Madness in July: A Bucks Free Agency Guide

Coming soon to a Bucks uniform near you? (NBA.com)

I write this on the cusp of the next wild section of the NBA league year: free agency. For the Bucks, this is the time that will tell us what the team’s true intentions are:  do they sign enough bodies to fill a team and #TankforWigginsin2014 or do they go all-in and try to contend this year?

Frank Madden of BrewHoop wrote an excellent primer on the finer points of free agency which explains the Bucks’ status with their free agents (both restricted and unrestricted) and more of the technicalities surrounding the process. We’ll take a look at players hitting the free agent market tomorrow (July 1) and who the Bucks (realistically or unrealistically) target to round out their roster this summer. Tom Ziller over at SBNation created a fine list of approximately 90 of the top free agents on the market this year and while we’re not crazy enough to tackle each one in relation to the Bucks, we’ll take a look at the more plausible and impactful signings the team could make.

First, a bit of housekeeping:

Currently, the Bucks’ payroll for 2013-14 sits at  $31,081,659  (courtesy of HoopsHype). That number includes Brandon Jennings‘ $4.3 million qualifying offer which, as Frank mentions, could become much higher as other teams bid on the restricted free agent. The projected salary cap for 13-14 is $58.5 million, with a salary floor around $52.65 million (meaning that teams must spend at least that much money).

This means that the Bucks will have approximately $27 million in cap space (which could be expanded to $34 million if they decide to use the NBA’s amnesty clause on a certain point forward) and be required to spend about $25 million to meet the cap floor. That being said, here’s a look at some of the bigger names in free agency this offseason:

Forget About It

Dwight Howard and Chris Paul: These two have to be included on the list, if only to say no way. Would it be really cool to have Dwight and LARRY SANDERS! patrolling the paint? Or maybe an exquisite pick-and-roll between CP3 and John Henson? Of course it would. But even though the Bucks can offer a max contract this offseason, there’s no way either of this year’s biggest names come to Milwaukee. Moving on.

Doubtful

Andrew Bynum: It’s not often you get the chance to acquire a top-3 player at his position (when healthy) at a relative deal. However, Bynum is the biggest of risks coming off a year when he was the biggest of busts for the 76ers and didn’t play a minute of basketball due to knees that are practically disintegrating before our eyes. That being said, he showed just how good he could be with the Lakers before the knee issues arose and he can be had for significantly less than the max deal many felt he would get before his lost season. He won’t be interesting to the Bucks, though, given the inherent risk and their frontcourt depth.

Monta Ellis: When you turn down a $24 million extension and an $11 million option, it’s pretty safe to say you’re set to leave. It sounds as though the Bucks want Monta back, but the feeling clearly isn’t mutual. He’d be helpful for an incredibly thin backcourt and would have the opportunity to be a primary scorer, but Monta clearly wants to have it all elsewhere next year.

JJ Redick: Another departing Bucks free agent who could help solidify a shaky backcourt, Redick appears to be making up his mind to head elsewhere, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Can you spot the less-than-great trend developing among players whose Bucks contracts are up?

Andre Iguadala: He’d be a great addition to shore up a lackluster defense (which gave up 100.4 points/game, 20th in the NBA in ’12-’13) and would help fill the shooting guard/occasional small forward hole the Bucks have. That said, he’s a hot target in free agency and there are a lot more appealing destinations for the swingman, who doesn’t appear too interested in Milwaukee anyways.

Let’s Talk About It

Josh Smith: The groundwork for this pairing was started at the trade deadline, when it appeared that the Bucks were mere minutes away from obtaining Smoove in a deal with the Atlanta Hawks. The interest that the Bucks showed then may pay off in negotiations with the jumper-happy small forward, who is allegedly looking for a max deal. Would he come to Milwaukee if they offered him one? It’s a possibility.

J.R. Smith: He’s the reigning 6th Man of the Year in the NBA, he’s still only 27, and three of his first four Google search autocomplete results have nothing to do with basketball.

For real.

Two of those are good things. I’ll let you guess which ones. But J.R.’s a scorer (an inefficient scorer but a scorer nonetheless) and he’ll be more affordable than most other shooting guards in this free agent class (smart guesses are in the $6-7 million range). The real question is whether his “bad boy” persona will be tolerated in Milwaukee. Similarly, it remains to be seen if Milwaukee’s lack of nightclubs will be tolerated with J.R. That might be a deal breaker.

O.J. Mayo: The Bucks need guards. Mayo is a shooting guard. The Bucks seem to like guards who hover around 40% shooting. Mayo has averaged 43.6% shooting over the course of his career. Why don’t we just get this deal signed already?

Tony Allen: Another strong defender on the perimeter who struggles to score but can shore up the wing position. He’ll give you 9 points on fairly efficient shooting (53.9% career true shooting). If the Bucks are looking to shore up their defense, Allen will be much more affordable than Iguadala this offseason.

