Saturday, February 23, 2013

What are the Bucks doing?

That was the response from several commentators after the Bucks made both the biggest trade and were part of the biggest non-trade at the NBA trade deadline.

Charles Barkley summed it up as only he can:

“I don’t know what Milwaukee is doing," Barkley said on Thursday night. "They are just trying to cover the market on guards. They’ve got Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings . . . .Redick isn’t better than either one of those guys. I don’t know what they’re trying to do.”

The biggest trade was actually made several weeks back when Memphis traded Rudy Gay to Toronto in a salary dump, rarely seen from a team that was in 4th place in the west at the time of the trade. Although with the new salary cap rules, it's probably something there may be more of. Since that trade didn't happen at the deadline, the Bucks pickup of JJ Redick made the most news this week. Redick is a good shooter and an improved player in most other facets of his game, which is to say the rest of his game isn't that good. Still, pure shooters are a sparse commodity and something the Bucks have been lacking with only Dunlevy on the roster.

The price for Redick was pretty small, as the Bucks traded Beno Udrih and his expiring contract along with prospects Doron Lamb and Tobias Harris. Harris seemed to be progressing this fall when he got minutes due to the injury to Mbah-a-Moute, but with his return to health Harris has been riding the pine for months. With Mbah-a-Moute signed for 2 more years and a strong likelihood Milwaukee will try to resign Dunlevy this offseason, Harris' outlook on gaining playing time did not look good. Harris is only 20 years old, and may yet turn into a good player. He does not have elite athleticism, but showed some decent skills in his meaningful playing time. Lamb was a second round pick, and garbage time player. He showed some good things, but nothing to write home about.
To answer the question Barkley and others have asked, this trade fulfilled 2 needs. The first was to add some perimeter shooting to a team sorely lacking in that skill. The second and more important was to scratch Herb Kohl's itch to meddle with his team. The Bucks have been a revolving door for the last decade with their personnel as they constantly tinker, dump bad contracts and tinker some more. There are only 2 players on the roster who have been with the Bucks for more than 4 seasons, role players Mbah-a-Moute, and Ilyasova.
Redick's contract will expire at the end of this season as well, so this is probably a short term thing that will probably make the Bucks better this year. I'm OK with that. The only way this trade is a disaster is if Harris grows into a star and is resigned in Orlando 2 years from now, which doesn't seem very likely. How much difference will Redick make? Maybe the Bucks are a couple wins better as they close out the year. They are still a first round playoff out, but with only a 3 1/2 game lead for the final playoff spot, they are more likely to at least get in with Redick. At least the Buck's didn't pick up any more bad contracts.
The Bucks were also close to getting Josh Smith from Atlanta in the biggest trade people thought would happen that didn't. Josh Smith will be a free agent after this year, so even if this trade had occurred, the Bucks would still be in line for another overhaul this off season. The Redick trade doesn't give any indication of where they plan to go either. There is little doubt Milwaukee will match any offer Jennings gets as a restricted free agent, as he is the only marketable player they have. In an NBA where 20+ teams start the year knowing they won't win a championship, they still have to find ways to fill the seats. They do that by marketing their stars, and without Jennings the Bucks will draw even less attendance than they do now. I know that may seem hard to believe.
All indications are the Bucks were ready to do the deal for Smith, and Atlanta pulled out. What this tells me is that the Bucks are ready to blow up this roster yet again, they just couldn't find a willing partner. Chances are they will find partners this off season either in trades or free agency, so get ready for another new team next season.

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