After a draft that saw the Milwaukee Bucks choose John Henson and Doron Lamb, plus a trade that brought in Samuel Dalembert and sent out Leuer, Brockman, and Livingston, the Bucks have 12 players who will most likely be under contract with them next year.
Given the NBA maximum of 15 roster spots, a ceiling they touched at times last season, this leaves them with at most three vacancies. Do they have remaining needs? If so, what are they? And do they have the cap space to maneuver around those deficiencies?
Below is a visual representation of the Bucks’ current manpower situation. Each player is represented by a vertical bar spanning the positions that he can reasonably fulfill. I left off a few far-flung possibilities — such as Monta at point guard or Luc at shooting guard — since they might work in small instances, but won’t carry over into any type of long-term rotation.
Where does this leave the Bucks? Even before attempting to re-sign Ersan Ilyasova to a free-agent contract, the Bucks power forwards to spare. Ersan brings a style unique from the rest, a true stretch-4 capable of making three-point shots on a regular basis. Is that uniqueness vital enough to necessitate a sizy free agent contract? Sanders, Henson, and Udoh are extremely similar players, albeit with various strengths and weaknesses. It will be very interesting to see how John Hammond handles this situation over the next few months.
Beyond that decision, the two possible positions where the Bucks are thin are at point guard and small forward. Monta could man the point in a pinch, perhaps Lamb, too, but will the Bucks attempt to nab a third point guard? And at small forward, if Dunleavy is the sixth man off the bench, then who starts? Mbah a Moute brings the defense, and Harris has the edge on offense. While the Bucks may be deep enough here, keep in mind that Luc and Mike were out simultaneously in January 2012. Dunleavy is older, and Mbah a Moute’s knee will be a question mark until he can string together a few good months unhindered by tendinitis.
One might also add that while the Bucks have many options at shooting guard, they are all rather small — more along the lines of a combo guard. I would be very surprised if Hammond did not add a swingman SG/SF-type player before the season. It might be Carlos Delfino. It might not be him, either.
|Luc Mbah a Moute||$4,794,192|
* Dalembert’s deal is a team option which they will be picking up.
** This number is 100% of the NBA rookie salary scale for the #14 pick in 2012-13. It could vary from 80% to 120% of this number.
*** As a second-round pick, Lamb does not require a cap hold. His salary won’t count against the cap until he signs his deal.
The salary cap is guaranteed to be at least $58.044 million – the figure used over the two previous seasons – but it will likely be higher based upon a percentage of Basketball-Related Income (BRI). So the Bucks have about $6 million to play with at the minimum. They will find out if they have more in the first ten days of July when the BRI figures are studied and agreed upon by the players and owners — a period that coincides with the start of free agency. John Hammond estimated the cap room at about ten million dollars when he make the rounds on the talk radio circuit following the Dalembert trade.
Let’s hope they use it wisely.