This is the first in a series of offseason profiles about the major contributors to the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2009-10 season.
John Salmons’ 2009-10 final stat line as a Milwaukee Buck (30 games):
19.9 ppg, 46.7 FG% (38.5 3FG%), 86.7 FT%, 3.3 apg, 3.2 rpg, 1.1 spg
Combo guard/forward John Salmons, affectionately nicknamed the Silent Assassin throughout his 30 games in a Bucks’ uniform, will now be the talk of Milwaukee’s offseason as he weighs the choices of playing out the last year of his contract as a Buck or opting out and entering free agency with no strings attached.
“Chicago wasn’t going well, but coming here just turned my season around and we made a great playoff run,” Salmons said. “A decision like free agency, there’s a lot that goes into it. Milwaukee would be a place that I would definitely consider.”
Salmons indicated he hadn’t made a decision on the matter at the team’s end of the year press meeting, but the reality of a potential 2011-12 lockout and Salmons’ desire to plant his roots in a city after being traded at midseason twice in two years.
Assuming he opts out, it has been reported that Milwaukee is ready to offer a three to four year deal that would run out when Salmons hits 34 years of age, which could very well mean that he passes his prime a year or two before and kill his trade value.
With $30 million coming off the books after 2010-11, GM John Hammond is in a very precarious situation with the catalyst for the team’s 2009-10 success. If he does extend Salmons’ tenure as a Buck, it could prove to be a financial road block in a few years as Salmons ages and there’s no guarantee he will replicate his production over a full season in Milwaukee.
“(John Salmons) did a great job for us,” Hammond said. “He was integral in where we ended up, give him a lot of credit for what he did for our organization.”
If he lets Salmons walk, the Bucks are left with a huge, short term hole at the shooting guard position and would place a lot of expectations for repeat success on a young roster that could lose a third of its 2009-10 players to free agency. Brew Hoop does a great job here of looking a little deeper into the pros and cons of bringing back one of the Bucks’ best midseason pickups ever.
“This is why contracts are done with opt outs,” coach Scott Skiles said. “He has a right to do what he needs to do. We certainly have a great interest in John … He’s our kind of player.”
Salmons was most known in Milwaukee for dropping a consistent 20 points, mostly off the dribble or from 15-20 feet outside the paint. Seventy-two percent of his shots as a Buck were jumpers for an effective field goal percentage of 49.4% (the highest on the team), while 28% came inside at an eFG% clip of 57.9. He was also the only Buck guard/forward that could routinely get to the foul line, easily leading Milwaukee with 5.3 free throws per game.
But his most underrated contribution to the Bucks was his ability to play fundamentally solid defense at the two and three positions. Salmons rarely allowed a player to take an uncontested shot along the perimeter, but his pension for getting beat off the dribble by quicker players was exposed a bit more when center Andrew Bogut took his shot blocking and interior defensive presence with him after Joe Theismann-ing his arm.
It’s barely a secret that Salmons made the Bucks a better all around team, as their offensive and defensive points per 100 possessions increased by 5.3 and decreased by 4.5 points, respectively, when Salmons was on the floor. The team’s record with the quiet warrior in the starting lineup came to 21-7 by season’s end, and very likely would’ve been better if Bogut had been healthy through the end of the season.
Salmons was expected to give the Bucks a much-needed offensive jolt when he swapped cities with Hakim Warrick and Joe Alexander, and its safe to say that like the team, he exceeded any expectations the organization and fans had. Whether he can/will carry that performance over to a full season in a Bucks uniform remains to be seen.Follow paulmbanks