Grading John Hammond (Part 2)


Welcome to part two of “Grading John Hammond.”  Today I will continue to inspect and grade Hammond’s moves as General Manager. If you missed the first part or want a refresher you can catch it here. As I stated in yesterday’s post, today I will be analyzing Hammond’s free agent acquisitions and re-signings in this edition.

Free Agent Acquisitions

Milwaukee has never been a target destination for free agents.  The Bucks are usually picking up the scraps or overpaying average or aging players in order to get them to come to Milwaukee.  However, that has never stopped Hammond from being active in free agency. This has not necessarily been a good thing because Hammond has struggled the most with his ability to evaluate a player’s worth on the open market.  Hammond has made quite a few questionable decisions, to say the least, when it comes to signing free agents or re-signing his own players.  As I break down the contracts and production you will surely notice a theme throughout this section; Hammond often gives out way too much money for average production.

The grades that I give out for each signing depend on two main factors. First, what were the expectations for the player when he was signed.  If the player was expected to heavily produce and lived up to that billing then that will earn a positive grade for the signing. If the player was brought in on a minimal deal and produced minimal results it will not be held against the signing’s grade. Second, the money that was given to the player.  How did the money affect Milwaukee’s financial flexibility at the time.  If the player ended up earning his contract through his level of play then it will positively benefit the signings grade. If the players level of play never lived up to the contract that Hammond gave them it will negatively affect the grade given out.

Tyronn Lue and Malik Allen– Hammond’s first free agent signings in 2008 were definitely franchise altering deals (sarcastic font). Both Lue and Allen were signed to deals for an appropriate amount of money given where they each were in their respective careers. Lue played in 30 games for the Bucks and was traded before he was able to finish his first season.  Allen at least lasted the whole year for Milwaukee playing in 49 games before being traded during the summer of 2009. Grade: C-

Francisco Elson– Elson was signed by the Bucks in August of 2008 and played in Milwaukee for two seasons. Elson started 23 games for the Bucks averaging only 3 points per game throughout his time in Milwaukee. Grade: C

Hakim Warrick– The Milwaukee Bucks signed the uber athletic Hakim Warrick to a one year deal on the last day of July in 2009. Warrick played in 48 games for the Bucks before being traded mid-season. He was always fun to watch throw a dunk down as he would stride through the lane with the ball in an outstretched hand . Grade: C

Jerry Stackhouse– Stackhouse was signed in the middle of the 2009-10 season and appeared in 42 games down the stretch for Milwaukee. Stackhouse came off the bench every game during the Bucks Feer the Deer run averaging 8.2 points per game and provided a much-needed boost. Milwaukee went 30-13 after Stackhouse joined the team.  This opportunity also provided a mini-revitalization of sorts to Stackhouse’s career as well. Grade: B+

Drew Gooden– Gooden may go down as one of John Hammond’s biggest gaffes as general manager. Gooden was signed to a five-year $32 million deal in 2010. Before arriving in Milwaukee, Gooden had played for five teams the previous two seasons.  By the time he was eventually released using the infamous amnesty clause in 2013 Gooden only appeared in 107 of a possible 246 games for the Bucks. Grade: F

Keyon Dooling– Dooling was signed in July of 2010 to a two-year $4 million deal. He was brought in to back up Brandon Jennings and only lasted one year in Milwaukee. Dooling wasn’t brought to Milwaukee to do anything special and that is exactly what Bucks fans got out of Dooling. He was traded in December of 2011 to the Boston Celtics. Grade: C-

Earl Boykins– Hammond signed Boykins in August of 2010 to a one year deal worth $1.3 million. This was Boykins second stint with the Bucks as he also played for them during the last part of the 2006-07 season. He would only play in part of one more season for Houston after this year and provided the occasional spark off the Bucks bench. Grade: C-

Mike Dunleavy– Dunleavy signed a two year $7.5 million deal with the Bucks in December of 2011, which was still the offseason because of the lockout. Dunleavy had two semi-productive years in Milwaukee averaging in double digit points each year. He was mostly a three point specialist and provided a nice change of pace behind guys like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Dunleavy is now one of the most hated player in the NBA by Bucks fans. Grade: C

Joel Pryzbilla– Hammonds brought Pryzbilla back to Milwaukee, where he started his career, on a one year deal.  This would be Pryzbilla’s last season in the NBA and he was mostly brought in to provide veteran leadership for Milwaukee. Grade D+

