Bucks trade Knight for Carter-Williams in three-team, five-player deal

The Milwaukee Bucks have traded point guards Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall to Phoenix in a three-team trade for second-year guard Michael Carter-Williams, rookie guard Tyler Ennis and third-year center Miles Plumee, according to media reports.

The 76ers received a protected 2015 first-round pick from the Suns to round out the trade. Phoenix will reportedly waive Marshall, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Knight, who flirted with an All-Star nomination this season, leads the Bucks in scoring (17.8 points per game), assists (5.4 per game) and PER (18.5). He is having the most efficient shooting season of his four-year career, hitting 40.9 percent of his three-point attempts and posting a 55.6 true shooting percentage.

In return for Knight, who is set to be a restricted free agent this summer, the Bucks receive three players still on rookie deals. Carter-Williams, who won Rookie of the Year last season, is averaging 15.0 points, 7.4 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game this season, though his raw numbers are greatly inflated by playing on an obstinately nameless Philadelphia 76ers team. He’s shooting just 38.0 percent from the field and 25.6 percent on three-point attempts this season. Although Carter-Williams may be the least efficient high-volume scorer in the NBA, the 6-6 point guard brings considerable court vision and defensive length to a team that highly values both.

In Carter-Williams and Ennis, Bucks coach Jason Kidd adds two willing passers at point guard. Kidd has reportedly been interested in Carter-Williams for some time.

Ennis, the 18th pick in last summer’s draft, was buried on the depth chart in Phoenix and appeared in just eight games. He found some success in nine D-League games earlier this season, averaging 18.4 points and 5.3 assists per game and shooting 47.9 percent from the field.

Plumlee played a significant role in Phoenix’s sudden rise last year, starting 79 games and averaging 8.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest, but has gradually taken a backseat to Alex Len this season. His minutes are down to 18.6 per game, and his points (4.3) and rebounding averages (5.1) have nearly reduced in half. Plumlee, the 26th pick in the 2012 Draft, should bring depth to a Milwaukee frontcourt that will likely be without Larry Sanders, with whom the Bucks are reportedly nearing a buyout.

Oddly, the Bucks — perhaps the NBA’s most surprising success story this season — played better as a team when Knight was on the bench this season, according Basketball Reference’s on-off data. With Knight off the court, Milwaukee scored at a rate of 107.7 points per 100 possessions, up from 103.2 with him on the court. The team’s defense also improved with Knight off the court, allowing 103.5 points per 100 possessions with Knight on the court and 99.3 with him off of it.

Some of that disparity can be attributed to Milwaukee’s deep bench, which regularly outplays opponents’ second units, as compared to the starters, who are less talented than those from the league’s top-tier teams. However, Knight’s net on-off rating of -8.7 was the worst among Milwaukee’s current starters — and only lower than those of Jabari Parker, Johnny O’Bryant, Larry Sanders and Nate Wolters.

The Bucks reportedly turned down an offer from the Suns that would have sent disgruntled guard Goran Dragic, 28, for Knight. Dragic, who will hit free agency this summer, was eventually traded to the Miami Heat.

Counting Sanders and excluding Jorge Gutierrez, whose second 10-day contract expired over the All-Star break, Milwaukee’s roster now sits at 16. The Bucks will need to clear a roster spot before returning to action Friday against the Denver Nuggets.

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22 Comments

  1. I think this a great trade for the Bucks. I think Brandon Knight would of wanted max money and I don’t think he was worth it. MCW is on his rookie deal and is a willing passer. I think he has the potential to make Gannis and Parker both better. I think Ennis and Plumblee have the ability to make the bench better and Ennis has a very high ceiling. I think this a great trade for the Bucks.

    • Totally agree.

      This trade is so perfectly aligned to the long-range strategy I couldn’t be happier.

      Reduces salary obligations? Tick.

      Gets them younger? Tick.

      Talent fits the style of play? Tick.

      Protects valuable draft picks? Tick.

      Builds towards the future? Tick.

      Gathers assets? Tick.

      Preserves locker room equity with salaries? Tick

      I don’t know if it’ll produce more wins, but I love the logic and the execution.

