Milwaukee Bucks: Milwaukee’s focus should be on the future, and the now

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 22: Giannis Antetokounmpo
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 22: Giannis Antetokounmpo /

It’s not time to tank, but the Milwaukee Bucks have to think about the future when making moves.

The day before the Milwaukee Bucks reportedly took an NBA free agency meeting with Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls signed Justin Holiday to a two-year, $9 million deal. Holiday, who finally got a chance to play with the New York Knicks last season and did well, may have his best basketball in front of him despite being 28 years old.

Derrick Rose, who also happens to be 28 years old, does not have his best basketball in front of him. The former MVP has been through more than one scandal since those days, and now looks to reinvigorate his career after a disappointing season in almost all facets. He was also a Knick last season.

Chasing Rose instead of Holiday, who the Bucks could have definitely afforded at that price, shows a lack of foresight by the organization. Holiday is not a spring chicken, but bringing him in now could’ve given Milwaukee at least two years of affordable wing production, at worst a stop-gap to bringing in other players and at best leading to another affordable contract for a nice veteran player.

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Rose is not a good NBA player anymore. As Adam McGee noted, he should not share the floor with Giannis Antetokounmpo and thus should not start on the Bucks. His signing would be all flash, and no substance.

The Own The Future tagline of the Bucks may be dead now, but that doesn’t mean Milwaukee can simply disregard the future of the franchise. Instead of chasing potentially expensive veterans who are worth more in name recognition than they are on the floor, the Bucks should be trying to add productive pieces who can contribute and actually make sense with the team.

The entire focus of last summer, and the reason Milwaukee gave out so much money to Mirza Teletovic and Matthew Dellavedova, was to add shooters. Rose shot 21.7 percent from deep last season and is a sub-30 percent three-point shooter across his career.

The Knicks were better with Holiday on the floor than they were with Rose, despite his empty 18 points per game. He literally disappeared from New York and skipped a game without telling anybody associated with the Knicks, during a season he battled a rape charge in civil court.

How could that player be beneficial to the Milwaukee Bucks going forward? The Bucks no longer have time to mess around and waste another season. Giannis Antetokounmpo turns 23 in December. He’s entering his prime now, a prime that could last a long time.

Milwaukee has to worry about two things–being good now, to make Giannis happy, and having the flexibility and opportunity to be good later, to keep Giannis happy. Nothing matters more to this franchise than Giannis Antetokounmpo. Four years from now, pending a contract extension, Giannis will hit unrestricted free agency.

If the Bucks give up assets for players like Rose and become worse over that stretch, the possibility of Giannis leaving increases. It’s just that simple. He’s said all the right things about staying in Milwaukee forever, but truly great players do not want to be surrounded with mediocre casts.

Just look at the three NBA Kevins–Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and Kevin Garnett–all of whom left their team to head to a better one, where each of them won a ring.

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There’s no reason to panic just yet–Giannis isn’t leaving tomorrow, and the Bucks just reportedly met with Rose, they haven’t signed him. Still, the direction the team tends to often take–chasing flashy yet ineffective free agents like Rose and Dwyane Wade, selling draft picks, signing just about everybody to big money deals that don’t take long to look bad–is not a good one.

The Bucks have reason to be ecstatic about the future in Milwaukee. Giannis might be the league’s most untouchable player, and quality guys like Thon Maker, Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and Greg Monroe mean the Bucks should have a shot at a top-four seed in a weakened East this year.

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At the same time, there’s reason to be concerned as well, especially if Derrick Rose is suiting up as the Bucks starting point guard next season.