O.J. Mayo– John Hammond and the Milwaukee Bucks were busy during the summer of 2013.  With a brand new coach Milwaukee decided to overhaul their roster. His first move was to sign Mayo to a three-year $24 million deal. Mayo struggled throughout his three years in Milwaukee posting his two lowest field goal percentages of his career over that span.  Mayo did provide the Bucks with some intensity however, as he was never afraid to mix it up with the other team.  After Mayo’s contract expired with Milwaukee in 2016 he was suspended by the league for two years for violating the league’s anti drug programGrade: D+

Carlos Delfino– Delfino was brought back to Milwaukee on a three-year $9.75 million deal after a year away from the Bucks.  During the year away Delfino had arguably the best season of his career with the Houston Rockets. He ended up breaking his foot that summer and never played another game for the Bucks or any other team in the NBA. He was eventually traded to the Clippers for Jared Dudley and a first round pick. Grade: F

Zaza Pachulia– Zaza was also brought back for his second stint in Milwaukee after signing a three-year $15 million contract with the Bucks in the summer of 2013. The Pachulia signing confused a lot of people at the time as the Bucks already had a gluttony of big men in Larry Sanders, John Henson, Ersan Illyasova, and Ekpe Udoh. However Pachulia proved to be far more valuable than any box score could ever show. Although there were other factors in play and Pachulia himself was not a defensive savant his experience and communication went a long way in Kidd’s chaotic defensive scheme. Milwaukee’s defense was fire throughout the 2014-15 season leading the league in opponents turnovers and were 8th in the NBA in points allowed per game at 97.4.  The following year, after Pachulia’s departure, the Bucks dropped to 8th in opponents turnovers and 17th in points per game allowed. Grade: B

Miroslav Radujica– Radujica was an addition by Hammond during the summer of 2013. The then 25-year-old Serbian was brought in merely has depth for the Bucks.  He played in 48 games for Milwaukee during his only year with the Bucks. Grade: C-

Gary Neal– Yet ANOTHER signing by Hammond during the summer of 2013. This time he brought Neal in on a two-year deal worth close to $6 million. Neal wouldn’t finish the year out in a Milwaukee Bucks uniform as he was traded in February of 2014 to the Charlotte Bobcats. During Neal’s very brief time in Milwaukee he was a spark plug off the bench and averaged 10 points per game. Grade: C+

Jerryd Bayless– We are finally out of the summer of 2013 as we fast forward to 2014. Bayless signed a two-year $6 million deal with Milwaukee and said he came to the Bucks because “The thing that was most intriguing was Kidd.”  Jerryd would go on to hit a layup at the buzzer to beat the Bulls in game 4 of the playoffs that year and avoid a sweep. Bayless was somewhat of a surprise for Milwaukee especially during his second year. Although he battled through injuries he shot a career high 43% from the three-point line in 2015-16.  Bayless used that performance to earn a three-year $27 million deal from the 76ers in the offseason of 2016. Grade: B-

Kenyon Martin– Martin was first brought in on a ten-day contract on January 9th, 2015 but was later signed for the rest of the season. The Bucks had to waive Nate Wolters in order to make room for Martin. Martin was thought to be signed in part because of the Bucks depleted front court at the time but mostly because of his relationship with Jason Kidd from their playing days. Martin only appeared in 11 games for Milwaukee before being released in the summer.  Grade: D

Greg Monroe– Monroe is without question THE marquee signing during John Hammonds time in Milwaukee. In 2015 Monroe inked a three-year $50 million deal with a player option for the third year. Milwaukee beat out teams like the Lakers and the Knicks for the chance to sign Monroe. Ironically Monroe stated that he chose Milwaukee because they gave him the best chance to make the playoffs.  Monroe is your old school back to the basket big man with a slow-paced plodding game.  Monroe started the first 67 games last year but then came off the bench towards the end of the season. He has come off the bench for every game this year and his numbers are down almost across the board. Even though Monroe has had some good memories in a Milwaukee Bucks uniform he has not performed as you would expect from someone with a max contract. With a small market team like the Bucks they can ill-afford to have a player on their roster under perform their max contract.  Grade C-

