Before Khris Middleton’s long awaited season debut on Wednesday night, Jabari Parker jokingly told reporters “We’re going to look at him to save the season… put pressure on him”. Unfortunately, even Middleton’s return won’t be enough to salvage the Bucks’ season now. In the third quarter of their loss to the Heat, Parker suffered a torn ACL in his left knee for the second time in three years. With recovery time estimated to be a full calendar year, here’s a breakdown of how the Bucks should respond to this disparaging news:
Embrace the Tank
After losing 11 of their last 13 games, Milwaukee has now dropped to 11th in the East. While they’ll probably resist the idea, there could be a potential gain if the Bucks decide to lose as many games as possible. They don’t have quite enough legitimate talent without Parker to compete with the teams above them, even if they did find a way to sneak into the playoffs. In what is projected to be a loaded draft, the Bucks could benefit from losing a few games to add another top, young player to this talented roster.
Start Scouting Now
Speaking of the draft, this upcoming class is supposed to be one of the best in years. The Bucks front office has dominated the draft in recent years with their finds of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Malcolm Brogdon and John Henson. With a roster that is very talented in the frontcourt, the Bucks are in luck as the 2017 draft pool is littered with talented guards. Although Antetokounmpo has thrived this year as their primary ball handler, Milwaukee still needs a long-term solution at the lead guard spot. It’s crucial that they choose one who will fit well next to their freakish superstar point forward and the rest of their core. A shooter like Malik Monk or a playmaker like Dennis Smith or De’Aaron Fox could all be potential fits in their draft range.
Waive Roy Hibbert/Look for Development Players
Last week, Milwaukee unloaded center Miles Plumlee to Charlotte in exchange for big men Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert. Hawes has a player option for next season, which he’s likely to accept, so he and his luscious locks will be sticking around. Hibbert, however, signed for a one-year contract last summer with the Hornets, much to the dismay of everyone that watched him plod up and down the court for the Lakers last season. He has minimal value for this Bucks squad, who were already facing a log jam at center before the deal. Waiving Hibbert frees up a roster spot for potential 10-day contracts – an opportunity to find a Yogi Ferrell-styled diamond in the rough.
Explore Potential Trades/Develop Core
Being in a painfully small market, the Bucks will always struggle to attract big time free agents. Reaching the salary floor is more of a concern than having cap space to spend. Having said that, they should be more than willing to field all calls for a team that’s interested in players like Matthew Dellavedova or Mirza Teletovic.
Middleton, Giannis, Malcolm Brogdon, Thon Maker, John Henson and the injured Jabari Parker form a very solid core on an intriguing roster. Anybody outside of those guys should be used to better place the Bucks in a position to be ready for next season. This is the time for the Bucks to experiment with different lineups, hoping that something sticks as they strive to build an identity. Losing Parker will ultimately cost them their season, but if they play their cards right, the Bucks’ future will still look just as bright when he returns a year from now.
Source: ABS CBN Sports, Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports