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Offseason Outlook: Milwaukee Bucks

Guaranteed Contracts


Non-Guaranteed Contracts

Free Agents (Cap Holds)

Draft Picks

  • 1st Round (12th overall, pending lottery; 0.7% chance at first overall pick)
  • 2nd Round (42nd overall)

Cap Outlook

  • Guaranteed Salary (including likely options): $45,781,925
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary, Cap Holds: $22,840,095
  • Total (not including draft picks): $68,622,020

Trading big for small is something most NBA teams try to avoid, but it's exactly what the Bucks did at this year's trade deadline, moving the injured Andrew Bogut to Golden State in a blockbuster deal for Monta Ellis. With Bogut sidelined for the year with a broken ankle, Ellis gave Milwaukee a chance to immediately contend for a playoff spot in the East.

Of course, that postseason bid fell short, and now the Bucks head into the summer with Ellis and Brandon Jennings in their backcourt and an uninspiring group of big men remaining under contract. If the Bucks hope to earn a playoff berth next season, a frontcourt comprised of Drew Gooden, Luc Mbah a Moute, Ekpe Udoh, Larry Sanders, and Jon Brockman isn't going to get it done. While some of those players are useful contributors or have long-term potential, none of them should receive more than 25 minutes per game next year if Milwaukee wants to make some noise in the East.

While trading either Ellis or Jennings for a big man may look like one solution for the Bucks' frontcourt needs, it's not something I expect the team to consider this offseason. I imagine the club wants to see its two backcourt scorers play together for more than the few weeks they had at the end of this season before deciding whether the combination does or doesn't work. Perhaps by February 2013, one or both of those players will become trade candidates, but the Bucks will give them every chance to succeed before considering a move.

The Bucks' best bets for adding a big or two are free agency and the draft. Milwaukee would do well to re-sign its own free agent power forward, Ersan Ilyasova, but the 25-year-old is coming off a breakout season, having set career highs in PPG (13.0), RPG (8.8), FG% (.493), 3PT% (.455), PER (20.5), and a handful of other categories. As an unrestricted free agent, the runner-up for Most Improved Player of the Year figures to draw plenty of interest, and may ultimately decide to sign elsewhere.

In that case, the Bucks would still have a good chunk of cap space to throw at other free agents. On the unrestricted market alone, forwards and centers like Kris Humphries, Chris Kaman, Spencer Hawes, Joel Przybilla, Marcus Camby, Antawn Jamison, and others could attract interest from Milwaukee. None of those players would be out of the Bucks' price range, and many of them would be excellent fits.

Even if Milwaukee can't recruit a major free agent, a deep draft class should provide the club an opportunity to add another young player to its front-line. In his latest mock draft, Chad Ford of has Jared Sullinger falling to the Bucks, and while I'm not sure the Ohio State product slips that far, power forward is the draft's deepest position — a number of intriguing options should be available if Milwaukee picks at #12.

The Bucks shook up the foundation of their franchise when they sent a potential All-Star center to Golden State in March, and now they'll have to replace the production that Bogut and perhaps Ilyasova would have provided. It's too early to say whether pairing of Jennings and Ellis is the Bucks' best plan of action going forward, but I expect the team to do everything it can this summer to try to make it work, by bringing in the frontcourt talent necessary to help complement its two scoring guards.

Storytellers Contracts and Sham Sports were used in the creation of this post.

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