So it’s finally done.
After months of attempting to give away Richard Jefferson, the Bucks have succeeded in doing just that by swapping him for Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto and Kurt Thomas. Or as I call them, the release/buyout special.
I noted this on my twitter post before, but if there is one thing that is clear to me with news of this Richard Jefferson it’s that John Hammond is more interested in fielding a successful basketball team than being a popular man in short term Milwaukee. And I think that this move definitely puts him on a path towards doing just that. Let’s break this thing down.
Why did we just trade last season’s best player for three aging role players?
Financially this is a no-brainer. A Richard Jefferson-Michael Redd led Bucks team was not going to do any better than a first round playoff birth next season. Sure, that might sell a few more tickets, but ultimately accomplishes nothing. Jefferson would then be on the hook for an additional season at $15 million. According to Chad Ford, the Bucks will save $6.35 million next year and then the entire $15 million in 2010-11. For a team hurting as bad financially as the Bucks, $21 million is a lot of money. It could be even more if they buy out Kurt Thomas before season’s end. Thomas has been a solid post defender forever and teams like veteran know-how when the playoffs get near. Don’t be surprised to see him go before next season’s end.
So what happens to that available money now?
That becomes the most important question for the Bucks. If they resign Ramon Sessions and Charlie Villanueva they’ll likely move back over the luxury tax line. The trade leaves them about $10 million under the tax that Herb Kohl can’t be too enthusiastic about paying. If another team makes a solid offer to Villanueva the Bucks might have to let him go to avoid creating another miserable cap situation for themselves. Sessions should be a little easier to resign because of the Gilbert Arenas Rule, which is very well explained right here. Essentially, Sessions won’t be getting more than a mid-level exception offer from another team.
So Sessions is coming back and the Bucks are taking Jordan Hill or DeJuan Blair?
I’m not John Hammond, so I don’t know how things will play out. But if I were a betting man, I’d bet Ramon Sessions is wearing green and red next year. On top of that, I don’t think this impacts the Bucks draft that much. This trade shouts out “WE’RE IN REBUILDING MODE.” Which is fine, because Larry Harris used to shout out “I KNOW WE’RE NOT VERY GOOD BUT I’M GOING TO TELL YOU WE ARE AND KEEP WASTING MONEY.” Now we know where things stand. When teams are in rebuilding mode they need to acquire assets before needs. If the best player available is a point guard, then the Bucks should take the point guard. They could play him and Sessions together or work out another deal where they give up whoever this draft pick is to a team willing to take on Michael Redd’s contract. Cleveland? Portland? I don’t know.
To the average fan this deal looks awful. But John Hammond pulled off a move today his predecessor never would have. . .so I think we’re in good hands.