llyasova excited about new-look Bucks roster

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By Charles F. Gardner
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Tuesday, September 24, 2013

BROOKFIELD--Perfect strangers today will be teammates tomorrow.

That sums up the situation facing the Milwaukee Bucks as they enter training camp next week.

A hectic summer of change has resulted in 11 new players on the Bucks roster, although veterans Zaza Pachulia, Luke Ridnour and Carlos Delfino are starting second stints in Milwaukee.

But only four holdovers from last season's squad remain: starting power forward Ersan Ilyasova, starting center Larry Sanders, second-year power forward John Henson and backup big man Ekpe Udoh.

And a new coaching staff led by Larry Drew will direct the Bucks after a five-year term for Scott Skiles and Jim Boylan, who finished last season as interim coach.

“We have a short period of time to put a lot of things in,” Drew said Monday before participating in the Bucks' annual golf outing at Westmoor Country Club.

“There's going to be a lot of teaching that takes place. We'll have seven days of practice before we play our first exhibition game (Oct. 8 at Cleveland).

“We're going to have to use every second of training camp as best we can.”

The 26-year-old Ilyasova now has the longest tenure on the Bucks roster as he opens his sixth season with the team.

“Now I feel like I'm in the same city with a new team,” Ilyasova said. “It's really exciting.

“But the most important thing is to be prepared and ready for training camp.”

Ilyasova recently returned to Milwaukee after playing for Turkey in the EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia. He was disappointed in Turkey's early ouster from the tournament but said he came through injury-free and in great physical shape.

One of the Bucks newcomers is 33-year-old Caron Butler, the Racine native acquired in a late August trade with the Phoenix Suns.

Butler has learned from some of the game's greats at various stages of his career, as a teammate of a young Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Paul. Butler spent the past two years with the Los Angeles Clippers and helped transform them from a perennial loser to a Western Conference contender.

“I'm going to bring my skills as a basketball player, but at the same time I'm going to bring my experience,” Butler said. “I think that is priceless.

“Being on a championship team (in Dallas) and seeing what went on in the locker room from both sides (winning and losing). And in Los Angeles we came and transformed the whole organization.

“I think I bring all that to the table.”

Butler said 11 Bucks players have been working out on their own prior to the start of camp next week.

“I think you take it one practice at a time, one film session, one walkthrough and one game,” Butler said. “It's a process.

“We can't look at nobody else's backyard because there's so much to do in ours.”

Drew said he plans to sit down with Butler for a discussion later this week. And the Bucks coach said he made a trip to Miami over Labor Day to consult with his new 21-year-old point guard, Brandon Knight, obtained in the trade that sent Brandon Jennings to Detroit.

“I've always admired his game from afar,” Drew said of Knight, entering his third NBA season. “When we played against him (in Atlanta), he was always a thorn in our side.

“I look at it as a similar situation to me as a player. I went to Kansas City and it elevated my game. I think a change will be very good for him.

“He's a point guard that has the ability to score. He can make the three. He has a good in-between game. And with what we've added, hopefully everyone will complement one another.”

Drew also said 18-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks' first-round pick, has arrived from Greece and is preparing for camp.

The Bucks golf tournament, a traditional opener to the fall campaign, benefited the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Wisconsin.

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