How Milwaukee Bucks Can Fix Their Chemistry Problems Through Free Agency
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Whether it was Jim Boylan butting heads with Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis and Larry Sanders nearly coming to blows, it's safe to say that the Milwaukee Bucks had some chemistry issues throughout the 2012-13 season.
Now, with the free-agency period rapidly approaching, the Bucks can—and must—make moves to find personalities that not only fit with the existing players on the roster, but with new head coach Larry Drew as well.
First and foremost, the Bucks face a series of questions in regards to their roster as it currently stands.
Jennings, Ellis and J.J. Redick all potentially could play elsewhere next season, but it seems obvious that the team would like to retain at least one of the three.
ESPN's Marc Stein recently reported that the growing sentiment in terms of Milwaukee's situation is that they'd prefer to re-sign Ellis and let Jennings go elsewhere if another team makes him an offer:
And a free-agent rumble: There's a rising belief in exec circles that Bucks prefer to re-sign Monta Ellis over Brandon Jennings this summer— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 29, 2013
But would Ellis want to re-sign with the team after having a poor season and nearly getting into a fistfight with a teammate?
If they offer him enough money, it'll probably be hard for him to say no, especially because the demand for Ellis doesn't seem to be that high.
And if he is a member of the team next season, he and Sanders will have to squash whatever feud they had in order for the team to develop new and improved chemistry.
If the Bucks re-sign Jennings, the same general thought process applies.
He and Boylan had issues throughout the latter part of the season, which seemed to place a dark cloud over the entire team.
That can't happen if Jennings does return.
He'll have to get along with Coach Drew and buy into whatever system he might bring to the team next season.
But that goes for the entire team. A cohesive unit is what makes teams good, and in order for that to happen, everyone will need to be on the same page, willing to put in the same effort. No one can be left out of the equation.
In addition to their current talent meshing, the Bucks can make some moves via free agency that will help them get better and help the team chemistry.
From all indications, Allen seems to be the consummate team player and would fit in well with the Bucks.
Not only would bringing him in help improve team chemistry due to his unselfish play and lack of need for the ball on offense, but it would also immediately help an ailing defense.
Ellis—a fellow shooting guard—isn't a bad defender and typically plays the passing lanes well, but he's not the on-ball hound that Allen has become throughout his career.
Additionally, he's a nice contrast to both Ellis and Jennings.
While they both demand the ball on offense and sometimes slack off defensively, Allen takes what's given to him on the offensive end and earns his paycheck playing defense as indicated by his 4.1 defensive win shares this season for the Memphis Grizzles.
Bringing in someone with Allen's mindset and value on defensive would be nothing but a positive as the franchise continues to move forward.
If Jennings is offered more than the $4.5 million qualifying offer he has from the Bucks and the team decides not to match it, they'll be looking for a new point guard.
One option—that would also likely be affordable—would be Milwaukee native Devin Harris.
The 30-year-old veteran quietly had a decent season for the Atlanta Hawks, averaging 9.9 points, 2.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in 58 appearances.
Harris' best days might be behind him, but he could still see a resurgence, especially if he were to play for his hometown team.
Not to mention, he's familiar with the system Drew likes to run.
Even though it may not be exactly the same as it was in Atlanta, there will surely be similarities, and bringing in a player with prior knowledge of it would be of great value. Fellow teammates would certainly benefit from it.
Harris made $8.5 million this past season, but given his decreasing production, he will not be able to command that much on the market this summer.
The Bucks could sign Harris to a reasonable contract in the range of $4 to $5 million to make him their starting point guard. Then, in the draft, they could also pursue someone like Dennis Schroeder in order to further solidify that position in the future.
Signing Harris would most likely sit well with the local crowd, and he'd be a positive spirit on a roster that desperately needs it.
Losing Ellis might not be a bad thing considering Mayo will likely be seeking a new deal this summer.
Coming off of a season in which he averaged 15.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game while fitting in surprisingly well with the rest of the Dallas Mavericks squad, Mayo will certainly be worth more than the $4.2 million player option he has for 2013-14.
Just 25 years old, he's still young and his best years are likely ahead of him.
And unlike Ellis, Mayo would fit in well with Jennings should the Bucks choose to keep their star point guard.
Mayo plays well off the ball and scores with efficiency. This season, he shot 44.9 percent from the field and a career-high 40.7 percent from three-point land.
Those kind of numbers would be beneficial for a team that struggled to find consistent, efficient scoring from the shooting guard position.
Convincing Mayo to come to Milwaukee might be take a lot of effort, but the Bucks were a playoff team this past season, and with a few adjustments, there's no reason they can't be back there again next year.
In the end, chemistry and defense are the two main areas that the team must address over the summer.
It won't be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.
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