Back with Bucks, Skinner bashes Blazers

Updated: August 7, 2006, 7:59 PM ET
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- Brian Skinner says he's comfortable being back in Milwaukee after getting more than his share of rainy weather and "contagious" apathy in Portland at the end of last season.

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Skinner, who was traded to the Bucks in a four-player deal July 31, sounded happy to be free from teammates in Portland who he said simply stopped trying.

"It's contagious, and it carried like wildfire throughout the whole team," Skinner said Monday. "Even players that were really dedicated and really wanted to be there, just made it seem like it was for naught."

In the midst of a major offseason overhaul after a league-worst 61-loss season, the Trail Blazers shipped Skinner, point guard Steve Blake and center Ha Seung-Jin to Milwaukee for forward Jamaal Magloire.

Skinner, 30, had a successful stint in Milwaukee during the 2003-04 season and said he's happy to be back.

"I love it," Skinner said. "I played here before. I like the city, love the fans. And I played with the majority of the guys that are here."

And after missing the playoffs last year, Skinner hopes he's joining a team on the rise with the Bucks, who did make the playoffs.

"Knowing they did that this year, I'm only looking to get better next year," Skinner said.

Skinner was traded from Sacramento to Portland in a four-team, nine-player trade last February. He said he enjoyed playing for coach Nate McMillan but found it hard to deal with so many teammates who obviously didn't want to be there.

Skinner said the signs of apathy were everywhere.

"It's everything," Skinner said. "From the way you just sit down at the dinner table, to how you walk, you can just tell when a player [has] not really lost their passion, but just lost their initiative to go out and try to win. And it just goes through everything. It goes through everything and completely destroys a team."

Skinner said he respected veteran teammates such as Voshon Lenard and Theo Ratliff, but didn't care for some of the team's younger players. Skinner didn't single out any specific players by name for criticism.

"They come in with that ego, and sometimes you have to put them back in their place," Skinner said.

But Skinner said none of those criticisms apply to Blake, who started 57 games at point guard for Portland last season.

"He showed good leadership," Skinner said. "Even with all of the frustrating things that were going on, he still had the passion of wanting to go out and play hard, even practice hard, and do those things. He's going to bring a lot to the table."

Skinner didn't seem surprised that he was traded, but said he wouldn't blame Blake if he took the move as a "slap in the face."

Skinner appreciated getting a chance to play in Portland, but said it is time for him to move on.

Besides, he said, "It just rained a lot. What can I say?"

Even without Magloire, Skinner joins a crowded frontcourt. The team returns last year's No. 1 pick, center Andrew Bogut, and traded for Charlie Villanueva in the offseason.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press