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How the Plumlee trade affects Milwaukee’s Cap

Shifting Miles Plumlee to Charlotte alleviates a costly contract from Milwaukee’s books

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

When Milwaukee signed Miles Plumlee to a 4-year/$50 million dollar contract this summer, many raised their eyebrows not at a re-signing, but at the pricey figure they had to pay. As Plumlee’s remained either chained to the bench or as noticeable as a gnat while on court, the combination of years and heavy cap hit was putting a strain on Milwaukee’s salary cap going forward. With Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 4-year/$100 million dollar contract set to kick in next summer, retaining the high priced services of Plumlee and Henson meant the Bucks were effectively capped out with little wiggle room. Before shifting Plumlee away, the Bucks were going to be merely $4,332,510 away from the projected tax threshold in 2017-18, an issue given that the Bucks are still seemingly a good distance from contention.

The previous summer’s penchant for spending this summer could’ve put the ownership in the precarious situation of paying the luxury tax for a team if they were interested in signing any above average talent this coming free agency period. Moving Plumlee not only opens up around $6 million more in guaranteed wiggle room, it could have up to $12 million if Spencer Hawes doesn’t exercise his player option for next year. As Mitchell outlined in the trade post, Hawes’ recent production shouldn’t give him ample reason to trust himself on the open market.

Then again, he’s a 7-foot-one guy who’s a career 35% shooter from three and only turns 29 this year. Assuredly he saw the bonkers market of last summer and is hoping to cash in one last time while he’s still got some years left in him. The overspending of last summer could lead to a depreciated market this year as team’s have to tighten their belts with a cap that’s suddenly not exploding, but it seems likely someone could give Hawes a 2-year deal worth $16 million or so. Not to mention the fact he’s not likely to get much playing time in the Bucks’ even more crowded center rotation.

As for Roy Hibbert, his $5 million dollar deal will come off the books next year, but he could be a buyout candidate still this year if the Bucks want to open up a roster spot for some reason. Hibbert’s play remains suspect, as it has ever since his Pacers days, but there may be a few playoff teams interested in getting another big guy to clog the lane defensively.

It also marks the end of Steve Novak’s tenure with Milwaukee, as the Bucks will waive the veteran shooter who spent more time in a suit than suited up for game time this year. His minimum veteran contract will remain on the Bucks’ books for this year and then disappear.

In reality, this trade has almost nothing to do with the Bucks’ on-court product. If anything, it heightens their roster inequities. However, getting out from a contract that looked like an albatross around John Hammond’s neck for the foreseeable future. It opens up cap space and alleviates the team from trudging around a frontcourt with a ceiling the height of an alcove. Hammond’s been particularly adept at making dubious signings, and then finding some way to get out of them, as he did with John Salmons and Corey Maggette a few years back. This is just another one to add to that list, particularly given that while his salary isn’t declining, his athletic, rim-rolling game probably will.

Here’s Milwaukee’s new cap outlook following the trade: