Bucks off-season shaping up to be a boring one – not that there’s anything wrong with that

Dalembert met with Milwaukee media Monday. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

Samuel Dalembert. John Henson. Doron Lamb.

Some defense and shot-blocking, more defense and shot-blocking and a shooter to balance out the Milwaukee Bucks haul around this year’s NBA Draft week. The Bucks were fast and more athletic than they had been in quite some time by the end of last season, but they were not as effective defensively as they were over the first three seasons Scott Skiles coached the team. With Dalembert and Henson, the organization feels like they’ve taken steps to move in the direction of a stronger defense to compliment their improved offense.

So that’s all well and good. Today, the Bucks are probably a little bit better than they were a week ago. They didn’t transform their defense the way some have said, not unless Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis can stop someone from getting in the paint, but they’ve strengthened the back line. Shot-blocking wasn’t the cause of Milwaukee’s woes last season. Strength, size and rotation seemed to be larger problems defensively for the Bucks and Dalembert helps the latter while providing a lot of the former.

He’s unquestionably an upgrade.

With Dalembert taking a good chunk of the center minutes and Henson probably taking away some of Larry Sanders’ minutes at the four and backup fiev, the Bucks probably just gained another couple wins next season. But Ersan Ilyasova looks like he could be on the way out. Free agents have been cashing in early and often through the first couple days of free agency and Ilyasova is one of the top power forwards available. That probably costs the Bucks a couple of wins.

Not that resigning Ilyasova should really be a priority. Last year may have been a fluke – he shot 3-pointers at a clip that far exceeded his previous career best numbers and the Bucks are loaded with competent power forwards. In fact, I’d say the Bucks are very competent across the board right now, with the exception of the small forward position. Tobias Harris is probably another year away and both Skiles and Mike Dunleavy seem most comfortable with the veteran coming off the bench. The Bucks will likely target a veteran swingman either via trade or in free agency over the next couple of weeks.

It’s shaping up to be a very Bucks off-season. This team isn’t going to get worse. It also isn’t going to get that much better. The Bucks biggest off-season acquisition, unless something crazy happens, will probably be a full training camp. The lack of camp last season played a big role in Milwaukee’s defensive struggles. The mid-season trade probably didn’t help either. Having Ekpe Udoh, Ellis and whoever else is new go through a full camp with Skiles should be a great help.

But barring an incredibly unforeseen leap from Jennings or Ellis reverting back to his 2007-08 form or a young player going from fairly unproductive to serious contributor, the Bucks will probably be very similar to the version we saw at the end of last season. It would be amazing to see the Bucks take a stab at a Dwight Howard or a Pau Gasol – give up all their assets and tie their wagon to a big man for a season with the hopes of something incredible happening and preparing for a rebuild if the one year shot didn’t work out – but that’s probably just a crazy dream.

And it’s a dream I dream because it seems to me that John Hammond would be very good at building a roster if he had a superstar to build around. The problem with the Bucks is that he’s always grabbed everything but the star. As far as role players go, the Bucks have gobbled them up by the bunch over the past two seasons. But without a player to build around, they’ve pretty much been wasting their effort. With one star, things could look a lot more like 2009 than 2010 or 2011 for this team.

This off-season doesn’t look like it will provide that star though.

Instead, the Bucks will gear up for a run at sixth through eight yet again. If they hit it, I’m sure it will be fun. If they miss it, we’ll at least get a brand new selling job from a new front office who will be handicapped by ownership in all of the exact same ways the current one is.

Categories: The Off Season

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  1. With Brooklyn gobbling up big contracts from star players like it’s a game of hungry hungry hippos I think the Bucks have a shot at maybe winning a 1st round playoff series…which is good as it’s ever going to get in Milwaukee. Nets, Heat are clearly the eastern powerhouses if the trade with Orlando goes through. Pacers will still be tough, Celtics look to be basically the same team as last year only with better role players.
    With no Rose and no Asik and trying to dump salary Chicago is a borderline playoff team right now. Hawks with Smith and Horford are average, Magic with Brook Lopez, no point guard and then a bunch of random shooters dont appear all that threatening. Sixers are likely losing Williams or Hawes possibly even both. The Knicks….who really knows what they’re gonna do. 1-3 seems to be basically set in stone but I think the rest of the East is up for grabs, Bucks have been hampered with injuries the last few seasons and I think that they are due for a year of overachieving I dont think it’s unrealistic to see them grab the 5 seed and possibly win a series with whomever is the 4. Then they can get stomped by the Nets or Heat in round 2. Based on the last decade I would call that hypothetical scenario “a big win”

