This is the third in a 15-part series running Wednesdays and Fridays profiling each Milwaukee Bucks player leading up to the start of the NBA season.
Carlos Delfino never wanted to leave Milwaukee. The Argentinian small forward was comfortable in the city and would have been just fine staying with the Bucks for the long run. But Milwaukee decided against bringing Delfino back after the 2011-12 season, and he wound up in Houston.
Delfino scorched the Bucks for 22 points and hit 6-of-7 3-pointers his return to the BMO Harris Bradley Center last season, showing his former team exactly what they were lacking. After one season with the Rockets, Delfino is back with the Bucks on a two-year, $6.5 million contract with a team option for a third year.
There’s a chance the veteran may not be ready for the start of the regular season after undergoing foot surgery in May for a fractured bone in his right foot. The timeline was set for four to six months at the time of the surgery, placing the range from the start of training camp to anywhere in November.
2012-13 stats (Houston Rockets): 10.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, 40.5 FG %, 37.5 3PT %, 85.7% FT % in 67 games
2013-14 salary: $3,250,000
Last year: Delfino played an important role as Houston’s sixth man last season, helping the Rockets to a postseason berth for the first time since 2008-09.
The Rockets were led offensively last season by James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin last season, but Delfino provided the scoring spark and 3-point shooting touch off the bench. As fans in Milwaukee saw enough during his three seasons with the Bucks, Delfino can light it up from beyond the arc at times. There were many games last year in which he kept the Rockets in the game or even won the game with his shooting ability.
In an effort to shed salary to make a run at free-agent center Dwight Howard, Houston waived Delfino in June. The Rockets eventually signed Howard, but they had to give up a valuable role player in the process.
This year: For a while, Delfino was looked at as Milwaukee’s starting small forward because of the lack of depth and experience at the position. With Caron Butler now on board and in the starting lineup, Delfino will be the sixth man.
Delfino’s health will be one of the things to watch in training camp, as the Bucks may be without his services into the regular season. Whenever he returns, Delfino will provide Milwaukee with a 3-point shooting threat and a scoring spark off the bench.
His defensive ability is underrated, as Delfino uses his long arms and quick hands to jump passing lanes and guard the perimeter fairly well. With Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in Sacramento, Delfino is one of the team’s better defensive wing players.
Milwaukee’s locker room issues are well known by now, as the Bucks have focused on building a better chemistry by bringing in positive influences this offseason. Once a leader with Milwaukee, Delfino will slide right back into a leadership role. He was highly regarded by his teammates in Houston and was well liked during his time with the Bucks. Delfino will impact Milwaukee immediately in that regard even if he is unable to play right away.
Delfino averaged 10.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 36.6 percent on 3-pointers over three seasons in his first stint with Milwaukee, and a similar stat line should be expected for the second go around.
From the front office: “It was important. As the season wound down, we had a little dysfunction at times within our roster. I think we’ve rectified that. I’m hoping to have a team that’s going to play hard and compete and will enjoy playing with each other.” — Bucks general manager John Hammond on the importance of adding veteran leaders like Delfino