For all the hype and anticipation going into this offseason, I was expecting a whole lot more from the Milwaukee Bucks. Remember, this offseason was supposed to represent one of the biggest moments for the franchise going forward. Were the Bucks going to blow it up and rebuild, or were they going to add some top tier (not superstar) quality free agents to the roster and push for perhaps the fourth seed? I would have been fine with either direction, quite frankly.
But no, neither one was the case. Herb Kohl and his cronies have one goal in mind – being the mediocre eighth seed. So far, that goal for this offseason has been well accomplished.
This is ludicrous.
Granted, the offseason is not over, and we don’t know what will happen to Brandon Jennings. Before I go any more into the Jennings hoopla, let’s recap this offseason starting with the ever-important NBA Draft. There will be a letter grade for each acquisition.
First round pick: Giannis Adetokunbo My grade: D+
I hope I’m wrong about this kid. Unless John Hammond and Larry Drew were full of crap in the draft presser, they both seem very high about the Greek Freak. He has tremendous size for an 18 year old (6 foot 9, 196 pounds), and hopefully he’ll grow a little more once he hits his 20s. I’m big fan of his wingspan (7 foot 3), but outside of that, what makes the Greek Freak so special, and why did other teams in front of the Bucks pass on him? I had never heard of this kid long before the NBA Draft got underway!
In Greece’s second tier basketball league, Giannis averaged 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 steels, and 1.0 blocks per game; these numbers came over the course of 26 games. BIG DEAL. For the Greek Freak, I don’t find anything freakish in his stats. That’s not a “Poor-man’s Kevin Durnat” as everybody has been comparing him to. While Hammond and others say he’s a great passer and can play solid defense, that’s all fine and dandy. The competition he’s playing against in Greece is nowhere close to what the NBA or even the NBA Summer League has to offer! Oh and by the way, Giannis isn’t even playing in the Summer League this year!
I hope Hammond and Co. drafted a superstar. They make is sound like he's something very special. Hammond has done a very good job when it comes to the draft. If this kid is not a superstar, then the pick is a total bust.
Second round pick: Nate Wolters My grade: B+
You needed a shooter. You got one. While he doesn’t play any defense, Wolters had solid shooting numbers for South Dakota State. Last season, he averaged 22.3 points per game. Although his impressive shooting numbers weren’t against some of the best teams in the country, he’s seen better competition than the Greek Freak. Wolters should fill the void at some point to be a great go-to guy from off the bench.
Now, let’s look at the rest of the Bucks’ moves…
Bucks trade J.J. Redick, acquire two second round picks. My grade: D
Don’t tell me that it’s something rather nothing at all. The Bucks could have acquired Eric Bledsoe from the Clippers, and instead the Suns took him. Acquiring two second round picks is an insult. You mean tell me Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb, and Beno Udrih are worth two second rounders? Why couldn’t the Bucks acquire a first rounder from either team? This trade sucks. If you know anything about the NBA, second round picks mean almost nothing. Here's something positive...You still have Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith...yeah, about that...
Bucks trade Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, acquire two second round picks. My grade: F
This is a bone-headed, idiotic move. Despite his lackluster scoring around the rim, he’s one of your best defenders. Prince Luc has done an outstanding job holding his own against some of the NBA’s elite. Once again, the trade is an insult. Two second round picks are unacceptable. You basically gave him away to Sacramento for free. If you’re going to trade him, package him with Ersan Ilaysova and acquire a couple of first round picks or a top-tier shooting guard!
Also, who is going to be the starter at small forward next season? Literally, the Bucks have nobody to take the reins at the position. Carlos Delfino? Oh Boy, do I miss Tobias Harris…
Bucks sign O.J. Mayo. My grade: B-
It’s an OK move. I think he’s an upgrade at shooting guard over Monta Ellis. However, Ellis was better off at point guard anyway. Mayo is coming off one of his best seasons of his career. My question is can he take his game to the next level. If Brandon Jennings does not return, Mayo will be your number one scorer; that’s rather disconcerting. Last season, Mayo had a nice 45% field goal percentage, along with 40% from three point land. He averaged around 15 points per game for the Mavs, but don’t expect much from his defense. He’s a talented player, but nowhere close to superstar caliber. Like I said, it’s an upgrade at the position.
