Starting Saturday at 11:01 p.m. CT, NBA teams can start negotiating with free agents and reach verbal agreements (but they can't sign until July 6). You might have heard, but there's kind of some big names available this offseason. However, don't expect the Milwaukee Bucks to be involved in those (sorry, Giannis). The salary cap is $101 million and based on current contracts, the Bucks are already over at $103,485,954. However, they do have available an $8.6 million mid-level exception and $3.4 million bi-annual exception. What does it all mean? We take a look at some of the players in Milwaukee's current cap situation and some possible free-agent targets under the current parameters.
CREATING CAP ROOM?
Milwaukee has three players with non-guaranteed salaries for the 2018-19 season and by the time you read this their situations, one in particular, could be settled. The biggest savings the Bucks can make is by not having Brandon Jennings on the roster on July 1. By releasing Jennings, and his non-guaranteed salary, the team would save $2,222,803. Two other players have non-guaranteed contracts: Malcolm Brogdon ($1,544,951) and Tyler Zeller ($1,933,941). It's hard to see the Bucks letting go of the former, but the latter is a distinct possibility. Of course, trading players could also open room, although you need a willing partner and someone who can take on salary. UPDATE: Reportedly the date for Jennings has been moved to Aug. 1.
Here is the biggest early decision for the Bucks. They can submit a qualifying offer to him of $4,333,931. Parker can then accept it and play for that salary next season -- basically gambling on himself that he'll have a good, injury-free year and earn bigger bucks in 2019-20 -- or reject it and field offers as a restricted free agent, meaning Milwaukee could match any contract presented to him by a different team. Sacramento is one team reportedly interested in Parker if he hits the market. If the Bucks don't make a qualifying offer then Parker becomes an unrestricted free agent and Milwaukee no longer has the right to match an offer. The deadline for the Bucks to decide on a qualifying offer is June 30, so, again, we'll know quickly how the early part of this will play out. UPDATE: The Bucks reportedly made a qualifying offer to Parker.
If Milwaukee wants to add some outside shooting, Belinelli could be a nice fit. He's used to coming off the bench (284 games with just 18 starts in the past four seasons) and is familiar with the style of offense of new head coach Mike Budenholzer, having played in Atlanta for part of last season and with San Antonio, where Budenholzer was an assistant, for two years (although right after Budenholzer had left for the Hawks job). An 11-year veteran, Belinelli is used to moving around -- he's played for nine teams. But he's shot the ball well wherever he's been owning a career 37.7 3-point field-goal percentage. Despite his role the past few seasons, Belinelli has averaged 10.6 points over just 23.9 minutes per game since 2014-15.
USA TODAY SportsBill Streicher
The younger brother of Stephen Curry had a breakout season with Dallas in 2016-17, averaging 12.8 points per game and making 102 3s while shooting at a 42.5 percent clip from behind the arc. However, a leg fracture cost him the entire 2017-18 season and perhaps he could be had on the cheap as he tries to re-prove himself. Curry could also be point guard insurance depending on what other moves (i.e. trades) the Bucks make this offseason.
When Atlanta won 60 games in 2014-15, Budenholzer had Kyle Korver shoot a lot of 3-pointers. As in 449 attempts -- or 74.8 percent of his shots -- of which he made 221 (49.2 percent). Meet Ellington, who could be a Korver-like player. A nine-year veteran, Ellington found his role in Miami the past two seasons as a 3-point shooter, attempting 973 3s (including 579 last year), which was the 11th-most in the NBA over that span. Ellington isn't as accurate as Korver but he did make 39.2 percent of his 3 attempts last season.
USA TODAY SportsSam Sharpe
This decision might be over quickly as there have been disputing reports whether or not Kanter will exercise his player option with the New York Knicks. One report has it that if he doesn't, the Bucks would be interested in the 6-foot-11, 245-pound center. Kanter also tweeted out a deer emoji June 28 ,then deleted it, just adding to the mystery. Seeing as how Kanter's option calls for him to make $18.6 million, it would take some creativity to get him to Milwaukee. Last season for the Knicks, Kanter averaged 14.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 0.5 blocks while shooting 59.2 percent from the field and 84.8 percent from the line. UPDATE: Kanter exercised his option and won't be on the market.
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This might have been more likely to happen under the Jason Kidd regime, but if Budenholzer wants more spacing, including getting his big men to shoot 3s, then Lopez would fit (however we should note that in Atlanta, Budenholzer did not have his big men do this, although that could be a case of personnel and not strategy). After several good years with the Nets, Lopez had a down year with the Lakers in 2017-18, with career lows of 13.0 points and 4.0 rebounds as well as just 1.3 blocks, his second-lowest average of his career. However, he also only played 23.4 minutes per game, easily the lowest of his 10-year career. After making just 3 of 24 3-point attempts over his first seven seasons, Lopez developed an outside show and has made 246 3s (34.6 percent) over the last two years.
Want a nice rim protector that won't cost a lot of money? McGee hasn't played 20 minutes a gamesince the 2011-12 season, but at 7-foot, 270 pounds provides some meat in the middle. At one time one of the league's best shot blockers, finishing in the top-six each year from 2010-13, he still averaged 3.3 blocks per 36 minutes for Golden State over the last two seasons while shooting 63.9 percent from the field. He also averaged just 9.5 minutes per game over those two years. He'd be a nice role player off the bench for those times when the Bucks want to keep people out of the lane.
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The No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 draft certainly has not lived up to his hype. He missed his first year recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in college. A malady of other injuries plus a drug suspension last year have limited him to 81 games over the last two seasons. There's no question Noel has the talent. The question is can a change of scenery, and perhaps to a winning team (he's played on one team which won more than 30 games, and that was 33), help motivate him? Budenholder hasn't proven to have a "type" he likes at center -- in Atlanta he had, among others, Al Horford, Dwight Howard and Tiago Splitter. Noel, 6-11, 228, won't shoots 3s (he's 1 of 4 in his career) and owns a low career field-goal percentage for a big man (51.2 percent). But he has decent career per 36-minute averages: 12.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals. Definitely a high-risk, high-reward project.