Milwaukee Bucks Mailbag: Discussing this summer and next season

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 22: (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 22: (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks never cease to leave fans fascinated, in some sense of the word or another. That can lead to some pretty good mailbag questions.

Despite a quiet summer thus far for the Milwaukee Bucks in terms of actual roster moves, there is still no lack of questions to be asked about the team. While we will continue to ask and answer as many as we can here at Behind the Buck Pass, it’s always nice to open it up to Bucks Twitter and see if anybody there has questions.

That’s why I took some mailbag questions on Saturday morning/afternoon for this mailbag piece. To get included in future iterations of this, just keep your eyes on my own Twitter and the BTBP account.

Mike wasted no time in getting to an important question. Jon Horst is new to this whole general manager thing, and seemingly has avoided erring immediately after starting the job by not doing much of anything.

More from Bucks News

It could be said that not doing much of anything could be considering erring in itself, but making a really bad trade would probably be worse. Horst’s caution makes sense, it’s just boring and it won’t make Milwaukee any better for next season.

Salary cap hell certainly does play a role here as well. Aside from the bevy of affordable free agents the Bucks could’ve signed with a salary cap exception, there weren’t any other signings Milwaukee could make thanks to their bloated cap sheet.

Sitting idle was not made completely necessary by that cap sheet. The Brooklyn Nets were clearly willing to take on bad contracts, as seen by their trades for Allen Crabbe, Timofey Mozgov, and DeMarre Carroll.

Still, Brooklyn charged for taking on Mozgov and Carroll, and not wanting to get fleeced by Sean Marks is a reasonable attitude. So essentially, some combination of a new front office and a horrible cap situation combined to heave the Bucks in limbo at the moment.

This is a fun question. Most of Khris Middleton‘s easily observable basketball skills–shooting, defending, scoring–are pretty damn polished already.

BUT (you knew there’d be a but) there is a tweak I’d love to see Khris make. A better shot selection would benefit him greatly. Especially in the Toronto Raptors series last summer, Middleton took a lot of unwieldy shots that didn’t help the Bucks.

There’s nothing wrong with Middleton scoring in isolation from time to time, as bad as the Bucks tend to be at it, but it’s patently obvious at this point that threes and shots around the rim are the best looks a basketball player can get.

Some not-so-fun facts: the only Bucks in the rotation to take less shots (calculated as a percentage of their total shots taken) at the rim than Middleton were Mirza Teletovic and Jason Terry last season. The only Buck to take more long twos (between 16 feet from the rim and the three-point line) was Michael Beasley.

Khris took more long twos than shots at the rim. That’s horribly inefficient no matter how you slice it. Even as a pretty good long two shooter, Middleton made 43.1 percent of them compared to 64.3 percent of his shots around the rim.

Here’s some simple math. Middleton took 11.5 shots per game last year. If all of those shots were long twos, that’s 9.9 points per game. If they’re all around the rim, it’s 14.8 points per game. Nobody takes all of their shots from one area, but the increased efficiency of those around-the-rim shots is obvious. Khris needs to take more of those shots, and threes, while cutting out his long twos.

What an optimistic mailbag question asker you are, @BucksNation34! I like the odds of Teletovic bouncing back this season. I feel like he’s going to have a Greg Monroe-like arc as a Buck: one awful year followed by fans begrudgingly loving him later on because he adapts to the team better.

Figuring out D.J. Wilson‘s minutes will be interesting. The Bucks have already said they see Wilson as a guy who could play smaller, and barring Mirza becoming completely unplayable Wilson might see more minutes at the backup small forward spot than he will relieving Giannis Antetokounmpo at the four.

All of this will be thrown into flux when Jabari Parker returns, but early on Wilson might not get much burn. He’s got more high-level basketball experience than Thon Maker did when he was picked, but remember that Thon didn’t get real meaningful minutes until the Bucks were several months into the 2016-17 season.

So much for the positivity! The actual Harbinger of Doom for the Milwaukee Bucks right now is the unholy combination of contracts given to Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson, and Mirza Teletovic, combined with the upcoming need for Jabari to be re-signed or dumped, and then Khris’ player option for the 2019-20 NBA season.

With Giannis, Delly, Henson, and Tony Snell still on the books in the summer of 2019, Milwaukee will need to find a way to pay Middleton, while also dealing with whatever deals have been given to Malcolm Brogdon and Jabari, plus whoever else the team decides to sign in the meantime.

It won’t get easier from here for the Bucks to make offseason moves. They’ll likely be able to largely keep the band together, but it will only get more expensive, and it’s fairly obvious the team needs a talent upgrade to content.

Sooner or later, some move will have to be made to accommodate that talent need.

Get your tin foil hats on people, because it’s time for some conspiracy talk. As pointed out during the Bucks unveiling of their sick new practice facility, the team still has Jason Terry and Michael Beasley’s name on their nutritional equipment, and in other places including the locker room.

Could that just be because it was moved over without being updated yet? Maybe. Or maybe Milwaukee has been searching out salary dump trades this whole time and the team wishes to try to bring back both JET and Beas before the season starts.

One spot could be made at any time by waiving Gary Payton II, or by waiving and stretching Spencer Hawes (an action I am firmly opposed to taking, but an option nonetheless). JET and Beas could be added at any time through those cuts, but it would cost the Bucks tax dollars.

Or, a deal could somehow open up room, although the logistics of that are murky at best. In summary, we’ll have to wait and see, but it’s strange how silent things have been regarding Milwaukee’s two free agents thus far this summer.

Next: Delly and Thon's importance to Australian basketball

Thanks for the questions, everybody!