With the draft just two days away, the Bucks have reportedly received word about their key free agent this off-season. From the Twitter of Sam Amick at AOL Fanhouse:
Free Agency 2010 sleeper alert: John Salmons has notified Milwaukee that he will be opting out, according to a source close to him. Salmons and Bucks had extension talks, but – as previously reported – it was never likely he would go that route.
While this theoretically hurts the Bucks chances of resigning Salmons, it also probably helps the Bucks chances of avoiding a mistake. The reports were that the Bucks were offering Salmons a three year extension tacked onto the one year at $5.8 million Salmons had left for next season. Salmons turns 31 in December. This would have made Salmons a moderately highly paid Bucks player through his 34th birthday, when his production would likely be quite out of line with his salary.
Of course, Milwaukee wasn’t said to be throwing any crazy numbers out there at Salmons, we’re not talking $10 million a year or anything like that, but with the limited funds Milwaukee has available it’s important for them to be efficient with money. Longer contracts must be reserved for those in their early to late twenties.
Now that Salmons has opted out, there’s no guarantee Salmons will be able to score a fourth year. He’s no Trevor Ariza or Ron Artest, two players who scored long term deals last summer. Salmons isn’t young enough or skilled enough in one area to position himself on the market as especially desirable. His strong finish to last season with Milwaukee aside, Salmons has always been more of a role playing scorer. He’s now had two extended stretches in his career where he’s been a featured option on a team, the 2008-09 season and the second half of last season. Thinking that a 30-year-old John Salmons will be able to carry a significant load for a team for the next four years may be misguided.
Rumors have already flown around that the Hawks would be interested in Salmons as a Joe Johnson replacement if/when he leaves the nest and his versatility is somewhat reminiscent of a less talented version of Johnson, making that more feasible. But that may be a significantly misguided attempt at saving face by the Hawks. Salmons success in Milwaukee had a lot to do with the fit he was in the Bucks system and the freedom he appeared to be allowed offensively.
Whether Salmons receives an offer that knocks his socks off or now forces the Bucks to re-commit to a fourth year and more money will only be known in time. But if the Bucks decide to rescind the fourth year from their offer and thank John Salmons for the memories, he could have proved to done Milwaukee a big favor by turning down their extension.