It seems as if the Milwaukee Bucks are going to make a splash one way or another at the trade deadline Thursday, Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. CST. Multiple reports have surfaced today that say that the Milwaukee Bucks are one of the most active teams. John Hammond has two valuable expiring contracts in Beno Udrih and Samuel Dalembert. Due to the lack of depth at guard, expect Udrih to stay.
Dalembert on the other hand, will most likely be thrown into a deal. His production is up, his value is high and multiple reports have mentioned the Bucks shopping him.
Right now, it’s clear that there are two specific trade targets that the Bucks are looking to acquire.
Potential Trade: Bucks trade Monta Ellis and Samuel Dalembert to the Atlanta Hawks for Josh Smith and Anthony Morrow.
The Hawks have a bevy of guards, so I expect the Bucks to take one of them back if they do make a deal for Josh Smith. As for the Hawks, I could see them either insisting on Dalembert’s expiring contract to free up cap space for Dwight Howard this offseason or go the youth route and ask for Ekpe Udoh. The problem with Udoh to the Hawks, is he’s about the same size as Al Horford and I’m not sure that they’d complement each other very well. John Henson and Larry Sanders aren’t going anywhere.
But this trade is really centered around Ellis and Smith. Ellis, who has been inefficient this season much like his fellow backcourt mate Brandon Jennings, is expected to decline his option after next season and become a free agent. Today, Yahoo! NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that:
For all the leverage Brandon Jennings sought changing agents, reality is unchanged: No one will max him out, Bucks will match sheet in July.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2013
As for Smith, many fans are confused why the Bucks would trade for himwhen he “hates Milwaukee.” Although Smith never said those exact words but he did say, “Everybody knows there ain’t nothing to do in Milwaukee.” Despite that, Smith did come around admitting that he was referred to a Carnevor steakhouse by Jerry Stackhouse and a few other players on the team.
Regardless of Smith’s perception of Milwaukee’s night life, he is an unrestricted free agent after this season which raises the biggest red flag. The Bucks seem to be willing to gamble on trying to re-sign Smith, who reportedly will seek a max deal, rather than Ellis. I assume Ellis’ representation has informed the Bucks that he will opt out and that he most likely would like to be traded. Again, speculation.
So, if both Ellis and Smith are leaving after the season, which is better for the Bucks. Smith is averaging 17.4 ppg., 8.6 rpg., 4.1 apg., shooting 46 percent from the field and has a Player Efficiency Rating of 17.91. Ellis, is averaging 18.4 ppg., 3.8 rpg., 5.5 apg., shooting 40 percent from the field and has a Player Efficiency Rating of 15.25. If neither plan on staying in Milwaukee past this season, I want Smith.
Is it wise to trade an expiring in Monta for an expiring in Smith? Clearly, the Bucks are looking to make the playoffs. However, even if Smith does leave, he’s a candidate for a sign and trade. The Brooklyn Nets are a team interested in Smith but might lack the assets to acquire him. If Smith has an interest in Brooklyn this offseason and the Nets don’t have the cap room to sign him, perhaps a sign and trade is agreed upon. However, the Nets looked to go this route last summer with Ersan Ilyasova and didn’t have the assets to get it done.
If the Bucks do trade Ellis for Smith, a glaring hole will appear at shooting guard. The Bucks have had four guards this year in Jennings, Ellis, Udrih and Doron Lamb (and Lamb has vanished for lack of production recently). Ellis, whose size and skills resemble a point guard’s but shooting mentality is that of a shooting guard, will need to be replaced by a guard who can work off of the ball and let Jennings be the primary ball handler. The other buzz that has surfaced involves a guard who can do just that.
Potential Trade: Bucks trade 2013 first round pick and Luc Richard Mbah A Moute to Orlando for JJ Redick (reportedly “on the table” according to Ken Berger of CBSsports.com)
One deal on the table for the Bucks is Luc Mbah a Moute and a first-round pick to Orlando for J.J. Redick, sources say.
— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) February 19, 2013
Redick is a player who would be a great fit in Milwaukee. His sharp shooting, ability to be effective off of the ball and personality all make him a candidate that could stay in Milwaukee for the long term. Redick has expressed that he feels comfortable in Orlando, one of the small markets of the NBA. If he isn’t one to dash for a big market, maybe he could find a home in Milwaukee. The problem is that like Smith, Redick will also be a free agent this summer. The Magic covet a first round pick for him, but it isn’t worth trading unless Redick gives the Bucks assurance that he’d re-sign.
So, what is the Bucks’ plan? If they were to acquire Smith and Redick, I believe they will look to re-sign both. However, they either are A) too naive to realize that Smith wants max money (which I fear we will throw at him) and to go to a big market or B) Don’t care that Smith plans to leave after a three-month rental and are comfortable with getting an asset or two back in a sign and trade. If the Bucks are delusional enough to make a play for Smith thinking he will stay long term after this year, the team could look to trade Ilyasova for a wing. With Smith on the roster, I think there will have to be a legit small forward on the team. While Smith can play the 3, he seems most comfortable at the 4, as does Ilyasova. With Henson backing up Smith, Ilyasova would be expendable.
The Toronto Raptors have expressed interest in Ilyasova. With newly acquired forward Rudy Gay, and lottery pick and Slam Dunk Contest champion Terrence Ross on the wing, Demar Derozan has found it a little crowded in Toronto. I think a move like trading Ilyasova and Joel Pryzbilla for Demar Derozan and Aaron Gray would make sense for both teams. After this season, Derozan has four more years on his contract. Gray has one more year after this season, which could make him an expiring that the Bucks could use next year in a future trade. Ilyasova would give the Raptors a stretch power forward that actually rebounds (unlike Bargnani) and can play defense. A core in Toronto of Lowry, Ross, Gay, Ilyasova and Valanciunas could be one that would be a top four team in the East in a few years’ time. As for the Bucks, their playoff chances suddenly skyrocket.
The projected lineup for the remainder of the season would be as follows:
Assuming the Bucks receive assurance from Redick to re-sign (which might not be as much of a home run as it should be when we trade for him), the team will lose Smith, Udrih and Dalembert to free agency and Jennings will be a restricted free agent.
However, the Bucks will have even more cap room with Ilyasova’s contract off of the books and assuming the match an offer for Jennings like Wojnarowski predicted, will have every position locked up. John Henson will slide into a starting role at power forward, and the Bucks will be able to focus on building a team with its young core.
Of course, these are all rumors and speculation. What will they do? Let’s just wait and see.