Since taking over as Milwaukee Bucks general manager on April 11, 2008, John Hammond has shown he’s not afraid to make a deal. I’d go as far as to say he’s probably talking about a trade right now. He’s made more trades in his tenure than I have in the last 10 dynasties I’ve done in NBA2K. In a little over two years at the helm, Hammond has made 12 trades. For perspective on that number, the Bucks last general manager, Larry Harris, made 11 trades in his entire term as general manager (July 2003- April 2008). But this shouldn’t be too surprising. Given the situation Hammond walked into when taking the Bucks job, trades were the only way out. Milwaukee was in salary cap hell with a roster full of under-performing, me first, offensive players.
Not every move has gone smoothly for Hammond. The initial acquisition of Richard Jefferson was a flashy way to start things off, but didn’t pan out. Had Michael Redd stayed healthy and Joe Alexander given the Bucks anything at all, maybe the story of Jefferson in Milwaukee plays out a little differently, but things ended as they did. Jefferson’s stock dropped so far so fast that only a year later, he was dealt for what looked like virtually nothing at the time.
Oddly enough though, it’s now possible to make a case that the Bucks won that deal. Kurt Thomas played a key role for Milwaukee down the stretch and Amir Johnson was a part of the deal that brought another starter, Carlos Delfino, to Milwaukee. Meanwhile, Jefferson is now looking at another $40 million plus coming his way and Johnson is locked in for $30 some million himself. Milwaukee arguably has the most productive player of those three in Delfino and is paying him by far the least. That looks like a win to me.
And that’s been a common theme in Hammond’s deals. Whether it’s a non-contributing Malik Allen going to Denver for Sonny Weems or a nearly worthless pick going to New Jersey for Chris Douglas-Roberts, Hammond has had a knack for buying low in the trade market. There are many reason’s why Milwaukee has turned things around so quickly, but Hammond’s aggressive moves in the trade market have played as significant a role as any.
The Big Moves
2008: Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons for Richard Jefferson
2009: Richard Jefferson for Kurt Thomas, Bruce Bowen and Amir Johnson
2010: Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell for Corey Maggette
Milwaukee got Jefferson for two players who had no future with the Bucks, and from the looks of things two years later, in the NBA in general. It was a gamble that relied on a healthy Michael Redd but was a curious move when paired with the drafting of another small forward in Alexander. As we’ve already gone through, things didn’t work out for RJ in Milwaukee. The surprising success of last summer’s deal is the winner here for now. But dumping the bloated deals of Gadzuric and Bell for a potential game changer like Maggette could soon be the move that has everyone focused on Milwaukee.
Suprisingly Key Moves
2008: Mo Williams and Desmond Mason for Luke Ridnour, Adrian Griffin and Damon Jones
2009: Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems for Roko Ukic and Carlos Delfino
2010: Hakim Warrick and Joe Alexander for John Salmons and draft picks
Hammond was able to unload Mo Williams bloated contract and defenseless style for Ridnour and an assistant coach oddly enough. This deal looked was justifying the criticism it received when it was made after one year, but Ridnour played a huge role off the bench last season. Even better, the departure of Williams opened up the door for Milwaukee to look at a point guard in the 2009 draft. But it was the surprisingly consistent John Salmons and his 20 points-per-game in the second half that was the big steal here. You all know the story by now.
2009: Malik Allen for Sonny Weems and Walter Sharpe
2010: Future second-round draft pick for Chris Douglas-Roberts
2010: Darnell Jackson and second-round pick for Jon Brockman
Hammond started slow with the under-the-radar moves, not making any of his patented smaller trades in 2008. But the Allen for Weems deal was a steal. Weems came on for Toronto at the end of 2009-2010 and looks like the rotation player the Raptors hoped they were trading for when the dealt Carlos Delfino for he and Amir Johnson. If Hammond doesn’t get Weems from the Nuggets though, Delfino may not be a Buck and Johnson may have seduced Milwaukee into that same $30 plus million he got from the Raptors.
Even though Brockman is going to be fighting for minutes at the four and five, his three-year-deal gives him a leg up on the competition amongst backups. He could prove a real steal at a value price. And for the minimum and a minimum type draft pick, CD-R could be a spark off the bench next season. Lost in the big moves Milwaukee made this summer were two buy lows with real upside.
A funny common denominator among some of these moves was the criticism they were met with. Everyone remembers the shelling Milwaukee took when they dealt RJ, but critics pointed to the opening of the Dwyane Wade to Chicago door when Hammond picked up John Salmons. Hell, I wasn’t happy when Weems and Johnson took their high flying ways to Toronto. But each time, things seem to work out or are rectified quickly. So as nervous as I occasionally am about the Maggette deal, a trip down memory lane soothes my nerves.
Bucksketball.com is a Milwaukee Bucks blog written by Jeremy Schmidt