Considering the way Jason Kidd and his staff entered and left Milwaukee, I can understand why some Bucks fans would want to clean house of everything that Jason Kidd touched and start new. Regardless of how the Jason Kidd era ended, there will be one familiar face returning to the Bucks bench, and that is Sean Sweeney.
Under Jason Kidd, Sean Sweeney was head of player development and the “architect of the defense.” The Bucks finished in the bottom third in defensive rating (20) and many of their recent first-round picks, such as Thon Maker, Rashad Vaughn, and D.J. Wilson were unable to find meaningful minutes during the regular season. On the surface, what Sean Sweeney has done for the Bucks does not look so good, but with a lesser role under Budenholzer, Sean Sweeney will be able to become an asset for the Milwaukee Bucks.
One of the first reasons for me to believe in Sweeney is that Mike Budenholzer clearly saw something in Sweeney during the interview process to decide to keep him around. Sweeney is still a youngster compared to most NBA assistants such as our dearly departed Joe Prunty, who has been an assistant for 18 years now. Prunty’s NBA assistant career can now go and buy cigarettes and lottery tickets with how long he’s been in the business. With youth comes mistakes, and we can look at the first four years in Milwaukee as his NBA coaching college years. He made some mistakes, mostly in his approach to the Bucks defense, but those days are behind him.
He will have a more reduced role with the Bucks, since Budenholzer and the staff he brought over from Atlanta will most likely take over Sweeney’s roles as heads of defense and player development; and for good reason. Budenholzer and his staff are rightfully known as Hawks University for their ability to take raw talents and squeeze the most out of them.
In terms of a career move, this is great for Sweeney. He already has a high profile relationship with Giannis Antetokounmpo, and being added to one of the most respected coaching staffs in the league is a huge boost for his career resumé. Being able to learn under guys like Mike Budenholzer and Darvin Ham will make him a better coach and increase his notoriety around the league, so he is not just known as the coach who Giannis once got in a verbal argument with on the sidelines.
One of the most important things that Sweeney brings to the table is his already established relationship with the returning players. In the NBA there is no such thing as a completely smooth transition when changing head coaches, and having someone who has been in the locker room with these players for the last couple of years is something that will help Budenholzer and his staff get their footing early.
You can’t mention relationships and Sean Sweeney without mentioning his relationship with Giannis. It is no secret that the two practically live together during the regular season. The reason why Sweeney becomes so valuable to the Bucks in the future is because Giannis is eligible to sign a supermax contract in 2020. (If you don’t know what a supermax contract is, in short it allows the current team of a player who meets a certain number of requirements to offer their star players more money than and other team to help small market teams retain their star players)
The number one determinate of success for the Milwaukee Bucks in the future is the retention of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis is an extremely loyal person and has expressed his affection for the city of Milwaukee and their fans more times than one can count. I am not saying at all that without Sean Sweeney Giannis would buy the next ticket out of Milwaukee in 2020; far from it.
The fact of the matter is that Sean Sweeney is someone that Giannis can trust. When we fast forward into the year 2020, the number one concern of the Milwaukee Bucks is getting Giannis to sign that supermax. The plan is already in place. The Bucks have the new arena and they have their coach in Mike Budenholzer. The next things that they need to do is develop one of their up-coming draft picks to become a steady contributor and use what little flexibility they have to sign free agents.
The framework to keep Giannis in a Bucks uniform for the long-run has been established and the retention of Sean Sweeney is not only a great career move for Sweeney, but just one of many reasons for Giannis to stay in Milwaukee.