Skiles to Bogut: Show Up in Milw.
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Scott Skiles' purposeful scowl wouldn't look out of place on an NFL sideline, so it's only natural that the Milwaukee Bucks' disciplinarian coach would make a push to bring pro football-style organized offseason workouts to the NBA over the next few years.
For now, Skiles will settle for some extra effort from center Andrew Bogut, who is rehabilitating a season-ending lower back injury and is being counted on to step up as a leader next season.
"The one thing me in particular and the organization in general is trying to impress upon Andrew is, you can't run from being the No. 1 pick," Skiles said. "You've got to embrace being the No. 1 pick. And there's responsibility that comes along with that."
Skiles has dispatched Bucks trainer Marc Boff to Bogut's offseason home in Australia to oversee the initial stages of his return to on-court exercises. And Skiles hopes his big man will return to Milwaukee for more supervised work this summer -- a gesture Skiles believes would make a strong statement to the rest of the team about Bogut's desire to lead.
"All we can do is impress upon him the importance of what he is to the franchise, and there's responsibility that goes along with that," Skiles said. "I'm totally comfortable that Andrew's the type of guy that is going to continue to understand that."
Bogut, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, seems to have a sense of what's expected of him.
"The only thing I haven't enjoyed is we haven't made a playoff push," Bogut said earlier this month in Melbourne. "That's on my shoulders as much as anyone else. I definitely need to perform better to help the team get there."
Bogut has shown the ability to be an inside force for the Bucks, but he played in only 36 games because of injuries last season.
Skiles said the most important thing for Bogut to do this summer is get completely healthy. But Skiles said Bogut also needs to work on his on-court skills to make up for the time he lost last season, and assert himself as a leader in the locker room.
"We want Andrew to take on more of a leadership role," Skiles said. "A lot of that means being around a little bit more in the summertime, being more the face of things that are going on, and also working on his game. One thing that he needs, not only getting healthy, is he needs skill work. And we were on top of that during the season, we felt like he was getting better, then he got hurt."
Skiles said learning to lead is a natural part of a young player's development.
"Sometimes you forget he's just 24 years old. I'm not going to comment on some of the things I was doing when I was 24 years old," Skiles joked. "He's a young guy. Let's be honest, as human beings, we didn't know as much then as we know now. So we want him to accept that role and step up into (it) and not be concerned about what anybody else on the team is doing."
Skiles, of course, would like every one of his players to be around the team's headquarters in the offseason.
But the NBA doesn't have formal offseason routines like those seen in the NFL, where teams are allowed to hold a mandatory offseason minicamp and other workout sessions that are considered voluntary -- usually in name only.
Skiles said he'd like to see something similar in the NBA, and would like to see the issue discussed in the NBA's next round of collective bargaining negotiations with the players' union. Skiles said formal NBA offseason programs would be most beneficial to young players.
"Would I be disappointed right now, for instance, if we had a four-day minicamp July 5th or something, and (veteran) Richard Jefferson didn't come? No," Skiles said. "But for younger players, you can't work with them in the summer. And, you know, there's all these cottage industries that sprout from the league, everybody has a 'workout guy' and they're out working out with somebody else. And my experience is, a lot of the players are paying people to not rat on them that they're not working out."
But while Skiles can't require players to work out at the team's headquarters during the offseason, his message of making a year-round commitment seems to be getting through. Bucks guard Charlie Bell said he and his teammates agreed to report early to training camp, and a few players have committed to spending part of their offseason in Milwaukee.
"The coaches can say something, but they can't make it mandatory," Bell said. "At the same time, we've got to hold each other accountable -- not just the coaches."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)