As the postseason rolls on, even playoff teams have begun to move forward after being eliminated. SN’s Sean Deveney has been looking at the state of those teams and how their offseasons will shape up. MORE: Best Bucks ever | MCW and the plan | Bucks' new logo, analyzed | 13 irreplaceable free agents
As the postseason rolls on, even playoff teams have begun to move forward after being eliminated. SN’s Sean Deveney has been looking at the state of those teams and how their offseasons will shape up.
MORE: Best Bucks ever | MCW and the plan | Bucks' new logo, analyzed | 13 irreplaceable free agents
The Bucks didn’t come into the year expecting to finish .500, and they certainly didn’t expect that kind of finish with the knowledge that rookie forward Jabari Parker, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, would play only 25 games because of a torn knee ligament. Or that their starting center, Larry Sanders, would beg out of basketball altogether and accept a buyout. Or that they’d trade their best player, Brandon Knight, at the trade deadline. But the fact that they still finished break-even is an indication of the quality of young talent the Bucks have collected, and the outstanding coaching job Jason Kidd did in reaching those young players.
As for the roster layout, it’s very favorable to the Bucks. They have four veterans lined up for next year, all with one year left on their contracts: O.J. Mayo ($8 million), Ersan Ilyasova ($7.9 million), Zaza Pachulia ($5.2 million) and Jerryd Bayless ($3 million). It’s also likely that Jared Dudley, who has a player option worth $4.2 million, will return. Should the Bucks look to make a deal, Ilyasova will draw the most interest, as he snapped out of a year-and-a-half long funk with a great second half of the season in which he shot 43.3 percent from the 3-point line.
Beyond that, the Bucks are laden with cap-friendly rookie contracts. Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose progress this year has all the markings of a breakout next season, are untouchables. Michael Carter-Williams, the prize in the Knight trade, is not going anywhere, either, as the Bucks envision a long-limbed, suffocating defensive duo with MCW and Antetokounmpo. The other youngsters—big man John Henson, big haircut Miles Plumlee and point guard Tyler Ennis—have trade value around the league, but the Bucks still don’t seem to know what Henson’s future with the team is going to be.
Khris Middleton enters the offseason in a pretty extraordinary position. He is exactly the kind hybrid forward teams love to see these days: consistent with the 3-point shot, athletic enough to defend small forwards and long enough to handle power forwards. Not bad for a second-round pick who was a throw-in piece in the Brandon Jennings trade and drew some mysterious DNP-Coach's Decisions as recently as November. Middleton is a restricted free agent, and the problem for the Bucks is that there is a lot more cap space out there this summer than there are players worthy of that space. It’s a player’s market.
One league executive told Sporting News that Middleton will draw an offer around — brace yourself — $15 million per year. “That’s what Chandler Parsons got, but this guy plays much better defense,” the executive said. Parsons was granted a three-year, $46 million deal by the Mavericks last season to ensure the Rockets didn't match. Now the Bucks have that dilemma, for a player who averaged 13.4 points a game this season but was their leading playoff scorer. All signs suggest they will match any deal he ge