The Milwaukee Bucks have made numerous moves with the intention to boost their young, burgeoning core, but have they also indirectly improved the fit with the once-prized Greg Monroe?
After coming out of the gate at the start of free agency, the offseason for the Milwaukee Bucks has come to a complete standstill.
Of course, the Bucks aren’t alone in that aside from a few teams that are still filling out their roster or figuring out their long-term future, but all has gone quiet specifically on the Bucks front.
That doesn’t mean questions don’t remain for the Bucks though. Between the two remaining roster spots, the potential for a rookie extension for Giannis Antetokounmpo (as well as Michael Carter-Williams, in case you forgot) and the endlessly fascinating Steve Novak situation, there’s still plenty of room for the team to make key moves in the lead up to next season.
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However, by far the biggest question that currently hangs over the Bucks regards the big man they improbably snagged a little over a year ago.
Since the end of the regular season, the talk surrounding Greg Monroe has been rooted in trade rumors and it’s been well justified. Try as they might though, Monroe remains a fixture on the Bucks roster (much to the chagrin of many Bucks fans) despite the constant chatter saying that he’s very available, at least according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
Turns out the three-year, $50 million max deal the team and Monroe agreed to has become a deterrent for both parties since no one is willing to meet the Bucks’ suspected asking price for what might end up as an expiring contract (Monroe has a player option for the 2017-18 season), not to mention his curious fit in today’s NBA.
With the market for him looking like a Greg Monroe-sized tumbleweed rolling through a vast, empty desert, it’s increasingly looking like the Bucks don’t have much of a choice and will be forced to make it work with Monroe for a good portion, if not all of next season, barring some surprise development in trade talks.
With that said, have the Bucks made the right moves to help ease what’s so far been an inadequate fit with Monroe?
The primary objective of this offseason for the Bucks has been bringing in players that help address the long-standing weaknesses of the team. Ranging from shooters to two-way players, with one in particular that carries a lot of potential, the Bucks are targeting an identity in hopes to reclaim some of the momentum that was lost from last season.
While the moves they made this summer were primarily done with the team’s foundation in mind, it so happens that a lot of the positives or skills the Bucks newcomers bring to the table could be the right ingredients (on paper, mind you) to help make a Monroe fit much more palatable.
For all of his flaws, we all saw first hand how adept of an offensive player Monroe can be throughout the first few months of the season last year, yet Monroe’s effectiveness on the offensive end inevitably trailed off in the latter half of the year, in part due to Monroe’s role changing due to the experimentation made by Bucks head coach Jason Kidd.
Even at his best though, the issues with spacing, along with the defensive collapse, didn’t do any Bucks players any favors, much less Monroe and continued to be a problem for the Bucks after they found a formula for (what will hopefully be) future success as last season wound down.
With the additions and subtractions made by the Bucks this summer, there is a model for Monroe to make his mark, one that many of us hoped was possible after the dust settled shortly after Monroe signed with the team.
Not unlike Al Jefferson‘s role with the Charlotte Hornets last year, Monroe could be very effective as a second-unit force, one that the offense would primarily be ran through. Monroe’s clearly a skilled low post scorer, but his ability to pass either down low or on the elbows is a wrinkle that the Bucks were quick to use last year.
Now equipped with historically solid NBA three-point shooters like Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic, and a potential three-point marksman like rookie Malcolm Brogdon, the Bucks could have the right personnel to make a Monroe fit work offensively. That being said, like we saw last year with Rashad Vaughn, relying on rookies to instantly become effective knock-down shooters could be a recipe for disaster, but it’s nonetheless something to hope for with Brogdon next season.
Where Monroe’s presence could be very useful is on the Bucks’ newest swing for the fences pick, Thon Maker.
Albeit in Summer League, Maker was often used as power forward and did his best work playing alongside a bruising, Monroe-type big man. Yes, that may be reading too much into things (into Summer League of all things, too), but it may be no coincidence why the Bucks largely stuck with a pairing that they have the players to work with.
Likewise, Maker could be the long, rangy and athletic defender that could work well next to Monroe. Similar to putting expectations on Brogdon offensively, asking Maker to help clean inevitable defensive messes playing alongside Monroe is a very tall task, but with his endless motor and aggressive energy as a defender, it’s an experiment that’s at the very least worth checking out.
At this point, the Bucks are tasked with making the best out of a bad situation with Monroe. They’ll continue to make him available in trade talks and even if they don’t come to fruition, there’s no question both the Bucks and likely Monroe himself, no longer view this as a workable long-term partnership.
Regardless of how things have gone since adding Monroe a little over a year ago, the Bucks have forged ahead in establishing a new identity and long-term future that Monroe is just along for the ride as of now.
As long as he continues to be a member of the team though, it’s in the Bucks’ best interest to see if Monroe’s fit is somewhat salvageable. Considering the moves they made this offseason, there might be something there to work with.