Then and Now: Are the Bucks Improving?

One year ago today, February 3rd, 2009 the Milwaukee Bucks sat 24-28. They were just outside of the playoff picture, but had dreams of making a run behind Charlie Villanueva and Richard Jefferson. Today? They are both gone, but the Bucks season outlook isn’t all that much different. At 21-26, the Bucks are ninth in the East with playoff aspirations. So that brings me to our first Big Question:

Does the Bucks future look brighter today than it did a year ago on the same date?

For your convenience, I’ve made some tables to get a closer look at the roster as it was constructed then and how it’s constructed now. Note that the contract status of each player is as how it relates to after this season. Also, Villanueva and Ramon Sessions numbers relate to what they were paid as free agents this past off-season.

[table id=1 /] [table id=2 /]

Leave some comments, do some voting.

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  1. Gadzuric’s contract makes me laugh every time I see it. By laugh I clearly mean cry a little on the inside.

  2. Well, it looks like they shed a bunch of salary obligation (around $40m) to get a group of players whose 2008/2009 PER averages were about the same. That should have been a smart move, right? Unfortunately, they all dropped off so the team average PER so far is over 1 point less (although to do a real comparison you should include minutes played in the calculation). If they had held on to that same group as last year it would be even worse, though. So… I think they did much better than if they had kept the same guys, but they do look worse off. These numbers are pulled down by the low end, though – Jodie Meeks, Kurt Thomas, and Charlie Bell. It feels like if they could replace Michael Redd for someone worth that money they would actually be in pretty good shape next year.

  3. Just on the surface, Sessions, Redd, and Jefferson are not having the year that anyone expected, they have really dropped down. Villanueva has had no impact and his team is a BUST (almost like last year). Ilyasova, Delfino, and Warrick are having ok years, but for a lot less $$. What puts it over the top and makes the Bucks of this year the best is Jennings (if this pick didn’t work everything would be different, but maybe not with the way Ridnour is playing) and the re-emergence of Bogut. Which means the two biggest factors had little to do with the wheeling and dealing. I hope that they resign Ridnour and Prince.

  4. Since the trade of Ray Allen the Bucks are 262-341. So yes, Jim, they have sucked.

    The only problem with how they handled Villanueva and Sessions with regard towards building a better team in the future is that they could have gotten some kind of value for them last February. Making the playoffs was a semi-realistic outcome for last season’s end though, so I assume they stuck with them in an effort to get the eighth seed. Sound familiar?

    DG – I should have tossed minutes in there. Hopefully most people know who’s playing and who isn’t though.

    Taquideen – Jennings is the first player the Bucks have had as a potential star since Allen, its very exciting and he alone makes a giant difference, I agree.

  5. Does Redd’s contract count toward the salary cap if he doesn’t play next year?

    There’s just too many expiring contracts on the Bucks roster this year. It looks like Ridnour, Thomas (retirement?), Warrick, Alexander and Stackhouse are free agents next year. It’s hard to believe the Bucks can keep all those players in free agency next year.

    Here’s the players for next year still under contract:
    Redd (injured)
    Mbah (non-guaranteed contract? how does that work? will he be around next year?)

    Without significant off-season free-agent moves it’s hard to believe the Bucks are moving in the right direction. They’ll lose some free agents, pick up a few more and be in the same situation next year.

    I just don’t think they have enough long term talent to legitamitely compete in the conference.

  6. I think the bucks have a solid foundation to build on and if Jennings can become a consistent star in the next couple of years then I think the bucks should be in the playoffs for the next few years. Especially if we get lucky in the draft and try to get Redd and Gadzuric’s contracts turned into some more solid pieces at the deadline next year.

  7. They’re a lot better off in the longterm. They’re also a much more complete team. They had scorers everywhere last year, no defence and no playmaker. Redd/Gadz will come off soon with Redd’s contract being medically insured for I think 80%. It’ll still count against the cap but the organization only pays 20%. Ridnour also has a pretty hefty contract that comes off this year. They’re really only a consistent perimeter threat away from being legitimate playoff contender. Redd could’ve been it but the chemistry just wasn’t there this season.
    MBah has a guaranteed contract. Delfino can be let go of relatively cheap @ $500k buyout, but keeping him @ 3.5mil considering you’re not going too find semi-competent starters/bench players for much cheaper so probably keeping him makes more sense.

