Bucks busy, re-sign Salmons, sign Gooden

When the Bucks swung a trade for Corey Maggette, most pundits thought it was the end of John Salmons’ tenure in Milwaukee, but the two sides have agreed to a five-year deal.

The Milwaukee Bucks have verbally agreed to a five-year, $39 million deal with free-agent guard John Salmons, according to league sources. Sources say that the last year of the deal is only partially guaranteed.

Salmons is 30, so the length of the contract is reasonable, especially since the fifth year is only partially guaranteed.

Less than $8 million a year is a pretty good deal for a player who averaged 20-3-3 in 30 games as a Buck, and helped to spearhead a late-season surge that secured a playoff spot. Against the Hawks, he pretty much offset Joe Johnson, who is slated to make about twice as much if he accepts Atlanta’s max offer.

The Bucks suddenly have a crowd of talented scorers on the wing. With Salmons, Maggette, Carlos Delfino and the newly acquired Chris Douglas-Roberts, Scott Skiles has plenty of options. All four players can play either shooting guard or small forward, and if Maggette or Douglas-Roberts do not play hard enough defensively, Skiles will have another player to turn to.

GM John Hammond also negotiated a five-year deal worth $32 million with Drew Gooden. The Bucks are his ninth team in nine seasons, which isn’t a good sign. But John Hollinger thinks Gooden is worth the money, though some of his defensive numbers at 82games are a little worrisome. Hopefully, Skiles can coax some better play out of him. If so, he brings a lot to the table offensively and on the glass, and could start for the Bucks at power forward.

The two long-term contracts take the Bucks out of the running for a max free agent next summer, unless the salary cap takes an unexpected jump to $61 million.

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Maggette traded to Bucks

The Golden State Warriors have traded Corey Maggette to the Bucks for Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell.

Seeking a scoring threat and willing to take on a significant contract, the Milwaukee Bucks acquired forward Corey Maggette in a trade with the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.

The Bucks also got a second-round draft pick from the Warriors, giving up guard Charlie Bell and center Dan Gadzuric in return.

Maggette has three years and $30.8 million remaining on his contract, but this trade will actually save the Bucks $1.5 million next season because they are now rid of the contracts of Gadzuric (one year, $7.2 million) and Charlie Bell (two years, $7.9 million). The deal will eat up $6.2 million in cap space next summer, leaving the Bucks with a payroll of about $31 million heading into the 2011-12 season.

So, from a salary cap standpoint, it’s not quite as bad as it might seem. Maggette is a career 17-5-2 player and is one of the best in the league at getting to the line. He has averaged at least 7.9 free throw attempts in each of the last seven seasons.

The two strikes against Maggette is his injury history and his commitment (or lack thereof) on the defensive end. The Bucks can’t do anything about the first one, but Scott Skiles will demand that he play defense, or he won’t get minutes.

From a defensive mindset, I can’t imagine going from Don Nelson to Scott Skiles. That’s like night and day. Maggette is in for a wake up call on the defensive end.

The Bucks also acquired Chris Douglas-Roberts from the New Jersey Nets.

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The NBA’s 68 worst contracts

The economy is really starting to take its toll on professional sports, and the NBA is no different. Bad contracts are bad even when the economy is pumping, but they really stand out in tough times like these. So I decided to look through the payrolls team-by-team to try to identify the worst contracts in the NBA. I expected to list 15-20 names, but I ended up scribbling down 68. That’s right, there are no fewer than 68 bad contracts in the NBA.

I didn’t include any of the players that are in the final year of their contracts because…well, what’s the point? They’ll be off the books in a few months anyway. Instead, I wanted to focus on those contracts that are going to haunt teams for years to come, so to be eligible, players have to have at least a year left on their current deals.

It’s tough to compare someone making superstar money to an average, everyday role player, so I split these 68 contracts up into three groups: the Overpaid Role Players, the Not-So-Super Stars and the Injury-Prones. I will rank them from least-worst to most-worst with the thinking that I wouldn’t trade the player for anyone further down the list but I would trade him for anyone previously mentioned. So, for example, if a guy is listed #7 within a particular group, I’m not trading him for anyone ranked #6-#1, but I would think seriously about moving him for a guy that is ranked #8+.

