Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Knowing how important this current offseason is for the Bucks’ future, we want to engage in a thought exercise regarding some of the possible paths for the Bucks’ centers, particularly Spencer Hawes and Greg Monroe. The important dates to know are that Moose can opt out by June 22nd, the NBA draft will also be held on June 22nd, Hawes can opt out on June 26th, and NBA free agency starts on July 1st. I’m stepping aside and asking the staff to dive in to the earliest point in the timeline and take it from there!
June 22nd: Does Monroe opt out?
Gabe: I mean, obviously, he could opt out for possibly more money. But I think that he feels as if Milwaukee is a home for him. He likes the city, and he seems to like the scheme that the Bucks have set for him. Sure, it was a rough entry year for Moose. But he found his footing last season and provided some strong contributions.
Kyle: I can’t see it, he has a defined role on the team and also is the focal point of the second unit. He isn’t going to have a defined role like this anywhere else and if he plays well again, he can go into free agency with better leverage.
SP Rowe: I think he has to, unless the Bucks come through with an extension before the draft. Monroe is in his prime, still young and likely wants to see what the market holds. But coming off the bench the entire year probably won’t help him dollars wise. But I still think he opts out.
Eric B: I think it depends what the market tells him. He isn’t going to find a deal that will pay him more than $18m next year, but if he can find one that pays him, say, $15m for three years, that security might be more tempting to him. I don’t know if a team offers that type of money, but as of now I’m leaning towards him opting out and pursuing a longer-term deal.
If Moose stays, how does the rest play out?
Gabe: I think you’ll see the Bucks do what they did to close out this year. Less Henson, and more Thon. I doubt they’ll go with a big man at this year’s draft. Instead, I anticipate them continuing to groom Thon as the center and bringing Moose off the bench, playing the sixth man role he played this season.
Kyle: I think it will be like the end of last season. Thon will be the starter, while Monroe will be the first guy off the bench and used during crunch time. I’m not sure who the third center will be, but they will most likely see plenty of DNP-CD.
SP Rowe: Kidd obviously liked Monroe’s punch coming off the bench. He was great adding spark pretty much all season. But Thon is the future (we hope). The Bucks are in a spot where they can nurture Thon and take as long as necessary. Would I be shocked if Moose won back the starting spot next season? No. But Thon is going to play major minutes next year one way or another.
Eric B: I agree with the rest of the gang. Thon still starts because why not, Moose comes off the bench, and, well, I don’t feel like talking about the rest.
June 22nd: If Monroe is gone, do the Bucks draft a big?
Gabe: Eh, I don’t think he’ll be gone. But if he is, I could definitely see Milwaukee taking a big.
Kyle: If the best player available is a big then yes. But the Bucks shouldn’t draft a big just to fill a need.
Eric B: With Hammond out of the picture, I am slightly more hesitant to shout BPA from the top of a mountain, but I’m not coming down quite yet. They’ll take the best talent available whether Monroe stays or goes.
SP Rowe: I don’t think it’s a must. Thon will start and if the Bucks still have Henson and Hawes and are probably ok for the time being. But if the best guy is a big, by all means get him! The Bucks need guards, obviously, but not at the expense of the best player available in the draft. Guards can be gotten around the league fairly easily.
If Moose stays, do the Bucks draft a big?
Gabe: I don’t think so. The land down under can only hold so many giants.
Kyle: Like I said, that big would have to be BPA; which is highly likely at the spot the Bucks are drafting.
SP Rowe: I’ve been trying to study the draft more of late. A true big (ie: a center) doesn’t leap out at me right now. If Moose wants to be a Buck, he and Thon will probably do just fine, at least for the coming season.
June 26th: Does Spencer Hawes stay or go?
Gabe: He provided some value at times (including the infamous Spencer Hawes Game on March 3 where he torched Toronto for 16 points). I think the Bucks might realize the clog they have with big men and in that case, Hawes could definitely be the odd man out.
Kyle: Hawes has the chance to be the #2 center on this team and get the most money doing so. I think he opts in, but whether the Bucks want to keep him might be a different story.
Eric B: If Hawes thinks he can still play, then he’ll opt out. I don’t think the Bucks can give him any consistent minutes, even with potential roster changes around him.
SP Rowe: Like Monroe, he’d like a longer term contract. Of course that means he opts out. Since Spencer can shoot the 3 (although his 3 point % has been down) and he’s been around the block he probably gambles he can get a better deal elsewhere.
Does Hawes’ decision truly move the Bucks’ needle?
Gabe: Aha, the needle. I see whatcha did there. Quite clever. But no, I don’t think so. I mean, when he was initially acquired, it was more of a throw-in piece to the package. The main objective of that trade was to dump Miles Plumlee’s contract (John Hammond, you glorious thief -- I’m going to miss you). In the end, I could see the Bucks using that logic to justify leaving him off this upcoming year’s roster.
Kyle: Not really, the Bucks will still try to move Henson and groom Thon regardless of Hawes’ or Monroe’s decision. The only difference might be the urgency/trying to get full value with a Henson Deal.
Eric B: Nah.
SP Rowe: Well, I think the Bucks are making it clear they want ALL of their players to be able to shoot threes. Hawes does that. That’s primarily why he played ahead of Henson late in the season. I think the Bucks would like to keep him.
July 1st: If the Bucks lose both Monroe and Hawes, what then?
Gabe: Hear those bells in the distance? They’re signaling THON TIME. But if they do, I hope they draft a big. Because I do not want John Henson, backup center.
Kyle: I’m terrified of the future rumor of Milwaukee making a panic offer on Alex Len or Kelly Olynk.
Eric B: Maybe they’ll stack two of Lasry, Edens, and Dinan on top of each other like Vincent Adultman. They’ll find someone, though. Maybe that’s Len or Dedmon, or maybe it’s a draft pick or trade. Who knows. One step at a time, right?
SP Rowe: I don’t think it’s the end of the world. But losing Monroe would really hurt because he’s really our only truly physical player. And he plays down low. We don’t have anybody else who does what he does. Thon isn’t ready to play 30 minutes a night yet and his body CERTAINLY isn’t ready to play big minutes night after night. They’ll have to pick up a bruiser somewhere.
What if the Bucks only retain one of Moose and Hawes?
Gabe: I’d definitely be content with them keeping one of them. If I had to choose, obviously Moose. Contract and all, I think he adds strong value to the team -- especially offensively. Remember when Zaza was the center back in 2015? Fans complained about his lack of scoring. Now, that team didn’t feature an All-Star Giannis, but even now when Giannis is performing at the level he is, reliable scoring is needed and Moose offers it. I think things could work if the Bucks retained Monroe.
Kyle: I say Monroe. This team still needs talent and he is the team’s most talented center. His role as protector/enforcer is also needed more than we might realize.
Eric B: Then they’ve bought themselves a year of some type of insurance while Thon continues to develop. This might also allow them to make an addition to the backcourt or wing, which is also needed.
Ugh, this teems still needs talent.
SP Rowe: Monroe or Hawes? Good lord, that’s like a choice between Clinton (Bill) or Trump? Have to go with good ol’ Bill (for those at home that’s Monroe!).