With each passing day I see yet another free agent come off the market or another sign and trade deal get done and I can’t help but feel a little bit jealous. Who doesn’t like to see their team get out there and make some moves, right? That’s how teams get better, isn’t it? Aren’t the Mavericks much better off with Marcin Gortat and Shawn Marion? Look at the Raptors and their $50 million man. Sure he’s an old looking 30, but he was on a championship finalist last year. I ask myself, “When are the Bucks going to get out here and be a little more proactive in the free agent market?!”
Then I start to think logically. I remember Bobby Simmons. It doesn’t take much during some of the bizarre bidding wars each summer to remind me of the Bucks most recent free agent disaster. Simmons was not unlike Trevor Ariza or the aforementioned Gortat. He was young and filled with promise. He even had come off the most improved player award. Bill Simmons was saying all kinds of nice things about him and his versatility and defense were exactly what the Bucks needed. Everyone agreed immediately that the Bucks overpaid him, but it was Milwaukee so that’s just the kind of thing they had to do to get players. With him and Des Mason there was a move to be made that would result in another talented player coming on and the Bucks would be in the thick of the playoff hunt.
We all know how that turned out though.
It’s not just other teams free agents that can cause near irreparable damage. I’ll dip back a few years before Simmons and remind everyone of the celebrations that occurred when Ernie Grunfeld and George Karl were able to lock up Tim Thomas. The Journal-Sentinel ran a headline I’ll never forget for the occasion, “THE NOTORIOUS T.I.M.” There was a huge crowd at the press conference at Whitefish Bay High School to announce the deal. In a year or two he would take over for the defenseless Glenn Robinson and blossom into the Bucks next big star. Oh, he become notorious all right. The Bucks would not be the first franchised tricked by his sporadic bursts of terrific play, but they would be the team that regretted it the most. The thing about signing your own guys to huge deals is that you’re likely to make excuses for them. An example?
The Bucks season preview in SI for the 2002-2003 was all Tim Thomas all the time. There was talk of his offensive prowess, his defense and even a quote from George Karl regarding the inconsistencies in Glenn Robinson’s game and how Tim Thomas will be the answer to that. Yes, at the time it was okay to think Tim Thomas would be the answer to an inconsistency problem. But as long as he was focused and giving effort he’d be a missing piece for the Bucks right? (Anyone else thinking about Charlie V. after reading about Thomas?)
We all know how that one turned out though.
Before this off-season all we heard about this free agent class was, well, nothing. 2010 has been shoved down our throats for almost two years now. 2009 was the summer where people were hoping Carlos Boozer would opt out. How attractive does that sound? I’ll admit though, I’d still like to see something get done with Josh Childress. Childress is the rare young player who has actually accomplished something with some sort of consistency in the league. He’s proven he can be a defensive player in the league with the offensive ability of a fourth option on a playoff team. He’s not going to command franchise crippling money either. I know if the Bucks are able to acquire him I won’t have to defend their signing with the idea that they’ll be able to trade him later like I’ve been seeing about the Villanueva and Ben Gordon signings in Detroit. How confident can you be in guys when one of the upsides to their signings is that you should be able to move them without too much of a problem. Sounds like a real free agent prize.
So when 20 or so teams began making moves and throwing around money I was initially jealous, before I realized who they were throwing money at. It’s important to not over value free agents, whether they are other teams or your own expiring contracts. Us Milwaukee fans have learned the hard way that sometimes it’s better to avoid the free agent bonanza all together.