John Salmons: In or Out?

Another piece from contributor Ross Geiger, this one on John Salmons and his options this coming summer.

There’s no question that the Milwaukee Bucks deadline acquisition of John Salmons has undoubtedly paid off short term, helping solidify the Bucks as a top five team in the Eastern Conference. Since traveling north on the Interstate 94 up to Milwaukee, Salmons is averaging a career best 19.9 points per contest on nearly 46% shooting, 37% from behind the arc, and 87% from the charity stripe. His immediate impact towards the Bucks success heading down the home stretch of the season has reached and exceeded the expectations of the entire city of Milwaukee.

While it’s appropriate that Bucks fans and the city of Milwaukee alike enjoy this well deserved surge as the playoffs near, it’s also never too early to begin looking at Salmons’ future with the Bucks. This summer Salmons will have to make a difficult career decision: accept his $5.8 million dollar player option to remain with the Bucks or decline his player option and test the waters of free agency amongst the NBA’s most historic free agent class.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Salmons decline his player option and see what the market is for his services this summer. With the NBA salary cap likely to drop next season and then again after CBA negotiations in 2011, now’s the time for players like Salmons to consider risking the final year of their player option deals and lock up a long term pay raise.

But even more specifically for Salmons, the timing is perfect helping the Bucks transform from a team that looked like it’d barely squeak into the playoffs to a team that is widely regarded as a first round opponent no one wants to face. The time is right, the decision may come which enables Salmons to become a unrestricted free agent, and the ball will then be shifted into the hands of Bucks General Manager John Hammond.

Why it makes sense for the Bucks to resign John Salmons

It’s pretty clear and can easily be simply put: John Salmons brings a lot of strengths on both the offensive and defensive sides of the floor that the Bucks were lacking. On offense, Salmons is a swingman who likes to put the ball on the floor and has the ability to effectively get to the basket which leads to easy scoring looks or wide open kick out opportunities for his teammates. His ability to be create shots attracts defensive attention which gives the Bucks perimeter shooters (Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino, Charlie Bell, Brandon Jennings, Luke Ridnour, and (occasionally) Jerry Stackhouse) a good look from outside. Also being a successful offensive performer in isolation situations makes him invaluable to the Bucks offense because he can take a game over down the stretch of close games, providing balance. Having a postman in Andrew Bogut and a wingman like Salmons gives the Bucks both an inside and outside offensive threat that can create their own shot, which usually requires a help side defensive effort.

In addition to his abilities with the ball in his hands, Salmons also requires the defensive to respect his range, as he’s able step into shots from the perimeter and knock down open three pointers. And maybe the most overlooked factor Salmons has brought to the Bucks since coming over from Chicago is his ability to get to the foul line early and often. Early on into the season the Bucks struggled to earn trips to the foul line, which is a huge concern for any team that’s looking to be successful. Salmons tends to not only finish around the rim after drawing contact but can cap off three point plays and drill important free throws when the game is on the line.

Defensively he’s very solid man to man, he’s very well conditioned, and is able to continue to produce on the offensive side of the floor while also being held responsible of stopping the opponent’s go-to perimeter player. Finding a very strong offensive player that is able and even more importantly willing to give effort on both sides of the ball is something the Bucks must value in Salmons.

If Salmons does happen to opt out of his $5.8 million, a realistic offer that could keep him right here in Milwaukee should be around the three year, $21 million dollar range. But the Bucks may also finding themselves bidding with both the teams looking to add all-stars (Knicks, Heat, Clippers, Nets) and those teams that will lose their all-stars this offseason (Hawks, Cavaliers, Suns). Salmons is an affordable piece and a attractive player that can surround and help take some pressure off a star like LeBron James.

For the Bucks, it’s also worth mentioning Salmons’ value in taking pressure off Michael Redd. Keeping Salmons helps relieves the pressure off Redd’s recovery timetable. While the expectations for a healthy Redd have dropped significantly, the play of Salmons helps take the focus off the injured Bucks star who’s due to make a massive $18.3 million next year. With Redd rushing back the past two seasons, which in an end result led to reoccurring injuries and setbacks, Salmons can help keep Bucks fans patient. Patience is a virtue and come summertime the Bucks may also want remain patient before immediately offering Salmons an extension.

