Why pending postseason contract negotiations with Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton won't make or break the Bucks.
I can’t think of how many times I’ve seen some variation of this sentence used while discussing the NBA on the Internet. A line of thinking exists that suggests players have value up to a certain point and, once you get to that threshold, their value declines, sometimes precipitously. This may very well be true, but I always struggle with this question when it comes to the Milwaukee Bucks.
As many have documented for years and years, free agents don’t necessarily like to play in Milwaukee and thus are believed to be less likely to sign with the Bucks. This means that the Bucks are often forced to overpay players in order for them to come to or stay in Milwaukee.
The Bucks certainly have two tough decisions to make this summer with the impending restricted free agency of Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton, but I’m not sure that those decisions will make or break the future of the franchise.
Correctly handling your limited number of max contracts is the only thing that matters in this current version of the NBA. Handing out a max contract to the wrong player can sink any chances you may have of being/becoming a contender, and neither Knight nor Middleton are max players.
Overpaying for an above-average role player like Middleton? That won’t make a huge difference. If for some reason Middleton doesn’t work out in Milwaukee, his contract will be movable. With shorter contract lengths and a higher salary cap, mid-level contracts have never been easier to trade.
Knight’s contract, however, should be quite a bit larger. Knight profiles as better than a role player, but probably never a superstar. He is almost certain to get more than $10 million annually and could get to just a few million below a full-blown max. Signing Knight to a contract that pays him around $13 million annually could make roster construction a bit more difficult next season, but a large increase in the salary cap in the coming years could make $13 million look a lot less frightening in the not-too-distant future.
The Bucks will have some tough decisions to make this summer, but they may not be as important as you think in this version of the NBA.
What to Read
Sanders wants to return, says…somebody – Dan Sinclair of Brew Hoop points out that this “new” Sanders news is no different than any of the other news we’ve heard about this situation thus far and suggests that the opinions and statements of others don’t much matter until we hear something from Sanders himself.
John Henson and Zaza Pachulia are carrying the Bucks – At the end of last week, Dakota Schmidt wrote an interesting piece taking a look at the recent effectiveness of both Pachulia and Henson amid recent absences of Bucks frontcourt players.
Joe Alexander blasts the Milwaukee Bucks, explains overseas move – Former Milwaukee Buck and No. 8 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft Joe Alexander sat down with Basketball Insiders’ David Pick to discuss his NBA career. Alexander explains that the Bucks “contributed heavily” to his failures as an NBA player and spends little time explaining what he could have done better in Milwaukee, ultimately deciding that the NBA has a “labeling” problem for clean-cut guys.
Clip of the Week
This week’s clip showcases the recent confidence John Henson has been playing with as he throws this hook shot attempt from Kyle Lowry out of bounds. Henson has been great for the Bucks in the last few weeks and this is the kind of stuff fans have started to see more often from Henson.
Week in Review
Monday – The Bucks went toe-to-toe with one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams, but just didn’t have enough to beat the Toronto Raptors down the stretch, losing 92-89. Brandon Knight led the way for the Bucks with 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
Next Week’s Preview
Thursday – After a light schedule in the last few weeks, the Bucks will get back to the NBA grind when they welcome the Utah Jazz to Milwaukee. The Jazz still find themselves near the bottom of the Western Conference despite a great season from Gordon Heyward and a breakout year from Rudy Gobert.
Saturday – The league’s best point guard in the last two weeks, Brandon Jennings, and the….wait…what? Yes, the Bucks will have their hands full as former Milwaukee Buck Brandon Jennings and the Detroit Pistons have been red-hot as of late winning 12 of their last 15 games.
Sunday – After three games at home, the Bucks face a tough back-to-back in San Antonio against the Spurs, who have won their last four games.
Tuesday – The Miami Heat will try to make up some ground on the Bucks in South Beach as they currently trail Milwaukee by 3.5 games for the Eastern Conference’s sixth seed.
Stats of the Week
42.3 – Despite putting up good numbers otherwise, O.J. Mayo really struggled from the three point line to start the season, shooting just 30.6 percent from the three point line in the Bucks’ first 29 games. In the 12 games since Christmas, Mayo found his stroke and shot 42.3 percent from deep. (via NBA Stats)
47.1 – Among players who have scored at least 50 points via catch and shoot opportunities, Zaza Pachulia is shooting the 19th best percentage in the league, 47.1 percent. (via NBA Stats)
18 – Brandon Knight has taken 18 shots in clutch situations, which are defined as the final five minutes of a game in which the deficit/lead is five points or less. This is the eighth highest number of such attempts in the league and Knight has made seven of them. (via NBA Stats)
Quick Bucks is Milwaukee Magazine‘s weekly roundup of all things Milwaukee Bucks written by Eric Nehm. You can yell at Eric or calmly explain to him how Giannis will win the Slam Dunk Contest on Twitter @eric_nehm. See the last Quick Bucks here.