After the confetti falls after this year's NBA Finals, one of the most highly-anticipated summers of free agency will begin.
LeBron, Wade and Bosh will be the names on everyone's lips, and several teams will be awash with available money to pay these players.
The Knicks, Bulls, Clippers and Nets, who have been positioning themselves for this summer for years by accumulating expiring contracts, will likely be clamoring for the biggest names, while the less fiscally-fortunate teams like the Timberwolves, Grizzlies and Kings will have no choice but to stand pat with their talent-devoid rosters.
The Milwaukee Bucks currently stand firmly under the “fiscally unfortunate” umbrella thanks to head-scratching commitments to Dan Gadzuric, who is getting paid almost seven million dollars this year for 10 minutes and three points per game, and Michael Redd, who's getting $17 million despite playing only 18 games after tearing another ligament in his left knee.
These poisonous contracts have tied the hands of general manager John Hammond, who was recently named the league's executive of the year for the way he's handled the mess left behind by Larry Harris, and have left Hammond unable to make any significant moves during his first two off-seasons.
The summer of 2010 certainly won't be the summer of the Buck—but the summer of 2011 could be a whole different story.
After the 2011 NBA season, the weak-kneed Redd and the just plain weak Gadzuric will be free to go, and many Bucks fans will be happy to see them off with a sausage-and-cheese gift basket.
Their departures will free up just over $25 million for Hammond to play with—enough to sign a max-contract free agent of his own.
The list of superstars available in 2011 won't be quite as long as the one this summer, but there's one name on it that I think would be an interesting option for the Bucks, Dirk Nowitzki, given that he exercises his player option with Dallas for next year.
In ways similar to Redd and Gadzuric, Nowitzki embodies the poor personnel decisions the once-proud Milwaukee franchise has made over the past 20 years or so.
Milwaukee drafted Nowitzki ninth overall in 1998, but the Bucks traded him to Dallas for Robert “Tractor” Traylor. Needless to say, Dallas got the better end of the deal, having won 50 games in each of the last 10 seasons.
But Hammond might have the opportunity to right the wrongs of previous Bucks administrations in 2011.
A Nowitzki addition would be huge for Milwaukee because of Dirk's explosive scoring ability. Combine that with Andrew Bogut's offensive and defensive ability in the paint and a supporting cast that helped carry the team unexpectedly into the playoffs this year, and Milwaukee would be a team favored to do big things in the Eastern Conference.
This is all conjecture, of course. Nowitzki might never leave Mark Cuban and the Mavericks and has said that it'd be hard to see himself playing anywhere but Dallas.
But if he does leave, why not play for the Bucks? There are pieces in place in Milwaukee with whom a championship-hungry Nowitzki might like to play, and a bona fide superstar like Dirk would reawaken the city's love for professional basketball.
Nothing is imminent, as the scenario is an entire year away. But just like Knicks fans who were eagerly awaiting the summer of 2010 back in 2008, Milwaukee can cling to the faint notion of Dirk Nowitzki taking the Bucks all the way to the NBA Finals in the spring of 2012.
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