The Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Bobcats, and Sacramento Kings swung a three-team trade that not only altered each team, but also changed the direction and flow of the draft that followed later in the evening. Let’s take a look at each variable that came into play in both the trade and the draft.
By sending out Corey Maggette and John Salmons, and bringing in Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston, and Beno Udrih, the Bucks saved a huge chunk of cash. They sent out the two biggest contracts in the deal and brought in three smaller ones. Jeremy Schmidt at Bucksketball did a terrific breakdown of the numbers and calculated the savings to be $8,238,357, plus the difference in salary between signing a #19 draftee instead of a #10 pick. Salmons was the only player in the deal signed through 2013-14; now, the Bucks will have only cornerstones Bogut, Sanders, and the restricted free-agency of Jennings lined up for that season. Salary flexibility is power. Result: Huge win.
Personnel: Salmons for Jackson
Don’t compare Maggette to Stephen Jackson. That’s not a fair comparison by talent, role, or effectiveness. Instead, take note that the mantle of crunchtime scorer has passed from John Salmons to Stephen Jackson. Here’s a look at the numbers for each shooting guard from the 2010-11 season:
With the exception of turnovers and three-pointers attempted, those numbers are frighteningly similar. Jackson nets more points as a result of taking more shots, but Salmons is substantially more careful with the ball. Jackson, on the other hand, is a better defender. Result: Draw.
Personnel: Other Pieces
As outlined previously on this site, the Corey Maggette Experiment had failed in Milwaukee. (To be fair, it’s failed everywhere that he has gone in the NBA.) Recall what might be the most important part of that piece:
In fact, if you subtract the 1399 minutes Maggette played from the equation, the Bucks outscored their opponents last season (they played 2565 minutes without him).
On a defensive unit that ranked near the top of the league standings, Maggette was a gaping hole. He needed to go. Hammond smartly found a taker for his bloated contract, and as a result, the roster spots occupied by Maggette and (so-to-be-ex-Buck) Earl Boykins will now be manned by Udrih and Livingston, the two new backup point guards.
Are the Bucks getting better by having Udrih and Livingston taking over the roster spots of Maggette and Boykins? Absolutely. Both Sacramento and Charlotte were better teams (in terms of point differential and defensive rating) when Udrih and Liv were on the floor — a complete contrast to Maggette’s situation. Udrih can run an offense and shoot the three-pointer if the ball gets back around to him. Also, he has proven to be durable, playing 79 games in each of the last two seasons. Livingston’s unusual size and ranginess for a point guard can cause difficulty for opponents on both ends. He also brings a strong midrange game and excellent floor vision. The two players complement each other, too. Udrih’s strengths are Livingston’s weaknesses: Shaun has chronic knee issues and does not possess a long-range game. Result: Win.
Personnel: Draft Picks
By making this deal, Milwaukee moved down, effectively swapping down from the #10 spot to the #19 spot. Instead of likely choices Alec Burks or Klay Thompson, the Bucks selected Tobias Harris. Only hindsight will say for sure, but it seems unlikely that any of the three ends up a superstar in the NBA. Burks has the highest ceiling, but Harris is an 18-year-old with NBA-caliber size and athleticism. Result: Slight loss.
Overall Result: Win.
Question Marks and Notes:
1) Will Jackson accept his role in Milwaukee? How much stock do you put in this line?
A source told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher that Jackson is not happy about being dealt to Milwaukee and it remains to be seen how cooperative he’ll be if and when he joins the team.
Snippets like “a source” and “Ric Bucher” lend substance to my incredulity on this one.
2) Will conditioning improve Jackson’s performance? Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports that Jackson “lost 20 pounds the last two months by improving his diet and a hot-yoga regimen.”
3) The Bucks suddenly have point guards — maybe too many of them. Will Brandon Jennings accept his role if he needs to play off the ball some of the time in an Udrih-Jennings backcourt?
4) Is the acquisition of Udrih a sign that the Bucks may yet make another trade? Is Jennings now <gulp> on the block?
The optimist in me believes that the answers to the these questions are “yes, yes, yes, and no”. My personal opinion is that Jennings and Andrew Bogut are the cornerstones of this team. The pieces around them have improved and we need one more season to determine if the “Big 2″ are worthwhile building blocks – that is, if the lockout goes away soon enough to let that season take place.