The Milwaukee Bucks have created enough cap space with the Ersan Ilyasova trade to go after a big name free agent this offseason, or the option of a few good role players. The Bucks have been closely linked with Tyson Chandler and Brook Lopez, who both would fill a need for the Bucks, but the latter of the two, does not fit as well into the Buck’s system, as well as people think he would. The Milwaukee Bucks have a few holes that they need filled as they look to become contenders in the eastern conference. The most glaring of the holes is at center. John Henson is a good back-up big man, who possesses great shot blocking ability, but often gets beat by stronger big men, so maybe a role off the bench is better suited for him. This move would allow for the Bucks to go after a better overall center in free agency, and keep their defensive identity in the second unit. Another hole that the Bucks have is their depth at the guard positions. As of right now, the Bucks have Khris Middleton and OJ Mayo at the shooting guard, and Michael Carter-Williams and Tyler Ennis at point guard. Middleton will be getting a huge raise this offseason, as he hits restricted free agency, and Mayo is in the last year of his deal, so the Bucks could look to find his future replacement. Williams and Ennis are both good true point guards, but have inconsistent shooting. A back-up guard, with the ability to handle the ball and create some offense would really help their second unit and depth as a whole. The following players are players who the Milwaukee Bucks could go after this offseason. They are listed by position.
DeAndre Jordan would be a match made in heaven for the Milwaukee Bucks. Jordan is the elite rim protector and rebounder they desperately need. Michael Carter-Williams is no where near the level of Chris Paul, but even he could toss lobs to Jordan all day, so Jordan can retain his offensive identity. Jordan will turn 27 this summer, so he would still be another young asset for the Bucks. Imagine a defense of MCW, Middleton, Antetokounmpo, Parker, and Jordan. This defense would arguable compete for the best defense year in and year out. Although this pairing makes sense, and is good for both parties, Jordan will likely be staying in Los Angeles this summer. The Clippers offer two stars, one of the best coaches in basketball, and the chance to immediately compete for championships, where as Milwaukee is still a year or two away from competing for championships.
Could the Ilyasova trade to Detroit been in part to clear salary to sign away their big man? In all honesty I think a pursuit of Monroe will happen, but a signing of Monroe is doubtful in my mind. Monroe has expressed his interest in playing in New York, and with the New York Knicks selecting fourth in the lottery, most likely out of the contest for Okafor or Towns, Monroe would fill a huge need for them. The Knicks would also offer more money, maybe a max to Monroe, and I do not think the Bucks view Monroe as that type of player and will let him go to New York in pursuit of other players.
Rumors have appeared, as of 6/14/15 that Al Jefferson is going to opt in to his player option for next season. This is a huge blow to the free agent market. Numerous teams were setting up to give Jefferson a pitch. Jefferson is a talented big man that would have fit nicely in a lot of systems, but his reasoning to stay in Charlotte of unfinished business is acceptable. Jefferson will hit the market next offseason, and might come at a cheaper price, due to his age and durability issues.
The thought of Chandler in Milwaukee entices me. Chandler, not as elite as he once was guarding the rim, is still a good rim protector. Chandler is scheduled to turn 33 before this next season, so I would only want a two year deal max, preferably only a one year deal. Contract value wise, I would like to see Chandler around the $10 million mark, but I feel a deal around $12 million is what he will be looking for, and might get. For this reason, the Bucks might have to overspend for Chandler a bit. Chandler would provide veteran leadership to a young playoff team, who could use it. Chandler would also be given the opportunity to start, as he is a clear upgrade over John Henson.
One of the two main guys linked with Milwaukee. I like Brook Lopez and what he can offer a team, but I do not know how effective he would be in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is desperate for a low post offensive weapon, but with the return of Jabari Parker next season, who can bang down low, and create offense, will the offensive void down there be as prevalent? Lopez does not offer much for rim protection, or rebounding, and those two things are what Milwaukee desperately needs. Lopez, has been rumored to be expected to opt out of his last year in his deal, and mid-way through the season this was laughable, but several executives confidentially, have been saying he could earn more than his current deal with how successful he was after the All-Star break. If I am Milwaukee there is no reason to offer Lopez a max offer, as he is not worth that, and there is no reason to ruin your cap space in order to add a big name to your roster.
The next two guys are more role players, with the specific traits the Bucks are looking for. Koufos is a very underrated center in the league. He is stuck behind Marc Gasol in Memphis, which is not his fault, as Gasol is the best player for that team. Koufos had his name thrown around towards the trade deadline, with the Cavaliers and Celtics the two main teams interested in him. I still expect the Celtics to make a run at Koufos, but I would not be surprised to see the Bucks throw their hat into the ring, looking to fill their void of rim protector at a lesser price tag, and then look to add some depth at the guard spot. Koufos would not be a huge upgrade at center, but would do a better job guarding the rim than Henson, and although is offense is not as good as Henson, with Parker back next year, and Giannis’s continued development the scoring differential should be minimal at the five spot.