Bucks acquire Luke Ridnour for practically nothing. My grade: B
It’s nice to acquire a decent off-the-bench shooter. While I’ve always had an issue with bringing back former players, this individual move is fine. That’s all I have to say about it.
Bucks sign Zaza Puchilia My grade: B-
Another former player? Puchilia is an upgrade. He’s better than Samuel Dalembert. I expect him to be the back-up behind Larry Sanders. That’s the only reason why the Bucks signed him, correct? There’s no way in hell he’s going to be your everyday starter. Puchilia isn’t Al Jefferson. Puchilia does, however, bring you some veteran leadership into the lockerroom.
Bucks sign Carlos Delfino My grade: F
Wait a minute, is Herb Kohl and John Hammond seriously bringing the band back together? This is the third former Buck signed this offseason. Delfino has always been a streaky shooter. If he’s going to start at small forward, I’m going to lose my mind. He’s a downgrade from Mike Dunleavy. I’m not sure what the Bucks were thinking here. This signing is an epic fail.
Bucks amnesty Drew Gooden My grade: A+
YAAAAYYYYY!!!!! Bring out the champagne bottles! Drew Gooden is gone! This is the best move Kohl and Hammond have made this offseason.
Guess what’s even better? You didn’t have to trade Gooden for another player with a bad contract! This release is really “Good”en. In his tenure as GM for the Milwaukee Bucks, this was Hammond’s worse possible free agent signing. Cheerleaders, like Gooden, are nice on the bench, but they don’t get you NBA Titles (or playoff victories for that matter).
Well, well, well. Now all eyes are focused on Brandon Jennings. After reading numerous reports, Jennings does not want to be here, the Bucks may find themselves in a dreadful situation.
Hammond has said that the Bucks will match any offer sheet. That’s been a lie. The Bucks made a play for Jeff Teague and the Hawks surprisingly matched the offer. Now what? Well, you’re stuck with Brandon.
No NBA team has thrown an offer his way. If you're Jennings, take the $4.3 million tender, play 20 times better this coming season, and then look for the big $$$ next season. Jennings’ ego, however, is telling him something completely different. I don’t think Jennings is worth $8 million. His play is average at best. At this point, I hope he stays in Milwaukee where Nick Van Exel can groom his game. Van Exel claims he can relate to Brandon Jennings – that could be the type of influence Brandon needs going forward. At the age of 23, his potential to be a great scorer is still there, but he needs to act fast.
Like I said, if Jennings says ‘screw it’ and leaves Milwaukee, the Bucks are screwed as well. Then again, maybe not...
Here are three potential starting lineups come October.
C Larry Sanders
PF Ersan Ilaysova
SF Carlos Delfino
SG O.J. Mayo
PG Brandon Jennings
C Larry Sanders
PF Ersan Ilyasova
SF Carlos Delfino
SG O.J. Mayo
PG Luke Ridnour
C Zaza Puchilia
PF Larry Sanders
SF Ersan Ilysova
SG O.J. Mayo
PG Luke Ridnour/Brandon Jennings
(There’s no way John Henson will be able to start this season. Had the Bucks traded Ersan like I was calling for, Henson would be your everyday power forward.)
None of these three potential lineups look promising. Maybe it is a sign that Bucks are in fact tanking. If Luke Ridnour is the starting point guard, you know you’re going to be crappy. Otherwise, if Brandon leaves, you can choose between Nate Robinson, Beno Udrih, or Mo Williams to fill the void. They'll probably sign a fourth former Buck, Mo Williams, to be their starting point guard. Would it surprise any of you?
While the Bucks could be tanking with this roster, it’s also a sign that they’ll either just make or just miss the playoffs. No matter how you look at it, this offseason has been one giant disappointment. Herb Kohl may do everything in his power to keep this franchise in Milwaukee, but he’s clueless when it comes to putting a legitimate product on the floor. Individually, some of these moves are fine, but it doesn’t mark a clear-cut direction of where this team wants to go.
Unless some blockbuster move happens between now and October, this was not the offseason I was hoping for.
Overall offseason grade: D
Follow me on Twitter: @RadioJoeZenzola
Until next time, Milwaukee…
By the way, here's who remains from last season's team. Until a player signs elsewhere or we know for certain they're not coming back (like Drew Gooden), they will not have a black X over their face.