Could Happen, but Won’t Move the Needle

Darren Collison: Collison became an unrestricted free agent when the Mavericks declined to extend him a qualifying offer. That alone should speak to his value – that, and the fact that he lost his starting job to Mike Jones at one point in the season. He’s a backup on a good team or a starter on a bad one – but he’ll likely come cheap and a team like the Bucks with backcourt holes to fill could make the move.

D.J. Augustin: Two words. Backcourt. Depth.

Carl Landry: A bit of a misfit in this category, because signing a power forward whose strength is scoring in the post is actually interesting for the Bucks. But the number of forwards the Bucks already possess make another signing less interesting unless it’s a precursor to a trade of some of that frontcourt talent.

Others to Consider:

Kyle Korver, Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, Devin Harris, Chris Copeland, Mike Dunleavey, Matt Barnes.

As free agency develops, we’ll continue to update you about the Bucks’ offseason strategy. Who would you like to see in a Bucks uniform this fall?

Categories: The Off Season

Mitch has been a fan of the Bucks since the days of…

20 Comments

  1. Even with the bad boy persona, I think JR Smith would be a great fit and addition to Milwaukee, and would play well with Jennings (assuming he’s back) and Sanders

    • Jennings is the best player I’ve ever hated. I hate watching him play so much I will have a hard time caring about this team if they resign him. Jeff Teague would be 1000 times better, he’s not a little punk

  2. Please not JR Smith. Although a LARRY SANDERS! and JR odd couple type show would be must see TV, I have had enough of Swag nation in the Bucks backcourt.

    My Top 3:

    Kevin Martin, Jeff Teague, Carl Landry.

    BTW you left out the best line in the 90 man free agent summary:
    “Beno Udrih: Purveyor of fine Pull-Up Jumpers In Traffic, blood rival to Goran Dragic. A gem of a human.”

  3. No JR. If we resign Jennings, those two would cause havic to the locker room. JR is just a bigger version of Ellis. He has a low shooting percentage and is off/on.

  4. WHat we need to do is sign brandon jennings which takes about 11 million off of our budget this year. Get Josh smith and sign him to a max deal. Get rid of Ersan because we have a long body and a developing power forward John Henson. Sign a guy like OJ mayo to take up his salary and we have a team. Tony allen would be a good fit too for about 4 million but I like the new draft pick in Nate Wolters. We also need to get rid of Gooden and Luc Richard some how and adding Chase wouldn’t be too bad to take his spot. Or another guy would be Ak47
    Starting lineup
    Brandon Jennings/Ish smith
    OJ Mayo/ Nate Wolters
    Giannis/ Chase
    Josh Smith/ John Henson
    Larry Sanders/ Ekpe Udoh/ Ayon

    • Giannis isn’t starting this year. he may play but not starting.

      how about:
      Jennings/Ish Smith/Nate Wolters
      OJ Mayo/Tony Allen
      Josh Smith/Budinger/Mbah A Moute
      Henson/Ilyasova
      Sanders/Udoh/Ayon

  5. I'm not buying it.

    I don’t like it, but unless the Bucks go out and sign a PG plus a SG plus Josh Smith, people wont care.

    I’m not talking about making good basketball, but if say Milwaukee resigns Jennings, signs Josh, and J.R. Smith we all know the media would be all over it, and as flawed as they would be the Bucks would put some fans in the seats unless they totally stunk (entirely possible).

    What else but a similar scenario would even move the needle for the Bucks? Will Bucks fans buy into this upcoming seasons team if it’s only realistic goal is the 8 seed?

    Tanking? Not on Herb’s watch.

  6. You must stink this year…getting Wiggins #1 overall next year is the goal! He’s 6’7″…a perfect small forward wing to build around. Sign a bunch of no-names and really stink up the joint!!!

    • Philly and others will be aiming for Wiggins, plus you never know how the lottery ball bounces.

    • I agree, Tank for Wiggins. That guy can really play the game. He’s the number one pick and it’ll take some impossible trade to move into the #1 pick in next years draft. Gotta get lucky. He can play 2 guard for us.

      Jennings
      Wiggins
      Giannis
      Henson
      Larry

      with Ers and Wolters first guys off the bench. Go Bucks!

  7. Amnesty Gooden, resign Jennings, and add both O.J. Mayo and Josh Smnith along with fillers like Korver & Morrow and we’d have a much better team than last season. With Altanta and Boston currently in flux, we’d be no lower than the 6th seed with this team:

    Sanders/Udoh
    Ilyasova/Henson/Ayon
    J. Smith/Mbah A Moute/Antetokounmpo
    Mayo/Morrow/Korver
    Jennings/Wolters/I. Smith

    Add a couple league mimimum center to fill out the roster.

