The Bucks have made clear that, while they won’t be particularly active in the free agent market in 2010, 2011 is an opportunity for them. Many people have asked me who they may or may not be targeting and up to this point I’ve said, “I haven’t been able to get a look at the free agents to be.”
We’ll I’ve gotten a look.
Here’s a breakdown of some free agents to be with some comments on how they might fit with the Bucks going forward. I didn’t look at any restricted free agents, it’s not often that they switch teams, especially the better ones.
Carmelo Anthony (ETO) – Anthony has an early termination option and a history of playing in cold weather cities (Syracuse). Plus, the Bucks can probably pay as well as Syracuse did too! Denver’s aging quickly and relies on a variety of headcases around Anthony to get things done. Coach George Karl may be interested in stepping down in the next few years after he beats cancer again and the Nuggets generally have the look of a team that has their window open for one maybe two more years. It’s not unrealistic to think Anthony would consider leaving Denver, but it does seem unrealistic that he’d come to Milwaukee. If New York strikes out this summer, they may be interested in Anthony in two years.
Tim Duncan (ETO) /Tony Parker – Duncan seems a surefire bet to end his career in San Antonio, and while I think Parker will end up staying there, it’s worth noting that he’ll be on the market completely unrestricted. Parker doesn’t seem a logical fit with the Bucks though, as they’ve hitched their wagon to Brandon Jennings for the time being.
David West (ETO) – West doesn’t seem a likely candidate to terminate his contract with the expected salary crunch looming in the 2011 off-season, but he wouldn’t be a bad fit as a third or fourth option power forward for the Bucks. He’s thrived with Chris Paul and could enjoy success with Jennings.
Zach Randolph – Randolph is having a great year this year and has apparently enjoyed a renaissance in Memphis, but he doesn’t seem like a good fit with the Bucks. Randolph still isn’t a very good defender and has a tendency to hold the ball for extended periods of time. He’d be turning the Bucks into a much more isolation based offense and may clash some with Bogut, though he’s doing well with Marc Gasol.
Tayshaun Prince – Prince will be 31 when 2011’s free agency rolls around and won’t offer much more than spot shooting and defense. But he’ll offer lots of both still. His talents age pretty well, especially given his length and knowledge of the game, so he has a shot to be productive for another four years, but anything over $5 million seems like a stretch for Prince.
Caron Butler – Butler will be 30 when next 0ff-season rolls around and has a game that could go south on us quickly. He’s not much of a three-point shooter and is such a physical player, injuries have been a problem with him before and seem destined to creep up on him again. The Bucks want to be thinking a little bit younger and more multi-faceted than Butler.
J.R. Smith – He’s crazy as all hell, but he’s young enough that he could still be something better than he is. Of course, that’s what every other team that acquired Smith thought too and it’s come back to bite them all. Denver got a few productive seasons out of him, but he’s been flaky and struggling this year. He’ll only be 25 next off-season and is at least worth a conversation given his array of talents and interest in defense on occasion.
Is anyone excited?
I’m certainly not overwhelmed. The Summer of 2011 sounds like a great idea, but when you look at it, there isn’t much there. It’s cool that the Bucks will have some cap room, but I’m hoping that it’s spent wisely and judiciously. Cap room doesn’t help if $10 million gets blown on Tayshaun Prince. As nice as the free agent market sounds, it’s still a much wiser strategy for the Bucks to continue to focus on the draft and trades, while adding smaller veteran pieces in free agency.