The more I think about this off-season the more I think it’s going to be pretty unimportant. Every off-season is a big deal, but really the Bucks have a year or two before their regular or off-seasons really matter. They don’t have any important expiring contracts, the market is so bad that they shouldn’t face too much competition for resigning either of their (basically) restricted free agents, and they have what they likely believe is a solid core when healthy locked up for two more seasons together.
This summer screams of them finding ways to cut costs by auctioning their pick and/or Joe Alexander as Frank at Brewhoop has been pointing out lately. Regardless, I feel like these are some interesting questions they’ll be facing.
What We Aren’t Sure Of
Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson, where do they go from here?
At the most Redd and Jefferson will be the featured scorers on a resurgent Bucks team next year that makes a significant push for the sixth spot in the East. At the very least, one or both of them will be shipped off this summer for roughly half of their actual value. Their value is something that is up for debate though.
Both of them are still productive players at or just passed their primes. The obvious problem with both players is that they have contracts that are inflated and extensive. Both come up after the supposed glorious Summer of 2010, but given the extent that the ever worsening economy has affected the NBA who knows if that will even be as big of a deal as it was supposed to be. Nevertheless their contracts make them close to nuclear with regard to the trade market. The Bucks will likely have to take back pretty crappy players with abrasive contracts and/or attitude problems.
Of the two, Redd would likely have been more appealing this summer had his knee not exploded in January. Yes, he’ll be fine by the time the season starts, and yes he was never all that reliant on his explosion to begin with, but any time an aging shooting guard blows out his knee it’s never a good sign. When the Celtics acquired Ray Allen some people (Bill Simmons) were afraid of his ankles giving out, since he was an aging guard with bad ankles; a valid concern. The thing about Redd though, is that he has always been more of an arm shooter. He slings the ball up like an early Bart Simpson with a rock. This may keep his value at least at an acceptable level.
Jefferson lacks the one skill to make him all that attractive, but teams like the Blazers and Jazz who still need another piece may have renewed interest in him after likely playoff flame outs. Jefferson is even more overpaid than Redd, but he does make a little bit less. It’s likely that the Bucks will have to sweeten any deal with either of them with a young player or draft pick.
Who Is Joe Alexander?
What is this guy really capable of? Alexander reminds me of a baby tiger. He’s young and doesn’t really know what he’s doing yet. He has all this athleticism and speed but he’s usually running too fast for his own good and ends up stumbling over himself (so many silly turnovers). He picks on animals bigger than him and needs help defending himself (over matched on the defensive end). He can be a valuable member of the pack when coming over to help more established members during their battles (shot-blocking help from the weak side).
But near the end of the year Alexander has shown real signs of development. He’s not as hesitant to shoot when with the first team and isn’t rushing himself as often. He must be working hard in practice; otherwise Skiles would not have rewarded him with playing time over the past month.
Alexander compared this season to his freshman year in college. It has been all about adjusting and learning a whole new game. We often forget how different and intensified things are on the professional level. No one out there is a weak link and smaller things are so much more important due to the talent level. Missing a defensive rotation will result in a lay-up or easy basketball almost every time. There is no swinging to the crappy over matched freshman in the NBA, it’s swinging to another guy who can hit almost any shot and convert around the hoop.
Alexander certainly has a sweet looking stroke and upside. At this point I’d much rather have him than Yi Jianlian, so that means something right? Plus the more I look at him the more I feel like I’m watching Paul Reiser and Mad About You had good ratings and led to a successful career for Helen Hunt, so that’s a plus. I’m still hoping we have a Kerry Kittles after a growth spurt and some weight lifting on our hands.
Also, baby tigers grow into full grown killing machines eventually, keep that in mind.
What do you do with the 10/11 pick in a crappy draft?
This one I’ll handle separately as we get closer to draft day, but it boils down to a few choices. Keep the pick and hope the guy you get turns out, trade the pick alone or in a package, or trade Joe Alexander alone or in a package because what you’re getting with this pick will be better.
At this point I’d advocate trading this pick before jumping ship on Joey Dunks because he has a year under his belt and pretty good looking potential. Again, I’ll look back at this question throughout May and June, but it’s probably the key question in what may be a bland off-season.