So let’s start with the role players and go from there…

(Note: In most cases, I don’t blame the player himself for his outrageous contract. The fault lies with the general manager that inked the guy to the deal. However, this rule goes out the window if the player has a history of only producing in his contract year – I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas.)

Read the rest after the jump...

2008 NBA Preview: #10 Orlando Magic

Offseason Movement: The Magic were courting Corey Maggette for much of the offseason, but settled instead on Mickael Pietrus. With Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis surrounding Dwight Howard, the team needed an athletic off guard who can defend and Pietrus has the potential to be that guy. I say “potential” because the 26 year-old never quite fit in with Golden State, but the Magic are gambling that it had more to do with Don Nelson than Pietrus’ limitations. He’s a good shooter from the corner, and if he can improve his handle, he could develop a nice attack-the-basket game. He has all the tools to be a stopper defensively, but has thus far shown a propensity to commit way too many fouls.
Keep Your Eye On: Jameer Nelson
With Keyon Dooling gone, Nelson will likely be asked to play more minutes than he did last season (28.4). In the playoffs, he responded well to increased PT, posting 16.2 points and 4.7 assists in 33.3 minutes. Nelson is not a traditional playmaker, but he’s a good fit for what the Magic are trying to do. The team needs shooters to give Howard the space to work down low, and Nelson can most certainly shoot it (42% 3PT last season). At 26, it’s going to be interesting to see if he makes the next step or if his game has already topped out.
The Big Question: Does Orlando have enough of a bench to compete with the East’s best?
I really like Orlando’s starting five, but the team projects to have Anthony Johnson, J.J. Redick, Keith Bogans, Tony Battie and Adonal Foyle anchoring the bench. Those names don’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of Eastern Conference opponents. With Nelson, Pietrus, Turkoglu, Lewis and Howard, the team can compete with any group of starters in the East, but it remains to be seen if the bench can hold its own with its counterparts.
Outlook: Good. Orlando has done a nice job of assembling a team that can compete in the East, but I wonder if/when the team will start to pay for the monster contract they gave Rashard Lewis two summers ago. Will it limit their ability to re-sign Turkoglu next year? If not, the team will be way over the cap and limited to mid-level exception-type players for the foreseeable future. If management is will to spend like that, fine, but if they’re going to start cutting costs to stay below the luxury tax threshold, they’re going to have to make some tough decisions. And the team can’t afford to lose a player of Turkoglu’s stature. If the team is going to make the leap and become one of the league’s best, it is going to have to re-sign its stars, draft really well from late in the first round and spend its mid-level wisely.

2008 NBA Preview: #21 Golden State Warriors

Offseason Movement: The team elected not to pursue free agent Baron Davis and struck out on the Elton Brand sweepstakes. They did sign Corey Maggette to a big contract and also acquired Marcus Williams from the Nets for a conditional first round draft pick.
Keep Your Eye On: Monta Ellis, G
With Davis gone, this is Ellis’ team now. His reign got off to an inauspicious beginning when he hurt his ankle while riding a moped around Mississippi and then lied to the team about it. He will have to mature quickly, because the Warriors need a leader, but it’s not clear when Ellis will be able to return to action. For their part, the Warriors have suspended him for 30 games for lying about the injury, but he probably won’t be ready to play by the end of the suspension, so it just amounts to a gigantic fine.
The Big Question: Is Don Nelson the right guy to lead a rebuilding project?
Nelson always seems to have one foot out the door, so it’s unclear if he has the commitment or the patience to coach this team for much longer. They lost a great player in Baron Davis, acquired a good player in Corey Maggette, and will miss Monta Ellis for at least part of the regular season, so all else being equal, it’s more likely than not that the Warriors will take a step back this season. I think that the next time Golden State makes the playoffs, there will be a different coach steering the ship.
Outlook: In Maggette, Biedrins, Stephen Jackson, Al Harringon and Brandan Wright, the team does have a number of talented players, but they lack a star to bring everything together. Ellis is supposed to be that guy, but since he’ll be sidelined for a while, the aforementioned players will have to raise their games for the Warriors to be in the playoff hunt in the talented West.

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