The Milwaukee Bucks are feeling the weight of their roster investments.
They already needed to waive Spencer Hawes in order to evade the luxury tax, but that’s only a permanent solution if they’re fine leaving the current roster untouched. Should they want to make improvements or chase upgrades near the trade deadline, they need to jimmy up some additional wiggle room.
Enter the salary-dumping market for John Henson and Mirza Teletovic—neither of which is especially robust, according to ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe:
Extension talks for Parker will likely go to the Oct. 16 wire, and any deal would nudge the Bucks close to next season’s tax. They have discussed dumping John Henson and Teletovic, but teams are squeezing hard, sources say.
Henson is owed $20.3 million over the next three seasons, while Teletovic will earn $21 million through two. In the current cap climate, with teams reeling from the summer of 2016, those contracts are not ones the Bucks will be able to pawn off without including a first-round sweetener—or something/someone of comparable value.
Dangling such a buffer is tough for the Bucks to stomach. They need picks and rookie-scale prospects. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s $100 million deal kicks in this season, they have to worry about paying Jabari Parker in restricted free agency, and Malcolm Brogdon will be up for a new deal in 2019. Haphazardly using picks to shed salary is shaky business to begin with, but it’s borderline irresponsible when you need to find cheap talent and, in Milwaukee’s case, have burned some of your most recent first-rounders on reaches like Thon Maker and D.J. Wilson.
Things change if a home-run acquisition materializes or the Bucks decide they’re all-in on 2018 free agency. Failing that, though, they’re unlikely to include anything or anyone of real value if that’s what it takes to dump Teletovic or Henson.