NBA Roundtable

Salmons and Free Agency

In General NBA on March 26, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Good article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on John Salmons’ strong play since joining the club — link.

One passage stuck out in particular:

Salmons is the tricky part. Of course, the Bucks want him back and almost certainly will have enough cap room to keep him. Without him, they probably won’t have a shooting guard next year. Michael Redd may never play again and, let’s face it, the Bucks have shown they are better without him.

The Bucks know Salmons will opt out of the $5.8 million he is scheduled to make next season, and why wouldn’t he?

With the Bulls, he was going to take the money and run because he was a reserve in Chicago. Who else (insert Larry Harris punch line here) was going to pay a sub almost $6 million? The Bulls knew he was coming back and were anxious to clear his salary.

But now that he’s starting, averaging almost 20 points a game and pushing what had been a forgotten team into the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, what’s he worth now?

Of course, Salmons wouldn’t tip his hand Thursday. That wouldn’t be in his best business interests. But when asked if he would consider re-upping with the Bucks, he said, “Oh, yeah. Definitely, definitely. Great team, great organization. I enjoy being here.”

The Bucks have until June 30 to work an extension with Salmons. After that, they could sign him like anyone else when the market determines his value. If it’s right around what he’s making now, the Bucks could hit that number. But because he’s 30, the Bucks must be mindful of any long-term deal that would cut into their massive cap space in 2011.

The Bucks need to be very careful about re-signing John Salmons.

Without knowing what type of numbers we’re talking about it’s hard to give a definitive answer but I expect Milwaukee will be better off not paying John Salmons. That they’ll find better value for their buck (couldn’t help it) by retaining as much of their cap space as possible for the summer of 2011.

I would be very worried about John Salmons’ ability to maintain his current form throughout the duration of his contract. He hasn’t shown that dependability, that consistency, at any point in his career. And if Milwaukee add more scorers in the future that will mean less touches and shot attempts for Salmons which has never had a positive impact on him before.

A drop in performance would also make a multi-year $6-7 million per annum contract very difficult to move on the trade market. So if the Bucks make a mistake, they would be stuck with it.

Overall, I think the potential downsides to a John Salmons extension will outweigh the possible benefits.

2011 Bucks

A core of Andrew Bogut + Brandon Jennings + max contract could be very effective. If that max contract player was an All-NBA type it would likely create a core strong enough to contend for a title. If not, the Bucks would likely need two All-Star caliber players instead of one max contract player in order to become a contender. That should be the working model for developing their team at this point in time.

And they could still have several key pieces in Ersan Ilyasova + Mbah a Moute + Carlos Delfino to build a high quality supporting cast around.

2011/12 Payroll

  • Andrew Bogut — $12 million
  • Jennings — $2.5 million
  • Charlie Bell — $4.1 million
  • Carlos Delfino — $3.5 million — partially guaranteed
  • Ersan Ilyasova — $2.5 million — partially guaranteed

A initial total of $24.6 million for five players. Combine that with two likely mid first round picks and the Bucks are up $28 million for seven players. Cap holds for empty roster spots take Milwaukee up to $30.3 million.

Milwaukee also have two other key role players — Luke Ridnour and Mbah a Moute — up for contracts along with John Salmons.

Assuming a cap of around $55 million, the Bucks would have $25 million in cap space. Enough for a max contract and 1-2 role players or two well paid All-Stars.

  1. I agree with this take on Salmons — the guy has simply NOT shown the ability to perform consistently for a winning team in a significant role.

    If the bucks put a scare into BOS/ATL or even win their first round series, assuming Salmons plays a large role in that endeavor, it will be VERY hard for them to play hard ball in negotiations. But, good organizations do what they gotta do… (See, e.g., how the Lakers handled Ariza last year, Turiaf the year before that, how ORL handled Turk, etc)

    It will be interesting to see what kind of money Ridnour and LRMAM want. I think LRMAM is a very valuable player who should be retained. Ridnour, I think, is more easily replaced, although he’s been quite a weapon in his current role. Thoughts?

  2. Hey Scott G,

    I agree, I’d look to sign Mbah a Moute to a long contract extension too. The Bucks will likely get a great bargain on that contract because young defensive stoppers are nearly always undervalued. He can be a key role player for a long time for Milwaukee. A good investment.

    I would reluctant to spend any money that stretches beyond 2011 once I’ve signed Mbah a Moute though. Ridnour or Salmons or an MLE signing. I think the Bucks are best off keeping their cap space because the core of their squad isn’t strong enough to become a contender in the future. They need more high quality talent and their best chance at acquiring that talent is through free agency (already a .500 team which limits draft possibilities and limited number of trade assets outside of their top two players). They don’t want a bunch of midlevel type contracts stopping them from getting that necessary third or possibly third + fourth stars.

    So, no, I wouldn’t sign Ridnour. I’m also dubious about Ridnour repeating his play from this season. This is by far his most efficient offensive season in his career — 57% true shooting percentage versus a previous career high of 50.9% + a 17 point per 36 minute average when his previous career high was 13.4 — so I’m concerned about Ridnour keeping up his level of play too. Plus, I don’t like the idea of paying a backup PG big money when Jennings’ role and minutes are only going to continue to grow.

    If the bucks put a scare into BOS/ATL or even win their first round series, assuming Salmons plays a large role in that endeavor, it will be VERY hard for them to play hard ball in negotiations.

    Yeah definitely, it’ll be a good chance to see what their GM is made of. An up and down track record in his first two seasons. Still don’t know what to think of the man.

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