  2. Not exactly sure how to feel about this trade. So many positives in either argument. I was a growing fan of Brandon and even though he wasn’t an ideal point guard, he was very reliable and played with passion. MCW is still somewhat of an enigma, are his stats in Philly even an indicator of his abilities? No matter what, I expect his assists to go up with more talent around him.. and possibly even his one scoring efficiency rating with a very unselfish team.. oh and goodbye Johnny O’bryant, not a Plumlee fan but he’s still better than you

    • I think it’s funny that everyone’s fall back comment on MCW is the “inflated” stats argument. His scoring may go down a touch but that would be by design. Until the Ryan Covington revelation who exactly was MCW passing to in terms of an efficient finisher? The assists will logically go up in Milwaukee for MCW considering Milwaukee has better finishers both inside and from the three point line, the two places MCW passes will logically land. Also, t’s not like Philly didn’t have length players competing for rebounds with him so the boards will probably stay the same. If anything with Jason Kidd’s style and the defense sitting behind MCW down low he can be even more aggressive in every way trying to get steals. If Philly had a top 2 pick in the last draft they’d be touting MCW, (Parker/Wiggins) and Noel….a great core that would’ve put a halt on trades like this one today for Philly. Now consider the Bucks top 3 core for a second. MCW, Parker and the Greek freak which anyone today would easily take Giannis over Noel both today and moving forward. Milwaukee to boot, has a better supporting cast and continues to build a solid-young depth chart with guys like Henson, Plumlee and now Ennis. Why pay max value for Knight who at his peak would be what? Maybe a border-line all star tops from here on out? Bucks are better off today than they were yesterday and starting next year should continue to shoot up the East charts.

  3. The Bucks stayed true to the course of building for the future……. to me MCW had that offseason surgery and is probably not fully recovered from it, plus had a horrible team around him, I’m amazed he got the numbers he did in philly.. With Giannis’ development mdseason on, as a scorer, that made knight a little more expendable than he would have been had giannis followed a more natural development arc. The more underrated thing I think we got in MCW is better defense, and you can add plumlee into that as well. seems like Ennis is in this deal to fill out the roster for milwaukee as the 15th man.

    Milwaukee A-
    Phoenix B
    Philly Incomplete with a C+ceiling/ F floor based on recent drafting.

  4. I’ve been saying all year that Knight needed to go, and today I am a happy man. Nothing against his game, he will thrive in Phoenix, he just cannot run an offense centered around him as a traditional point guard. Now the Bucks have a pass-first guard to compliment Jabari and Giannis moving forward. A 23 year old with the length to bring our expected starting 5 next year to over 35 feet in wingspan. The Bucks will have a championship level defense this year, and it will only get better over the next few seasons. Oh and in Plumlee they added a 26 year old center who started for a 48 win team last year? Wow what a haul. The Bucks, barring major injury, will be an NBA title darkhorse next year, and a legitimate contender the next. Exciting times in the Cream City.

    (P.S. The Brandon Jennings trade just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter, especially with Middleton as the sixth best player in the A according to real plus/minus)

  5. Hated the trade at first. I was finally starting to like BK for the player he is, rather than focusing on his un-point-guardedness. I didn’t know that Marshall left with Knight, so that sorta has me bumming. But I do think that Kidd and MCW are a perfect match and Ennis is a high ceiling guard. Most importantly, all three of them are upgrades at their position on the glass and rebounding relief is needed. I think this trade will negatively affect the team this season, but will make them much better in the future.

  6. Knight is the hardest working player in the NBA, and it’s a shame we have to lose him. MCW can’t shoot, and I think Kidd thinks way too much of him. My guess is we go from three games back from a 3 seed to being out of the playoffs by the end of the season. I hate this trade.

    • let us not forget that our coach couldn’t shoot for crap when he came I to the league, but he worked it out

    • We’re currently 8 1/2-9 1/2 games clear of Brooklyn, Boston, Detroit, and Indiana. In order for us to miss the playoffs, we would have to play like one of the worst teams in the league, and one of those four would have to play significantly better than they have so far. I don’t know that any of those 4 teams mad a move that would put them on about a 20-10 pace for the rest of the year.

  7. I honestly don’t know how I feel about this trade as a Bucks fan, but I can at least understand it from a basketball operations and financial standpoint as a look to the future move and somewhat as an address an issue now move too.

    On one hand the Bucks get a player in MCW who possess unique length and in turn defensive capabilities at the Point Guard position, plus he has shown the ability to rebound well and create for others. These positives are reflected by his 7.4 assist, 6.2 rebound, and 1.5 steal averages this season; however, MCW’s major downsides are that he can’t really shoot the ball at all and has difficulty not turning it over too. Now these downsides are pretty big downsides in my opinion and ones that may actually hold the Bucks back (at least this year), but are probably still things that the Bucks front office and coaches believe can be worked on and improved given further development. Nevertheless, potentially the biggest positive and likely the reason the trigger for this trade got pulled is his extra two years of affordable team control before becoming a restricted free agent in comparison to Brandon Knight.

