By Dave Roloff Published Feb 05, 2005 at 5:34 AM

Top NBA Salaries

1. Shaquille O' Neal $27,696,429
2. Dikembe Mutombo $18,771,511
3. Allan Houston $17,531,250
4. Chris Webber $17,531,250
5. Kevin Garnett $16,000,000
6. Jason Kidd $14,791,000
7. Anfernee Hardaway $14,625,000
8. Antoine Walker $14,625,000
9. Shareef Abdur-Rahim $14,625,000
10. Stephon Marbury $14,625,000
11. Zydrunas Illguaskas $14,625,000
12. Ray Allen $14,625,000
13, Allen Iverson $14,625,000
14. Michael Finley $14,609,375
15. Grant Hill $14,487,000.00
16. Keith Van Horn $14,487,000
17. Jalen Rose $14,487,000
18. Tracy McGrady $14,487,000
19. Latrell Sprewell $14,487,000
20. Tim Duncan $14,260,640

Team Payrolls

1. New York Knicks $103,597,539
2. Dallas Mavericks $ 90,569,088
3. Portland Trailblazers $ 77,238,214
4. Philadelphia 76ers $ 70,260,707
5. Minnesota Timberwolves $ 69,503,295
6. Memphis Grizzlies $ 67,897,176
7. Indiana Pacers $ 64,318,107
8. Boston Celtics $ 64,156,576
9. Orlando Magic $ 61,512,234
10. Sacramento Kings $ 61,007,709
11. Los Angeles Lakers $ 60,732,680
12. Milwaukee Bucks $ 56,581,981
13. Houston Rockets $ 56,074,130
14. Golden State Warriors $ 55,808,054
15. New Jersey Nets $ 54,107,420
16. Miami Heat $ 54,076,658
17. Seattle Sonics $ 51,948,075
18. Detroit Pistons $ 51,466,910
19. Chicago Bulls $ 51,292,397
20. Toronto Raptors $ 50,998,694
21. Washington Wizards $ 47,041,950
22. Cleveland Cavaliers $ 46,887,274
23. San Antonio Spurs $ 44,550,584
24. Los Angeles Clippers $ 44,222,942
25. Phoenix Suns $ 43,310,461
26. Utah Jazz $ 42,727,858
27. Denver Nuggets $ 42,078,438
28. New Orleans Hornets $ 41,896,667
29. Atlanta Hawks $ 39,147,723
30. Charlotte Bobcats $ 22,786,404

Milwaukee Bucks Salaries

1. Keith Van Horn $14,487,000
2. Desmond Mason $ 6,429,333
3. Jason Caffey $ 6,125,000
4. Anthony Mason $ 5,899,400
5. Joe Smith $ 5,899,400
6. Michael Redd $ 3,000,000
7. Mike James $ 3,000,000
8. Toni Kukoc $ 3,000,000
9. T.J. Ford $ 2,152,800
10. Marcus Haislip $ 1,655,280
11. Erick Strickland $ 1,650,000
12. Maurice Williams $ 1,600,000
13. Daniel Santiago
14. Marcus Fizer
15. Zendon Hamilton $ 720,046
16. Dan Gadzuric
17. Zaza Pachulia $ 620,046
18. Kendall Gill $ 171,111
19. Anthony Goldwire $ 106,339
20. Eddie House $ 66,226

Top Ten Free Agents

1. Ray Allen - u
2. Joe Johnson - r
3. Larry Hughes - u
4. Zydrunas Illgauskas - u
5. Eddy Curry - r
6. Andre Miller - u
7. Stromile Swift - u
8. Antione Walker - u
9. Bobby Simmons - u
10. Tyson Chandler - r

The writing is on the wall, friends. This year's version of the Milwaukee Bucks has reached the point of no return -- the point where to better the franchise, pingpong balls become more important than possible playoff positioning. The point where players need to be moved for younger talent. The point where cap room becomes more important than on-the-court talent.

The Bucks as we know them aren't going anywhere. Even the glimmer of hope that the victory against the T-Wolves showed, it will be nothing more than a run for the No. 7 seed in the watered-down Eastern Conference and a quiet first round exit -- an exit that offers the Bucks a mid-first round draft selection and contributes to the franchise swirling down the drain.

The decisions that have to be made to change the Bucks' future fall to GM Larry Harris. They are many and will determine whether the Bucks morph into a playoff contender or recess into the Mike Dunleavy era.

1. Should the Bucks trade Michael Redd or build the team around him as the future?

2. What should the Bucks do with Keith Van Horn's contract?

3. With the cap room the Bucks should have next year, should they dabble in free agency or wait until 2006 when the Bucks could max a player out.

4. What is the future of Terry Porter?

To Trade Or Not To Trade?

This used to be more of a question. Redd has proven he's a fine NBA player that will consistently score 20 points per night. Beyond his playing ability, he is a person that a franchise could hang its hat on.

He's also proven he's not the type of player that can carry a team when the rest of the team is having an off night. He doesn't make his teammates better. What all of this adds up to is that Redd is not a max contract player.

Redd has a player option for $3 million next year. He will definitely opt out of his contract which will make him an unrestricted free agent. He has said all of the right things about wanting to stay in Milwaukee, but he's done his fair share of hinting he would like to go back home to Ohio and play with Lebron James. What the Bucks cannot afford is to simply let him go in free agency without any compensation.