Why the Bucks shouldn’t resign John Salmons

While the idea of just letting John Salmons walk sounds crazy, there are a few concerns worth noting. Take a look at Salmons recent history with the Chicago Bulls. After heading over in a trade from Sacramento during the 2008-2009 season, Salmons elevated the Bulls play over a 26 game stretch where he averaged 18.3 point per game on 47% shooting, nearly 42% from deep, and 84% from the foul line. This year with Bulls, Salmons’ play dropped off dramatically which definitely raises some questions, especially after the Bulls opted not to match Detroit’s contract offer to Ben Gordon, figuring that Salmons could have even more of an impact. Salmons seems to be player who prospers in short stint positions with teams. Yes, he’s been very dependable thus far but the real question is, for how long will it last?

Keeping him under contract for around three years limits the amount of money the Bucks will able to play with in upcoming free agent classes. Salmons is a “handle with care” investment that may not be worth the downside. Instead, Milwaukee can continue of their path of going young and building a future foundation. Bucks have a grand total of nine draft picks in the next three drafts, should we be focused on drafting and developing our future shooting guard or rolling the dice on a 30 year-old veteran whose performance has been very unpredictable? Next year Jennings will only be 21, Mbah a Moute 24, Ilayasova just 23, and Bogut 26, with steady progress from these young talents, the Bucks have the opportunity to compete as one of the top young, upcoming nucleuses in the NBA (Thunder, Blazers, Timberwolves).

In year’s past, it’s safe to say Salmons is a bit indecisive when it comes to career decisions. First agreeing to be traded in a sign and trade deal that would’ve shipped him to the Raptors yet had the sign and trade deal cancelled after further thought. Then not to long after, he shockingly decided to choose the Kings over the Suns as a free agent when leaving Philadelphia.

Summer 2010

This summer’s decision for both Salmons and the Bucks will be handled much like his overall demeanor on the offensive end of the floor: a jab-step left then right and a little hesitation before putting the ball on the floor. Which home floor Salmons decides to put the ball on next season is still up in the air.

Follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger

Categories: Bucks Player Features

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  1. Where would the Bucks fall in the wins column without Salmons next year tho?…not to mention minus Ridnour, Ivey, Kurt Thomas, and Stackhouse possibly. With all of the money some teams have, it’ll be hard to see the Bucks upgrading their reserves on the roster through free agency in 2010 either at least without making some sort of substantial financial commitments. I think, the Bucks have to re-sign Salmons unless the bidding war is just outlandish like with Charlie V. Let’s hope he doesn’t force the Bucks to make such a difficult decision.

    While mentioning Charlie V…how good would he fit in at 4 this year with the Bucks. A sizeable, young PF, scoring threat, rebounder, and big that can spread the floor. Just what the Bucks need! Ahhh…what ifs

  2. Although I would like to keep Salmons around, I think ultimatly he will walk away and it will be for the best. Salmons has shown time and again that he is a stud when starting and being heavily relied on but not so good if he is coming of the bench. Having Redd and Salmons around will only diminish both their productions. In the long term I think neither one is the answer at SG and the Bucks may have to live through an underwhelming season next year compared to this years standard until they can reach their full stride with a SG aquired through the draft or through FA.

    • If it’s between Redd and Salmons, I’d rather Redd just be inactive. He doesn’t work with the team as presently constructed. All he can do is score, that’s not enough.

  3. If Salmons opts out, the Bucks have more than $19 million coming off the books for summer 2010 btw.

  4. They’re are sleepers in the draft & even better players out the norm for very cheap. A player like Carlos Powell would bode well. Ask Brandon Jennings or inquire about a player named Daryll Hill. Look to take team’s junk & turn it into gold. Very possible & you don’t have to spend money. Jeremy Hazell/Jordan Crawford. You could even try & pry Josh Childress back across the states. Dj Augustin from the Bobcats. Larry Brown hates him. Nick Young/Javele Mcgee/Micheal Beasley. They’re are to many players out there. Think out the box. You have a great core. Anybody that wants & need money you don’t want anyway. The $$$ will take care of itself. You want players that are interested in winning first & foremost. Daniel Ewing Jr/Anthony Mason Jr/Sylven Landersburg/Domenique Jones/Malcolm Delaney/Herb Pope/Desean Butler. There are a lot of guys who can have an immediate impact.