In my free agency article, I have Asik going back to the Central division and suiting up for the Milwaukee Bucks. Asik, has had problems ever since his departure from Chicago. In Houston, Asik could never cooperate with Howard, and in New Orleans he was not a good partner for Anthony Davis. Asik has always had the desire to start, and in Milwaukee, Asik would have that opportunity. Asik is good overall defender, with great rebounding skills, which is sorely needed in Milwaukee. Adding Asik, will also give the Bucks a much needed veteran playoff presence, who also has a physical mindset down low to compete with Chicago, Cleveland, and Washington. With an addition of Asik, the Bucks could then also go after guards for depth, cementing their team as, young, hungry, deep, and physical.
Power forward is less of a need, and more of a luxury potential signing for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks, with the return of Parker next season, do not have a huge need at the four, and these players are within the price range of Milwaukee’s budget and would give them an established player for their young talent to build around. Aldridge will be likely deciding between the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, and Portland Trailblazers this offseason. Aldridge has said that he would rather play in Dallas over San Antonio, but I think a meeting with Popovich could change that. With an addition of Aldridge, the Spurs would be one of the top teams in the west, if not the best. They would also have a future past Tim Duncan, with Aldridge and Leonard, and that is why I think he ends up in San Antonio. Aldridge has the option to go anywhere he wants, and as fast as Milwaukee is rising, talent wise, the city is not appealing to free agents, leaving them out of the running for stars, such as Aldridge.
Millsap is one of my favorite players. He is underrated, does everything well, and is a good leader. Even with all that being said, he is a stretch four, and Milwaukee already has that with Jabari Parker. Adding Millsap at the price tag he will cost would be hurting the team, as you would have to start both players, and have no rim protection. Millsap would have been a great addition two years ago, but now the Bucks will have to let him walk to another team.
Matthews has been getting a lot of rumors about going to the Chicago Bulls. As much as this makes sense for both sides, Chicago just does not have the cap space for this. Milwaukee has also been a rumored dark horse contender for Matthews, but with Khris Middleton about to get paid, potentially a max deal, adding Matthews would not make a lot of sense, since both players do about the same things. I think Matthews will end up staying in Portland, due to the fact the teams that have money, are either not interested in him, or are in worse shape than Portland, talent wise. Staying in Portland will allow for Matthews to gain more money, and stay on a competitive team.
Sixth man of the year. Could the Bucks have used a guard that could score off the bench instantly? Yes, we have OJ Mayo, but he can become so unreliable, and Williams can be just as unreliable, but he is the spark plug the Bucks need for the bench to take the next step. Williams helped Toronto become one of the deadliest offenses in the league this past season, although he did help make them one of the worst defenses as well. The difference between Toronto and Milwaukee is that Milwaukee has better defense wings and guards to mask Williams flaws on that end, and allow for him to thrive on the offensive side of the ball. Adding Williams would not be a huge price tag, and would allow for Milwaukee to target bigs like Asik and Koufos. If the deal for Williams is very low, they could even look to add a guy like Tyson Chandler. With all of those additions, Milwaukee could be looking at getting a top three seed in the east next season.
Every team out there is looking for more three point shooters. Milwaukee is no exception to this rule. Green would not be an expensive signing for the Bucks, and would allow for them to target other free agents, but they must convince him to come to Milwaukee, and be part of the rebuild, instead of going to the already established title contenders like San Antonio, Miami, or Memphis. If San Antonio achieves its goal of Aldridge, look for Green to end up in Memphis, as they need a wing that can consistently hit threes, something they have been looking for the past few seasons without much luck. If Milwaukee did up signing Green, he would help make their second unit potentially deadly if him and Mayo can consistently make their shots, leaving for their first unit to not have to shoulder as much work.
Milwaukee has interest in all of these players, but only a few actually have interest back. A dream scenario for Milwaukee would be to sign DeAndre Jordan, and then draft a shooting guard such as, R.J. Hunter or Devin Booker in the draft, but as stated before, Jordan is likely staying in Los Angeles. A realistic goal is getting Williams, Green, Koufos, Asik, or at least two of these players to help fill needs they have, and then take the best player available in the draft. As a Bucks fan, I hope that Milwaukee can draft Bobby Portis out of Arkansas, as a nice back-up stretch four to Jabari Parker. As stated in my scouting report of Bobby Portis, I think he has a pro comparison similar to Paul Millsap, and adding a guy like that in the middle of the first round for a fraction of the cost is without question a steal. No matter what happens, Milwaukee will be very active this offseason, as they look to accelerate their rebuild.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17