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Bucks Look To Add Size, Brandon Jennings vs. Monta Ellis, Hammond And Skiles Look To 12/13

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Larry Sanders is pretty big--but the Bucks still want to get bigger.
Larry Sanders is pretty big--but the Bucks still want to get bigger.

JS: Bucks look to add size
After telling reporters late last week that he "expects" to be back for the coming season, John Hammond began this week talking about the Bucks' roster concerns, a list that begins with getting bigger. It's an obvious issue for a team that traded away its franchise big man two months ago, though the reality is that the Bucks also chose not to sign a legitimate backup center each of the past two offseasons, instead pinning their hopes on the wobbly ankle, elbow and back of Andrew Bogut.

We all know how that worked out.

But with Bogut now out of the picture, the need for additional size and athleticism is all the more pressing, especially after watching the Bucks consistently punished down low by teams such as the Pacers, Bulls and Thunder. After rebounding well on the defensive end the prior two seasons with Bogut, the Bucks crashed to 29th in defensive rebound rate this season and their overall defensive efficiency (16th overall this year) plummeted along with it.

So how exactly do the Bucks get a legitimate inside presence?

It's a good question with (surprise!) no easy answer. While there are some big men projected around the Bucks' range in the late lottery (Tyler Zeller, Meyers Leonard, possibly Jared Sullinger), the odds of finding an instant impact big man in that part of the draft are rather low. Read: Andrew Bogut is not walking through the Cousins Center door.

Free agency is unlikely to offer a long-term fix either, though it's certainly possible the Bucks could make a run at older/shorter term solutions like Kwame Brown (technically still a Buck, but...) or someone potentially more expensive like Chris Kaman. It'd be a bit ironic to see the former Clipper and Hornet in a Bucks uniform since he's essentially a slightly older version of Bogut at this point: big, white, ambidextrous and usually hurt (zing!).

My guess is that the Bucks will probably add one big body via either the draft or free agency, with the possibility of another if Ilyasova leaves and/or Drew Gooden is traded. But it's important to be realistic about what kind of role that guy might play--odds are we won't be talking about a 30-35 mpg type, but rather a rotation type to complement hybrid big men like Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders. Both have plenty of length and are big enough to man the middle against many teams, but they also lack ideal strength in the post and have yet to show they can rebound beyond an average level in the NBA.

Bucksketball: Overhaul by tweaks: Another Milwaukee Bucks summer
Good read from Jeremy on the Bucks' recurring problem of asking too much of their middling talent.

Behind the Buck Pass: Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis?
Jake McCormick ponders the eternal question. My vote goes to Jennings: five years younger, similar productivity, one-quarter the contract price, a more clearly defined position and one more year of contract control.

Woelfel: Carlos Delfino to undergo groin surgery, hopes to play in Olympics
Rule One of blogging: never pass up an opportunity to type the phrase groin surgery.

Gery Woelfel writes that those two words are now reality for Carlos Delfino after first tearing a muscle in his nether regions against the Knicks on March 26. The 29-year-old is an unrestricted free agent and as such has every incentive to take it easy this summer, but one more shot at Olympic gold with Argentine teammates Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola means he has other plans.

"I want to get it done soon so I can play for the national team in the Olympics," Delfino said. "It’ll take about six to eight weeks to heal, so I won’t have much time to get ready for the national team. But I’m going to try."

Feel better, Cabeza. As for his future in Milwaukee, it wouldn't surprise me to see him retained for at least another year, though it'd be easier to see that happening if we knew that Hammond (probably) and Skiles (maybe?) were returning. By the way, everyone who wants Tobias Harris to see real minutes next year can start crying softly if Delfino is back.

Wages of Wins Journal: The 2012 Season in Review
In a review of league roster performance relative to positional average, the wins produced metric likes Ersan Ilyasova and not much else from the Bucks' roster.

JS: Bucks should keep Hammond, but what about Skiles?
Just catching up on items from last week, Michael Hunt puts forward his view of the Bucks' coaching and front office questions. Hammond is one question--see above--but Skiles might be the trickier proposition.

The Bucks have a chance if they hang on to Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Ersan Ilyasova and identify a big guy who can block shots and defend the rim. If that core group is not on board with the coach, the Bucks have their answer.

I would question the use of the term "core" here, and I'm not sure I'd bet on the likelihood of starting next season with Jennings, Ellis, Ersan and a big man who rebounds and defends the rim. Re-signing Ersan will likely prove costly and limit the Bucks' ability to add a quality big man (or another outside free agent), while the Bucks would be well suited to exploring their summer trade options with regard to Ellis. Not that it wouldn't be entertaining to watch Ellis and Jennings run and gun for a full season, but a) their lack of size creates clear defensive issues and b) Ellis is a good bet to end up elsewhere if/when he opts out of the $11 million player option he has for 13/14. If he still has legitimate trade value then it would behoove the Bucks to explore a move.

All that said: I agree that if Skiles has worn out his welcome with key parts of the current roster then it clearly plays a factor in the Bucks' decision on bringing him back. Jennings and Dunleavy offered their support for Skiles last week, though it's also difficult to imagine them throwing Skiles under the bus publicly, and both players have been Skiles' favorites in the past. But this isn't a case where the Bucks can simply let Skiles serve out the remaining year on his deal and kick the can down the road; it's not in anyone's interest to have Skiles back as a lame duck, but is Herb Kohl willing to give Skiles the extension needed to maintain credibility? There's the rub.