Ayón Waived, Front Court Picture Clears
Late Thursday night the Bucks waived backup big man Gustavo Ayón before his $1.5 million salary became guaranteed on Friday. This is a minor move as the Bucks have plenty of front court depth behind likely starters Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova. However, this move further solidifies the belief that the Bucks are a team without a direction. Sure, Ayón wasn’t likely to play much anyway and wasn’t the most skilled big man in the league, but for the 12 minutes or so a game the backup center will see, would you rather have Ayón at the $1.5 million and expiring or Zaza Pachulia at a fully guarenteed $5.2 million for the next three years? I think it depends on if you believe the Bucks should follow the Oklahoma City Thunder strategy to blow it up and hope to draft a superstar or the Houston Rockets strategy of accumulating assets and hope to trade for a superstar. I personally advocate for former strategy, especially with how the talent level expected to be available in the 2014 draft.
As to the frontcourt rotation, the key to remember is an NBA games has 96 minutes to split between a teams big men, though it would not shock me if the Bucks can round that up by playing Ilyasova at the 3 in large lineups for a few minutes a game against teams more reliant on their big men, like say the Indiana Pacers. Ilyasova and Sanders will both likely see about 28-32 minutes a game as the Bucks best 3 point shooter and rim protector respectively. This will leave about 32-40 minutes a game for the reserves. Ideally, John Hensen would see a bulk of these minutes to determine if the Bucks can build around him in the future, but these seems like a pipe dream as the message coming down from owner Herb Kohl seems to be fight for the playoffs over all else. Realistically, I would venture to say Pachulia will see about half of this time since he is the most offensively skilled of the bunch, and the Bucks will likely have to outscore teams with the backcourt featuring the likes of OJ Mayo and Luke Ridnour. This leaves just 16-20 minutes for Hensen and Epke Udoh, which I am guessing will be split about evenly.
Programming note, I will normally try to post a weekly column on Thursday with supplementary pieces like this mixed in as needed, but as I am currently in the process of moving, and that may keep the long form pieces to a minimum for a few weeks.