It’s way too early to count the returns on the Tobias Harris-J.J. Redick trade. Each player has only played a handful of games with his new team. It’s a small sample size taken to absurdity. Beyond that, the teams that Harris has faced — the Cavaliers, 76ers, Kings, and Rockets — aren’t in any way, shape, or form a Murderer’s Row of defensive stalwarts. It’s just four games.
Harris may not score in double-figures for the rest of the season (though I wouldn’t place that wager). He hasn’t shown much of defense, and his new, lottery-bound team has only won one of its four games.
But, good golly, what a set of four games it has been.
And then there’s the visual evidence.
Keep in mind that:
1) The Bucks aren’t going to win an NBA title this year.**
2) They aren’t going to win an NBA title next year.**
3) The Bucks need players who can fill the wing on the fast break
4) The Bucks need a player who can create with his back to the basket and find open teammates as a counter to those moves.
5) J.J. Redick will be an unrestricted free agent in 26 games (plus possibly up to a dozen more, depending on the playoffs).
So questions abound.
Why didn’t the Bucks play him more? Answer: Because his defense was bad and it could have cost them the No. 8 seed. But so what? Do the Bucks need to squeak into the playoffs and get consumed by the Heat that badly?
Bear in mind that the when Bucks played Harris as a starter and let him play more than ten minutes, they were 7-6. So it’s not like he was a complete atrocity. Those games also coincided with the one month where Ersan Ilyasova forgot how to shoot jumpers. If Ersan had played back then like he is playing now, the Bucks likely go 9-4 (or better) over that same stretch of games.
Why did they trade him? To get J.J. Redick. That’s it. Redick is a terrific player in the prime of his career. He’s fun to watch and he helps the Bucks win now. In order for this trade to be worthwhile, though, not only do they have to bring Redick back for more than 35 games, but they also have to do it without inflicting a salary cap-crippling blow on themselves.
It won’t be easy.