UPDATE: Gery Woelfel is reporting the fifth year is an option year, making this essentially a 4-year, $36 million deal. Not as bad. Still … meh.
Well, here we are.
I’ve made my thoughts on the Bucks signing Ilyasova to a long term contract pretty clear, so I won’t rehash them here. I’d rather take a quick look at how this move, combined with the absence of a Kirk Hinrich signing (he’s verbally agreed to a deal with the Bulls according to reports) and the failed pursuit of Spencer Hawes seem to reflect Milwaukee’s overall foray into the free agent market this summer.
- Ilyasova was overpaid.
That’s just the facts. Even if other teams were bidding on him and driving up the price, Ilyasova is now an overpaid basketball player. He still has value, his contract could still be moved one day, this isn’t the end of the world, but he’s still overpaid. That’s just what has now happened. The Bucks overpaid to keep one of their own free agents, as they’ve often done over the years.
So that’s a bummer. But it becomes more of a bummer when you pair that analysis with a reflection on Milwaukee’s other pursuits of veterans.
- Kirk Hinrich joined a winning team.
Veterans join contenders. It happens every summer. We just saw it with Hinrich, we saw it earlier this week with Ray Allen, we saw it many years ago with Karl Malone and Gary Payton when they joined the Lakers and then when Payton joined the Heat. It’s a recurring theme every summer. Really good teams are nearly capped out, so they convince once prominent veterans to take a couple less dollars while playing for a title. Most veterans are at a point in their career in which money is less of an issue than quality of life/quality of time spent in the league. They’d rather be playing for something than nothing.
- Spencer Hawes joined a team lacking for centers.
The Bucks have Sam Dalembert and a collection of power forwards. A center could possibly carve out 20 minutes nightly, though sporadically given Scott Skiles historically quirky playing time distribution. But the Sixers? They had Franny Elson, Tony Battie and a couple young guys up front last season and haven’t added much. Hawes could have smelled plenty of minutes, on a team that was in the playoffs last season available there. Despite the Bucks supposedly making a very aggressive offer, he chose the Sixers.
What can we learn here? If the Bucks are bringing someone on, there’s a good chance they’ll have to overpay. Milwaukee can’t really offer that much playing time up front or in the back court. A wing might be able to carve out some minutes, but that’s about it. The Bucks can’t offer a sure fire playoff team either – they’ve missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and are by no means a sure thing for this upcoming one . And, as I’m sure you know kind Milwaukeean, our city, while fine in its own way, isn’t exactly a premier weather or nightlife destination amongst basketball playing 20-35 year-olds.
The Bucks have done some damage on the trade market over the past few seasons, acquiring guys who made contributions like Carlos Delfino, Kurt Thomas and Ekpe Udoh. Those guys aren’t franchise changers, but they can make a difference. A small trade could plug the remaining few holes for the Bucks if they’re able to pull it off.
But if they want to keep pursuing the free agent route, it could be a path fraught with difficulty.