Michael Scotto: Source: The Bucks and Orlando Johnson have agreed to terms. Milwaukee has 15 guaranteed contracts, but is looking at ways to add wing depth.
May 26, 2017 | 6:31 pm EDT Update
“I think sometimes teams make false assumptions of their team based on things like that. I think that our team is not that much different than a lot of our competition in the East. I think we had a good year in spite of some injuries, you know, with [Al] Horford going down early and Isaiah [Thomas] missing a short time and Avery [Bradley] missing 22 games there in a stretch. We had to overcome some injuries, and it was good because our depth got a chance to play. Everybody on our roster got a chance to prove their worth. “But I feel like it doesn’t really matter what we’ve accomplished. If we’d lost Game 7 against the Wizards, I don’t feel any different than if we’re where we are today. I know that we’re good. I know that we’re not great. I know that we still have more to do, and, you know, that next step is by far the hardest.”
“Just because you’re one piece away doesn’t mean you can get it. And if you force yourself to get it, and if you force a deal or force yourself to get the second best available or the third or fourth best available player at that position that you need, then it might not make you that much better or make you still not good enough, and you’re stuck. So, yeah, we’re not that far away, but we’re still a ways away. We still know we need to get better. Everybody in our organization knows we need to get better. We need to add.”
That competitive spirit is what led ESPN to outbidding Fox and others for top NBA rights. It’s what led ESPN to rebuilding its NBA coverage from the top down, bringing in Wildes and others to help bring life to the discourse. “Basketball is a cool sport,” Elhassan says, echoing Wildes. And in that sense, it’s at the front of the innovation curve as well. One question asked to every person interviewed for this story was whether these tone changes only made sense for the NBA’s younger, more diverse audience.
Expect more Sidecasts in the future, though probably not for the Finals because of differences between ABC and ESPN rights deals. The ESPN3 platform also features streaming pregame warmup video, as alternative viewing options are further explored. Second-screen viewership was an important factor in the decision to bring on Wojnarowski, too. The NBA’s foremost news-breaker was allowed to create The Vertical on Yahoo Sports in early 2016, with an emphasis on news, video analysis and podcasts. But the best asset for ESPN may end up being The Vertical’s live Web shows for the NBA draft and free agency that drew millions of viewers desperate for the best information fastest.