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Mentality: This might sounds stupid, but first off, I wouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge, and account for the fact that we are in Milwaukee, not New York or L.A., or even Portland for that matter (in other words accepting that no marquee free agent will ever consider signing with the Bucks unless the team is coming off a championship) without over compensating for this fact with bloated contracts to retain talent. Our best chances at acquiring talent will be through the draft and via trade, rather than free agent signings.
I want to hang on to Luke Richard Mbah a Moute for his versatility. Even if he isn’t ever going to light it up on the offensive end (6.7 PPG last year), his ability to defend, and even lock down multiple positions makes him a valuable asset. After watching him for three years at UCLA under Ben Howland, (where he was the first player since Bill Walton to start 3 consecutive final fours) I also feel confident that he has the motor and team-first mentality of a winner.
Jennings is a future star. He has shown flashes thus far, and while many have questioned his decision to spend a year playing professionally overseas (spurned Arizona Wildcat fans included) I believe he learned things that few other NBA players his age ever have a chance to within the AAU-High School-College-NBA system. He was forced to sit in favor of more experienced, and probably less talented, players in pressure situations time and time again, and this was something he signed up for! Despite having NBA all-star level talent, he took a path that included a year away from the bright lights and constant positive reinforcement that comes with being a top X high school then college basketball player in the United States. Since breaking into the league only after a noteworthy slide to #10 in the 2009 draft, Jennings has arguably increased his value more than any other player in his class and has made life for his teammates much more exciting (averaging 15.8 PPG & 5.3 APG thus far) while firmly planting himself in the mix of up and coming young point guards.
With no offense toward Jennings intended, given the unprecedented number of talented young point guards in the league in addition to the lack of real centers, my most important keeper is Andrew Bogut. After years of looking solid but tentative, he finally seemed to find his niche during the 2009-2010 season, before suffering a freak elbow injury that set him back significantly. Although I am always hesitant to shell out big bucks for a big with a history of injuries, I think Bogut is a relatively “safe” center to pay for long term. While I would push for him to take a small pay cut (beneath the max) on his next contract (under the pretense of providing room to resign player x, a necessary piece to a championship, of course) which I frankly think he would be as receptive to as any other player in the league. With the retiring of two one-name centers in Shaq and Yao, we are left only with a very limited number of skilled true centers. Quick, name the seven best centers in the league; Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum…Andrew Bogut? Joakim Noah, Emeka Okafor, Nene, Tyson Chandler. Bogut could be as high as second (if we are factoring in Bynum’s annual midseason vacation), and is almost definitely in the top five, once he is back to his peak. I’ll gamble on his health (I mean we’ll still have insurance, just in case, but you know…)
After watching Zach Randolph absolutely decimate opponents late last season and into the playoffs, I’m not opposed to building around a big with a mostly traditional post game. The fact that Bogut has exceptional hands doesn’t hurt either. Following the Memphis model (WOA! Didn’t expect to ever hear that, did you?), with a better point guard would certainly be one option…
Match any reasonable offer for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. If somehow under the new CBA there is a still a team willing and able to offer him an excessive amount of money, then we will let him walk and resign Chris Douglas-Roberts instead. While I don’t love his affinity of social media, I do appreciate his passion and I can’t help but like his passion. He would fill in well enough in a pinch, but again, bringing back Mbah a Moute is the preference.
In his introductory press conference Jackson seemed legitimately OK with being traded to Milwaukee, and if indeed he buys in, he could be an incredibly valuable piece.
While I trust that John Hammond has already done this, there is no way I can take anyone’s word, as the GM of a team with Stephen Jackson, the responsible thing to do is check in with him yourself.
I would call Stephen Jackson into a meeting and ask him if he wanted to play in Milwaukee.
“Straight talk, Stephen. There are suitors out there for you, but none from the top of either conference. We could turn you around for other assets, but we’d rather make a couple runs with you. While we know this team isn’t set up to be a favorite, we think we can make a real run, and if we can make the matchups work in our favor a la 2011 Grizzlies, we think we could have a real shot at a title. But none of that means shit if you don’t want to be here. Now, balls out, are you in, or out?”
If Steph says he is in, Jennings, Gooden (and toss in Mbah a Moute if we have resigned him) all burst into the room with champagne and begin to celebrate. That’s right, we’re celebrating Stephen Jackson buying in.
I’m placing a call to Michael Redd. Not his agent, not his house, but his personal line. If he chooses to answer my call, I would let him know that while we could not offer him more than the scum change (especially relative to his last contract), we would like to bring him back as our sixth man. For years he was endlessly criticized for underperforming after getting paid. Now would be his chance at vindication. While there would inevitably be offers from big name teams, he could spurn them and instead choose to show loyalty to the team that took in 43rd overall way back in the 2000 draft. While his value as a shooter would be significant, it would be his role as a veteran leader that I think the team could gain the most from.
If Jackson wants out, I’m going to respect that, and do my best to get value for him. Whatever you want to say about Otis Smith…he should be looking for a trade.
Stephen Jackson ($9,256,500) and Drew Gooden ($6,226,600, 4 years remaining)
J.J. Redick ($6,750,000, 2 years remaining), Brandon Bass ($4,250,000, 2 years remaining) and Chris Duhon ($3,250,000, 3 years remaining)
Redick needs a change of scenario, and I think he could return to decent form with more stable playing time, which he could certainly get in Milwaukee, especially with the departure of Jackson (and potentially Redd) in this scenario.
Meanwhile Brandon Bass showed significant improvement this past year, after disappearing during his first in Orlando. While he could potentially see more minutes there next year with the long overdue departure of Rashard Lewis’ body/contract, Ryan Anderson, who is more of a stretch 4, fits into the hole left by Lewis better than Bass. For the Bucks though, playing next to Bogut, Bass could truly find himself in the NBA for the first time.
Given that Hedo’s efficacy as an offensive player is pretty clearly behind us (plus Jason Richardson’s expiring contract), the Magic should be looking for someone to create with the ball on offense. Stephen Jackson could very well be that guy, and Drew Gooden is a serviceable backup, though he is no doubt more of a traditional power forward than Stan Van Gundy prefers.
Oh right, then there’s Duhon. He’s…an NBA player. That’s all I’ve got. I guess we could potentially move him again, or unload Beno Udrih with his arrival. Flip one for the best draft pick we can get, then see where we are at 25 games into the season.
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 Dejuan Blair at #37, Taj Gibson at #26, Ty Lawson at #18 or Darren Collison at #21 could all be argued with some credence. No ACL’s my ass…IF YOU ARE AN NBA SCOUT AND YOU ARE READING THIS AND YOU PASSED ON DEJAUN BLAIR – YOU ARE AN IDIOT.
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