Source: Bucks will retain Delfino
Delfino was one of the surprises for the Bucks as they won 46 regular-season games and reached the Eastern Conference playoffs before losing to Atlanta in seven games in a first-round series.
The Bucks faced a Wednesday deadline if they had wanted to make a change with Delfino, who had $500,000 in guaranteed money for the second year of his three-year contract.
By making no move, the Bucks chose to keep Delfino, who will be owed the full $3.5 million for the second year of the deal. The third year (for 2011-12) is a team option, also at $3.5 million.
Delfino earned a starting role at small forward last season and played a major part in the Bucks’ improved defense while also providing a strong perimeter shooting threat.
The native of Argentina returned to the NBA after playing in Russia for one season, and he posted career highs in starts (66), points (11.0), rebounds (5.3) and assists (2.7).
The Bucks acquired the rights to Delfino last August in a trade with the Toronto Raptors. He was a familiar player to Bucks general manager John Hammond, who played a part in drafting Delfino in 2003 when he was the 25th overall pick of the Detroit Pistons.
Milwaukee will have veteran Corey Maggette, acquired in a trade with Golden State last week, and Delfino, who turns 28 in August, at small forward.
They also recently added wing help in trading for 6-7 shooting guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, who played his first two seasons with New Jersey.
Veteran shooting guard John Salmons opted out of the final year of his contract Tuesday and became an unrestricted free agent at 11:01 p.m. (Milwaukee time) Wednesday.
The Bucks are hopeful they will be able to re-sign Salmons, who played a key role in the team’s playoff drive in the final two months last season, after he was obtained in a trade with the Chicago Bulls.
Delfino and Brandon Jennings combined for 279 three-pointers last season, the most threes by a Bucks duo since Michael Redd and Ray Allen hit 305 during the 2002-’03 season. Delfino connected on 134 threes while shooting 36.7 percent beyond the arc.
Delfino struggled with a matchup against athletic Atlanta forward Josh Smith in the playoffs but fared much better when he switched onto Hawks guard Joe Johnson later in the series.
Coach Scott Skiles’ switch of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to the power forward spot and inserting Delfino as the starter at small forward, a move made in late January, became a turning point for the Bucks.
“For my confidence, it was a breakthrough,” Delfino said at the end of the season. “When you have the support on your back from the team and the coaching staff, you feel much better.
“Of course I am looking forward to having a full season, the way it was from that point (Jan. 20) to the end. That’s got to be my goal for next season.”
Delfino, who played for Argentina’s bronze-medal winning team in the 2008 Olympics, also is expected to play for his country in the FIBA World Championships. That competition is scheduled in late August and early September in Turkey.
“Everybody is excited about having almost everyone,” Delfino said. “We will be missing Manu (Ginobili), who is a key piece, but we have all the rest of the guys. We will have our chances, and I am proud about going and representing my country.”
Last updated: 2:35 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012