Monday, August 25, 2014

The Untradeables

There has been quite a bit of talk about the Bucks trading Juice Mayo, Big Ers and Larry.  It ain't happening.  Those three players are untradeable and the Bucks might as well deal with it.  Here's why, along with some expectations on what can be done with each player.

OJ Mayo

Untradeable because... he was injured or out of shape last season.

Juice Mayo has two years totaling $16 million left on his contract.  If he was a free agent he probably wouldn't even get a guaranteed contract for the veteran's minimum of about $1 million.

The Internet narrative on Juice is that he is no longer worth $8 million/year because he showed up out of shape last season, clashed with the coaches, disliked Milwaukee and coasted through the season.  There is evidence to support this theory, but there is another possibility.  He might have gotten hurt early on in camp (or even before training camp, maybe?).  He might have felt betrayed when former coach Larry Drew decided that he needed to earn playing time over the likes of the Greek and Khris Middleton.  He might have made the reasonable request to be released or traded if the team was not going to keep him in the rotation.  He might have had that request denied, and decided that it wasn't worth risking further injury by playing hard through a minor ding.  And I might be a USC Trojan who always thinks the best of other Trojans.

Whatever happened last season did kill his value around the league to the point that the Bucks would have to give away a cheap, young asset (e.g. Brandon Knight or a future number one pick) if they were insistent on trading Mayo.  This Bucks' leadership is not interested in giving away young, low salaried players until they get Milwaukee taxpayers to hand them $200 million-or-so for a new arena, so O.J. stays.

Ersan Ilyasova

Untradeable because... he is too tradeable next season.

I feel bad for Big Ers.  He loved Herb Kohl and Herb Kohl loved him.  He helped the team win and he played hard when the team lost.  Yes, he never learned to shoot like a pro.  (Lack of consistency is his downfall.)  Yes, he only rebounded well when he wanted to.  And, yes, he never developed the kind of post game that would've helped him form a devastating Big combo with Drew Gooden after Bogut was traded.  But, still.  I feel bad.  The guy is in his 30's (don't believe that doctored birth certificate), has never had a deep playoff run and is stuck in a place that doesn't really want him any more for another season.

Here's the rub: Big Ers's contract becomes INCREDIBLY valuable in one year.  He has three seasons left on his deal, but only two are guaranteed.  That third season is VOIDABLE.  Voidable.  There may be no other word in the English language as sweet to owners and GMs as "voidable".

A voidable contract year means that whichever team has Big Ers at the end of the 2016 season (the season after this upcoming one) can keep his cap number (to make trades; to reach the salary floor; to trade for a trade exception) until July 1, 2016 and then void the last year of his contract.  Erick Dampier's contract had one of these in Dallas for the 2011 season.  And do you know what Dallas did with Erick Dampier's voidable year?  They traded it for Tyson Chandler (to the Bobcats, who used the voidable year to cut expenses BACK WHEN NBA TEAMS USED TO LOSE MONEY LIKE THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO) and won the NBA Championship over LOLLeBron in that 2011 season.  So, just substitute Dampier for Big Ers and Chandler for Amir Johnson and you could have the same scenario in 2016.  (Hopefully for the Bucks.  Probably for someone else.)

So, you're stuck, Ers.  Ride the pine, be a good soldier, and remember that the Kohl/Hammond biumvirate gave you an extra $6 million or so above market value on this contract because you were willing to accept that voidable year.

Larry Sanders

(That's not Larry.  That's Monta giving the look that we should give Larry.)

Untradeable because... where do I begin?

This f'n guy.

During the 2012 season Larry Sanders became my favorite Buck since Big Dog due to the following sequence of events:

1) Roy Hibbert is offered a max contract by the Portland Trailblazers.  (I laugh.)

2) The Pacers match Portland's offer. (My jaw drops.)

3) I tweet at Larry, telling him that if he just learns to protect the rim and dive on pick 'n rolls, he will get a max contract. (Sometimes I'm a mark.)

4) Larry starts the 2012 season ON FIRE.  He is Bill Russell without the hands. (Not saying I had anything to do with it, but it's a fun coincidence for me.)

At this point I actually bought a Larry Sanders swingman jersey.  I (almost) never wear jerseys.  And certainly not this version of the Bucks' jersey, which I think looks bad.

5) Larry signs his contract.

I'm sort of happy.  I am also sort of wondering why it was so pressing to sign Larry when, A) the outstanding guard Monta Ellis and the decent-or-better guard Brandon Jennings both were free agents and both clearly hated him, and B) HE HAD ANOTHER YEAR LEFT ON HIS ROOKIE DEAL.  (Grrrr!!!! Hammond!!)

6) Larry works on his post game.

Bad decision.  But you know, actually I'll give Larry a pass here.  Coach Larry and GM John are such incompetent boobs that they probably pushed Larry into developing a post game, which WAS TOTALLY UNNECESSARY, DOOMED TO FAILURE AND KILLED HIS CONFIDENCE ON BOTH ENDS OF THE COURT.

7) Meltdown.

You know the rest.  Crappy start followed by nightclub fight followed by lots of time off followed by more crappy play followed by an injury followed by a pot suspension followed by An Idiot's Blueprint For Advocating Marijuana Legalization followed by a fake return from a fake injury so that he wouldn't have to serve his suspension this season.

Ugh.  The guy just sucked.  And the worst part is, he may be done!  The Larry Sanders that I and much of the rest of the Internet loved in 2013 is probably gone.  He is an emotional man.  He needs confidence to play.  Can he ever regain that confidence knowing that he will never have a real offensive game?  Hopefully.  But who knows?  There are a heck of a lot more Tyrus Thomases out there than Tyson Chandlers.

So, we are stuck with Larry.  It's the same as OJ, actually.  He would barely get the league minimum on the open market.  The Bucks own him many multiples of the league minimum.  Therefore, he is a Buck until we decide to give up draft picks (or Brandon Knight) for free.


There is just one more thing: I STILL LIKE THESE GUYS.

(Look at how happy they can be.  All smiles.  Thumbs up from Juice and Big Ers.  The Colonel gesturing that "We're Number 1".)

I believe that coaching is key in the NBA.  (Duh.)  I believe that a great coach can get inferior talent to play as a team and win.  (Double duh.)  The Bucks did it with Don Nelson in the 80's.  The Suns did it with Jeff Hornacek in 2014.  The Bucks can do it with Jason Kidd now.

I think that Juice Mayo can be a solid 3-and-D guy.  I think that Big Ers can play hard inside for 20 minutes a game.  I think that J-Kidd can convince The Colonel that he's a dominant defensive presence waiting to happen.

I hope the Bucks keep these guys.  I hope that once they are surrounded with scoring (Jabari P.), shooting (Los Cabeza), interior toughness (Zaza) and leadership (Good Brandon?), they will thrive again.  We may have three untradeable contracts right now, but when the calendar turns I'm expecting that to become "veteran leadership" on a playoff contender.

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