Chris Copeland– Copeland was the other player Hammonds signed during the 2015 offseason.  Copeland signed a one year $1.1 million deal, coming from the Central division rival Indiana Pacers. Copeland was supposed to be a three-point specialist brought in for the sole purpose of spacing the floor. However his trend of declining three-point percentages continued in Milwaukee where he only shot 27%.  Copeland was not brought back the following year and has not played in the NBA since. Grade: D+

Steve Novak– This former Marquette star was signed by Hammond in February 2016 after he was released by the Thunder. At that point in Novak’s career he was not expected to be a big contributor. Novak only appeared in 3 games before suffering a season ending knee injury. Novak was brought back last summer but was waived after Bucks traded for Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert. Grade: C-

Mirza Teletovic– With the NBA salary cap shooting up this past summer the Bucks found themselves with some extra money. Hammonds first move was to sign three-point extraordinaire Mirza Teletovic for $30 million over three seasons. Mirza played his cards right coming off a career shooting year in Phoenix and also the fact that he played under Kidd during Kidd’s only year coaching in Brooklyn. Mirza loves to chuck up threes but is having a down year only shooting 35% from behind the arc.  When Mirza isn’t making his threes he doesn’t offer many other services to the Bucks.  Grade: C-

Matthew Dellavedova– Delle signed a four-year $38 million deal with the Bucks. Technically the Bucks acquired him via trade from the Cavs after the Bucks signed him to an offer sheet.  Delle is known as an agitator on defense and someone who is going to hustle non stop.  He was also thought to be the perfect complement of a point guard along side Giannis because he can shoot from outside and doesn’t need to dominate the ball. So far Dellavedova is shooting the ball at a career worst clip, especially from downtown where he is currently sitting at 35%. Delle is four years younger than Mirza and still has some room to grow his game which is why his grade is slightly higher at this point. Grade: C

Jason Terry– The 39-year-old Terry was signed to a one year deal this past offseason.  He was signed to provided some much-needed depth for the Bucks at the shooting guard position. Even though Terry is averaging a career low 3.5 points per game he has provided good leadership for the Young bucks. Grade: B-

The Bucks have not had a plethora of talented players lining up at their door wanting to come to Milwaukee to play basketball. For the most part, in the past, Milwaukee has been a place where NBA careers come to die.  Given the fact that Hammonds has not had very much to work with he has definitely had to rely on his veteran savvy to get players to agree to contracts. As may be evident, in order for Hammond to fill out the roster he has mostly had to overpay mid-tier players and bring in others who are at the pinnacle of their careers. As Greg Monroe showed in 2015 that may be changing. As Giannis continues to grow and develop as a player and continues to ascend from the All-star status he earned this year it will be easier and easier to attract the right types of players to Milwaukee.  Free Agent Grade: C


Andrew Bogut– Bogut received a five-year $72 million deal from Hammonds during his first summer as the teams General Manager in 2008. The former number one overall pick had shown an increase in production during each of his first three years.  He was a unique talent with the ability to score with his back to the basket, good vision and passing ability for a big man, and was a defensive anchor on the other end of the floor. The rest of Bogut’s time in Milwaukee would be marred by injuries as he would never play more than 70 games in a season. Bogut had the awful elbow injury during the 2009-10 season when he was averaging a career high 15.9 points per game.  Bogut would never fully recover from that injury and neither would the Bucks. In 2012 the Bucks ended up trading Bogut to the Golden State Warriors. Grade: C-

Ersan Illyasova– Ersan signed the first of his contract extensions with the Bucks in 2009. He agreed to a three-year nearly $7 million deal with the Bucks bringing him back after a two-year hiatus. During those three seasons Ersan proved that he was well worth the money. He demonstrated his value as a stretch 4 and a relentless rebounder, especially on the offensive glass. His play during these three seasons set the stage for a much larger, and longer, contract extension which I will break down in a bit. Grade: B+

John Salmons– After Salmons led Milwaukee to a 46-36 record in 2009-10 he opted out of the final year of his contract. Milwaukee, deservedly at the time, gave Salmons a five year $39 million deal. The move, to no fault of Hammonds, would soon prove disastorous. After finishing the year on fire Salmons would find himself consistently struggling to score the basketball at an efficient rate. His points per game dropped from 19.9 the previous season in Milwaukee to 14.  Salmons was then traded during the summer of 2011 to Sacramento, continuing his further career decline. Grade: D-

