If there is one constant for an NBA team that is rebuilding, it is change. Players from the previous era are on their way out the door while an entirely new generation arrives to remake the franchise and give it the shot in the arm that it needs to win.
This is the situation the Milwaukee Bucks find themselves in as they go into the new NBA season. In many ways, tanking the 2013-14 season so they could eventually land 19-year old Jabari Parker out of Duke was the easy part.
Now that they have their future All-Star, the Bucks have to build a team around him. And this means a solid focus on youth that will leave many of the old guard either playing for new teams or thinking about retirement.
Numerous names have been mentioned in trade rumors, which according to Sports World Report includes such Bucks mainstays as Larry Sanders, O.J. Mayo and Ersan Ilyasova. This isn’t unexpected and completely normal for a franchise that is rebuilding.
Which makes the signing of Jerryd Bayless last week a bit surprising.
If anyone knows about change, it’s Bayless. He is just 25 and the Bucks will be his sixth NBA team since being drafted at No. 11 in 2008. Last year, when he split the season between Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics, he averaged 9.3 points and two rebounds per game, which makes him a fairly ordinary guard in the NBA. Not great, not bad, but unremarkable.
Right now he is listed at third on the Bucks’ depth chart at shooting guard, behind 19-year old Greek sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo and Mayo, so it’s fairly obvious Bayless will be fighting for minutes.
So why sign a player like Bayless to a two-year deal worth $6 million when there is a good chance he is going to ride the bench a good portion of the time?
Again, for a team in a situation such as the Bucks, change right now is the only sure thing.
There is a good chance that Mayo will be dealt before the season begins if the Bucks can find someone who will take him. Carlos Delfino, 31 years old and still recovering from foot surgery he had in December, has yet to play a game for the Bucks since signing a three-year contract last summer. Which would mean that your starting shooting guard, while very good, has all of one year of playing at the professional level under his belt and no real backup to speak of.
Suddenly the signing of Bayless makes a heck of a lot of sense.
Bayless not only brings his seven years of NBA experience to a very young Bucks team, but of playing for a variety of different teams with different playing philosophies. He has watched and learned from a large number of coaches, including Lionel Hollins, Jay Triano and Brad Stevens, and the result is that Bayless knows his way around a basketball court.
It’s these type of intangible qualities that will be a huge plus to young players like Parker and Brandon Knight. It will help the Bucks’ backcourt develop in a more well-rounded unit that will be better prepared to take on the different defenses they will see over the course of an NBA season.
Even Bayless seems aware of why the Bucks may have brought him aboard, telling ESPN.com, “Even though I’m younger, I’ve been through a lot in this league and I’ll try to teach these guys the right way to do things.”
In many ways, the fact that Bayless can score off the bench and play both the 1 and the 2 for the Bucks is simply a side benefit. The most important thing is that he might be able to help this very young roster take their game to the next level.
Change is the only constant for a rebuilding franchise. Roster changes, style changes, even coaching changes. Having a player who has been there such as Jerryd Bayless can have nothing but a positive effect on this Bucks team going forward.