Amir Johnson’s short lived stint as a Milwaukee Buck was probably done in by two things:
1. Hakim Warrick becoming an unrestricted free agent.
When the Bucks made the move to acquire Johnson, there was no way to predict the Grizzlies would suddenly free up the restricted free agent Warrick. They had already extended a qualifying offer. Johnson was a valuable asset with an expiring contract and athleticism to spare. Suddenly, a month after acquiring Johnson, Warrick was out there for the taking. When he signed I actually sent a text to a friend of mine saying how odd I thought the signing was.
“What kind of message are they sending to Amir Johnson? Didn’t they just make a big deal about how he wouldn’t have to play center here? Isn’t Warrick’s signing going to create tension for minutes?”
I got over it pretty quickly and reasoned that they were supposedly going to try and get Warrick some minutes at small forward. It was possible they’d trot out some uber-athletic team with both Johnson and Warrick on the court at the same time. It’d be like a halftime show, only during the game and without trampolines. The problem with that idea is that Warrick really isn’t a small forward. He’s a power forward in a small forwardish body. He’s the offensive version of Amir Johnson. He’s not a great rebounder and is a mediocre shot blocker, but is light years beyond Johnson on the other side of the ball. Ultimately that appears to have won out. The power forward rotation now consists of Warrick/Ersan Ilyasova/Kurt Thomas. Much more concise.
2. Summer league basketball
The week before summer league started everyone was excited that Amir Johnson had decided to play. We all agreed it was great to see a veteran get in there and get his hands dirty. How inspiring of him to take the steps to get in sync with his new teammates. He’s showing how serious he is about coming in and competing for a starting job in Milwaukee.
And then Johnson arrived in Vegas.
That’s when things quickly unraveled for Amir. Sure, he looked great catching lobs from Brandon Jennings. They looked to have developed some instant chemistry. But how hard can it be for any athletic power forward who wants to run to develop chemistry with a point guard who’s always looking to get out in the open court and throw lobs. It’s easy to imagine Hakim Warrick filling the role just as nicely.
And with less fouls. Oh those pesky fouls. Johnson’s longtime nemesis in Detroit crept back up during summer league. In a league with younger players it was probably of fair importance to the Bucks staff that if Johnson was going to play he’d better show at least some ability to stay out of foul trouble. He did not. Johnson’s best efforts were a couple six foul affairs that came in twenty-five and twenty-three minutes. Add the less than spectacular summer league experience with the newly acquired Hakim Warrick and what do you get?
Apparently Carlos Delfino. Johnson was shipped to Toronto with the recently guaranteed contract of Sonny Weems for swingman Delfino and backup backup backup point guard Roko Ukic. I seem to remember Roko Ukic having one nice game against the Bucks last year. And I seem to remember that being his only good game all year.
I’m incorrect. He had eight double digit scoring games last year! So he had a couple of nice games. One of them did come against the Bucks on a night when Ukic was backing up the famous Will Solomon. Neat.
Delfino is what this sign and trade is all about though. Terms of his deal have yet to be disclosed, but ESPN is reporting it will be a three-year deal with the Bucks holding the option for year three. Delfino seems to be as average as Ukic is bad. Delfino has considerably less upside than Amir Johnson or even Sonny Weems. He’s a career .356 three-point shooter and offers little in regards to rebounds or assists. He’s not bad, he’s not very good, he just kind of exists. He probably won’t make a lot of mistakes and has good size for a shooting guard. But I can’t stress how little there is to be excited about in this trade. I guess the value of the trade will come down to how much Delfino will be getting paid.
Instead of one year of Sonny Weems and Amir Johnson at $4,678,087 the Bucks are looking at two years of Delfino and Ukic at whatever Delfino makes plus Ukic’s $2.8 million. Ukic is only at $1.35 million this year, so it’s possible the Bucks will save a million or so if Delfino’s deal starts around two million. Is this going to impact the ever looming Ramon Sessions situation? Tough to tell. I don’t think Roko Ukic is going to change the way the Bucks think about anyone. As far as assets go, this appears to be the firs time the Bucks downgraded on assets all summer. When they traded Jefferson it was clearly for the money. When Malik Allen was traded they got two young guys in return. When Hakim Warrick was signed he was signed for cheap and only a year. Now the Bucks appear to have invested multiple years in players not as good as the ones traded for them.
Peculiar, but we’ll see how this one plays out. So long Amir Johnson, we hardly knew ye.