Milwaukee had a rough rough season last year, coming off a 46-win campaign the year before. They only missed the playoffs by 2 games (which doesn't speak to their "greatness" - they were two wins behind the 37-win Indiana Pacers, who were the eighth seed), but had a litany of injuries all year long to Andrew Bogut, Brandon Jennings, Drew Gooden, John Salmons, Corey Maggette and Carlos Delfino. They scored barely 91 points a game last year, which was worst in the NBA. They need scoring, BADLY, and I think that becomes the focus of this offseason. Coach Scott Skiles will always be a great defensive coach, so that will never be a problem.
The team will have a good bit of wiggle room in regards to free agent signings with Michael Redd's gigantic deal coming off the books. Even with the large contracts that their vets have, the Bucks won't be completely handcuffed.
(On and aside, I know it's Milwaukee (which, in Algonquin, is known as "The Good Land"), so there wasn't going to be a media uproar about this, but I thought I should have seen the 2010 NBA Executive of the Year John Hammond get even more flack for his "improvements" on the then Eastern Conference six-seed Milwaukee Bucks.
That summer, with a boat-load of cap-space, GM John Hammond knew that he had some holes on his roster, with every position besides center and point guard (not a bad position to be in, mind you. The two hardest positions in the league to fill are a legit point and center). So instead of using the money wisely, he thought it would be most prudent to trade for Corey Maggette (3 years and $31 million left on his deal), and use the rest of his cap room to sign Drew Gooden (5 years, $32 million) and John Salmons (5 years, $39 million).
YES. That is correct. With the available cap space he had to maneuver, John Hammond used it to trade for a man widely known as one of the worst ball-stoppers in the entire league, signed a career underachiever in Gooden and a perennial ball hog in John Salmons, who is not happy unless he had the rock in his hands. Yes. Milwaukee, your GM used OVER $100 MILLION TO GET COREY MAGGETTE, DREW GOODEN AND JOHN SALMONS. To put this in perspective, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest made a combined $28 million last year. Maggette, Gooden and Salmons made a combined $23 million. Wow. On behalf of the dozens of Milwaukee Bucks fans that I do not know, EFF YOU JOHN HAMMOND)
Andrew Bogut: 12.1 million
Corey Maggette: 10.23 million
John Salmons: 8.5 million
Drew Gooden: 6.2 million
Carlos Delfino: 3.5 million
Brandon Jennings: 2.5 million
Ersan Ilyasova: 2.54 million
Keyon Dooling: 2.16 million
Larry Sanders: 1.86 million
Jon Brockman: 1 million
Chris Douglas-Roberts: 1.09 million (qualifying offer)
Total: 50.6 million
Michael Redd: 18.3 million
Earl Boykins: 1.35 million
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute: 854,000
1). With the 10th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks select, Klay Thompson, from Washington State University.
...or the best shooter they have at this spot. A lot of people have Klay Thompson at this spot, which I think should work out. Apparently he's got a nice stroke, which the Bucks can use in spades. If Kemba or Jimmer are available at this spot, I would give them a look as well. Brandon Jennings hasn't been exactly bulletproof for the past two seasons, so having another nice young point prospect couldn't be a bad thing.
2). Sign Chris Douglas-Roberts to a qualifying offer, and hope that no one matches for big money
I don't really have any problem with CDR. He's a decent shooter, he's got good size for his position and he doesn't really hurt you in any way. I'd be happy to have some instant offense off my bench, and I think he's it. Plus, his nickname always makes me sing "Fortunate Son" in my head. That's never a bad thing.
3). With your $7 million in cap room, see if Thaddeus Young will give you a look
They might be able to offer a little bit more if they don't extend a qualifying offer to CDR. But Young will get the same offers some elsewhere, in better markets from better teams. He's probably the best small forward free agent out there that will play the type of two-way ball Coach Skiles demands. So....
4). Be on the look-out for a scoring small forward via trade
Look, this is Milwaukee. Mil-ay-walk-kay. Carmelo Anthony wasn't going to sign here in the offseason or anything like that. Trades and the draft are the way great players are going to come to Wisconsin.
The combination of Carlos Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova and Keyon Dooling makes up $8 million in expiring contracts, not to mention the Bucks have all their first round draft picks for the forseeable future. Guys like Danny Granger, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Martin and Josh Smith are all good two-way players that might be available in the forseeable future. Any trades probably won't be consummated until after the lockout ends, but I think the Bucks could be surprise players in the trade market.
5). Make sure that Andrew Bogut isn't crippled for life
Just make this guy through a gamut of tests. He looked genuinely hurt all year long, which doesn't surprise me at all.
He wasn't a great free throw shooter before his gruesome arm injury (go youtube it if you want. It's really really awful. I'm not going to link it here; if you want to put yourself through that, I don't want to be directly responsible), but he shot around 60%. This year he was around 42%, and it looked like he was dislocating it every time he put the ball up. The best word I can come up with here is "gnarly". It was gnarly to watch that man shoot. Buy the best tests in the world for this guy and see if anything is still wrong - he needs it.
Again, this is one of the smallest market teams in a bitterly cold winter city. Their fanbase actually is pretty decent, and with Bogut and Jennings, they have some good young players to build around. Competing for a championship is of course ideal, but making the playoffs this year should be good enough for this squad