Milwaukee Bucks: Grades and reactions for the Tony Snell trade

MILWAUKEE, WI - NOVEMBER 04: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - NOVEMBER 04: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – APRIL 06: (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – APRIL 06: (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks freed up some much needed cap space as they agreed to send Tony Snell and the 30th overall pick to the Detroit Pistons for Jon Leuer.

In the latest move in a plan that really kicked into action back in December of 2018, the Milwaukee Bucks marked the eve of the 2019 NBA Draft by agreeing to trade away Tony Snell and the 30th overall pick, and dramatically easing the salary cap concerns they were facing heading into free agency.

Following reports from Marc Stein of the New York Times earlier in the week that the Bucks were prepared to offer draft compensation to get off of either Snell or Ersan Ilyasova‘s contracts, such a scenario came to pass as the 27-year-old wing is set to join the Detroit Pistons, the third Central Division team of his career.

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It’s worth noting that the deal can’t be made official until after the Bucks select a player in Thursday’s draft, due to the Stepien rule preventing Milwaukee from trading consecutive future picks and the 2020 first likely to convey to the Phoenix Suns. Therefore, a draft prospect will get to walk across the stage and don a Bucks cap, but that will be as far as their relationship with the team will go.

Snell had been a solid contributor since the Bucks acquired him from the Chicago Bulls as cover for the injured Khris Middleton back in 2016-17, and was rewarded handsomely for a strong first season with a new contract in the hyper-inflated free agency market of 2017.

In the time since, not only has the NBA landscape shifted, but the Bucks have been completely and utterly transformed too. The end result of that being Snell recently completing the Bucks’ best season in decades as a largely peripheral figure whose contract was weighing the team down.

Considering the raft of decisions facing the Bucks once free agency opens on June 30, that feeling was only going to intensify, and for a great teammate and model pro such as Snell, it’s nice to see him get a fresh start before potentially becoming a pariah of sorts and through no fault of his own either.

Snell will look to become a more significant piece of a rotation once again in Detroit, although such lofty hopes likely shouldn’t be shared by Jon Leuer. A Wisconsin native and former Badger who was drafted by the Bucks back in 2011 and played 46 games before being traded, there may yet be more change in store for Leuer as Milwaukee continues to explore ways in which salary flexibility can be maximized.

All of that points to the fact that this trade is by no means what it will appear to be on the surface for most casual observers and, in fact, it may evolve further through additional, related transactions in the days ahead. So with that in mind, let’s dive into what the Bucks really gained and lost in this deal, before ultimately offering up a final grade.