The Milwaukee Bucks wrapped up their negotiations with O.J. Mayo on a three-year, $24 million deal yesterday, and now they have reached an agreement with former Bucks big man Zaza Pachulia on a contract worth $15.6 million over three seasons, according to Marc Stein of ESPN (the contract amount was later clarified by Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports).
Larry Sanders, John Henson, Ekpe Udoh, Luc Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova and Drew Gooden are all under contract for next season, so it's difficult to understand why the Bucks would rush to the front of the line and offer to pay market price for a backup big like Pachulia.
Maybe the Bucks are convinced that Zaza can be a better backup center than Ayon or Udoh could be, but it's important to remember that Larry Sanders has started to soak up more minutes, John Henson put up some impactful performances as a pseduo-center when Sanders was unavailable, and Udoh and Ayon are on expiring deals. The margin to be gained here is small, while the price to pay is high, because it cuts into future flexiblity and forces the team into a situation where they need to trade another big on the roster.
Pachulia is known as a physical banger in the paint. That's something you could say the Bucks lack, but that's how we wound up with Joel Przybilla wasting a roster spot last season. I'd be very surprised if Pachulia is significantly more valuable or productive than the combination of Udoh and Ayon, but I guess we're going to find out. Expect one of the bigs on the roster to be moved before the season, because Milwaukee is overloaded in the frontcourt and lacking on the perimeter -- Mayo, Ish Smith and rookie guard Nate Wolters are the only guards currently under contract.
In terms of analyzing the move for the Bucks, I think Ekpe Udoh says it best:
Sheeeesh— Ekpe Udoh (@EkpeUdoh) July 7, 2013