The majority of NBA teams will be in the market for a guard in the offseason.
If they’re fortunate, they’ll find one in the June 27 draft. If they don’t, they’ll have to delve into free agency and probably overpay to fill a need.
The Milwaukee Bucks may have to use both avenues as a means to plug what is expected to be a gaping hole for them at the guard spots.
The Bucks are likely to lose starting shooting guard Monta Ellis, who has an opt-out in his contract after this season, and veteran backup shooting guard J.J.Redick, who is an unrestricted free agent.
What’s more, Brandon Jennings is a restricted free agent who, after the last opening-round playoff game against Miami, publicly stated he wasn’t sure if he wanted to play for the Bucks next season. That admission rankled Bucks fans and members of the Bucks organization alike. It also prompted growing speculation the team will attempt to move Jennings in a sign-and-trade deal this summer.
The Bucks’ first opportunity toward stabilizing their shaky backcourt could come during the draft. They have a reasonably decent shot of landing a quality guard with their first-round selection, the 15th pick overall. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a shooting guard from Georgia, and Dennis Schroeder, a point guard from Germany, both could be on the board when the Bucks make their pick.
The Bucks are almost certain to pursue a guard in free agency as well. There will be several fine guards available, including veteran Devin Harris of the Atlanta Hawks.
Harris, 30, is coming off a solid season with the Atlanta Hawks. He was a part-time starter during the regular season and a full-time starter in the playoffs. In fact, Harris averaged a whopping 37.5 minutes a game in the postseason.
The fact Harris has been a starter for most of his career and, at 6-foot-3, can deftly play both point guard and shooting guard will make him an attractive free agent.
Asked if he would entertain the possibility of signing with the Bucks, Harris, a former Wauwatosa East High School and University of Wisconsin star, said: “I would. Of course. Who wouldn’t want to play for their hometown team?
“I know they got a lot of decisions to make, but I know I would be interested in them. If it’s going to work out, who knows?”
Harris earned $8 million this season and is represented by Jeff Schwartz who, interestingly, also has Jennings as a client.
Harris said he has his faith Schwartz will put him in the best situation and, of course, get him the best possible contract.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Harris said of free agency. “Not many players can explore their options and see what’s out there.
“Obviously, the more teams that want you, the better the market is for you. I hope Milwaukee is definitely one of those teams.”
NO REGRETS: Coming out of high school, Ray McCallum was a highly-coveted recruit. He could have played for any number of high-major programs, including Florida, Arizona and Oklahoma.
Instead, McCallum decided to play for his father, Ray, at Detroit Mercy. The younger McCallum, a 6-1 point guard, doesn’t have any doubts he made the correct decision.
“I don’t have any regrets, none,” McCallum said. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made. At the end of the day, I became a better player, a better person.”
McCallum, whose father was an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin from 1984-1993, enjoyed a productive career with the Titans.
Last season, as a junior, he averaged 18.7 points and 4.5 assists. He was chosen the Horizon League Player of the Year. McCallum is generally regarded as a second-round pick.
BONUS SHOTS: The Bucks will conduct second interviews Wednesdday with Houston associate head coach Kelvin Sampson and Atlanta head coach Larry Drew for their vacant head coaching position. The Bucks are also expected to talk to Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins, whose team was eliminated from the playoffs Monday night. … The Bucks will resume pre-draft workouts Friday morning with Miami point guard Shane Larkin, the son of former baseball standout Barry Larkin, and Michigan shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., the son of former NBA star Tim Hardaway, among those expected to work out. … While the Bucks interviewed several assistant coaches for their vacant head coaching position, they inexplicably passed on three highly-regarded ones: Brian Shaw of Indiana, Dave Joerger of Memphis and San Antonio’s Mike Budenholzer, who was hired Tuesday by Atlanta. … Another assistant coach who has been shunned by the Bucks during the interview process is Bucks assistant Sidney Moncrief, one of the greatest players and one of the classiest individuals in Bucks history. Some former Bucks players have lost interest/respect for the organization as only a few of them have been hired by the team in any capacity after their retirements. Moncrief’s snub only adds to their discontent. … Before the college season, Pittsburgh center Steven Adams was projected as a lock for the lottery. After a ho-hum freshman season, though, Adams’ stock plummeted to the point where some teams rated him as a late first-round pick. Now, after a quality pre-draft combine in Chicago, Adams’ stock has bounced back to the point where several teams project him as a top 12 pick. … Ex-Marquette guard Vander Blue had to pull out of the on-going Minnesota combine because of an injury.