Tuesday, the Orlando Magic traded Serge Ibaka to the Toronto Raptors for a first-round draft pick and Terrence Ross.
Does that set the bar for the Milwaukee Bucks to trade center Greg Monroe? And, should the Bucks trade Monroe?
The Bucks are a game back of the 8th spot in the East. With Jabari gone, is it time to trade guys like Greg Monroe and head for the lottery?— 580 WKTY (@wkty) February 17, 2017
SPOILER ALERT: The answer to the latter question is most definitely, "Yes."
The short explanation is Monroe is gone this summer. The Bucks lost Jabari Parker for a year, and he might never come back. With him - and without Khris Middleton - Milwaukee was a game out of the eighth spot in the East.
There's little point in getting playoff experience with a team that's vastly incomplete. The Bucks should make a run at a stronger lottery pick instead.
Like Ibaka, Monroe will likely become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He has a one-year, $17.8 million player option that he will most likely decline, as the salary is going up and he's sure to lock in at least that much for multiple years to a variety of suitors. And none of those suitors should be the Bucks.
The Magic got a first-rounder from Toronto (Albeit not a great pick, but a pick nonetheless. Picks' salaries are cheap.) and a 26-year-old shooting guard locked up for 3 years, $31 million in Ross (which sounds like a lot until you realize Milwaukee willingly paid Matthew Dellavedova $38.4 million over 4 years).
This offseason may be the Bucks' last shot at locking up a big name free agent. Some may laugh at the notion of a free agent willingly coming to Milwaukee but it isn't a joke. A new arena is being built and the Bucks have, perhaps, the most talented trio (or duo, depending on Parker) of up-and-comers in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Parker.
It's Parker, of course, that throws a huge wrinkle into the Bucks' ascension to an elite team, having blown out his left ACL for the second time in three seasons.
Not only does that likely steer free agents away from Milwaukee - not knowing his future - but it also leaves the team with a decision on whether to re-sign him when he becomes a restricted free agent after next season.
If he returns in 12 months, as expected, he will have one month on the court before the trade deadline, if the Bucks were thinking about putting him on the block.
If not, Parker would have a 2-3 month rehearsal on whether or not he'll be worth a long-term, $20-plus million contract - much like Antetokounmpo received before this season (4 years, $100 million).
Right now, the Bucks are right at the salary cap, having spent all their free agent money on the aforementioned Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic (3 years, $31.5 million).
Heading into next season, Monroe and newly acquired Spencer Hawes ($6 million) both have player-options. Monroe will opt out. The 28-year-old Hawes will likely (hopefully) do the same.
SIDE NOTE: It's a minor miracle the Bucks traded Miles Plumlee and his 4-year, $50-million contract to the Hornets for Hawes and Roy Hibbert, who has an expiring contract. Now, if they could only work that same miracle with John Henson, whom they also re-signed last offseason to a 4-year, $48-million contract. Or Dellavedova. Or Teletovic. Or anyone else not named Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Malcolm Brodgon, Thon Maker (the last based moreso on salary).
So, the only free agent money the Bucks will have to spend for the foreseeable future will be whatever is leftover from the Monroe-Hawes departures this season.
Because, next season, Milwaukee will have to pay Parker or watch him walk for nothing. And, if he walks, they won't have a ton of money to spend on a big-time free agent and fill out the rest of the roster the way salaries have jumped.
There is a possibility Milwaukee could let Parker walk and have cap room to spend on a big name free agent, but that would mean doing nothing long-term this coming offseason (patchworking the roster with more names like Michael Beasley and Jason Terry for 1-year, $1-million deals). That isn't the worst thing, but it doesn't bode well for any great playoff run in the near future.
ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: It's really impossible to look two seasons from now and predict with any certainty how much money a team is going to have, based on salary caps rising and contracts, too.
Knowing the Bucks, however, and the hot-and-cold way they toy with #OwnTheFuture, they'll probably hand Beasley a 4-year, $20-million deal and that'll be the end of that hashtag campaign that seems to be on its fourth or fifth year now. Owning Beasley is definitely not how a team owns the future. But owning Beasley, would throw away the majority of their cap space.
I don't know how this turned into a bash Beasley column, but there it is. #BashBeasley. In fact, this column should be called "Time for the Bucks to trade Monroe and Beasley."
Anway, the 2017-18 free agent class isn't great, either, so this is kind of an awful time to have money to spend - as was last season, if you couldn't tell (Delly, Mirza).
- Some free agents aren't going anywhere: Kevin Durant, Steph Curry.
- Others aren't healthy enough: Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari, Tyreke Evans.
- Some are scary to think about corrupting the team: Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Rudy Gay
- More aren't consistent enough: Ibaka, Darren Collison, Brandon Jennings
- Others are restricted FAs and it'd be near impossible to get them: Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter
- And others, yet, are too old for long-term big money: Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap, Pau Gasol, Chirs Paul.
- Some players, however, would be perfect on a max deal in Milwaukee: Jrue Holiday, Gordon Hayward, Zaza Pachulia (Just kidding. Or am I?).