Bucks venture into tax territory, likely temporarily, to stand pat

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The Bucks sold the No. 48 pick in the draft for $2 million and bought the No. 46 pick for $1.9 million.

That was a fun bit of cleverness from a team that otherwise didn’t have room to spread its wings this offseason.

The luxury-tax line landing lower than expected and Greg Monroe opting in squeezed the Bucks. They still re-signed Tony Snell to a four-year, $46 million contract –  fair value – but otherwise packed it in.

Milwaukee’s 14 players with guaranteed salaries will put the team just $47,131 into the luxury tax. The Bucks will surely duck the tax before it’s assessed on the last day of the regular season, allowing them to receive a check usually given to non-taxpayers.

The bet here is Milwaukee won’t do anything catastrophic to dump salary. Stretching Spencer Hawes, who’s making $6,021,175 in the final year of his contract, would do the trick. Though trading someone – like John Henson, who’s now stuck behind Thon Maker – is preferable, the ability to stretch Hawes allows the Bucks to preserve leverage in trade negotiations.

Kudos to the Bucks for keeping Snell, who developed nicely as a 3-and-D wing. They might not have been as aggressive if they knew exactly where tax line would fall, but they crossed the the threshold. Even temporarily, that’s important. Though their injury problems just moved from Khris Middleton to Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s versatility and Malcolm Brogdon‘s emergence should mean Snell remains a starter.

Milwaukee returns its seven leaders in playoff minutes – the oldest of whom just turned 27, the best of whom is only 22. All the reasons people view the Bucks as risers in the East – chiefly, Antetokounmpo – remain in tact.

They lost Michael Beasley, a solid scoring reserve, to the Knicks. Jason Terry remains unsigned despite playing a surprisingly large role last season. Except for a minimum-salary chunk used to give No. 46 pick Sterling Brown a three-year contract, the mid-level exception sits unused.

Brown and No. 17 pick D.J. Wilson fall somewhere in the range of acceptable selections.

From the draft to free agency, this offseason was merely fine. For a team coming off its first winning season in seven years and second in 14 years, that’s not so bad.

Offseason grade: C