ST. FRANCIS, Wis. – In a challenging season, sometimes a trade serves as a way to give a team a fresh start.
That is what's happened with the Milwaukee Bucks the past five games since acquiring Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien at the trade deadline.
The Bucks still have the worst record in the league heading into Wednesday's game against the Sacramento Kings, but they're playing much better.
"Just looking back at our last five games, we've been a different team from a chemistry standpoint," coach Larry Drew said Tuesday at the team's training facility. "I'm hoping it will just carry over."
At 12-47, every little bit of good news means something in a season that has had few positives. Milwaukee is 2-3 over its past five games, including a competitive, five-point loss at Eastern Conference power Indiana and blowout victories over Philadelphia and Utah.
Sessions and Adrien were acquired from Charlotte for veteran guards Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour. Veteran forward Caron Butler's contract was bought out.
But the turnover has actually brought a little more stability to the rotation on a team that had been beset by injuries. There are more defined roles on the team, and Sessions and Adrien are both comfortable with what the Bucks need from them.
"Both of those guys clearly bring something that we haven't had," Drew said.
Sessions, a point guard in his second tour with the Bucks, excels at drawing contact and getting to the foul line. He's already mentoring rookie Nate Wolters, who has started at guard over the past month with Milwaukee turning to a youth movement.
As for Adrien, Drew said the Bucks' desperately needed his "pit bull" mentality and rebounding ability.
"I don't think there's a name for it," Adrien said when asked to describe his style of play. "Whatever it is, get the job done. Call it 'Beast Mode.'"
Adrien has at least 10 rebounds in four of five games with his new team. Butler has since signed with Oklahoma City, but before he left, he told Adrien what the team needed. Drew and general manager John Hammond shared similar thoughts.
"I was very clear to what this team needed when I came over here, and what they needed is what I bring," Adrien said. "They needed some toughness and some rebounding."
So far, so good: Adrien is averaging 9.6 rebounds in 19.6 minutes a game with the Bucks.
Drew talked at length Tuesday about the chemistry that's been forged quickly since the trade. It took more than four months, but Milwaukee may finally have the right combination.
"They're starting to get a feel, or a bond or whatever you want to call it," Drew said. "Something is going on there that we have not had ... the first 50 games."
The team on Tuesday also signed free-agent forward Tony Mitchell, a former rookie of the year in the NBA Developmental League, to a 10-day contract. Mitchell spent much of the past two seasons with Milwaukee's D-League affiliate in Fort Wayne.
Mitchell, a two-time champion of the D-League slam dunk contest, was averaging 19.4 points and 5.2 rebounds at Fort Wayne. He takes Butler's roster spot.
"My conversation with John (Hammond) was if we're going to bring some guys in, let's bring some guys who add some athleticism to the team, bring some energy," Drew said.
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