UNDER CONTRACT: G Monta Ellis, F Ersan Ilyasova, G Beno Udrih, C Samuel Dalembert, F Drew Gooden, F Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, F Mike Dunleavy, F-C Ekpe Udoh, G Brandon Jennings, F-C Larry Sanders, F Tobias Harris, C Joel Przybilla, G Marquis Daniels
DRAFT PICKS: F John Henson, G Doron Lamb
FREE AGENTS: None
MOVES: The Bucks made an excellent draft-day trade, moving extra pieces Shaun Livingston, Jon Brockman and Jon Leuer to Houston for Samuel Dalembert and a swap of first-round picks. We are not high on Dalembert, but he has a non-guaranteed final year on his contract and fills a pressing need in the middle that has existed since the trade of Andrew Bogut, one that probably cost the Bucks a playoff spot. His presence will allow Milwaukee’s gaggle of power forwards to play more minutes at their natural position. The best of that bunch is undoubtedly Ersan Ilyasova, who after some initial haggling was re-signed to a five-year, $45 million contract, another good move because it is at market value given his ceiling. Ilyasova’s deal is not $9 million per season; it is $8 million annually with hard-to-reach bonuses, and the final year is not guaranteed. In a strange way, Ilyasova somewhat resembles Kevin Love in that he is one of the few players who is capable of draining five 3-pointers or grabbing 20 rebounds – even in the same game. Milwaukee also added Joel Przybilla on a one-year veteran’s minimum deal, giving the roster a second legitimate center. And with less than a month before training camp, the Bucks signed Marquis Daniels to a guaranteed veteran’s minimum deal.
TO-DO LIST: GM John Hammond has a lot of flexibility which he appears to be saving for next summer. In addition to Dalembert, both Beno Udrih ($7.8 million) and Mike Dunleavy ($3.75 million) are entering the final year of their contracts, making them attractive trade chips now or cap clearance creators later. With his own free agents, Hammond predictably allowed Kwame Brown leave for Philadelphia and has shown little interest in retaining Carlos Delfino, perhaps because they play the same positions as draft picks John Henson and Doron Lamb. Daniels can fill the scant time behind Monta Ellis, who usually is among the leaders in minutes played.
PROJECTION: Milwaukee will strongly benefit from a full training camp to incorporate Dalembert and Ellis and should be a contender for a playoff berth. The Eastern Conference appears to have at least one spot available due to Orlando’s rebuilding project, but that spot will be filled by Brooklyn. Have the Bucks done enough to overtake Atlanta? That is what they are facing.
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