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute– Luc earned himself a huge pay raise after being drafted in the second round of the 2008 NBA draft. The Nuggets signed him to a four-year $19 million offer sheet during the summer of 2011 which the Bucks eventually matched. Mbah a Moute was known as the Bucks best defender and could guard any position on the floor.  He was often asked to guard the opposing teams best player on a nightly basis. In 2013 Mbah a Moute was traded to the Kings for two second round picks. Grade: C+

Ersan Illyasova– Here we are back to Ersan again. This time Ersan signed a five-year $40 million deal with a team option for the fifth year. Ersan would average a career high in points per game the following season but would see a continued dip in his playing time. Ersan also struggled with injuries in 2014 and 2015. He was eventually traded to the Pistons in an attempt to rid the Bucks of his remaining salary. Grade: C-

Larry Sanders– At the time of this contract extension, 2013, it looked like it could end up being a bargain for the Milwaukee Bucks. Sanders was a long athletic big man who had made a huge leap during the third year of his career.  Although he was a raw offensive player Sanders was a force to be reckoned with on the defensive side of the ball averaging 2.8 blocks in only 27 minutes a game. He signed a four year $44 million extension but would hardly even play into his extension. After previously outlined struggles Sanders only played in 23 games during the final year of his rookie deal and then 27 games during the first year of his extension. In March of 2015 Sanders and the Bucks agreed to a buyout, one that would pay Sanders $1.9 million a year until 2022. Grade: F

Khris Middleton– Middleton and the Bucks agreed to a five-year $70 million extension in the summer of 2015.  The NBA salary cap had just risen significantly so it is a little difficult to judge the value of this deal.  However, Middleton continued to improve his game in huge leaps and bounds averaging a career high points and assists during the 2015-16 season.  Middleton is also the Bucks best perimeter defender and outside shooter. Although Middleton has only just come back from a torn hamstring he suffered right before the season started he has already began to prove his worth to the Bucks. The injury this season is the only thing preventing this grade from being any higher. Grade: B+

John Henson– Henson signed a four-year $45 million contract extension in the summer of 2015. Henson has always been a wiry player more known for his defensive prowess than his ability to score the basketball. He has averaged more than 7 points only one time in his career, coming in the 2013-14 season. Henson has been in and out of the Bucks lineup and rotation this year, not quite living up to the contract he was given. He has demonstrated little improvement from his rookie year to now, providing evidence that this might be the Henson we will forever see. Grade: C-

Miles Plumlee– Yuck.  Writing about Plumlee makes me wonder what the heck Hammond was doing when he agreed to this contract.  Miles somehow was given a contract to the tune of four years and $52 million. Plumlee had a few good moments for the Bucks showing that he is the only center on the roster who can apparently dunk the basketball. He only averaged 14.3 minutes per game during his one full season in Milwaukee. Hammond quickly realized his mistake and already shipped Plumlee out of Milwaukee, less than one year after re-signing him. Grade: F

Giannis Antetokounmpo– YES! Thank you Giannis for allowing me to put you on this list. Giannis signed a four-year $100 million contract extension with Milwaukee this past off-season, even agreeing to take less than the max. Antetokounmpo has already began to live up to the biggest contract ever awarded in Milwaukee Bucks history. Giannis will start in the NBA All-star game coming up this weekend which is huge exposure for the Bucks. Grade: A++

There are lots of peaks and valleys when grading Hammonds free agent acquisitions and re-signings. Looking back on the post I see a lot more below average grades than above average ones.  For some reason Hammonds and his staff struggle to evaluate what an NBA talent is worth to the Milwaukee franchise. They constantly have found themselves in a position where they have over valued a player and given him too much money.  I suspect that some of this was due to ownership constantly dictating the Bucks be competitive and another part due to Milwaukee being at the bottom of the list of free agents preferred destinations. The only reason this grade is above average is because of the recent re-signings of Giannis and Middleton. Re-signing Grade: C+

Tomorrow will be the series finale. Make sure to check back to Cream City Central when I dive into the trades that Hammond has made throughout his career with the Bucks.  Hasta Manana!


  1. Mike Dunleavy Jr. is probably Hammond’s best FA signing when value and production are taken into account. I know he’s hated here but facts are facts


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