Milwaukee Bucks Have Invested Their Future Into Their Present

Mar 9, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Miles Plumlee (18) shoots over Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) during the fourth quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee won 114-108. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Miles Plumlee (18) shoots over Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) during the fourth quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee won 114-108. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks made a bold statement by giving Miles Plumlee such a lucrative deal–this core is here to stay.

If you’ve ever wanted to invest some capital into a Milwaukee Bucks jersey, now would be the time to do it.

Aside from the obvious reasons (this is the most promising young team Milwaukee has seen in decades, and those alternates are fresh as hell even if the Feds aren’t watching), there’s a somewhat less obvious reason to get one now.

The Milwaukee Bucks have just set their core for the next half-decade. With the exceptions of point guard and small forward, Milwaukee has locked in an entire depth chart for at least the next three seasons.

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Miles Plumlee’s large new contract was the inspiration for this piece, but it was only the latest in a series of moves Milwaukee has made to secure a real supporting cast.

Consider this–in 2018-19, seven Bucks will combine to make around $61.5 million. The kicker is that that huge figure does not include any of the money that will be getting paid to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker by then.

Even if you include very conservative contract estimates for those two–let’s say they’re getting $20 million each–the Bucks are up to $101.5 million in spent cap money on just nine players. The cap that year is currently projected to be $108 million.

Usually I’d get more into detail on these numbers, but with their maxes and the cap itself subject to changes by that point and a looming CBA revision potentially incoming it doesn’t make too much sense to get exact figures. Suffice to say, the Bucks have a group of players they’ll be relying on for the next several years.

No important players are being added for a fraction of $7 million in a $108 million cap, unless the Bucks are a monolithic reigning champion by then and can add veterans like David West and Zaza Pachulia on minimum deals.

Even if they snag someone like that, for the most part the team’s depth chart in a few years is going to be made up of the same players that it currently is.

Giannis, Jabari and Khris Middleton will be leading the Bucks, and a supporting cast of John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic, Plumlee, and Milwaukee’s three draft picks over the last two years will do their best to complement them.

Of course a trade could change that, but the Bucks like this unit. All of these players were either acquired or paid under the new ownership aside from Giannis (who will soon join the club when he gets his next deal done), making this the first Milwaukee Bucks roster to really represent the team’s new direction.

Milwaukee’s front office is all-in on this group, which isn’t a bad idea. It’s probably the best team the Bucks have had in a while, from top to bottom. The team will have a real chance to grow together, too.

Those seven Bucks under contract through 2018-19 will doubtlessly be joined by Antetokounmpo and Parker, making a nine-man unit that includes five starters plus a bench that will include: a back-up center, a reliable stretch-four, and whatever Thon Maker and Rashad Vaughn turn out to be.

Malcolm Brogdon will likely be around by then as well, although, like Maker, his contract his not been finalized quite yet. If he sticks around and proves himself that moves the number up to ten.

If Tyler Ennis re-signs for a modest enough figure after the 2017-18 season, 11 Bucks will be mainstays for the forseeable future–at least three years, barring any trades moving one or more of these players.

That’s important for a few reasons. Firstly, it breeds consistency, something most winning organizations have. Look how few major roster moves the San Antonio Spurs made before Tim Duncan got into his very late 30s. That team knew each other inside and out, and it translated into five NBA titles in two decades.

It’s also important because, assuming Ennis and Brogdon stay, the Bucks will have a complete depth chart already nearly nailed down. Barring a player regressing or facing injury problems, Milwaukee won’t need the money to add someone flashy and expensive.

With Dellavedova and Ennis at point guard, Middleton and Brogdon/Vaughn at shooting guard, Parker and Maker/Teletovic at power forward and Henson/Plumlee at center, Milwaukee is one small forward away from being two deep at every position.

Like the Spurs, though, Milwaukee’s depth means the franchise can move on from a player if they have to. Remember when San Antonio sent George Hill to the Indiana Pacers for the 15th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft?

Most teams wouldn’t–or couldn’t–move on from a talented player like George Hill for a draft pick. Most teams don’t have the cojones to make a deal like that. Most teams aren’t as smart as the Spurs, who snagged Kawhi Leonard with that 15th overall pick.

Less than three years later, San Antonio had won their fifth title, this one won in large part thanks to Kawhi, who walked away with Finals MVP honors. Having a set core doesn’t prevent a team from making moves–it makes it possible to gamble and miss without sinking the franchise.

If Milwaukee’s big three continues to progress, this team could be seriously good by that third year. The young Bucks won’t be quite as green, and the team will know how to play together.

Hopefully they’ll know how to win together by then as well. The blueprint is there for everyone to see–Milwaukee is invested in the group they have.

Based on flashes of talent all of these players have shown at one point or another, the Milwaukee Bucks stock is set to soar. The Bucks have smartly assembled the team they want to have in three years, right now.

Milwaukee won’t need to scramble to add a bench cog or a spot starter–they already have them under contract. If a piece doesn’t work out, the Bucks will have time to evaluate potential replacements and make a move to fix whatever’s wrong.

Keeping Giannis and Jabari is easy. It’ll be expensive, but neither wants to leave and Milwaukee can go over the cap to keep them. Assembling a team around them is equally important to the Bucks title run, and they’ve already done that.

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And since the Bucks have their core under contract, they can all be re-signed with Bird Rights when their contracts expire–all of those nine players will have at least three seasons played in Milwaukee when they become free agents.

The Bucks can keep this core as long as they want to. Nothing stops Milwaukee from spending over the cap and potentially into the luxury tax to keep this team together.

This is obviously a reach at this point, but this is the path that can turn a talented team into a dynasty. Having question marks instead of real players can be more exciting to fans–the lure of potentially bringing in an A+ free agent always gets people excited.

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But considering cap implications and a volatile market, having pieces already in place is the smarter bet. If everything goes right for these Milwaukee Bucks, we’ll be seeing this core stick together for more than three years.