For everything the Milwaukee Bucks got right during the offseason, signing Miles Plumlee was definitely not one of them.
Let’s start from the beginning. During the craziness that was the 2014-2015 Bucks Campaign, a mind-boggling trade cemented itself into reality mere minutes before the trade deadline. The 30-23 Milwaukee Bucks traded Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall to Phoenix in return for Michael Carter-Williams (from the Sixers, who received a future Lakers first rounder from the Suns (this pick has yet to be cashed in as it is heavily protected and the Lakers have been historically bad)), Tyler Ennis, and Miles Plumlee. This trade was absolute lunacy. Bucks fans like myself took to Twitter to share their obvious discord with the front office that just shipped away the team’s best player for a ball hogging, poor shooting PG and fringe-level reserves.
To most, the trade boiled down to three components. Milwaukee received MCW from Philly, Philly received Phoenix’s LAL’s future first round pick, and Phoenix received Knight from Milwaukee. Everything else was superfluous, including Miles Plumlee.
But credit is needed where credit is due. Despite racking up only 10 minutes a game in that surprisingly successful 2014-2015 season, Miles Plumlee squeezed his way into the rotation the following year. Larry Sanders and Zaza Pachulia (#NBAVote) left Cream City for good after the 2014-2015 campaign, paving the way for this viable uptick-in-minutes route for Plumlee. Even the addition of Monroe to the roster, alongside the continued existence of the Bucks’ longest active tenured player John Henson, didn’t hinder him from getting starts (14) and minutes (about 14 as well) in the 2015-2016 season. Miles Plumlee must have been doing something right to back up Coach Kidd’s decisions…
But Miles Plumlee’s Per 36 stats for the 2015-2016 season are, well, not flattering. According to these metrics, he would have been averaging almost 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 2 blocks. Oh yeah, and a measly 11.6 points. He did shoot 60.1% on the season, but the vast, vast majority of his shots came from the restricted area and a little beyond. This is certainly not too horrific considering the fact that he was a throw-in in that infamous three-team trade. It may even justify the few starts he earned at the time. But alas, he is no longer a throw-in. The Milwaukee Bucks signed Miles Plumlee to a 4-year 52 million dollar contract. That’s 13 million a year folks.
Why, John Hammond, usual wizard of all moves basketball, why? Since the arrival and graduation of Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Robin Jabari Parker, the Bucks’ front office’s philosophy can be coined as Building For The Stars. Obviously, John Hammond and his business savvy crew saw chemistry forming between Plumlee and his two ever-growing teammates. Hell, everyone saw it during that 2015-2016 season. Antetokounmpo and Plumlee played exceedingly well in the pick-and-roll game, with the Greek Freak as the giant ball handler and Plumlee as the hard roller. Plumlee would set a hard screen with his 7’0” frame, Antetokounmpo would finagle his way around it, and Plumlee would race to the hoop for the inevitable lob and jam. The timing of their actions became impeccable as they developed better familiarity. They simply looked good together.
Then, we found out that Antetokounmpo always looks good. He also makes other players *cough cough MILES PLUMLEE cough* look good. The Greek Freak certainly does not need Plumlee to elevate his play. I repeat, the Greek Freak does not need Plumlee to elevate his play. On the other side of the coin, Plumlee needs Antetokounmpo to play at even a mediocre level. Now, looking at the situation like this: Why should the Bucks settle for a center who can go from bad to okay when they can get one that can go from okay to good, or even, *gasp* good to great? The front office may have thought the strong play from Plumlee and Antetokounmpo was symbiotic, but as we now know, it was, and is still, very one-sided. It’s just the case of an All-Star making those he plays with better. Hindsight is 20/20, and now the Milwaukee Bucks are paying a man 13 million dollars a year ($158,536.58 a game for all you wondering) to ride the pine.
Or, if you’re really feeling cynical, you can realize that we paid Plumlee $27,083.33 for every minute (!!!) he played so far this season (calculated by dividing his earned money from half the season, 6.5 million, by his minutes, 240). Let’s begin a collective chant. “[Get] Straight Outta Milwaukee, [Get] Straight Outta Milwaukee, [Get] Straight Outta Milwaukee!”
Important reminder: It’s easy to blame Miles Plumlee for not living up to contract expectations. But who the hell, outside of the delusional Bucks higher-ups, expected him to play like a 13 million dollar man? There’s no doubt that Plumlee’s agent must have done some dirty work in order to achieve that sort of money for Plumlee’s skillset (…or lack thereof). Blame the front office that allowed this to happen, not the player playing hard and reaping the rewards of a good negotiation.
One more PSA: Hating a player is much different than hating that person (i.e. I hate Kanye West’s person, but not his music). Like I said earlier, Plumlee seems like an upstanding individual. But Bucks Twitter and fans elsewhere tend to really rag on this man in a personal, unjustifiable way. This is a problem for all NBA fans and many of their teams’ players, not just us Milwaukee Bucks fans and our Plumlee. Although these players play broadcasted games for our entertainment, they are not fictional characters. They are real human beings, going through the pains and struggles of life day in and day out.
Hate his game and his current situation, but don’t hate Miles Plumlee.
With that said: [Get] Straight Outta Milwaukee Miles Plumlee!