The Milwaukee Bucks spent the first part of this week strengthening their perimeter play and focused their draft night on adding size to their front line.
Bucks GM John Hammond traded for Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts to give Brandon Jennings two extra weapons on offense. He then added Larry Sanders and Tiny Gallon at the power forward position to give the Bucks the size and muscle they were missing this past season.
Fellow draft pick Darington Hobson will be added to the mix of swingmen on the roster, while the Bucks other draft pick, Jerome Jordan, is rumored to be traded to the New York Knicks.
That's five puzzle pieces added to go along with cornerstones Jennings and Andrew Bogut. The Bucks, however, are expected to lose Luke Ridnour, John Salmons, Jerry Stackhouse, and Kurt Thomas once free agency begins July 1. Only Michael Redd, who will exercise his player option, will return to the Bucks next season instead of choosing the free agent route.
The Bucks will field one of the youngest but most versatile teams in the league next season. As they are currently constructed, they will remain very competitive in the Eastern Conference, but Hammond still needs to make additional moves to create a legitimate title contender in Milwaukee.
As it currently stands, the salary cap is expected to fall right around $56 million for the 2010-2011 season. After Salmons elects free agency, the Bucks will have just under $50 million committed to players for 2010, including Larry Sanders guaranteed first round contract.
Owner Herb Kohl has said on numerous occasions he will not allow the team to exceed the cap limit and pay any luxury tax. That gives Hammond $6 million—or the mid-level exception amount—to make additions to the team.
As the roster is currently constructed, the biggest needs for the team are a back-up point guard for Jennings, and a veteran power forward to mentor the draft picks and give Bogut some muscle protection down low.
The best move for the team would be to re-sign Luke Ridnour. Ridnour was a key member of the bench last season, and when he and Jennings were on the court at the same time, it was a nightmare match-up for other teams. He made $6.5 million last year, but would he sign for the same amount to stay a back-up in Milwaukee? He'll turn 30 in February, so he may consider it unless a team like the Knicks offer him more to run their team.
The Bucks could choose to re-sign Royal Ivey for less than $2 million and spend the rest on a power forward. Sanders is athletic and will help on the defensive end, but he won't offer much at all on the offensive end of the court. There will be several big men on the market this summer, and the Bucks turned themselves into an attractive destination this year with their play.
The most likely scenario will see Hammond trade for frontcourt help, and possibly try to resign Ridnour.
With the acquisitions of Maggette and Douglas-Roberts, Carlos Delfino is suddenly expendable. A trade to Minnesota for Kevin Love would work financially for both teams, and Love would give the Bucks the second big man they need. Ridnour could then potentially be wooed back to Milwaukee.
Although unpopular with the fan base, Michael Redd will be key to the Bucks' success in 2011. If Redd can come back and contribute in any way, Hammond will try to find a buyer for his services. Rumors have already circulated that the Dallas Mavericks may have interest in the oft-injured Redd.
Since being hired in April 2008, John Hammond has done an amazing job turning around the Bucks franchise. They went from laughing-stock of the league to one of the biggest surprises in only a few months. His shrewd trades have turned over the roster almost over night. Only one or two more moves are needed to turn the Bucks into one of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. Can he pull them off next month, or will he have to wait until the trading deadline in February?
To read more by Jesse Motiff, click here .