Milwaukee Bucks: Grades for Dragan Bender’s two-year, veteran minimum deal

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13: (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13: (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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MILWAUKEE, WI – JANUARY 22: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI – JANUARY 22: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /


Based on Bender’s production through the first three seasons of his career, and how his tenure with the Suns ended after the fourth year option on his rookie deal wasn’t picked up, it was always going to be very unlikely that he’d earn an NBA contract beyond a veteran minimum deal.

With that in mind, at its most basic level, this contract with the Bucks is fair value for both parties. In the Bucks’ case, perhaps there’s an argument that a more capable player could have been signed at the same rate, although at this point in free agency options that would live up to that billing as any form of virtual guarantees are undoubtedly few and far between.

A deeper dive into the player and the terms of the contract reveal that the value may be even better than it first appears for Milwaukee, though.

Firstly, if the Bucks don’t like what they see from Bender, or if he doesn’t show signs of development once they start to work with him, reports suggest they’ll have the freedom to move on and cut ties with very little difficulty.

According to Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, beneath the headline two-year duration of the Bucks’ agreement with Bender, the first year holds only a partial guarantee, while the second year of the contract is non-guaranteed.

Considering Bender opted to sign with the Bucks over taking a previously agreed offer from CSKA Moscow, it seems safe to assume that he at least has an assurance of making the team’s opening night roster. Still, when exactly the guarantee date for his first year is will remain a source of interest, as Milwaukee may have wanted to preserve the flexibility to open up a roster spot to address emerging needs or to enter the buyout market later in the season.

Either way, for the Bucks, that flexibility only makes the deal even more appealing. If Bender shows real ability and signs of development, Milwaukee will have picked up a very intriguing young player at a bargain price. If he continues to struggle at the NBA level, the Bucks can go in a different direction having paid a very low price to take a closer look at a player who could still unlock significant potential.