So: Miles Plumlee, four years, $52 million, no options. Is he worth that contract?
Eric B: Probably not, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it. He hasn’t logged a ton of minutes in the league, but a four-year deal at 27 years old seems a little questionable in the moment, especially considering Plumlee’s appeal is attached to his athleticism. Giving him four years and a high salary comes off odd as well, but I wouldn’t categorize it as an absurd overpay. That being said, he has fantastic hair and gives Point Giannis a different option (read: a guy that can jump at the rim), so… I don’t know. We’ll see. Could he have come cheaper or on a shorter deal? Maybe. Maybe speculating isn’t worth the energy, either.
Mitchell: In a vacuum, sure. Lesser players took deals with higher salaries, and Miles Plumlee fits very well in an offense led by Point Giannis. Plus he’s an elite athlete, knows his role, and seems to be willing to work. Why can’t I shake off the feeling that the Bucks overpaid?
Eric N: As Frank mentioned in the post detailing the Plumlee signing, we pegged him somewhere around $10 million per year for his next contract and also thought it would be a three-year deal. Instead, the Bucks made it a four-year deal and added $3 million per year, so I would say he is not worth that contract. Cool stuff: He catches lobs. Doesn’t want the ball on offense. Tries to volleyball block shot attempts at the rim. Seems to play well with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker. Plays better defense than Greg Monroe. Not so cool stuff: He’ll be 28 at the start of next season. He’s never averaged more than 25 minutes per game in a single season. Despite the blocks, his rim protection skills are still in question. He’s played just over 4000 minutes in 4 NBA seasons.
Aron: He isn’t, but the Bucks clearly view him as an ideal fit on their roster and I guess they prefer to have him around at that price. Plumlee plays well with Giannis and Jabari, doesn’t command the ball much on offense and he’s the only center the Bucks have that can jump over a puddle. He’s not really a threat on either side of the ball, but he’s a solid rotational player. Solid will get you paid! This deal would look a tad different had another team made that offer and the Bucks decided to match, but alas.
Was any other team anywhere near offering Plumlee $13 mil/year?
Mitchell: Given how the free agency market for bigs shook out, it seems highly unlikely that any other team was coming to Miles Plumlee’s doorstep to offer a $50+ million dollar deal. Timofey Mozgov, Ian Mahinmi, and Bismack Biyombo all got higher salaries, and I like each of them less than I like Plumlee from a "fit" perspective. But if Meyers Leonard can re-up for just over $10 mil/season, or Festus Ezeli takes a deal worth only $7.5 mil annually, or Jordan Hill signs at $4 mil/year, why are the Bucks tripping over themselves to offer $13 million each season between now and 2020-21?
Eric N: It doesn’t seem particularly likely. If there was a team willing and excited to make a similar deal, I think we might have seen an offer sheet. That didn’t happen, so I don’t think that was the case. It seems like the Bucks outbid themselves on this one, which is not good business. There is something to be said though for appeasing a player and making him feel wanted as the Bucks have been a part of ugly restricted free agent negotiations (Charlie Bell, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute), but this contract seems a little over the top for Plumlee.
Eric B: If we knew that, we probably would have seen an offer sheet somewhere, so I’d say probably not. Part of me wonders if the team and Plumlee loosely discussed this type of deal as an incentive for waiting (and not signing an offer sheet) while they looked for deals to move any of their other bigs. Maybe that came back to bite them and they had to end up outbidding themselves? Who the heck knows. Not any of us.
Aron: [Laughs internally]
What does this mean for the other centers on the Bucks’ roster, if anything?
Mitchell: If you’re a fan of depth at the center position, then this is a good deal. If you’re a fan of maintaining salary cap flexibility in the short-term, applying appropriate value to a new contract, and providing enough playing time for three deserving players, you may not like this deal as much. Greg Monroe is a 25+ mpg player. John Henson is a 20+ mpg player. Miles Plumlee is (at least) a 15+ mpg player. I’m no mathematician, but it seems that minute distribution is going to be a bit tight for those three...unless something else happens.
Eric B: Maybe this puts John Henson on the market. It appears less and less likely that dealing Monroe would yield anything the Bucks find appealing, so maybe Henson (and MCW?) becomes the rim-protecting chip that gets dangled to other teams. Henson has value and could probably bring something back in return. Kidd also hasn’t been afraid to bring Monroe off the bench, so maybe the Bucks just ride out starting Plumlee and letting Greg feast on second units for a season before getting a fresh start next summer. To be honest, that seems like a pretty okay solution at this point.
Eric N: As I mentioned in our EMERGENCY Plumlee Pod, I am quite intrigued by the idea of trading John Henson, allowing Monroe’s deal to expire, and heading into next summer with just Plumlee on the books. So, I’d be willing to sign onto Eric’s idea. Beyond that, I’m not sure this really means anything for the other centers on the Bucks roster. I assume Monroe is still on the trade block and Henson is still a backup center.
Aron: Well somebody is getting the boot. Maybe it’s finally Monroe, but it certainly wouldn’t shock me if the Bucks traded Henson. It’s cool to have depth, but my issue with the guys left on this roster is that none of them are proven rim protectors or can defend on the perimeter in a pinch.
Are the Bucks overpaying for what they’re getting out of the center position?
Mitchell: For reference, the salary cap this season is roughly $94 million. If you ignore Thon Maker’s salary (which we all can agree is fair for this season), our three centers are making a total of $42 million this year, which is 44% of the cap. Two of our best players are still on their rookie deals, but it seems incongruous to spend nearly half of your team’s salary at a position where you don’t have a star player.
Eric B: This question makes me sad.
Eric N: Ha. Yeah.
Aron: Welp (yes).
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