After a decade of dwelling near the bottom of the NBA's standings, the Bucks looked to add credibility to their basketball operations. In 1998, the team hired veteran coach George Karl, who had reached the NBA Finals with the Seattle SuperSonics. Under the leadership of Karl and general manager Ernie Grunfeld, and with the steady addition of talent such as Tim Thomas and Sam Cassell, the Bucks developed into an elite team in the Eastern Conference. The nucleus of "the big three"-- consisting Allen, Cassell, and Robinson-- along with Karl, created a successful renaissance era in Milwaukee. Wholesale cheap jerseys The team reached its zenith in 2000-2001, winning 52 games and the Central Division title. That year the Bucks reached the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals, which they lost in seven games to the Philadelphia 76ers.After coming painstakingly close to a championship appearance in 2001, the Bucks sought to make key offseason personnel additions to put the team in the NBA Finals. Behind the strong encouragement of George Karl, the Bucks acquired forward Anthony Mason at the beginning of the 200102 season. On paper, this made the Bucks the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. On and off the court, however, team chemistry was destroyed by the presence of Mason. The Bucks, who at the season's midway point were the number four seed in the Eastern Conference, began an unthinkable free-fall. In the 2009 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks selected promising point guard Brandon Jennings who had not gone to college, but played in Italy the previous year. Midway through the season Bucks GM, John Hammond traded Hakim Warrick to Chicago, and acquired John Salmons. In a Bucks uniform, Salmons averaged a team leading 19.9 ppg.
During the 200203 season, the Bucks traded superstar guard Ray Allen and backup Ronald "Flip" Murray to the Seattle SuperSonics for Gary Payton and Desmond Mason. The trade allowed emerging star Michael Redd to see increased playing time, and with Gary Payton in the backcourt, the Bucks finished the season with a 4240 record. The Bucks made the playoffs but lost in the first round to the New Jersey Nets in six games.Cheap NHL jerseys That offseason, team leaders Sam Cassell and center Ervin Johnson were traded to Minnesota (for Joe Smith). Payton left via free agency, after playing only 28 games for the Bucks. Coach George Karl's tenure in Milwaukee also ended after the season. Within a one-year period, the team had lost the coach and "big three" players most responsible for the team's success during that era.

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