Monday, May 13, 2013

A lot of moves make up Bucks ideal offseason, rebuild

Bucks Ideal Offseason and Rebuild

It's well documented that this is a crucial offseason for the Milwaukee Bucks franchise. A sub-.500 playoff berth, lifeless finish, discombobulated roster and struggling front office has the team in a vicious cycle of mediocrity.

The Bucks will have yet another mid-round draft pick. Although there is value to be found there, they won't have a shot at any stars. This is a league where you need stars.

There are some good pieces in place for the Bucks, but the argument to “tank” seems more appealing to the die-hard Herd who worry the cycle of mediocrity will only continue to rear its ugly head. But can the Bucks survive as a franchise in Milwaukee if they're irrelevant for two or three years?

They just might have to (Hopefully the BMOHBC lease to 2017 will encourage this).

With just seven of 15 players under guaranteed contracts next season and an open head coaching position, there is opportunity for the franchise to due a major overhaul.

A total rebuild means two things to me: 1) Get younger, and; 2) get pieces you can build around long term. I have come up with my ideal offseason plan for the Bucks to rebuild, but to maintain just enough hope and excitement (while still tanking) to keep the franchise in Milwaukee.

Step 1: Let them walk
Monta Ellis can opt out of his contract for next season, and rumors have suggested he will due so since he first came to Milwaukee in the Bogut trade. Brandon Jennings is a restricted free agent who's guard heavy draft class has set high salary standards (a la Steph Curry and Ty Lawson). Gustavo (Goose) Ayon also has a team option for next season. Despite conflicting reports, he seems to be alright with staying in Milwaukee.

Samuel Dalembert, JJ Redick, Mike Dunleavy, Joel Pryzbilla, and Marquis Daniels are all free agents. The only players I would bring back in this entire group is Dunleavy and possibly Daniels, for reasons to be explained later. Put simply, they'll be cheap and play a position that the Bucks will be weak at.

I could see some type of sign and trade deal with Jennings, which I would be OK with as well.

Step 2: Get Tyreke Evans

News around the league seems to suggest the Kings are keen on resigning their former ROY, but there may be some cap issues that forces a divorce. Evans is a restricted free agent, like Jennings. Perhaps a sign and trade might help them pry Evans out of Sacramento, but the best bet is to hope the Kings don't match an offer for Evans.

Evans is projected to make somewhere between $10 million and $12 million, so the Bucks will probably have to offer $12 million or higher to have a shot at snagging Evans.

Evans is a 6'6”, 220 lb. guard who has had more success at PG than SG. He is a poor shooter, but is quick, strong, and a great ball handler capable of creating for himself and teammates. He's just 23 years old and can be an integral piece the Bucks build with, but maybe not around. Evans does have potential to be the kind of dominant star you need, though, which gives the Bucks a little room for mistakes.

Step 3: Tyreke Evans and OJ Mayo
Where Evans struggles to score, Mayo succeeds. He has cut a nice niche for himself as a sixth man/scoring spark. The Bucks can offer him a starting spot.

Mayo is projected to make $5 million to $7 million this season, and with a number of suitors already interested he'll probably come on the high side.

Evans and Mayo combined are far more efficient offensively than Jennings and Ellis, and seem to be better in every other way. See the players advanced stats side-by-side here.

This article from B/R suggests Evans can be a premier distributor. The Bucks back court would also go from the smallest in the league to one of the biggest. To go with Evans' massive frame, Mayo is a solid 6'4", 210 lbs.

Evans and Mayo don't score like Jennings and Ellis do, but their Usage Rate is much lower. Per 36 minutes, they're only 2.8 points behind Jennings and Ellis, and they more than make up for that defensively and on the glass.

Lost in all these stats, the Bucks would simply be getting younger with these guards, and probably spending a little less money than they would have to in order to keep Jellis (see what I did there?).

Step 3: Make sure you lose a lot in 2013-2014
By now the roster is shaping up something like this:
PG: Evans (Ish Smith)
SG: Mayo
SF: ?
PF: Ilyasova (Henson, Udoh, Mbah a Moute, Gooden)
C: Sanders

We have definitely achieved goal number 1 (getting younger), but there are massive holes in the roster and we're still looking for the player to build around.

Andrew Wiggins might be the next LeBron James
That's OK!

If there was ever a year to be really bad, 2013-2014 is it. The 2014 draft class might be 20 deep with solid NBA contributors, and is stacked at the top with future household names like Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, and Jabari Parker. If the Bucks can manage a top five pick in this draft, they could find their centerpiece.

Draft smart
The Bucks don't need to draft to fill positions, especially if they want to tank. What's more important is that they find talented players. The only position I would avoid is PF, there is an overpopulation there already.

A guy like Glen Rice Jr. may be a good fit at SG to add some depth. Gorgui Dieng could be a good talent at C as well. Allow yourself to have a number of talented prospects to assimilate with whatever future star you find.

Filling out the roster
You still need to play in 2013-2014, so you'll have to field a team. I would work it this way:

*guaranteed salaries
*projected salaries

1Ersan Ilyasova790000025PF
2Drew Gooden668740031PF
3Luc Mbah a Moute458838426PF
4Ekpe Udoh446954825PF
5Larry Sanders305336824PF/C
6John Henson190536022PF
7Ish Smith91049124PG

8Tyreke Evans1100000023G
9OJ Mayo700000025SG
10Mike Dunleavy400000032SF
11Rookie 1150000020
12Rookie 265000020
13Randy Foye250000029G
14CJ Miles250000026SF
15Marquis Daniels100000032SF

Projected Salary59664551

The Bucks spent just over $60,000,000 last season, so the “Projected Salary” here could work.
The salaries of our two draft picks (Rookie 1 and Rookie 2) are based on last seasons rookie salaries.

Players 1-7 are under contract next season, so barring a trade or some other odd event they'll be on the roster. 10-15 are just players to populate the roster and fill out every position. Dunleavy is a great veteran and a good contributor for his price, and Daniels is dirt cheap. Keeping those guys around will help add some continuity to a team that will look drastically different.

Foye makes sense as a free agent signing here because he's cheap and he's a combo guard. There is little to no depth at the guard position, so he can help fill multiple roles for the time being. CJ Miles is young and has some ability, he's worth giving a shot and helps fill out the SF position.

Your thoughts?
I am no Advanced Stats expert or contract guru, so if I screwed something up, leave a comment! I've heard great ideas about moving Ersan to Washington for a higher pick. What are some ways this plan works, what are some ways it doesn't?

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The only major drop off with Evans and Mayo is the assists, but Evans' numbers were much better before he was moved to SG.

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