After finishing an NBA worst 15-67 this past season, the Milwaukee Bucks need a new plan, and fast.
Trying to build on their playoff appearance last spring, the Bucks went out and spent free agent dollars on Zaza Pachulia and O.J. Mayo while trading for Brandon Knight. They also handed center Larry Sanders a four-year, $44 million extension.
What transpired was a season of disappointment and injuries with a few positives sprinkled in here and there.
Set to receive a top pick in the 2014 NBA draft and heading into the summer with roughly $20 million in cap room, here’s how Milwaukee can jump-start their rebuilding process.
Step 1: Draft one of the “Big 3″
The Bucks hold the best chance of winning the NBA draft lottery at 25 percent. Even if they land in the top three, it should still be considered a successful draft. They can’t fall lower than fourth, in any event.
From there, Milwaukee simply needs to select the best player available out of Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker. Parker represents the best offensive weapon out of the group, key for a Bucks team that finished the season 28th in scoring with just 95.5 points per game.
All three players have star potential and would immediately add five to 10 wins to the Bucks next season.
Step 2: Fire Sale
For every young, promising player on the Bucks roster, there’s an overpriced veteran stealing his minutes.
Regardless of what kind of compensation they get back, Milwaukee should be looking to part with a handful of players simply to trim salary and create more playing time for young guys.
O.J. Mayo should be the first to go. Milwaukee’s big offseason signing last year averaged just 11.7 points on 40.7 percent shooting from the field. He’s due $16 million over the next two years, and would be better suited as a sixth man off a contender’s bench.
Ersan Ilyasova is set to collect $15.8 million the following two seasons, and has battled injuries and inconsistent play the past few years. His minutes at power forward should be going to Henson instead.
Lastly, trading Larry Sanders now would be wise. While he’s still young and could turn out to be a fantastic defensive player, $44 million over the next four years is a lot of money for someone with such a big list of off-the-court issues. Perhaps a trade to the Denver Nuggets would be wise.
Step 3: Snag a Free Agent
While this is easier said then done, Milwaukee has the cap space to go after a big name.
I’m not talking a LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, but more like a Eric Bledsoe, Gordon Hayward or Greg Monroe. Signing one of these young stars to an offer sheet would force their respective teams to put up big money to match or risk losing them for nothing.
After it’s all said and done, the Bucks could come away with a new starting five of Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and John Henson with some cap space to boot.
The Bucks have nowhere to go but up, and would dramatically improve this summer by following a similar plan.
Tags: Milwaukee Bucks