Changing of the guard in store for Milwaukee Bucks this off-season?

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brandon jennings bucks

Despite finishing six games under five hundred, the Milwaukee Bucks earned the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.  Mired in mediocrity, the Bucks already hired Larry Drew as their new head coach and there could be a changing of the guard this off-season as well since both Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis will likely test the free agent waters.

Milwaukee Bucks (38-44 last year)

2012-13 Season Summary:
For the past decade, the Milwaukee Bucks have been skating by as an average NBA franchise.  The team has remade itself several times during that span but have failed to become anything more than a borderline playoff team and that once again the case during the 2012-13 campaign

The backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis was erratic throughout most of the season; showing moments of offensive brilliance one night and then playing completely out of control the next evening.  Though the team had some decent other pieces, it was ultimately the backcourt that would make or break each game with their shot selection and decision-making.

Perhaps the biggest development of this past season was the emergence of Larry Sanders as one of the top shot blockers in the league.  The former VCU Ram was nothing more than a marginal role player his first two years in the NBA but earned a startinga spot and became the defensive presence in the middle that the Bucks were sorely lacking.

In a feeble attempt to make a playoff push, Milwaukee traded former first round pick Tobias Harris to Orlando in exchange for sharpshooter J.J. Redick.  While Redick played his role well off the bench, Harris played awesome for the Magic down the stretch.  Redick will be a free agent this summer while Harris has plenty of room for growth so that should likely be a deal that will haunt Milwaukee fans in the next couple of years if Harris continues that type of production moving forward.

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Larry Sanders/Ekpe Udoh/Drew Gooden
PF: Ersan Ilyasova/John Henson/#Gustavo Ayon
SF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
SG: *Monta Ellis
PG: ^Brandon Jennings/Ish Smith

NBA Free Agents:
^PG-Brandon Jennings (RFA)
*G-Monta Ellis (PO)
#PF-Gustavo Ayon (TO)
SG-J.J. Redick (UFA)
SF-Mike Dunleavy (UFA)
C-Samuel Dalembert (UFA)
G/F-Marquis Daniels (UFA)
C-Joel Przybilla (UFA)

2013-14 Team Salary: approximately $29.8 million

Team Needs:
1. Decisions with Guards: With Brandon Jennings a restricted free agent this summer, the Milwaukee Bucks must make a decision on where his future lies with the organization.  While he been a spark plug since arriving in Milwaukee, I am not sure he is worth a long-term extension that could pay him in excess of ten-million dollars per year.  If some team is willing to offer him that sort of deal, the Bucks do have the option to match the contract and might be handcuffed into doing so rather than letting Jennings walk and get nothing in return.  Even if Jennings does return, the team should still look to add another back-up guard.

Another decision must be made about Monta Ellis.  Ellis has a player option on the final year of his contract and will more than likely opt out and test the free agent waters.  It is highly unlikely Milwaukee will be able to keep both guys (not that they should want to since that duo is not going to get the Bucks out of mediocrity) and Ellis is the more likely of the two to leave town.  Whatever the case, Milwaukee needs to have a Plan B at both positions.

2. Shooting Wing: With both J.J. Redick and Mike Dunleavy free agents, Milwaukee will likely lose their top two bench snipers.  Assuming both guys find new homes this summer, the Bucks must find a perimeter scorer who can provide some offensive firepower off the bench and consistently knock down open shots.

3.  Physical Big Man: With Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova, John Henson, and Ekpe Udoh; Milwaukee has decent depth up-front but with Samuel Dalembert a free agent and Drew Gooden being nothing more than a benchwarmer, the Bucks don’t have a true banger down low.  Sanders and Henson are long and athletic while Ilyasova is a face-up four so adding a big body to replace Dalembert will be an important free agency move to make.

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David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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