In the 2+ years that I’ve been editor of Behind the Buck Pass, I’ve been blessed with great readers and talented fellow writers. Thank you for reading, thank you for interacting, and thank you for following me on Twitter. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I do hope that it continues. But I’m going to hand over the reins of this blog to a new editor and move over to contribute at Bucksketball in the near future.
It’s a crazy time to be a fan of the Bucks. The most efficient players from last season — save for Larry Sanders — are fleeing. They have only one guard under contract. There’s cap room looming, but Sanders will be a restricted free agent in 12 months, and the Bucks will likely go to extreme lengths to protect him.
That’s why it’s time for John Hammond to act responsibly.
Mike Dunleavy was headed out of town the moment he ripped the June page off his calendar. He made a swimming pool worth of cash on the contract he signed with Golden State years ago, and he clearly took the contender’s discount to play on a team with more wins and fewer headaches. J.J. Redick was unhappy and wanted out, too. The fact that both wanted to leave and did (while Hammond came away with two second-round picks for his efforts) really isn’t a terrible development, even if the Tobias Harris trade was.
Meanwhile, the price tags on Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are plummeting — Ellis’ because the price peaked when Bucks offered him a ridiculous extension about market price and Jennings’ because teams have better, more affordable point guard options and no one really wants him. If they go — or even if Jennings stays put on his qualifying option year — the Bucks will have lots of room to maneuver under the salary cap.
So as long-traumatized Bucks’ fans everywhere sit nervously awaiting the next big transaction, the key for Hammond isn’t keeping his ‘stars’ or acquiring talented free agents. The key isn’t tanking either, as few teams in the ‘one-and-done’ era have been built that way. The key is being reasonable in the moves that he does make — especially with regard to contract length.
Want J.R. Smith or Kyle Korver on the roster? Fine. (I can’t really defend wanting O.J. Mayo.) They are both reasonably good players who fit a current need on the roster. It isn’t easy to get free agents to Milwaukee. Overpay them for a two-year deal, but don’t go to three or four years. The salary cap wiggle room that exists now will be in shorter supply in 2014 if Sanders turns in another stalwart season.
As for Jennings and Ellis, the Bucks must sweat them out, waiting until the price drops sufficiently that their future contract(s) are assets and not liabilities. Otherwise, walk away.
As for me, I think I’ve been one of the more optimistic voices in the Bucks’ bloggo-verse over the years. A frontcourt core of Sanders, John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo still excites me. The promise of cap room helps too.
But I’m nervous. The current iteration of the team isn’t very good. There are gaping holes in the roster. I want the Bucks to be good, but the regular pitfalls of small-markets and long-term mediocrity abound.
In essence, I’m hungry and, with future-changing weaponry at his disposal, John Hammond is getting ready to prep dinner for me with a blast furnace. What’s going to be the feast? Should I expect to be eating a mouthful of burnt in the near future?
(And once more, thank you.)