Thursday, July 11, 2013

Building The 15 - Bucks Next Five Moves

Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond has been very busy reshaping the roster over the last month.  After adding two intriguing players in the 2013 NBA Draft I was hopeful that the Bucks were going to try to bottom out next season en route to building a long-term contender.  Unfortunately Hammond must have gotten an inter-office memo from owner Herb Kohl mandating that he continue to overpay mediocre free agents.  If you caught my write-up yesterday, you already know I am not a fan of the moves Hammond made since the draft.

Fortunately the Bucks still have a few moves left to make this off-season to fill their 15-man roster but this is how their 2013-14 roster currently looks:
PG: Nate Wolters and Ish Smith
SG: O.J. Mayo
SF: Carlos Delfino and Giannis Antetokounmpo
PF: Ersan Ilyasova, John Henson, Ekpe Udoh, and Drew Gooden
C: Larry Sanders, Zaza Pachulia, and Gustavo Ayon

Here is a my five-point plan for how Hammond can salvage the off-season:

#1) Amnesty Drew Gooden.  This should have happened last off-season so there is no excuse for inaction this off-season.  Gooden has a guaranteed contract so he is going to get the money one way or the other so you might as well get it over with this year.  If it doesn't happen this year, Gooden must have compromising photos of Hammond or Kohl.  That or Kohl is going through some cash flow issues so he wants to spread out the $13.5 million he owes Gooden over the next two years.  Getting rid of Gooden would leave the Bucks with four open roster spots, which I am about to help Hammond fill.

#2) Do a sign-and-trade with the Atlanta Hawks.  Almost everyone thinks the Bucks should move point guard Brandon Jennings for point guard Jeff Teague.  I still think Jennings has value so the Bucks should trade shooting guard Monta Ellis for Teague.  I would love to see Ellis as the first guy off the bench for a contender but unfortunately he still sees himself as a potential all-star.  The Bucks are lucky that Ellis turned down what amounted to a three-year, $36 million deal to stay in Milwaukee because I wouldn't even pay Ellis what the Bucks are going to pay shooting guard O.J. Mayo (three-years, $24 million) at this point.  The Hawks have an interest in Ellis and the Bucks have an interest in Teague so this looks like a match made in heaven.

#3) Get restricted free agent Brandon Jennings to sign his $4.6 million qualifying offer.  That leaves the Bucks with good salary cap flexibility.  I am not completely sure that allows the Bucks to trade Jennings at the trade deadline.  If not, it makes the qualifying offer less appetizing, but allows the Bucks to retain his "Bird Rights" next off-season to sign him to a mega-extension or move him in a sign-and-trade deal.

#4) Don't spend a dollar over the veteran minimum on any player. Part of me is intrigued with the potential upside of restricted free agent shooting guards Gerald Henderson and Gary Neal but neither of those guys would be a starter on a legitimate championship contender so no need to waste resources on continuing to overpay for mediocrity.  Instead the Bucks should see if they can get a combo back court player like Beno Udrih, Marquis Daniels, Mo Williams, or Nate Robinson to sign for the veteran minimum.

#5) Fill out the roster with undrafted rookie free agents. 
In my
2013-14 Milwaukee Bucks Free Agent Shopping Guide I gave Hammond a bunch of names of players that I would target.  The key is that you would rather pay your 12th through 15th guys nothing since they are going to ride the pine next season anyhow.  Best case scenario you find the next Greg Stiemsma that lights up the NBDL to earn a spot in the rotation at some point down the road.

This may seem redundant but the key for the Bucks is to stop overpaying for mediocre talent so until the Bucks start taking a sensible approach to constructing their team I will continue to try to get #FearTheMediocreDeer trending on Twitter.

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