There is seemingly a hard determinism when it comes to free agency, or maybe just a hard act of finessing by professional basketball teams. Even prior to the July 1 moratorium, teams jostle for elite players before contracts can be officially agreed upon in ink roughly a week later, so, verbal communication between team and player, in a sea of Woj bombs and bladed rumor mills, becomes key. Maybe not so much this year, as far as rumors that are hard to trudge through, because of things to come.
While the predetermination has surely graced the heavy-hitters, like Boston and Golden State, things have been relatively quiet around the Milwaukee Bucks, but sometimes a small makeover is better than an overhaul.
Things kicked off with the re-signing of forward Tony Snell, whose modest contract of $46 million sprinkled over the course of four years has become meme-fied by detractors, thanks to Snell’s individual output of zeroes on February 24 in a game against the Utah Jazz. In all honesty, the trade enacted upon by former Bucks general manager John Hammond, who is now manning the same position with the Orlando Magic, and the Chicago Bulls at the dawn of the 16-17 season seems masterful in hindsight. Of course, Michael Carter-Williams was dealt for Snell’s 3-and-D concoction at the wing, after Khris Middleton injured his left hamstring in late September of last year.
This past year, Snell managed to post his highest effective field goal percentage (eFG%) in his four-year tenure in the Association, while also seeing a career-high in minutes (29.2) per game. Granted, his defense declined slightly in some advanced categories, but he still managed to post 1.3 defensive win shares for the season, a mark better than those posted by Middleton and Parker, as well as respected defensive stalwarts, like Orlando’s Bismack Biyombo.
Elsewhere, in the Bucks’ paucity of offseason moves, both Greg Monroe and Spencer Hawes exercised the final year in their respective contracts. I know these moves extended beyond the organizational heads, but, thankfully, the moves still don’t derail future plans for the Cream City, especially when considering the fact that both of those players are to become unrestricted free agents after the conclusion of the upcoming campaign.
If Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton don’t get extended before November, all signs point to them being a part of a moneyed, empty-your-checkbook 2018 free agent class.
Many in the NBA media brass, citing Milwaukee’s mess of a general manager search, have tried to prognosticate as to whether Giannis Antetokounmpo will bolt once his newly enforced contract is up in 2021. Giannis, as of now, has other intentions.
The last couple players (Gordon Hayward, Paul George) whose drafted teams have lulled in the feared second tier, in which lottery draft picks or early-playoff exits are ubiquitous, have finagled their way out of their smaller-market situation to greener pastures. With this in mind, the Bucks should continue to be swift, perhaps more so, to stock the roster with necessary role players, handsome, team-friendly contracts, among other commodities.
We will know in 365 days from now whether players like Antetokounmpo will stay, and that’s scary. This current team has enough tenacity, endearing defensive instinct, and radiating young talent to be a top-three seed in next year’s playoffs.
Apprehension has its comfortable clutch on NBA teams’ pocketbooks, and it has shown in how last year’s process was more expedient, as ESPN NBA Insider Kevin Pelton noted.
For team’s who have much at stake in the coming year, evaluation is essential, as is owning unmitigated prudence. The impending freshly printed contracts, as administered by the Bucks, for Middleton and Parker will be contingent upon just how much court time they see, how productive they still are.
With the potential for next year being the end of the modern NBA landscape as we know it, the Bucks shouldn’t embark upon their current prospects, the Hawks’ Jamal Crawford and free-agent Derrick Rose, given the way those two, financially, could handicap this current team. Perhaps, having one of them only for this upcoming season could be beneficial, but there is a larger representation looming in the foreground. Rose has logged more minutes off the court from October to April the last half-decade than he has on it, which is an important anecdote to ruminate on, for an ascendant Milwaukee squad.
If you’re Jon Horst, Milwaukee’s new general manager, why not just settle on Jason Terry, who showed he could rise to the occasion in this year’s first round matchup against Toronto, and explore other low-risk signees, to properly brace the franchise for next offseason, while banking on the current slew of talent to reach the second round, or the conference semifinals this upcoming season.
The direction of this team hints at the Bucks feasting off six and seven seeds, not being them.
Consider the Mise-en-scène, not the perceived apex of the film.