Milwaukee reluctantly dealt Brandon because it sensed (correctly) that its chances of resigning him when he became a free agent were slim. The team moved moody power forward Tyrone Hill to Philadelphia because he reportedly clashed with coach George Karl and was threatening to exercise an out clause in his five-year, $35 million contract and walk as a free agent, especially if Brandon was traded. So the Bucks made the best of a bad situation, replenishing their roster with veterans Cassell and Gatling and young forward Tim Thomas, who had a long-term lease on Sixers coach Larry Brown's doghouse.
Karl loves emotional players, which means he and Cassell are about to embark on a passionate and probably tumultuous marriage. One big reason Cassell and Gatling were so attractive to cost-conscious Milwaukee is that they are both signed to long-term deals. Thomas's contract will be up after next season, but by then Karl will have determined whether he can unleash the talent Brown tried so hard to tap. As recently as last month, Brown said he didn't want to trade Thomas, adding, "I want him to be great here? But Thomas wilted in his early-season starting role, and Brown replaced him with George Lynch. As Lynch flourished, Thomas sank down the depth chart. Brown wanted Thomas to focus on rebounding and defense, but Thomas, an offensive star at Villanova, showed little interest in developing the rest of his game.
Philadelphia rebuffed the Bucks' initial bid for Thomas, because the Sixers had zero interest in Milwaukee's offer of guard Elliott Perry and forward Armen Gilliam. The Bucks called again, offering Ervin Johnson, but Brown wouldn't relinquish Thomas until Milwaukee offered Hill, who seems to wear out his welcome wherever he goes, and agreed to take on Scott Williams, who has stress fractures in both legs, makes $3.3 million (with two guaranteed years left) and has been booed unmercifully by Philly fans.
A Fine Line
Jason Kidd, Suns
When told that he'd been selected to replace the Pistons' Grant Hill on the 2000 Olympic team because Hill was taking the summer off to get married, Kidd said, "I'll have to call his mother and find out where he's registered. And it won't be at Target."