    It’s much more clear cut what the team needs are. Bogut has demonstrated he’s a reliable post option and a defensive force, Jennings has demonstrated he’s a good point guard with inconsistent offence. Ersan is a good 6th man and worthy of spot starts depending on the matchup. Charlie Bell although expensive is useful. the team needs a PF and a consitent perimeter threat either at the 2 or 3. Right now IMO they have excellent bench guys playing starter minutes and the shortcomings get highlighted over 48mins. Delfino and his bonehead moments, Mbah a Moute and his horrific offense. Charlie Bell’s lack of size against the average 2 guard in the NBA. You had Villanueva last year who had the tools to be a defensive force but not the mentality. Jefferson was supposed to be a great defender but isn’t anymore.

    You don’t have Villanueva, Redd and Jefferson vying for the ball. Too many chefs in the kitchen last season. Jennings gives you the ball in the position you can score.

  8. “Too many chefs in the kitchen last season” – spot on

    If only we can pick up a very good PF (like Amare, tho it seems unlikely) the Bucks would actually be very close to a contender…..

  9. I don’t think they even need someone of Amare’s calibre to send them to the 6,7 or 8 seed. I think they just need a more physical presence because a) they need to keep Bogut out of foul trouble and b) so they don’t have to commit so many bodies to the defensive glass so they can get Jennings running on the break. eg a Paul Millsap type. This team needs to get easier points.

    The big question mark is the new CBA/salary cap changes. IF the cuts are as severe as what’s being floated around then look out. This team will be in a situation where they don’t need to shed salaries by the time that rolls around I think they’ll have close to 30million coming off the books by next season. Even if it is “basketball siberia” They’ll probably be one of the few teams with the cash to pick and choose. And even then I can’t remember a team that went from pretender to contender through big money free agency acquisitions. The most recent championship teams have been built through the draft and trades. You need look no further than CV, Hedo turkoglu, AI, Elton Brand etc etc etc. Varying degrees of disappointment.

  10. A strong power forward and a slashing two guard would do wonders for the Bucks right now. Those are two areas where the Bucks could really use some help and fortunately, the upcoming draft seems rich in both positions.

    Fortunately, Milwaukee has their financial house seemingly in order for the first time in years. Like Al says, the CBA cuts could be drastic, but the Bucks seem to have readied themselves for it, something not many teams can say. That’s a big checkmark in the good for the future box.

  11. The team is not necessarily playing better, but they are in a much better position as an organization. Still in the running for the playoffs after shedding $40M.

    The Bucks should continue to rely on Bogut and Jennings positive development into the 2010-2011 season. They Bucks should continue to shed salary until they lose all of the bad contracts, ie Gadzuric and Redd at the end of 2011 season. Build through the draft the next two season, but keep together the core. Only sign short term contracts like Hak Warrick $3M 1yr. They may even be able to overpay if they can get some short term (1 yr) contracts next season. Contrarily, the Bucks will have hit the Jackpot if they can figure out how to pry Brandon Bass from Orlando for his $16M 4yr contract at PF giving the Bucks the youth, size, post presence, and athleticism needed at that position. I would love to see the Bucks resign Ridnour, but I get the feeling, with the season he’s haveing, free agency will put him above his true value. The last thing the Bucks need to do is over pay unless its very short term…1yr.

  12. Also I’d like to add that the Bucks are lot more entertaining to watch than last previous seasons when they play well. Offensively it’s not just a procession of jumpshots (mostly contested). Great hustle defensively. They are doing what they should’ve done with their lotto picks – developing them. Bogut is getting more shots and Jennings is getting minutes. You don’t draft guys no1 overall and in the lottery and not give them the opportunities. Joe Alexander is horrible so they sent him to d-league