NBA Free Agency 2011: 10 Free Agents the Milwaukee Bucks Should Target
Following a return to the playoffs after the 2009-2010 season, the Milwaukee Bucks looked to be one of the top teams in the East. Opposing teams were starting to "Fear the Deer," as the Bucks' crippling defense allowed them to upset top teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns throughout the regular season.
Bucks fans expected an improvement on the 2009-2010 season in the recent 2010-2011 campaign. However, they were disappointed. The Bucks failed to make the playoffs due to a great deal of injuries, along with frustrating inconsistency from core players like Brandon Jennings, John Salmons and Andrew Bogut.
Milwaukee's struggles last season were largely due to the lack of a consistent go-to scorer. Recognizing this, general manager John Hammond took the first step in improving his team's fortunes for next season by trading away John Salmons, Corey Maggette and the 10th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft (college superstar Jimmer Fredette) in exchange for Stephen Jackson, Beno Udrih, Shaun Livingston and the 19th pick in the draft (combo-forward Tobias Harris).
The Bucks now have a go-to scorer in Jackson, but there are still several areas to address. The Bucks are in need of a true backup center, depth on the wings and a new shooting guard.
And what better place to address these needs than in free agency (whenever it may be)?
Alonzo Gee, UFA
2010-2011 Stats: 5.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 0.7 APG in 20.0 MPG
The Bucks have some open space at the wing positions since Chris Douglas-Roberts is an unrestricted free-agent, and they recently traded away John Salmons and Corey Maggette in the deal that brought Stephen Jackson to Milwaukee.
Alonzo Gee, an athletic wing player heading into his third year in the league, could be a solid fit for the Bucks. Gee likely wouldn't be starter material for Milwaukee, but he is a high-energy defender who can shoot the ball and score in the paint.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UFA
2010-2011 Stats: 6.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 0.9 APG in 26.5 MPG
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute might just have the coolest name in the NBA, and his value extends beyond the back of his jersey.
Mbah a Moute is one of the most versatile defenders in the league, whose defensive focus and tenacity are reminiscent of Bruce Bowen. Mbah a Moute can defend both the perimeter and the post effectively, and although he is hardly a threat on offense, he has shown flashes of potential to be a solid offensive player. In an Eastern Conference where forwards like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Luol Deng wreak havoc upon their opponents' defenses, the Bucks need Mbah a Moute to help contain opposing superstars.
Mbah a Moute is a restricted free agent for the Bucks, and they should make it a top priority to hold onto him.
J.R. Smith, UFA
2010-2011 Stats: 12.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.2 APG in 24.9 MPG
The Bucks were awful offensively last season and could use a player like J.R. Smith to provide some scoring punch off the bench. Smith is known for his attitude problems and frequent skirmishes with the Nuggets' coaching staff, but his value as a scorer cannot be doubted.
Smith could pair with Beno Udrih to form one of the best bench backcourts in the league. As an unrestricted free agent, Smith would not be too difficult to acquire and would likely be enticed by the opportunity from the scoring-deficient Bucks.
This opportunity being the right to shoot—a lot.
Carl Landry, UFA
2010-2011 Stats: 11.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.4 BPG in 26.4 MPG
Carl Landry has expressed interest in playing in his hometown of Milwaukee and would be a great candidate to start, as he is one of the better post scorers in the league.
However, the Bucks already have a scoring power forward in Drew Gooden on the team, and Landry would come with a fairly high price tag.
The Bucks already have a number of talented power forwards on the roster, such as Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders, so it is unlikely they would target Landry unless he proves he can be their power forward of the future.
Michael Redd, UFA
2010-2011 Stats: 4.4 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 1.2 APG in 13.4 MPG
The Bucks will be in great shape heading into the new CBA, almost entirely due to the fact that Michael Redd's enormous contract will be coming off the books as he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Redd, who played in just 28 games the past two seasons due to knee injuries, is a mere shadow of the player he once was. A career 20.0 PPG scorer, Redd's current value is little more than a shooter off the bench.
However, Redd showed on the 2008 Olympics "Redeem Team" that he can still contribute without being a star, and his veteran presence and shooting ability would be more than welcome on the Bucks.
Milwaukee could likely sign him to a veteran minimum contract, as few teams will be willing to take a chance on a player coming off such serious knee injuries, especially at Redd's age.
