The Bucks requested waivers on center Gustavo Ayón, General Manager John Hammond announced yesterday.
The 6-10 center appeared in a dozen games for the Bucks last season, averaging 4.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists. The numbers are based on low-ish minute totals, obscuring the fact that, for a big man, he was a decent rebounder and an excellent passer and picksetter. The numbers also don’t show that he wasn’t much of a defender or rim protector.
He also recorded three unspectacular showings in the Las Vegas Summer League while missing the other two games with a groin injury.
(So, yes, the title is overstating the issue a bit. You try making a nuanced anagram, savant.)
The 27-year-old appeared in 109 games over two NBA seasons split between New Orleans, Orlando and Milwaukee. Prior to that, Ayón played in Spain, a possible destination again now that he has been freed from his obligation to the Bucks.
Ish Smith is now the only player remaining from last season’s trade that sent Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb and Beno Udrih to the Orlando Magic.
If the Bucks had not waived Ayón yesterday, his $1.5 million salary for 2013-14 would have become guaranteed. Milwaukee picked up his player option earlier in the offseason, but his contract had an uncommon provision that essentially allowed the Bucks an extra 25 days to decide whether or not they wanted to keep him for the upcoming season.
On July 5th, Ayón said that while it was made clear to him when he arrived in Milwaukee that there wouldn’t be many minutes at the outset, the Bucks also wanted him to be “varios años con ellos” (several years with them). He also said that he was looking forward to having a greater opportunity for playing time in a situation where he was one of six big men instead of one of nine.
A day later, the Bucks agreed to terms with former Atlanta center Zaza Pachulia.
I get why the Bucks signed Pachulia. They already have young shot-altering centers in John Henson, Larry Sanders, and Ekpe Udoh. Zaza isn’t about that life. He’s older. He’s bigger and slower. He blocked one-third as many shots as Monta Ellis last season.
Instead, Pachulia is the guy who will push someone out of the way to grab a rebound. The Bucks did a surprisingly poor job of rebounding last season, so they need a heavy dose of that. Expensively, he fits a need.
But I’m surprised that the Bucks didn’t keep Ayón anyway, if only for the contrasting skill set and the cheap price tag. Waiving him saves some cap room, but not that much. Gustavo was only set to make around $1 million above the lowest possible (rookie) salary. And even if the Bucks had decided halfway through the season that they needed to make a change, his now-nixed deal should not have been that hard to pass onto someone else.
Will that million dollars in cap space be the difference between having the flexibility to acquire a viable core asset and being too encumbered? I don’t think it will be, but the move can still be justified by that logic. The Bucks have few feature-worthy personnel pieces, and Ayón wasn’t one of them. It makes sense to cede a middling player for a shot at someone better.
If it’s really and truly the difference, then setting the Goose loose works.