Confirming reports over the weekend, the Milwaukee Bucks officially announced the signing of former Marquette and Brown Deer High School star Steve Novak this morning. Here's the soundbite from GM John Hammond:
"Steve has always been a terrific shooter from distance," said Hammond. "He's a great teammate who can provide some veteran leadership to our young roster, and we're excited to welcome him back to Milwaukee."
Novak was not surprisingly thrilled to be back in Milwaukee when he met the media this morning, terming the move a "dream come true." While he wasn't sure if he'd play tonight against the Lakers, he seemed confident that he could help a young Bucks team that has struggled to space the floor.
Steve Novak addresses the media for the first time as a BuckPosted by Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, February 22, 2016
The Bucks will be the 32-year-old Novak's ninth team since being drafted 32nd overall by the Rockets in 2006, though it bears mentioning that he played just 221 minutes combined for the Jazz and Thunder over the past two seasons. As a result, it's difficult to know just how much the 6'10" forward has left to offer. We know he's a phenomenal shooter (43.2% career, sixth all time in league history) and good locker room guy, which on a young roster thin on perimeter shooting certainly qualifies as a positive. But will he actually, you know, play? That part is less clear, especially after watching Chris Copeland -- a similar player and former teammate of Novak's and Jason Kidd's in New York -- fail to find any footing in his only season in Milwaukee. Speaking of Kidd, he perhaps not coincidentally saw Novak at his best in New York, where he led the league in three-point shooting in 11/12 (47%) and played a career-high 20 minutes per game the following season with Kidd. He's struggled to find a home since then, bouncing from New York to Toronto to Utah to Oklahoma City, but at least he was responsible for this:
The upside with Novak is that he's both a good story (local kid makes good!) and a more proven shooting commodity than Copeland, who struggled mightily last season in Indiana and never rediscovered his touch in spot minutes in Milwaukee. Of course, I'm not sure if Novak is even of Copeland's low caliber as a defender, but we'll have to wait and see. The Bucks presumably didn't sign Novak on the premise that he can't play at all, so I'd imagine we'll get a look at him in game action at some point soon. If he can knock down some threes and avoid getting exposed defensively against opposing benches...well, great. If not, then hopefully he gives Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker some shooting tips after practice. Speaking of which, the young duo have been getting run into the ground in recent games -- Parker has set career-highs in minutes in three successive games -- so some additional depth at the forward spots could be helpful, especially with Johnny O'Bryant falling out of favor and Damien Inglis exiled in the D-League. I'm skeptical that Novak is actually any better than JOB, but his shooting does provide a different dimension that could be worth a look.
Financially, the move doesn't move the needle much in Milwaukee. While the Bucks will have to eat the remainder of Copeland's $1.15 million salary, it was effectively a sunk cost that wasn't going to pay any additional dividends. A couple months of Novak will likely cost a few hundred thousand more, which in the grand scheme of the NBA could easily be repaid through some veteran leadership and the driving lanes he'll open up if he can get on the court. Low risk, low reward? Sure. But quite possibly a reward nonetheless.