  8. Please, no high-volume shooters — we used to call them gunners — with the last name of Smith (or Jones or any other surname). After watching Monte and Brandon jack up shot after shot last season with reckless inefficiency — which I think is demoralizing for teammates — we need to get guys who will share the basketball.
    I like Carl Landry and Tony Allen as character guys with veteran experience and good talent. I’d consider taking a chance with Darren Collison or Devin Harris for one or two years, maybe D.J. Augustin, whoever would be most likely to be the best floor leader and distributor of the basketball. We really need some experience at point.
    As for Brandon Jennings, I have a soft spot for him as one of our own, but he hasn’t earned anything near a max contract. Plus, he has to understand that he can’t shoot as much, though he can help us as a scorer among other scorers. I tend to look at him as a two guard, or a hybrid, meaning that we still really need a top point guard, and at least a couple of solid ones for the time being.
    I don’t like the idea of tanking, on principle or for practical reasons. Look at how injuries can derail players like Andrew Bogut, T.J. Ford and Michael Redd. Look at high draft-picks who were flops like Yi and Joe Alexander. That being said, I don’t think we should sign questionable veterans at inflated salaries to sneak into an eighth seed. Let’s go mostly young with a few quality veterans and really try to win; if we take some lumps playing good team basketball and then get a top draft pick, all the better.

  9. Bucksfanforlife

    I think we should sign jr smith and bj. Get Carl Landry get rid of Gooden and Ilyasova. Sign devin Harris for vet backup point. Tony Allen sign him for backup and u got ur self a mid level seed don’t sign josh smith he wants to much and oj mayo not a good for r system

    Lineup
    Pg bj/Harris
    Sg jr/Allen
    Sf Mbah Moute / giannis
    Pf Landry/Henson
    C Larry/ekpe

  10. If the Bucks go through with the sign and trade of Redick for Eric Bledsoe, that would be awesome. Then we have our 2guard who can also handle the ball on occasion. Signing Jeff Teague would take a little bit of extra money since he is a restricted free agent, but it would be worth it as he is definitely a starting caliber point guard that could back up Jennings. That is all that would be needed in free agency outside of signing a couple filler/minimum players along with possibly bringing back Dunthreevy. Gooden should be amnestied, and then the young roster should be allowed to play out the season. Give everyone playing time and let each player grow through experience. Losing for this season is okay, whether that translates into a top pick or not.

  11. None of the above free agents is anything near a solution. We need to blow it up.
    Sign and trade jennings for a #1, go in the tank next year, and let the rebuilding begin in earnest.

  12. Here is what I would do:

    1. Complete the pipe-dream trade scenario of a S&T with Reddick + LRMAM for Bledsoe + Butler.

    2. Sign Budinger, Landry, T. Allen to 2 year deals (paying a premium cause we’re Milwaukee).

    3. Explore trade options with Ersan for a bad contract and a 1st round pick for next year (ie. trade 76ers Ersan for Jason Richardson + #1 pick).

    4. S&T Jennings or let him walk.

    Roster:

    PG: Bledsoe/Wolters

    SG: T. Allen/Ers or Jennings Trade

    SF: Budinger/GREEK FREAK

    PF: Henson/Landry/Ayon/Gooden

    C: Sanders/Ekpe

    #TankforWigginsin2014

  13. happyfeethustle

    Great comments…worth reading and contemplating each one. May i add two pennies? Great…thanks.

    Lifelong Bucks fan…early 40s now- my 1st introduction to the team was thru a grade school boys club field trip to Mecca Arena. What wonderous memories from then. Bango mascot roaming around the stands-people cheering- joy, happiness- lucky me!!! For this reason, I CANNOT ENDORSE
    PUTTING A TEAM ON FLOOR TO L O S E with INTENT!!!!!

    There is a legitimate argument to tank, gain CHANCE for # 1 draft pick-
    but, as we should ALL know, its no guarantee we HIT that chance. Cleveland has caught #1 spot twice in last 3 years- they did not have MOST chance to land those#1s. The RISK involved tanking for #1 draft pick are just too HIGH-and if it went bad, after a intentional LOSING season…YIKES, imagine the disgust,hurt feelings,anger,and ultimate let down for those fans who STUCK with the team thru it!

    My opinion: Sign/Trade Jennings ( he really not happy to be here anymore)- TRY to sign/trade Redick…he’s gone anyway, and we forfeited young talent for the short term rental. SPEND some $$$$ on a legitimate player, if you believe that player would sign here. DO NOT give up on an upcoming season 3months prior to season opener.

    We have NEW coach, and assistants- GM signed for 3 years. Look at this from a FRESH point of view.. Jeff Teague to run point? Absolutely-Larry Drew knows what to expect from him. Devin Harris..? Im ok with veteran leadership. Fill in a roster that can get you a 7th 6th maybe a5th seed.
    True fans WILL be pleased with ANY move in the right direction.If you are a fan, are you really expcting a championship in just 2-3 years?
    I dont think thats realistic, lets just get better little each season!

    GO BUCKS GO