Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Milwaukee Bucks (Last Year: 15-67)
2013-14 Season Summary:
It is pretty amazing that even though the Philadelphia 76ers went on a 26-game losing streak, the Milwaukee Bucks still finished with the worst record in the NBA. That's some mighty impressive tanking. With the franchise being sold for a cool $550 million, the new ownership group has their work cut out for them in trying to once again make Milwaukee a relevant NBA team. Having the second-overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft should certainly help the Bucks' cause.
2014-15 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Zaza Pachulia/Larry Sanders/Miroslav Raduljca
PF: Ersan Ilyasova/John Henson
SF: Khris Middleton/Giannis Antetokounmpo/Carlos Delfino/*Chris Wright
SG: O.J. Mayo
PG: Brandon Knight/Nate Wolters
NBA Free Agents:
PG-Ramon Sessions (UFA)
PF-Ekpe Udoh (UFA)
PF-Jeff Adrien (UFA)
*SF-Chris Wright (TO)
2014-15 Team Salary: Approximately $43.9 million
NBA Offseason Team Needs:
1. Franchise Player:
Even with as solid a season as Brandon Knight had, he is by no means a franchise player. Giannis Antetokounmpo showed flashes during his rookie year, but he is still a few years away from reaching his potential. Other than that, the Bucks are sorely needing a face of the franchise.
Since no marquee free agent will want to come to Milwaukee this offseason, the Bucks will rely on the 2014 NBA Draft to hopefully fill this void. With the second-overall pick, Milwaukee will land a potential star in the making whether it is Duke's Jabari Parker, or Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid of Kansas. The team needs a new shot of life and landing one of those three guys would provide some optimism moving forward.
2. Shooting Guard:
Injuries and tanking played a big part in the Bucks finishing 28th in the league in scoring. So did the lack of scoring on the wing. Milwaukee signed O.J. Mayo last summer to plug that hole, but he had the worst season of his NBA career and found himself in the doghouse for much of the season, while Carlos Delfino missed the entire year due to injury. With approximately $20 million in cap space this offseason, the Bucks should focus on finding a running mate for Knight who can help the team become more dangerous on the offensive end.
3. Get Sanders Right:
After receiving a 4-year, $44-million extension last summer, Larry Sanders thanked the Bucks by getting himself into some impressive off-the-court trouble. First, there was a fight at a Milwaukee night club in which Sanders injured his thumb and was forced to miss nearly two months of the season. That was just the tip of the iceberg. As the season progressed, Sanders was also cited for animal cruelty, got into a dispute with former teammate Gary Neal, suffered a season-ending fractured orbital and tested positive for marijuana use. Think the Bucks immediately regret their decision to sign Sanders to a lengthy, expensive extension?
Milwaukee is stuck with Sanders. He carries practically zero trade value, and no team would entertain the thought of acquiring him after this past season when he is still owed all that guaranteed money. Sanders needs to return to his 2012-13 form when he was the anchor of the Bucks' defense and become more of a threat offensively for the club to start to turn the corner.
4. Franchise Stability:
Long-time owner Herb Kohl has agreed to sell the team, but the franchise remains in limbo until the papers are signed. New ownership could mean a shuffling of the front office, which might not bode well for general manager, John Hammond, or head coach, Larry Drew. The sooner this all gets figured out, the better. Until then at least, we have Mallory Edens, the owner's daughter, to focus on.
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