Rodney Stuckey, RFA
2010-2011 Stats: 15.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 5.2 APG in 31.2 MPG
Brandon Jennings has a firm hold on the starting point guard position for the Bucks, and the newly-acquired Stephen Jackson is likely to occupy the starting small forward slot. However, with the recent departure of John Salmons, the Bucks are left without a definitive candidate to start at shooting guard.
Rodney Stuckey, who has spent the last few seasons playing point guard for the Detroit Pistons, could be the perfect replacement for Salmons.
Stuckey, a 6'5" combo-guard who could be called a poor man's Dwayne Wade, excels at slashing to the hoop, finishing in the paint and would provide the Bucks with yet another player capable of running the offense and finding the open man.
Stuckey is a poor three-point shooter, but Jennings and Jackson are both solid from three-point range, and he would give the Bucks some much needed athleticism and explosiveness on the wings.
Joel Przybilla, UFA
2010-2011 Stats: 1.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.4 BPG in 14.4 MPG
The Bucks could use a legitimate backup center to fill in for Andrew Bogut in case of an injury. They should target a big man who can defend the paint and pull down boards in limited minutes without demanding the basketball.
Sounds like the Bucks could use the Vanilla Gorilla.
Not only is the 7'1" Joel Przybilla one of the biggest players in the NBA, but he also has the best nickname in the league. What's not to like?
Arron Afflalo, RFA
2010-2011 Stats: 12.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.4 APG in 33.7 MPG
The Bucks were one of the best defensive teams in the league last season, but they were dead last offensively. Brandon Jennings was the leading scorer for the team, despite averaging just 16.2 PPG.
Although that is certainly a productive scoring output, the team clearly needed a go-to scorer.
Fortunately, the Bucks found one in Stephen Jackson. Now the focus should be finding players who can help the team put the ball in the basket without sacrificing any defense.
If you have read some of my other articles, it should be clear by now that I am a major fan of Arron Afflalo. The 6'5" shooting guard out UCLA is a lock-down defender, lethal three-point shooter and a guy who comes up big in the clutch. Afflalo is one of the most promising young guards in the league and the type of player any team could use.
Afflalo would be a superb fit as the starting shooting guard for the Bucks. On a team like the Bucks, he could easily average 15-16 PPG, and his defensive tenacity would allow him to fit right in.
Afflalo is a restricted free agent for the Nuggets and would be nearly impossible to pry away. But the Bucks will have some money to spend under the new CBA, and Afflalo would be worth every penny (err, million).
Wilson Chandler, RFA
2010-2011 Stats: 15.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.7 APG in 33.3 MPG
As a member of the Charlotte Bobcats, Stephen Jackson—naturally a small forward—played the shooting guard position due to the presence of All-Star Gerald Wallace. Jackson played well at the off-guard position, averaging 18.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 3.6 APG last season. And he very well could find himself in that position again if the Bucks brought in a small forward via free agency.
Why not Wilson Chandler?
Chandler had a break-out year last season as a member of the New York Knicks and later Denver Nuggets. Chandler drew comparisons to Carmelo Anthony due to his offensive versatility and size, and although he is not the scorer Carmelo is, Chandler is a superior defender—and the Bucks are all about defense.
Chandler would pair with Jackson to give the Bucks the biggest wing tandem in the league and would give the team another great scoring option while maintaining the defensive philosophy.
Like Afflalo, Chandler is a restricted free agent for the Nuggets and will be hard to snatch away. However, the Nuggets seem to view Danilo Gallinari as their starter for the future at small forward and could be willing to let Chandler go for a large enough offer.
David West, UFA
2010-2011 Stats: 18.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.3 APG in 35.0 MPG
Although Carl Landry may not be what the Bucks need right now, they should definitely be pursuing the player he backed up: David West.
West is one of the top power forwards in the league when healthy, and although he is currently recovering from a knee injury, reports say he will be ready to go by October. His career scoring average is 16.4 PPG, and he has arguably the best mid-range game of any power forward in the league (though Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge certainly would not agree).
West would be a major upgrade over Drew Gooden at the power forward position and would give Brandon Jennings a player to run the pick-and-pop with. With the help of Stephen Jackson, West could completely erase the Bucks' offensive struggles without sacrificing defense.
As one of the few free agents who could single-handedly catapult the Bucks back into the playoffs, West should be their No. 1 target come the free-agency period.