Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Must-Sign Summer

The first free agency of the Edens-Lasry era has begun, and there have been varying signs.

Acquiring Jason Kidd is a good sign.  He is a better coach than Larry Drew, and he has shown little tolerance for losing.

The lack of Bucks rumors since the free agency period opened is a bad sign.  The current roster has holes, and free agency is the best method available to fill them.

Improving the 2015 roster via trade is unlikely.  Juice Mayo, Big Ers and Larry "The Colonel" Sanders are players that the Bucks would like to trade, and at this time last year all three were considered valuable commodities.  Now they aren't.  Trading Juice, Ers or The Colonel would require the Bucks to give up an extra asset, not take one back.  Teams avoid players who dog it (Juice), jump shooters who miss two-thirds of their jump shots (Ers) and NORML spokesmen (The Colonel).

The Bucks aren't going to give up an asset to unload Juice, Ers or The Colonel.  They are going to start the season with these players and hope that some team with expectations has bad luck with injuries or chemistry.

Free agency could improve the team, but the new Bucks owners appear unwilling to spend money on players.  Lance Stephenson, Greg Monroe and Isaiah Thomas are three great players who would fit in the Bucks rotation.  None of the three will get more than the $15.3 million the Bucks have in salary cap space.

Edens and Lasry are clearly prioritizing the Bucks' short-term financial situation above the team.  Signing Stephenson, Monroe or Thomas would be a net loss for 2015.  The team drew about $500,000 per game at the gate in 2014, maybe less.  Giving a free agent $12 million for 2015 would require a $300,000 per home game increase to cover it.  That won't happen.  In year-to-year dollars and cents, acquiring a quality free agent isn't worth it.

Owners who have long term vision and who are committed to an NBA franchise avoid going year-to-year.  Edens and Lasry have shown long term vision in other businesses, but the NBA is unique.  It is a very public business and there is a lot of misguided conventional wisdom.  Hopefully Edens and Lasry will buck conventional wisdom and sign a great player this summer.

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