With the trade deadline fast approaching and the Bucks season reaching a critical deciding point, I sat down our writers and had them address what they would do in the Bucks situation
1.) Do you think it’s better for the Bucks long term to do their best to make the playoffs this year?
Sylvan Zarwell: I do. Voluntarily slipping into the lottery reminds me of those fools who broke their life savings trying to win the Powerball, sure you have to admit statistically there’s a chance of striking big, but it doesn’t really happen. What we are then talking about is the difference between the late lottery and a 16th-20th pick. Hammond has shown he can get gold wherever he picks, so talent shouldn’t be the concern. Young teams need experience when the stakes are high. Jabari, Giannis, and MCW all need that experience. We’ve already seen how just making the playoffs is a lure for free agents by landing Monroe. We can build on it or burn it down for a sliver of possibility.
Trying to make the playoffs from where we are isn’t even a guarantee, but the effort is like an Aaron Rodgers drive. I will always favor the hail mary over the rollover and wait for next year.
Gabe Stoltz: This is where I think I differ than the traditional fan. A casual fan seems to absolutely freak out whenever the Bucks play bad or if they lose. I tend to take a different approach whenever that unfortunate event happens. People seem to forget that the Bucks’ starters are all 25 years old or younger. Now, does that mean I don’t get frustrated at a loss? Absolutely not. Does that also mean I wholeheartedly disagree with anybody saying the Bucks should do all they can to make the playoffs? No. They raise good points. A playoff series against the Cavaliers (I’m just assuming that’s who Milwaukee would play if they climbed up to the eighth seed) would go a far way in readying this team for important playoff action down the road. However, there is one slogan that I live my Bucks fandom by (and no, not Bucks in 6). The slogan I’m discussing goes back to the Herb Kohl era days and the grassroots of the Save Our Bucks organization. Build for the future, not the eighth seed. I think that’s what every Bucks fans should recognize. Could the Bucks crawl back up the standings and reach the playoffs if they play well enough? Sure, but where would they go from there? A sweep at the hands of the Cavs or best chance – a five game series? I don’t know about you, but that frustrates me as a fan. It screams mediocrity, the word that defined the Herb Kohl era. That’s what the Bucks did in their trade of Tobias Harris to Orlando for J.J. Redick. At this point in the year and with the Bucks record what it is, each game comes down to two things. The Bucks can either win or lose. But those wins and losses are defined just not by the stat column, but rather performance. If the Bucks win a game, it’s likely due to them playing well and coherently. If they lose, it means we’re one game closer to the lottery and a possible top-ten pick. At this point in the year, a top-ten draft pick sounds much better than a sweep in the first round and embarrassment at the hands of the Cavaliers, right? We’re halfway through the season. We’re already disappointed. What’s one more half of a year of losing when it results in a top-ten pick? To me, the decision is easy. Do not chase after the playoffs.
Alexander Juneau: Not even a little bit, I also don’t think its a remote possibility the Bucks make it at this point. It goes beyond the 5.5 games back they are, it would require leapfrogging five teams who are all also looking to make the playoffs. I think the Bucks could snag a real talent in the 6-10 range this year that could be a solid rotational piece if not more the Bucks future title contending teams. The real incentive to not winning many more games would manifest itself on lottery night when the Bucks could drastically increase their odds of a top 3 pick. the Bucks currently have the 8th best lottery odds, if they fell to 6th their odds of a top 3 pick go from 10% to 25%. A top 3 pick could change everything for this young Bucks team. I don’t think drafting 16th and getting mauled by Lebron would have the same benefits.
2.) Should Greg Monroe be put on the trading block?
SZ: No. Hammond’s job is to see what value can be gained by such a move, but I don’t think we can recoup value. Monroe was a sign of earned respect, trading him so soon would make us a laughing stock. Monroe isn’t a Love, a franchise cornerstone who will get back picks and young guys. Best case scenario the Bucks plug an immediate need (a shooter, most likely, but maybe a distributor) with an inferior piece and have to start the search for a big man all over again. You don’t trade a piece for parts.
