During the middle of a frustrating 2015-16 season, Jason Kidd stopped a film session and polled Milwaukee's players one-by-one as they all sat together: Who did each think was the best player on the team?It was an attempt to clarify a pecking order. Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn't a full-on freak yet; Kidd would unleash him as Point Giannis in another couple of months. Greg Monroe was the starriest free-agent acquisition in franchise history, Michael Carter-Williams a former Rookie of the Year for whom the Bucks passed up a lightly protected future Lakers pick (whoops). Jabari Parker was a No. 2 pick who likely expected the "best player" mantle would one day be his. Khris Middleton was surging.
Most of the players pegged Middleton as the alpha, according to multiple people who recalled the session. Then it was Antetokounmpo's turn. Without hesitation, sources recall, he nominated himself. Some in the room disagreed, but everyone admired his chutzpah. he exercise was very Kidd. He didn't mind confrontation, or making players uncomfortable -- to the detriment of morale in the end. He once benched Antetokounmpo for a breach in practice, and kept Malcolm Brogdon on the pine for almost an entire half without explanation. Some players eventually craved more communication and support.
Kidd had a sometimes strained relationship with the team's medical staff, per sources, and engaged in the occasional back-and-forth with ownership. When owners summoned Kidd to a meeting at a restaurant in New York after Milwaukee's exit from the playoffs last season, there was [url=http://www.texansofficialauthentic.com/TEXANS-KENDALL-LAMM-JERSEY]Kendall Lamm Youth jersey[/url] a chance -- perhaps a small one, but a real one -- that they would decide right then and there to fire him, sources say. (It is unclear if Kidd was aware of this.) Instead, he agreed to tweak some things, and everyone chose the status quo.
Nine months later, Kidd is gone, and the [url=http://www.vegasgoldenknightsofficialonline.com/Adidas-Jon-Merrill-Jersey]Jon Merrill Jersey[/url] Bucks are undefeated without him against a cupcake schedule. Time and Antetokounmpo have answered Kidd's poll question, a reality Parker must face [url=http://www.authenticdetroitredwingsshop.com/authentic-jonathan-ericsson-jersey]http://www.authenticdetroitredwingsshop.com/authentic-jonathan-ericsson-jersey[/url] as he returns Friday after tearing his ACL again. arker conceives of himself as a star -- a max player. Extension talks between Parker and Bucks fizzled in October, and Parker will enter restricted free agency this summer. The Bucks were prepared during those October talks to offer a three-year deal worth around $54 million, according to sources familiar with the discussions. The two sides discussed other permutations -- shorter deals, incentive-laden four-year deals -- and the talks never narrowed to a single on-paper offer. Still: Milwaukee's upper limit in annual salary -- about $18 million per season -- was clear, sources say.
Parker bet on himself. If he plays well over the next two months, he will have suitors. The Bucks, at risk of crossing the luxury-tax threshold, will face hard choices.The Bucks with Parker are good, perhaps very good, but any team lucky enough to find a top-10 (and likely top-five) player must chase greatness during that guy's prime. The Bucks are running out of time to see if this core can be great, and they risk running low on trade assets if they pay everyone and discover it isn't.
Contracts tied to Eric Bledsoe, Middleton, and Brogdon expire after next season. Bledsoe and Middleton will be eligible for contract extensions before then, but either way, they will expect raises in 2019.It [url=http://www.officialkingsteamstore.com/Marcel_Dionne_Jersey]http://www.officialkingsteamstore.com/Marcel_Dionne_Jersey[/url] might be feasible to pay Parker, Middleton, Bledsoe, and Antetokounmpo over those next few years, and still have enough room underneath the tax to fill the rest of the roster with decent role players. Deals for John Henson, Mirza Teletovic, Matthew Dellavedova, and Tony Snell (a fine contract) will all expire in that time. Brogdon and Thon Maker, meanwhile, will require new ones.
But is that the team Milwaukee wants to lock into as the end of Antetokounmpo's new four-year contract approaches in 2021? (The original sin was failing to sign Antetokounmpo to an ironclad five-year extension in the fall of 2016. Antetokounmpo wasn't a no-brainer superstar then, but there was also no reason to expect Parker would be better -- and to save the five-year deal for him.)Is that roster good enough to keep up with Philly and Boston? Despite Kidd's revelation (via ESPN's Ramona Shelburne) that Antetokounmpo offered to try to save his job, Kidd's firing will cause no lingering rift between the Bucks and their star, sources close to him say. Nudging up against [url=http://www.authenticwarriorstore.com/Nick_Young_Jersey]http://www.authenticwarriorstore.com/Nick_Young_Jersey[/url] a hard ceiling every spring might.
Antetokounmpo is so singularly talented, it's not crazy to suggest he might be able to drag this supporting cast to the Finals at some point. But Milwaukee doesn't yet have a championship-level second banana -- unless Parker gets there. And they may have to trade one of the Middleton/Bledsoe/Parker trio to maintain payroll flexibility.Pay them all and fall short, and they could be stuck. Parker's future trade value is a huge unknown. Brogdon is a powerful trade chip on his current deal, but perhaps not on his next one. Bledsoe won't have as much appeal approaching 30 on a richer deal as he did this season. Middleton is still just 26, but what happens if he goes from underpaid to fairly paid?
The Bucks have been active in trade talks, including for DeAndre Jordan, and adding another huge long-term salary would likely cost one of their core players this summer. (Talks with the Clippers have not gotten anywhere near serious.) They could rent a center on an expiring contract -- Derrick Favors, maybe -- but it's unclear if they have the assets to work that sort of deal.
Spend on all their key current guys, and the Bucks could be short of both cap space and trade assets. They already traded one future first-round pick for Bledsoe. (The Bucks and Hawks discussed a similar deal for Dennis Schroder before Bledsoe became available, according to several league sources.) They botched a chance to trade Brandon Knight for a Lakers first-round pick that became the league's golden chip. (Philly [url=http://www.49ersfootballjerseys.com/ronnie-lott-womens-youth-jersey]Ronnie Lott Jersey[/url] got the pick instead, in exchange for Carter-Williams as part of a three-team deal.) Flipping the picks that became Norman [url=http://www.officialwarriorsshop.com/authentic-10-tim-hardaway-jersey.html]Tim Hardaway Youth jersey[/url] Powell and OG Anunoby to Toronto for Greivis Vasquez was inexplicable the moment it happened.
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