NBA Roundtable

Bucks Decline Joe Alexander’s Option

In General NBA on November 1, 2009 at 9:00 am

Yahoo Sports reports

After drafting forward Joe Alexander with the eighth overall choice in the 2008 NBA draft, the Milwaukee Bucks will make him the highest pick ever to have his rookie contract option declined, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Friday.

For Milwaukee general manager John Hammond, the rejection of Alexander’s 2010-11 contract option is a sobering admission that his organization made a major misjudgment with the first pick of its regime. The Bucks have until Monday to pick up the $2.7 million option or allow Alexander to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Only two other players – Golden State’s Patrick O’Bryan(ninth pick, 2006) and the Los Angeles Clippers Yaroslav Korolev (12th pick, 2005) – have had their teams pass on their first contract options.

Good decision by the Bucks.

  • They’ll still have the option of re-signing Alexander next summer and in all likelihood they’ll be able to sign him to far less money. It’s hard to see Alexander getting more than the LLE next summer without showing substantial improvement, and he’s very likely to only get a minimum contract (so the $1-$2 million range is highly likely).

But should Joe Alexander show himself worthy of more money:

  • The Bucks are roundabout the $54 million mark for salaries for 2010/11. The Bucks could end up make some changes and getting that figure lower and be substantially below the salary cap line (giving them cap space to spend on Alexander if they wish too) … but if the Bucks stay at the salary cap line, or go above it, then they’d be left with the MLE to offer.
  • The Bucks have early Bird rights on Alexander … meaning they can offer him 175% of his previous salary with annual increases of up to 10.5%.
  • That would allow them to pay up to $5.8 million as a starting salary to Joe Alexander or they could use his early bird rights and offer him a starting salary of $4.52 million … should Joe Alexander come good and show himself worthy of a pay increase.

It looks highly unlikely that Alexander will be be offered more than the $2.7 million he was scheduled to earn so this is a good decision by the Bucks. So they should be able to hang onto their prospect if they want to, or cut him loose if they see no value in him, next summer.

Update: A few words from Bucks GM John Hammond on the decision

“It was a difficult decision not to pick up Joe Alexander’s option,” Hammond said. “Joe has missed valuable on-court development opportunities due to injury during the first two training camps, and this year he will miss almost the first three months of the season with his hamstring injury.

“We believe Joe can be a good NBA player, but his latest injury has hampered our ability to further assess his progress.”

Interesting to scroll through some of the comments below that article. Most of the responses are about wasted pick and there seems to be a growing resentment of Hammond’s job performance so far.

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  1. Dave, I have to disagree with you. This move shows to me that they do not intend keeping him at all. Otherwise why take the risk of letting him become an unrestricted free agent (just to save 1-1,5 mil?). Surely his Rookie salary of next year is not eqiuivalent to his contribution so far, but IMO it is fair regarding his potential.

  2. I haven’t watched him play enough in the NBA to make any judgements on this (has anyone seen him play enough?), but I have to say, he was a sleeper pick for me before he moved up to get drafted where he did. I figured it would take him a year or two, but I thought he’d be a better player. He still could be, but to be the highest pick NOT to have your option picked up is probably a record he did not want.

  3. Hey Guru,

    I’m not sure what it says about the Bucks’ intentions of keeping Alexander. I think it could go either way.

    The Clippers did the same thing with Korolev and then tried to sign him to a minimum contract … the thing is if you once saw talent in a player you are likely to still potential in him. And judging from what the Bucks were saying about Alexander before his injury they still do have some hopes for him.

    If the Bucks are able to sign Alexander to a minimum contract, then I think there’s a good chance (60-40 or better) that they try to hold onto him.

    Hey Tim W.,

    I didn’t see Alexander play in college but I was disappointed in what I saw after reading his scouting report. A friend of mine warned me about him after seeing Alexander play twice in college, and then blasted him again after seeing him in summer league … but I didn’t get to see Alexander play a few games until later on. I was very disappointed with what I saw.

    My impressions of Joe Alexander’s ability

    Alexander is a tweener stuck in between the small forward and power forward positions. He’s best at the four right now but long term you’d hope to see him make the transition to the three.

    Alexander cannot effectively guard his mark at either positions and consequently he has serious defensive problems (physical problems – lateral quickness issues at the three, undersized at the four). Offensively, his jump shot is poor and he struggles against the quickness that opposing small forwards have defensively. When he moves to the four he gets some a quickness advantage but he lacks the BBIQ to properly take advantage of it … too often settling for jump shots (which he’s bad at) when he should drive to the rim (good at) and look to finish or draw a foul (good at). He does have a decent post up game for a three (since he can jump right over the top of someone and get a good look at the rim) but it’s still not efficient enough to be a go-to option (similar to Joey Graham, a little less effective though). As a rebounder he’s about average for a small forward and very poor for a power forward. As a passer, he’s poor.

    There’s no above average skill level anywhere. He’s an inefficient and ineffective scorer at both spots. Alexander is a better scorer at the four spot though. He’s a liability defense. He’s a mediocre to very poor rebounder depending on his position. And he contributes very little with his passing.

    Joe Alexander is a very poor NBA player who isn’t good enough to crack a team’s rotation. He has a huge amount of development to go through just to be a serviceable 15-20 minute a night player.

    The good news is that he was tabbed as an incredibly hard worker and showed improvement each year whilst in College. So you have to feel there’s a good chance that he’ll improve over the next few years in the NBA.

    But after that improvement, what’s left? A lottery pick talent? Or a role player? And since scoring is his next best attribute, what type of a role player can he become? Huge question marks around Alexander’s future.

  4. Joe’s move to the NBA was premature. He should have stayed with Huggin’s another year to develope his skills. Money, I’m guessing, was the motivating factor.

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