractures in his orbital bone from a James Harden elbow on Feb. 8.
This isn’t the type of season you want to have after re-upping with a 4-year, $44-million contract. First a nightclub fight that led to a torn ligament in his thumb, which cost him 43 games - a fight in which he looks very foolish - and now this, Sanders' season has been just like Milwaukee's ... a disaster.
Sanders had been rumored in trades, but that’s not the answer. This season is garbage, but Sanders is productive when he’s not throwing bottles of booze or having his face broken.
The Bucks are bad now, but they’re just setting themselves up to have the biggest turnaround from one season to the next in the history of sports – and, at this rate, it won’t take much.