Milwaukee Bucks: 2017 Offseason Outlook

December 18, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams (5) and center Greg Monroe (15) go after the basketball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Bucks 121-112. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
December 18, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams (5) and center Greg Monroe (15) go after the basketball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Bucks 121-112. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

With training camp underway and game action set to follow soon after, what will next offseason hold for the Milwaukee Bucks?

The Milwaukee Bucks have made deceptively large strides towards improvement during the recent summer, even though Khris Middleton’s hamstring injury may prevent these improvements from showing themselves in-game.

For what seems like the first time in a long time, the Bucks seem to know what works in terms of team success, and they have committed to this direction heavily through free agency, opting for specialized role players that better complement franchise centerpieces Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.

Now the Bucks enter the second and more results-driven, rather than process-driven, stage of their franchise trajectory. Personnel moves will take on a different shine and meaning to Bucks fans, as the front office focuses on adding smaller-role bench players instead of potential starters.

It may be early, but with the 2016-2017 season staring us in the face, we’re here to take a look at what next offseason will have in store for Milwaukee.

The first set of decisions the Bucks execs will have to make, and the only decisions they can truly make before the July 1st opening of free agency, will deal with their own assets – whether or not to re-sign outgoing free agents.

Last summer, the Bucks’ decisions were fairly easy to make – Miles Plumlee and Steve Novak were re-signed, while OJ Mayo, Jerryd Bayless, and Greivis Vasquez were allowed with little resistance to sign elsewhere, or in Mayo’s case, become suspended.

With the release of former second round picks Damien Inglis and Johnny O’Bryant III, the Bucks were able to bring in a crop of outsiders that by all accounts have made the team better.

The summer of 2017, at least in terms of incoming free agents, may be much less exciting for fans. The Bucks have five potential free agents next summer, and the decision they make on some key players will say much about where the front office believes the team stands going forward.

Greg Monroe has a player option at $17,784,176 for the 2017-2018 season, but even the large sum of money may not be enough to sway Moose into re-upping in Milwaukee. Trade rumors have been swirling around Monroe for months now, and with Miles Plumlee named the starter heading into training camp, it’s tough to imagine a scenario in which Moose would want to return to the Bucks, at least as it stands now.

The salary relief that would occur with Monroe’s contract gone only adds to the likely desire of management to see the center leave town. On the court, a Monroe exodus would clear up room for both Plumlee and John Henson, while off the court would give the center position increased financial clarity. Should Monroe opt out, it’s unlikely that a return to the Bucks would be desired or negotiated by either side.

Point guard Michael Carter-Williams will be a restricted free agent next summer, meaning the Bucks have the right to match any offer sheet given that they produce a one-year qualifying offer constituting $4,358,247.

It’s almost a certainty that MCW is set to make more than that figure on his next contract, as the former Rookie of the Year has talent and potential in abundance. However, coming off a disappointing season that has seen him get benched in favor of Matthew Dellavedova, this season will be an immensely important one for him.

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Steve Novak, Jason Terry, and the newly acquired Michael Beasley will all be unrestricted free agents following this season, and by realistic estimation, all will likely be let go.

Terry and Novak will be 40 and 34 respectively by the start of the 2017-2018 season, and by all accounts will be close to the end of their NBA-caliber abilities. Of the two, Novak is more likely to return, but only in the leadership-focused role he currently occupies.

Beasley is a more interesting case; he will be 28 come next summer and should have more basketball left in the tank. However, given his long and documented past of off-court issues, it remains unclear whether or not the potential production of Beasley outweighs his locker room presence.

This isn’t to say Beasley is a “bad” guy, but with a very young (and possibly malleable) roster, his character type may be undesirable in terms of leadership.

Once these fairly easy decisions are made, the Bucks will move on to other issues, including what to do with their own Jabari Parker. Much like Giannis this year, Parker will become eligible for an extension next summer, which would kick in for the 2018-2019 season.

Obviously there is still much time to go before this process will begin, but as long as Jabari keeps improving as he did last year, he should have no trouble meriting a max (or, as in the case of Giannis, near-max) extension.

There is absolutely no reason the Bucks’ front office shouldn’t want to extend Jabari, regardless of potential fit or financial concerns; as we’ve explained, the cap situation is certainly workable, and a player like the one Jabari could turn out to be is almost impossible to acquire in a small market such as Milwaukee.

Assuming the Parker extension is done (he can of course wait until the following summer to evaluate his options), the Bucks will then have their entire core set under contract for a minimum three or four seasons, a veritable lifetime in the ever-dynamic NBA.

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All of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton, Miles Plumlee, John Henson, and Matthew Dellavedova will be signed through 2020, and this does not even factor in a possible re-signing of Carter-Williams, who is a restricted free agent, or the impact of Rashad Vaughn, Malcolm Brogdon, or Thon Maker, all of whom the Bucks can control a minimum of three more years.

Of course, this means a large amount of money will be committed to at least the aforementioned six players, leaving little room for free agents. Luckily, no incoming free agent will be asked to contribute in a gigantic manner, and the Bucks don’t have to fill a wide range of roles. At this point, Antetokounmpo represents the team’s only legitimate option at the small forward, especially factoring in the likely exits of Novak and Beasley.

In filling this role, the front office would be smart to look at inexpensive options such as Thabo Sefelosha, PJ Tucker, or Alonzo Gee, all tenured veterans who can provide defense off the bench and leadership in the locker room.

Next: Extensions and Injuries Roundtable

Following the proverbial plugging of holes, the team’s offseason checklist will most likely be complete, and the roster set for the coming season. Largely due to Khris Middleton’s injury, this upcoming season has room for disappointment, but with next summer will come serious expectations from Bucks fans for the first time in many years.