GS: While the Bucks could probably get a decent haul for Greg Monroe, I’m sticking out on the Moose train like I am with MCW. Sure he has horrendous defense, but I don’t really see why all of the Bucks fans are acting shocked at it. We knew he was going to lack a step on the defensive side of the ball when we provided him with the maximum contract this offseason. We also are well aware that the Bucks defense has taken a step back from the monstrosity it was last year. However, I still think a little bit of that is unfamiliarity with each other. I know it’s almost the All-Star break and that that sort of stuff should be sorted out by now, but I still think it has some impact. I’m holding out hope that Sean Sweeney can pick out and dissect the troubles experienced this year during the offseason and work on turning it around into what we know it can be. I know that fans clamor about the success Milwaukee found when Zaza Pachulia was at the helm but there was so much more to the Bucks’ record than that. People forget that the bench was lights out in the first half of the year. I also think the veteran leadership of not just Pachulia but Dudley as well has had an impact on the Bucks’ hit in the standings this season. I think Moose’s abilities on offense should be enough for him to stay long term, or at least until his contract is up or he can opt out. With Giannis and Jabari developing, Monroe’s maneuvering in the post will shine even brighter.
AJ: Yes, Monroe and Parker are unlikely to ever be able to pair to make an effective defense. The organization should trade Monroe so the receiving team can get two playoffs with him, or make two playoff pushes at least. Next season his value will be minimized because he will only have one year left under contract, the Bucks will really struggle to find cap room to keep him long term if he gets anywhere near the max, but to be honest I’m not comfortable paying Monroe 20 million, much less 30 million. His offensive style is dated and not incredibly efficient, his rebounding rates well good are not elite (his current rebound rate ranks 13th among qualified centers). Think the Henson splits show that he can be just as good of a fit with the starters.
3.) What does Jabari need to do to take the next step towards becoming a star?
SZ: I honestly don’t know any more. Not hurt his knee a year ago? Get a personality transplant? I thought he would have a takeover mode, but he hasn’t shown that. It feels on some level like his heart isn’t in it, that he’s waiting until his next contract to contribute, but that could just be frustration. Jabari has not shown himself to be half the player Bucks fans were all hoping for. He’s mediocre and eminently replaceable.
GS: Again, add this to the list of topics that fans are freaking out over. People remember that he was picked as the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and that’s enough to expect him to post star caliber numbers. No, that’s not how any of this works. People forget that he tore his ACL last season. He was on track to win Rookie of the Year. He has played half a year right now. Add that up. What does that equal? Yes. One season. I quote the saint of Wisconsin, Aaron Rodgers, when I say my next line. R-E-L-A-X. Relax. Let Jabari find his game on his own. Quit complaining for the Bucks to trade him. I can’t even describe how idiotic that would be for the Bucks to do. No. Just no. So to answer the question, Jabari just needs to keep being himself to become a star. His scoring and explosiveness has been showcased numerous times. However, an addition of some defense and a three-point shot would be complimentary.
AJ: I think the most important thing for him is to get his confidence and his jumper back. He has been an elite shooter for most of his life and a jumper will open up the floor for him and his teammates. Friend of the site Mitchell Maurer wrote an amazing piece about the emotional aspects of ACL recovery that you can find Here. I don’t think he will turn that corner this year, but I am expecting a big jump next fall. I think if the guys on the floor around him have better jumpers it will be astonishing how much better his game looks, because his first step is explosive. He also needs to get to work on the boards, as a starting power forward, his rebounding rates are embarrassing.
4.) The trade deadline is fast approaching if I set the Over Under on Bucks trades at 1 are you taking the Over, Under, or Push and why?