    Rudy Fernandez. I’ll stop because I’m getting excited. I can’t believe I’m a bucks fan. The Bucks could even use Rich Hamilton & Tayshawn Prince for cheap if it could work. I wouldn’t even mind Chris Duhon for this time. JARVIS VARNANDO. Shot Blocker which is so important. Guillermo Diaz from overseas. We even have to try & pry Anthony Randolph away. Corey Maggette for cheap. It’s limitless & easy if you check every outlet.

    Check Sean Singletary & Daryll HIll. Two very amazing guards who are just dying to prove everybody wrong. They have limitless talent. Both players have to ability to start but will gladly come off the bench & help the 2nd or 3rd unit. I should be a scout but have yet to meet anybody who could plug me in. Cheap talent that produces. PRICELESS.

    • I love the idea of building through the draft. The value teams get back on the salaries they dole out is incredible. You can always find a rookie that’s nearly as good as a Charlie Bell or Dan Gadzuric for the rookie minimum, why spend a penny more? As long as there are a few vets around that’s all a team needs. We’ll have some posts up in time about the draft and prospects.

  5. Jeremey do some research on the names you don’t know. Let me know if you like or don’t. What players do you like & what are your opinions for the upcoming draft.

  6. Sylven Landesberg would be a nice 2nd round option. Long player that can create and get to the line…something the Bucks obviously need. Same with Da’Sean Butler, he isnt really an NBA 2, but can create mismatches.

    Jeremy Hazel, Jordan Crawford, and Dominique Jones are jackers. They would last about 10 seconds with Skiles.

    4 years ago, Anthony Mason Jr. may have been an option….not anymore Injuries have taken a toll. Hes got nothing left.

    Herb Pope would help at the 4…very good rebounder. Knucklehead though…

  7. A lot of Salmons’ value will be derived from his playoff performance. If he studs it up during the first round series and wins some games, there’s no doubt in my mind some team will give him a 5 year worth around 9 or 10 million a year, which is a bidding war the Bucks obviously can’t afford to play. You can say this won’t happen in such a loaded free agent market, but keep in mind any team that has that much cap space and doesn’t nail a top name (New York I’m looking at you) is going to be looking to shell that cash at anyone so that the fans won’t feel defied they waited two years in order to get nothing. Someone’s overpaying the dude.

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  10. I also meant Patrick Ewing Jr. Daniel Ewing boooooooo. Sometimes a good jacker is what you need for a stagnant offense. I have a love/hate relationship for Skiles. Everybody shouldn’t have to fit just to his style. He sometimes is to hard on Jennings which can at times hurt the team. Look at their team as a whole before you label them jackers. If thats what the coach wants you do it. Salmons has the green light so he shoots alot. Jennings doesn’t as much. He has to look to set up his team before looking to shot. Any bad shot selections and he’s pulled. Even if he tries a fancy pass. Skiles pulls him. That at times is uneccessary. Also some players may not want to play with Skiles. Which also doesn’t bode well for the future. You have to adapt & be flexible. Work with what you got & any player that is a knucklehead allegedly can mature.

    St.Johns ruins careers. From Burrell to Mason Jr. Remember though Anthony Mason Jr is a 6’8″ scoring guard. Similar to a Wilson Chandler like for very cheap. His upside is limitless. He also has JR smith range on his Jumpshot. He’s better than Jodie Meeks. LOL. That was a bomb of a draft pick & so was Joe Alexander though I liked him in college. Another sleeper is Curtis Kelly a lenghty 4 man that could aid on the glass & with blocks. There are so many hidden gems people have no idea about. Patty Mills could help. James White for a athletic wing presence. Igudola would be a good pick up for this team for half his price now. I think he realizes he’s not a max player I hope.

  11. I like the bucks drafting any combination of these guys this year:

    First Round: Hassan Whiteside, Ekpe Udoh, Patrick Patterson, Xavier Henry

    Second Round: Jordan Hamilton (Jennings would probably like this pick), Charles Garcia, Klay Thompson, Darington Hobson, Malcolm Lee, Sylven Landesberg, De’Sean Bulter

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