This leads to Larry Harris coming up with a trade. What makes the situation even more difficult is that getting value back for Redd is very difficult. He only makes $3 million a year, and all trades in the NBA have to match salaries, thus making it difficult to get a productive player in return. To do so, the trade would have to involve another Bucks player to match compensation.

One rumor that has been bantered about is Redd for Nene Hilario and one of the Nuggets' first-round draft picks. The Nuggets have a log jam at the four with the signing of Kenyon Martin and are desperate for a shooter. It also doesn't hurt that George Karl is now the Nuggets coach. Redd was one of his closest players, as demonstrated by the long embrace the two shared before last Friday's game at the Bradley Center.

A slight wrinkle to this trade could be Redd and Erick Strickland for Hilario and Nikoloz Tskitishvili. Both are restricted free agents after this season, and Denver will most likely not be able to resign both. Skita has yet to show any of his potential but is only 20 and has received very little playing time. Remember, Jermaine O'Neal couldn't get off of the bench in his first three years with the Trailblazers.

Regardless of what road Harris decides to explore, holding onto Redd doesn't make much sense for the future of the organization.

The $16 Million Man

Yes, it is true, Keith Van Horn has a player option for 2005-'06 at the price tag of $15.7 million. This would make KVH the 15th highest paid player in the NBA. That sum would also be more than any two other players' salaries on the Bucks. This for a guy who would struggle to get the mid-level exemption in the open market.

There is no question that KVH will accept his option, so the Bucks really only have one choice. They have to eat the contract for one more year and enjoy the cap room in 2006 when the contact expires. KVH is a serviceable player, so it will not be a problem to have him on the roster for one more year -- but the cap number stings.

One other possible option is a long shot. No team in the NBA will trade for KVH, and the Bucks will not take on other bad contracts just to get rid of him. They could ask KVH to opt out of his contract for next year if they offered him a three-year extension for around $18 million. That would save the Bucks $10 million on the cap this year and offer KVH the security of making another $18 million over the next three years. Something he may not find possible on the open market. Like previously stated -- that is a long shot.

Who is Available?

It has been over a decade since the Bucks have had enough cap room to sign players in free agency. The Bucks rid themselves of about $20 million in contract after this season. Twelve of that $20 million was being paid to Anthony Mason and Jason Caffey. The Bucks should be about $12 million under the cap with five players under contract and two restricted free agents that do not affect the cap because the Bucks hold their "Bird" rights (Dan Gadzuric and Zaza Pachulia).

There is a long list of players that are eligible for free agency, but there aren't any names that would be considered franchise-type players. In fact, one of the top upcoming free agents is a restricted free agent and it is very unlikely that the Bulls will let someone pry away Eddy Curry.

All restricted free agents are allowed to sign offer sheets with other teams, but their current team has 15 days to match the offer. This makes it difficult to sign away talented restricted free agents.

Some of the names on the unrestricted list are players like Ray Allen. We all know about his game, and the chances of him leaving a winning situation in Seattle to come back to Milwaukee are not great. Allen has also hinted he might go to Los Angeles to further promote his movie career.

Another name is Stromile Swift. He is one of the athletic big men in the game. His offense is a little raw, but he runs the floor well and is a big-time shot blocker and rebounder.

Joe Johnson is a restricted free agent, and the Suns may have trouble keeping all of their talent. Johnson is a 6-foot-7-inch two-guard that does it all. He shoots the lights out, rebounds and even fills in at the point for Steve Nash. Picture a bigger Desmond Mason with three-point range.

Porter's Future

Larry Harris knows this season is not Terry Porter's fault. Porter has yet to be able to fall into a regular substitution pattern because of all of the injuries. He was also dealt the hand of having his team run by a 20-year-old point guard with no experience.

Playing most of the season without T.J. Ford, Keith Van Horn and Toni Kukoc has put Porter behind the eight ball. The problem with this team is not the coaching -- it is the players.

Plan of Attack

The first step to rebuilding is moving Redd. If the Bucks are fortunate enough to get Hilario for him it would change the Bucks' outlook in free agency. The Bucks need some athletic big men, but could look elsewhere if Hilario is in purple. A nice fit could be Johnson, who seems poised to become a star in the NBA if he could become the focus of an offense. He poses major match-up problems.

The Bucks should have a fairly high draft pick in a year that is loaded with point guards. In a perfect world, T.J. Ford would return to health and the Bucks could fill another hole with that selection. Reality says that may not be likely and the Bucks will have to find a point guard in the draft. The Bucks' current point guard is Mo Williams. He is very young and could develop, but that may be a ways off.

The Bucks may not be able to completely re-shape the roster next year, but in 2006 they should have the cap room to try and lure a superstar with a max contract.

These are tenuous times for the Bucks and GM Harris. The rebuilding needs to begin now because this team isn't going anywhere this year. Porter is the right man for the job, now it's up to Harris to provide him with the horses it takes to win.

Dave was born and raised on the south side of Milwaukee. He is a graduate of UW-Oshkosh where he graduated in Business while playing four years of football. He is a sports junkie who, instead of therapy, just watches the Bucks and the Brewers. Dave is a season ticket holder for the Brewers, Bucks and Packers, as well as a football coach at Greendale High School. Dave still likes to think he still can play baseball but has moved on to the more pedestrian sports of bowling and golf. Dave is a Pisces and it depends on whom he is walking with to determine whether he likes long walks on the beach. Dave writes with an encyclopedic knowledge and a sarcastic flare. Mainly to insure his sanity.