After trade with Houston, Milwaukee GM gets his man

David La

The man behind the trade that sent Joel Przybilla from Houston to Milwaukee — Bucks general manager Ernie Grunfeld — is a man of blind faith.
Though Przybilla, selected with the ninth pick, did not visit, meet or work out for Milwaukee, Grunfeld knew he wanted the 7-foot-1 center.
“It all depended on the player Houston was looking for not being there,” Grunfeld said. “The understanding was if the player Houston wanted was no longer there, I would make the selection.”
So while Przybilla donned a Rockets cap and spoke of the opportunities that awaited him in Houston, Grunfeld waited in the war room to unveil the coming trade.
With the 15th pick, Milwaukee selected Georgia Tech center Jason Collier, and the plan was now complete.
A short time later, NBA Commissioner David Stern conveyed the trade news: Joel Przybilla was going to the Bucks. In return, Houston received Collier and a future first-round pick.
Przybilla, as the ninth pick, is ensured of a maximum contract of $5.2 million over three years.
Grunfeld said Przybilla’s rebounding, shot blocking and overall athleticism made him an attractive prospect.
“He’s a competitive kid,” Grunfeld said. “He has a live body for a guy of his size. Obviously he has work to do, like all young players do. But he’s eager to work and he’s a good quick learner.”
And Przybilla has a veteran front court to learn behind. The Bucks’ roster includes centers Ervin Johnson and Scott Williams, who’ve played a combined 17 seasons in the NBA.
Milwaukee made the playoffs last season, losing in the first round to eventual Eastern conference champion Indiana in five games.
Grunfeld said Przybilla is entering a pressure-free situation, but expects the young pivotman to work hard.
“He’s going to be able to develop his game and be part of a winning situation for many years to come,” Grunfeld said.
David La Vaque welcomes comments at [email protected]