Bucks Lead

Milwaukee’s “Untradeables”


With the roster all but set for the 2018-19 season, I decided it might be worthwhile to look back at some older signings that are currently plaguing the Milwaukee Bucks payroll. You guessed it, John Henson and Matthew Dellavedova. Why did we sign these players to such large contracts and what do we do with them now?

Leading up to the 2015-16 season the Bucks made the move to extend John Henson, their 14th overall pick from the 2012 draft. At the time, the signing made a lot of sense for the Bucks. They had just parted ways with big men Larry Sanders, Zaza Pachulia, and Ersan Illyasova while signing free agent Greg Monroe. Henson had performed well in varying roles and limited minutes for Milwaukee in the seasons prior.

Although he wasn’t an offensive weapon, he seemed to have upside as both a rebounder and a rim protector. During the 2014-15 season, he averaged 4.7 RPG and a whopping 2.0 BPG while playing only 18.3 MPG. Ultimately, this resulted in Milwaukee signing Henson to a decreasing 4-year, $44 million deal. At the time, it seemed like Henson was slated to become a starting-caliber defensive presence in the league.

A year later during the moratorium period, the Milwaukee Bucks reached an agreement with Matthew Dellavedova for a 4-year, $38 million offer sheet which the Cleveland Cavaliers decided not to match. After settling for a qualifying offer the year prior, Delly earned himself a bigger deal through high-level defending and shooting a more than respectable 41% from the three-point line. In addition to a great regular season, Delly wreaked havoc on opposing guards with his irritating and borderline dirty defense during the 2016 NBA playoffs.

With ability as a catch and shoot player and lockdown defender, it appeared he would be a great fit next to Giannis. Giannis would assume the duties of the primary ball handler on offense, allowing Delly to be a spot up shooter and lock down opposing point guards on defense. With the cap jump that happened that year and no indication that it wouldn’t continue to rise in the future, the signing seemed like a no-brainer. Unfortunately for the Bucks, neither Henson nor Delly lived up to the expectations that came with those bigger contracts and the salary cap didn’t take the jump that most executives thought it would, leaving the Bucks in a very tough spot.

Delly, although still an irritant on defense, saw a drop in his three-point percentage while Henson’s inability to space the floor allowed opposing teams to clog the lane and limit Giannis’ effectiveness. As a result, the Bucks were left with two large blemishes on their payroll. They paid these players with the hopes that they could potentially become starters on team friendly contracts. Regrettably, they did not live up to their contracts, instead turning into overpaid role players.

Many Bucks fans may be thinking, why not just trade them? Well, it’s not that simple.

With most teams capped out, larger contracts for overpaid players with multiple years left on their deal become nearly untradeable without attaching a desirable asset like a young star or a draft pick. Assets that the Bucks are dangerously low on. The best chance the Bucks had to move those contracts might already be in the rear-view mirror. A deal at the trade deadline where either Henson or Delly were attached to Jabari Parker could’ve potentially been made. Still, a trade partner would have been making a large gamble in trading for Parker because of his injury history and impending free agency. Without assurance that they would’ve been able to retain Jabari, taking on bad contracts becomes very hard to justify.

Essentially, there really is no realistic way to trade Henson or Delly without parting with a pick or taking on an equally bad contract.

My thoughts on Henson and Delly are probably not what most Bucks fans want to hear. I believe we should let them play out the remainder of their contracts as Milwaukee Bucks. Are they overpaid, imperfect players? Sure. Would I love to see the Bucks get off those contracts? Of course! But I also don’t want to see the organization put themselves in a worse position by trading away the assets we do have just to get rid of players. Henson and Delly are overpaid, but not unplayable. Hopefully, we’ll see their abilities maximized in a new (and almost assuredly better than Kidd/Prunty) system from Head Coach, Mike Budenholzer.




About Sam Vander Plas

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