SZ: The Bucks are a weird team around the deadline. We play with our cards close. Most rumors don’t come to fruition and when they do they’re totally different from expectations. Given our moves around the trade deadline have historically been the most damaging to the team’s future (yes, I will never forgive the Tobias Harris trade), I hope we don’t make a move. I expect a minor move, something involving Bayless or Mayo. maybe the Knicks make a play for Inglis, but this year doesn’t feel like the Bucks will shake the core. If the season ends badly, I could see a major move happening in the run up to the draft.
GS: The trade deadline is always an exhilarating time. We experienced it first hand last season as Bucks fans when the team dealt Knight out of thin air. This is a question that I’ve thought of many times this season. I’m going to say that when the trade line rolls around, Milwaukee will have made its mind up that playoff contention is out of the picture. That being said, I think they may make one trade, and that trade involves a fan favorite. No, not Giannis or Jabari. I’m not talking about the franchise players. If they get the right price, I think they will attempt to trade O.J. Mayo. My main reason for that belief is that Mayo has an expiring contract at the end of the year and I don’t think it would be ideal for the Bucks to spend the money to bring him back. Now, I love Juice. He has changed his character from when he first signed in Milwaukee as a pudgy, unproven veteran. However, he has molded his body into a charismatic teammate who is not afraid to stand up to the opponent. That was clearly shown when he confronted Draymond Green earlier this season. But is trading Mayo the correct move? Should Milwaukee bring him back? They would be losing one of their shooters but more importantly, one of the oldest guys on the team. However, I think the pros outweigh the cons on this one. I think Kidd will try to mold Rashad Vaughn into replacing Mayo in the rotation. Like Mayo, Vaughn has the ability to strike from deep and he is on a team friendly contract since he would be entering just his second season. The Bucks wouldn’t get much in return for Mayo, perhaps a draft pick. But considering that Milwaukee dealt away Zaza for nothing, a draft pick would do this team some good. Maybe Hammond can package in a Miles Plumlee or a Tyler Ennis to possibly sweeten the deal. The trade deadline will definitely keep me on my toes though. I learned my lesson. Don’t count out the Bucks’ front office on making a big splash.
AJ: I’ll take the over I think the Bucks make a major shakeup move. I think the owners are not happy with a season they expected to be fairly competitive, I think the more games they play it becomes increasingly obvious that this current rendition of the Bucks starting 5 is not the 5 of the future. They just clash in so many ways that I feel at most 3 of these players will be starting here in two years. I can totally see the Bucks standing pat and waiting for the summer, but I feel a shakeup coming within the next five months. Only guys I’d lock into the roster long term would be Giannis and Khris.
SZ: Giannis is the star. The whole NBA wants to see him take over. I just hope he figures out that he can. He’s Bowie in his folk period, before the birth of Ziggy Stardust. Giannis is showing more consistency, but I want to see him dominate the opposition every night. I want to see him crush dreams in that diamond smile. I don’t think that happens until the lid comes off the threes though.
GS: Giannis Antetokounmpo is something this team hasn’t had since Michael Redd: A franchise player. You see his jersey out on the streets of Milwaukee and at parties. Everyone loves him. Not only for his astounding jaw-dropping plays on the court, but his loveable off the court personality. He’s a kid. That being said, yes, I believe Giannis will become the star of the Bucks. The flashes he has shown foreshadow just how dominant he can be in the league. If he keeps working on his mid and long range shots as well, he’ll become even more lethal. Giannis is on a fast track to stardom, as I firmly believe he will be in the All-Star Game within three-to-five years.
AJ: I honestly think Giannis when its all said and done will be a top ten Buck of all time. I think next season his jumper will look even better and he will score over 18 points per game with great other parts of the box score to back up the robust scoring. I think next year will be his first all star game of many. I think he can be a perennial all star, his physical tool box is just unprecedented in NBA history.
Thanks for joining us and if you ever have future questions you’d like the round table to answer use the hashtag #CCCRoundtable on twitter.