We’re about a third of the way through the season. The trading deadline is just over a month and a half away. Today, ESPN’s 5-on-5 was about five teams that could be buyers or sellers. The Bucks were one of the teams. I predicted they’d be buyers based on the organizations patterns over the past few years.
It’s probably unlikely that the Bucks will be involved in a major deal, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make some kind of move. With a deep front court and some issues in the back court, the Bucks are in a position to fix the imbalance of their current roster.
Let’s take a trip through that roster, buy or sell style.
Obviously, I’ve made it clear that I’m in favor of selling anyone on the roster at this point. But that’s not going to happen. I’ve tried to approach this from a more realistic standpoint when thinking about who is most likely to be dealt this season.
Brandon Jennings: Buy. They’ve hitched their wagon to Jennings and Monta Ellis. It would be as drastic a departure from a plan as I’ve ever seen for the Bucks to move Jennings or Ellis in season. Personally, I’m selling on both, just to get something back for them while they have value and are under contract, but that’s not the current reality for the Bucks.
Monta Ellis: Buy. He’s had a nice three game stretch and sometimes seems like he’s a better passer than Jennings, crazy as that may sound. He’s potentially in the last year of his contract, which always makes a player a bit more likely to be moved, but it’s hard to believe the Bucks would dump Ellis and make another franchise altering in-season move.
Ersan Ilyasova: Sell. He’s rebounded a bit over the past month, but Ilyasova is always going to struggle to live up to his lofty contract. Other teams may still have visions of last season dancing in their head and could potentially be talked into Ilyasova at the right price. If Milwaukee could get back some value for its back court, moving Ilyasova wouldn’t be unwise. But the Bucks can hardly afford to lose his shooting (inconsistent as it might be) without getting a 3-point threat back.
Mike Dunleavy: Buy. Like so many others in the organization, Dunleavy is in the last year of his contract, but that shouldn’t impact his standing too much. He’s crucial to the Bucks playoff hopes as the only reliable shooter Milwaukee has. He’s sure to be a sought after commodity come summer after two fairly healthy and very productive seasons, so it’ll be tough for the Bucks to bring him back. But they’ll live with the loss of Dunleavy over the summer as they keep pushing for a playoff spot this year.
Larry Sanders: Buy. Duh.
Luc Mbah a Moute: Buy. So versatile and getting better as a player. He knows his strengths and weaknesses so well and seems like he takes a small step forward every year. He didn’t get much of a chance to work out over the summer thanks to a knee injury, but he still came back a better player. You get the feeling he’s one of the last players Milwaukee would want to part with.
Ekpe Udoh: Sell. The Bucks are stocked with young big men and while Ekpe is a useful defender and steady rotation player, they could get buy with Ilyasova or Luc Mbah a Moute at the four next to Sanders or Samuel Dalembert, assuming he ever plays again. Udoh has value thanks to an affordable contract and a rare blend of youth and exceptional awareness. He could play the same role in a trade that he did last season – the piece that pushes a deal from “maybe” to “absolutely.”
Samuel Dalembert: Sell. There’s been little talk about the motivation for Dalembert’s extended stay on the bench, but he sure fits the bill of a player who is very available. A benching by Scott Skiles has done little to stop other teams in the past from inquiring about the likes of Corey Maggette or Stephen Jackson and surely seems like it should get the ball rolling on a potential Dalembert deal.
John Henson: Buy. He isn’t playing now, but he’s still a big part of the Bucks future. It’s fair to assume the only way he gets dealt is in something major.
Drew Gooden: Sell. He’s playing a bit more these days, but Gooden’s situation has all of the characteristics of a very available player. Buried deep on a bench. A veteran that can still produce but is overpaid.
Doron Lamb: Sell. The Bucks moved a guard from Kentucky too early a few years ago and watched Jodie Meeks develop into a 3-point threat they surely could have used this season. Milwaukee courted him over the summer and saw him accept an offer from the Lakers for less money in pursuit of a championship. Moving Lamb may be that same short sighted sort of thinking, but it seems unlikely he’ll ever be more than a role playing guard. That kind of player is replaceable and teams are always looking for young assets in trades. He could very well be a necessary throw in.
Tobias Harris: Buy. Same as Henson.
Joel Przybilla: Sell. It seems like he could get dropped any day if the Bucks wanted to pursue an available veteran guard. Przybilla was more insurance than integral coming into this season and it looks like the Bucks got enough development from young players to keep him on the far reaches of the bench.
Marquis Daniels: Buy. He’s on a deal that is so inexpensive that virtually everything he does is out-producing it. It’s hard to want to get rid of those guys. If the Bucks did make moves, it wouldn’t be a stretch to envision Daniels taking a backseat down the stretch. That’s probably the role he should be in on a really good team at this point.
Beno Udrih: Buy. He’s made noise about his minutes before and as the third guard in a three guard rotation, he wasn’t seeing all that many before his injury last month. He could get more in the coming weeks. At the very least, it’s tough to picture the Bucks without him, considering how badly Lamb struggled to handle the third guard duties. But his deal is for a good amount of money and he would likely be needed if the Bucks were going to make a run at a big money player.