      •  @jeremyschmidt true, with Nash the Raptors could be somewhat formidable but unless Derozan develops a consistent 3 point shot I dont see them being at the Bucks level, I dont think a core of Nash, Derozan, Klieza/James Johnson, Bargnani and Amir Johnson are better than Milwaukee, Raps do have alot of cap though if they amnesty Calderon and could make another move or two.
        Howard trade seems to have hit a snag also (Woohoo!!) , looks like we’re all going to have to wait til next year for the Brooklyn Nets to be the villains of the NBA

        •  @jeremyschmidt Oh yea I forgot about him, is he even able to come to NBA yet or are there still buyout issues? Hope not because Raptors are looking more and more like the suitors for Nash wit that play they made for Fields, lots of genius GM moves these few days I am very impressed.

  2. PattiRafalskiDavison

    Looking at everyone hovering over FA players like a bunch of vultures, I feel all the better for Hammond having secured the Bucks a good center.  If Ersan walks I think we still need a legit power forward with some experience.  Brandon Bass would look good in a Buck’s uniform…it’s as close to Celtic uni as any.  I love Delfino interviews (even though I can’t understand a word) and will miss him if he goes.  He’s had injury problems the last two years and I would be okay with him staying at the right price.  With the lock out last year, we don’t know what we’ve got with the young guys, but this year will tell us a lot.  Go Bucks!

    •  @PattiRafalskiDavison Gooden is a serviceable PF he will do just fine in Ersan’s place I think Ersan’s shooting last year was a bit of a statistical abberration anyway. If the Bucks sign anyone it’ll be a veteran wing player and hopefully for only minimum contract. No point in throwing MLE money at a guy unless he’s going to get starter minutes and at this point there aren’t many minutes left to give out in the Bucks rotation except at SF

  3. Can someone please explain why we haven’t amnestied Gooden? It seems to make sense, to take his money and give it to Ersan.. do we really need a 4th power forward?

    •  @JustinNixon my guess is Herb Kohl is just holding on to his wallet too tight, he doesnt wanna pay Gooden 21 million or whatever itd be to pay him “not to play” plus he still is productive..he’s productive in an unorthodox way, but productive nonetheless.
      I too am a strong Gooden amnesty proponent but Im starting to come to grips with the fact that it is not going to happen…next year I bet it will though…I hope

  4. I believe that the Bucks have a legit shot of 1. making the playoffs and 2. of getting past the first round. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are going to be the main offense for the Bucks, Mike Dunleavy is a streaky shooter and if gets going, like we saw in one of the games against the knicks, he can can be a real threat. Mike D kinda reminds me of a Ray Allen. He is more of a spot up shooter. Drew Gooden last year had a bunch of games where he put it up, scoring and rebounding wise. So he proves to be a good asset. Adding Samuel Dalembert was a great acquisition. He is a big body that can rebound and protect the rim. The Bucks didnt have that last year. Ersan is a hustler and can also get it going offensively. John Henson and Doron Lamb are going to fit in just fine. Both come in from winning environments which will help the team. I mean overall you got Jennings and Ellis getting the majority of your points and then you have a pretty good front court and a just a bunch of good role players and being in the East, you never know.

  5. ThisIsntUnicef

    Any roster that doesn’t have Jon Brockman on it should be considered a contender. 

  6. MatthewSchwendinger

    It’ll be interesting to see if we keep Illysova…sounds like its (mainly) between us and Euro club. I just don’t know if I want the Bucks to use “Brandon Jennings extension $$$” to do it.

    •  @MatthewSchwendinger i agree 100% Bucks need to put Jennings as priority 1. Plus if Ersan is brought back that hampers the development of Udoh and Henson, with all the PF’s Bucks have I dont think it’s worth giving Ersan “Gadzuric Money”

      • MatthewSchwendinger

         @Teddddd I’ll never forget (before we traded him in 2010 or 2009) going to a game and it was a close one, very good to see live–we won. But during the ENTIRE game, Dan Gadzuric sat at the end of the bench with about two seats opens to his left and righ, just arms sprawled out and comfy. Lazy bastard. I imagined him having like a concessions worker bringing him a couple brats and beer…can you be anymore worthless? …And make 8 million a year. Not that I could see Illy doing that, but a great point nonetheless, Teddddd.