MILWAUKEE — It's probably going a step too far to say the Milwaukee Bucks are trying to bring showtime to the shores of Lake Michigan with the addition of guard Monta Ellis.
Still, getting a top-10 scorer in a five-player trade with Golden State will be a significant addition for a team that already was trying to play a quick transition offense with center Andrew Bogut out injured. Now Bogut is gone for good, sent to the Warriors along with Stephen Jackson.
"My first thing I said was, 'Well, it looks like we'll be running a lot more,'" point guard Brandon Jennings said. "A lot of just up and down buckets, a lot of fast breaks. That's when I got more excited."
Added Jennings on Ellis, "He's probably one of the fastest guys with the ball in the league."
The Bucks sent Bogut and Jackson to the Warriors in a trade Tuesday night, getting Ellis, forward Ekpe Udoh and the expiring contract of Kwame Brown in return. Ellis and Udoh didn't play against Cleveland on Wednesday night, but could be in uniform for Friday night's game — which, coincidentally, is at Golden State.
Bucks general manager John Hammond said Bogut and Jackson must complete their Warriors physical examinations before the trade is complete and Ellis and Udoh can play for Milwaukee. Hammond was hopeful that would happen before Friday's game.
"We have our fingers crossed," Hammond said.
Once that happens, the Bucks will look to push the tempo even more with Ellis on board — and hope to make a push for the playoffs.
Ellis and Udoh were introduced at a news conference Wednesday evening, and Ellis said he's committed to playing whatever style coach Scott Skiles wants.
"We're going to do some great things here," Ellis said.
After a rough February, the Bucks have chased down the struggling New York Knicks in the race for the No. 8 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.
More than anything, Jennings is excited that he won't be the main focus for opposing defenses any more. Ellis is scoring 21.9 points per game, ninth-best in the league.
"He'll take a lot of pressure off me, just in general," Jennings said. "I won't feel like I have to go out there and score so many points for the team. Now I can go out there and run the point guard a little bit more, get more assists. That's something I love to do."
Skiles has tried to play a more uptempo style this year, especially since Bogut broke his left ankle in late January.
"We're pretty wide open right now anyway," Skiles said. "We're pushing the ball up the floor, and we've got multiple ball handlers out there. We're taking early shots if they present themselves. Hopefully, we might even get a little bit quicker. Certainly Monta's quick — very quick. And hopefully we'll continue to kind of play in that style and move the ball around and cause people problems."
The biggest question facing the made-over Milwaukee roster is defense, something the Bucks have struggled with this season.
"We're having some really nice, like five- to seven-minute stretches where we're really locking things down defensively," Skiles said. "And that's the reason we've been able to win some games. We just haven't done it for real long periods of time, which ultimately we're going to have to do."
Asked to assess Ellis' defensive ability, Skiles was somewhat cautious.
"He's been good in certain situations, especially when he's been given a challenge to guard more of a main guy," Skiles said. "And like a lot of the NBA players, if it's somebody that doesn't appear to be a main guy, there can be some slippage. But he certainly has that ability."
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