The reason the Bucks are the team nobody wants to face in the first round of the playoffs is John Salmons.
Well, Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings are a couple other reasons, but Salmons completes them — Milwaukee needed another guy who could create his own shot on the perimeter, who could get to the rim on offense and play good defense. Most importantly they needed a veteran, calming influence on the court. That has been John Salmons.
It leaves him with a serious question about next year, according to the Journal-Sentinel.
Salmons, 30, is playing so well now that he is putting himself in good position for the off-season. He has a $5.8 million player option for next season but may choose to test the free-agent market, and the Bucks clearly would like to have him back.
Would the Bucks, or another team, spend more than $5.8 million on Salmons next year? It depends on what Salmons you get.
Not if it was not Salmons the first half of this season with Chicago, who was a pedestrian player. The Milwaukee Salmons is shooting better, getting more assists per game and playing better defense. To sum it up in one tidy little number, the Chicago Salmons had a PER of 12.8, the Milwaukee one has a PER of 17.2 (the league average is 15).
Salmons was good in the 08-09 season, but below average the two years before that.
For Salmons the $5.8 million may not be the key, length of contract could be big. If he is a free agent this summer he can get multiple years under the current CBA, if he waits until 2011 who knows what the market and structure of the deal will be. But he risks making less money — owners are not throwing around money for mid-level guys right now. Does risk less for longer-term security? Or is he playing well enough to get both?
Salmons has no easy decision to make.