In what has become the theme of the summer for the Milwaukee Bucks, the team sat still while another productive free agent in Ian Clark signed with a different team.
Fans of the Milwaukee Bucks, like fans of any sports team anywhere, like it when the Bucks do stuff in the offseason. In the NBA more than any other league, the offseason has become a truly exciting time–stars switch teams, crazy trades get made, and anything can change at the drop of a hat.
While almost every other team has done something of note, even if it wasn’t a huge move, Milwaukee has been remarkably rigid. The Bucks have re-signed Tony Snell, drafted D.J. Wilson and Sterling Brown, and have yet to re-sign Michael Beasley or Jason Terry.
Pending the release of Gary Payton II, who’s contract is not guaranteed, the Bucks roster might be set for the coming season. Simply retaining Snell was a decent move in itself, but many of the teams who were better than Milwaukee was last season took steps to improve further.
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The Boston Celtics lost bench depth, but gained Gordon Hayward, plus a boatload of rookies. The Washington Wizards added a real bench. The Toronto Raptors re-upped their main pieces and added some great depth in C.J. Miles.
The Bucks, meanwhile, swapped out two pretty productive veterans for two rookies. That’s it thus far. That wouldn’t sting so bad, except some role players who would’ve fit perfectly in Milwaukee have been snatched up for incredibly low prices now that cap room has evaporated around the NBA.
Ian Clark is the latest such bargain, as the New Orleans Pelicans grabbed him for $1.6 million for next season. Clark is no world-beater, but he’s a career 36.4 percent three-point shooter who bagged 37.4 percent of his threes last year. On a minimum deal, he’s a really good value, and he’s been available for anybody to sign since July 1.
Milwaukee really could use another serviceable wing player or point guard, especially if Matthew Dellavedova is to play off-ball more this season. Tons of guys who fit the bill, and who could provide solid veteran presence, have been snatched up for pennies.
Tyreke Evans has lost some of his luster, but he went to the Memphis Grizzlies for a $3.3 million deal, which could end up looking fantastic in a few months. Justin Holiday inked a two-year, $9 million deal, one the Bucks definitely could have afforded if the team utilized their taxpayer mid-level exception.
Luc Mbah a Moute, a truly outstanding defensive forward, went for veteran minimum as well. Nick Young and Thabo Sefolosha both went for roughly $5 million per year. The Bucks had $5.19 million available with their exception, plus as many vet minimum deals as the team wished to sign.
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Omri Casspi went for pennies too, but as is the case with Swaggy P, the Warriors tend to get those discounts. Even discounting those two, though, there were plenty of productive, affordable role players to be had this summer.
Obviously Bucks ownership is hesitant to dive into luxury tax payments with a core that isn’t proven, but several teams were clearly fine with taking bad deals in exchange for some sort of asset. The Brooklyn Nets grabbed every crappy contract they could get their hands on. It’s hard to believe they wouldn’t have accepted John Henson or Mirza Teletovic if Milwaukee threw in a draft asset.
It’s never fun to give up a pick, but if things pan out with the Bucks anywhere where they should their first round picks will quickly become less valuable, especially considering the lack of open roster spots in Milwaukee. A protected 2018 or 2019 first in exchange for space to add a useful player might not be that bad of a deal.
Instead, the Bucks are seemingly stuck, looking for ways to get out of the luxury tax but losing opportunities to add talent with each passing day. Hopefully this core is good enough to compete at a high level this season, because once the Irving shoe drops there won’t be many moves left this summer.