Milwaukee Bucks: Days of free agency irrelevance could be at an end

MILWUAKEE, WI - MARCH 9: John Henson #31 of the Milwaukee Bucks blocks the shot of Enes Kanter #00 of the New York Knicks on March 9, 2018 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
MILWUAKEE, WI - MARCH 9: John Henson #31 of the Milwaukee Bucks blocks the shot of Enes Kanter #00 of the New York Knicks on March 9, 2018 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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The Milwaukee Bucks aren’t about to become a marquee free agent destination, but there’s plenty of reason to believe change is on the horizon.

It’s no secret that the Milwaukee Bucks have never managed to reel in one of the NBA’s truly big fish in free agency.

While there are a handful of franchises and cities that can be deemed to be destinations around the league, mostly due to climate, history, or even tax rates, the reality is the playing field is much more even for the rest of the NBA.

Still, in that conversation there are tiers, and a franchise’s placing in that group can prove decisive in whether a team has their pick of solid starters who may still have room to improve, or whether they’re caught playing a market filled merely with role players and bench pieces.

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The Bucks have shown glimpses of breaking through into the more desirable category of those two, most notably with the signing of Greg Monroe, but also with the recent addition of Brook Lopez.

Of course, in recent days the conversation surrounding Milwaukee’s free agency perception has been reignited due to comments made by Enes Kanter.

Prior to making a decision on his player option for the 2018-19 season, Kanter took to Twitter to post a deer emoji before quickly deleting without explanation.

Speaking to Royce Young of ESPN, Kanter put the tweet down to him having some fun, before going on to say:

"“You gotta mess with the media a little. Because I know I was not going to go to the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s the Milwaukee Bucks. Unless they give you good, good money, then go, but you don’t leave New York for Milwaukee.”"

Based on a long history of outspokenness, it’s fair to say Kanter’s comments can often be taken with a grain of salt, but the timing of this remark seemed particularly interesting as there’s plenty of reason to believe such a statement is no longer true for the Bucks.

Speaking about his decision to sign with the Bucks, Lopez talked about the thrill of getting a chance to play alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, but also how Milwaukee’s upward trajectory on the whole factored into his signing.

"“I just tried to evaluate all of the different options that I had. When I was looking at Milwaukee, they were just such a young, hungry team that’s right on the cusp. They have continued to improve every year and I think the sky is the limit for this team. I think we’re going to grow a lot together this year and become a very formidable team.”"

Entering the new season, the Bucks are coming off the back of pushing the best team in the conference to seven games in the playoffs, they boast the best player in the East folllowing the departure of LeBron James, and now have of significant new reasons which should bolster their appeal too.

The hiring of Mike Budenholzer and his staff shouldn’t just improve the Bucks and make them an appealing option for players in search of an opportunity to make runs deep into the playoffs, but also catch the attention of free agents hoping to build on their own skill-set.

Coach Bud and his assistants implemented a development program in their time in Atlanta that became widely referred to as Hawks University, and led to role players such as DeMarre Carroll, Kent Bazemore and Tim Hardaway Jr. rounding out their games and earning major pay days upon hitting the open market.

While coaching is essential to any player’s pursuit of improvement, the facilities that provide a platform for them to do so are equally significant. In that regard, over the past 12 months the Bucks have taken a jump from being among the league’s worst equipped to one of the very best.

The addition of the Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin Sport Science Center gave Milwaukee’s players a practice facility equipped with cutting edge technology and all of the tools required for them to perform at their best, and the completion of Fiserv Forum should only add to that.

If evidence of how important such amenities are to the players was needed, a video shared by the Bucks of Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton getting their first look at the facilities in the new arena certainly provided it.

Antetokounmpo, in particular, was teeming with enthusiasm, showing real excitement for what the future can bring the team in their new home.

So, although the Bucks don’t have the bright lights of New York or Los Angeles, or the climate and night life of Miami, or the tax incentives available in Texas; Milwaukee’s appeal should certainly be on the rise.

The Bucks can now offer a chance to play with one of the league’s best players, on a highly competitive team, in state of the art facilities, under a coach with a track record of developing and ensuring big pay days for his players.

The negative reputation Milwaukee has long held among free agents was well-deserved as it was earned over a long period of time, but in 2018 remarkably little of that old perception holds true for the Bucks.

dark. Next. Milwaukee Bucks: Is Giannis Antetokounmpo the MVP frontrunner?

That doesn’t mean the Bucks are about land a marquee free agent any time soon, but at a minimum, they’re moving in the right direction.