    On the other hand the Bucks gave up a player in Brandon Knight who was backing up his somewhat breakout year last year with an even better breakout year this year — clearly he was an ascending player. Given BK’s work ethic and attitude, plus chemistry with the other young players on the team his future was looking bright as a member for the Bucks and his loss in going to hurt the team. BK has the ability to sustain his fringe All-Star play as a Point Guard, but will he ever become a dominate force at the Point Guard position? Probably not; however, BK’s biggest and really only true detractor for the Bucks organization was what it was going to take/cost to keep him in Milwaukee long-term. No doubt he would have wanted to try getting a max deal from the Bucks or whoever else during this upcoming off-season as a restricted free agent, but would have had to take whatever the market gave him (the Bucks, of course, would have likely had to match any offer he got). I’m sure the Bucks organization feared that some team would have thrown big money at him which probably would handcuff them in the future from retaining their most important asset or assets — G.Antetokounmpo and perhaps J.Parker. This was a risk they didn’t want to take, so they shipped him off for other assets.

    Another side of this deal that I personally see as a pretty big positive is that M.Plumlee fills a huge need for the team short-term and long-term. He’s a young and ascending frontcourt player who helps make Z.Pachulia less necessary in future years. Miles’ game is still developing and he could be a nice long-term role player for this team.

    Who knows what the Bucks have in T.Ennis? Supposedly someone who was considered the best “true” Point Guard in the 2014 draft who was suppose to have a fairly refined offensive game to boot, but summer league and his brief moments on the hardwood during the 2014 season have shown otherwise. Either way he’s probably someone the Bucks can hang onto as depth at the point if they can’t retain K.Marshall next year.

    Overall, I’m frustrated that the team didn’t think they could work something out with BK long-term as I think he’s going to be a very good player going forward, but I also didn’t want to see them jeopardize their ability to retain the true future of the franchise – Giannis and potentially Parker. Lastly, I get that bringing in a young ascending frontcourt player was a huge deal and with this deal they’ve been able to do just that. The future still looks very bright for the Bucks (maybe even moreso now), but it’ll all depend on the development of these young talented players.

    • Side note: K.Marshall was also part of this deal as he’s now a Suns player who’s likely to get waived.

  8. Like many other Bucks fans, I was at first dismayed because BK has grown on me (especially with his late-game heroics this season), but then was gradually pulled into support of the move because it just makes sense. BK wasn’t gonna get paid by the Bucks and expressed an interest in playing elsewhere next year; Bucks fans who hate this trade: if the front office had traded away a couple young players to get Goran Dragic for the playoff run and secure the SIXTH seed, wouldn’t you have been berating them for making a “win-now” move? So wouldn’t keeping a player on the roster who was due to leave after the season be a win-now move? Knight has value now as a scorer and wasn’t gonna be a Buck next year. I’m glad the Bucks got a young PG who needs polishing but is on a rookie contract, and solid front court depth in Plumlee to boot. This trade is a pure win for the Bucks. I still like BK though.

  9. Something I haven’t noticed any pundits mentioning about this trade is the fact that while yes MCW’s stats may have been inflated by playing for a horrible team, he also was playing with horrible teammates, and his numbers (especially shooting % and turnovers) and play should improve on a better team.

    I think it’s a great trade. Could you see Brandon Knight ever being a star PG on a championship team? I couldn’t– his ceiling isn’t that high. Could you see a core of Giannis, MCW and Jabari competing for a championship in 3-4 years? I think I could.

    • I was about to come back and make this comment. His scoring should go down, efficiency up. Turnovers down, assists, rebounds, and steals up. He was playing with mostly D-Leaguers at best. The Bucks have been a top shooting team since December. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him averaging close to a double double once he gets situated.

  10. It’s worth repeating that it’s really interesting, and fun, to get different points of view on this major event for the Bucks and their fans. Please keep the commentary and opinions coming!

    It’s a tough call, but I’m excited about this trade, albeit sad to lose Brandon and Kendall. It’s generally true that to get something, you gotta give up something; or in this case, we had to give up someone truly special in Brandon Knight, and also a guy in Kendall Marshall who wasn’t with us for as long a time, but who I really liked as a facilitator on the court, and as a supporter of his teammates from the bench.

    In a way I’m giddy because, as I understand it, we got two pass-first point guards who are young and have a lot of promise. We also picked up a guy in Plumlee who seems to provide bulk on the frontline while also possessing some good skills.

    It’s hard to lose Brandon, who seems to be a model citizen, an exemplary teammate, and a hard worker determined to maximize every ounce of his potential. As I’ve written, he’s a winner, and a keeper, who could be an all-star as a shooting guard.

    However, if Brandon was going to be too pricy for the Bucks after this season, and if he was going to struggle giving up the point guard position, and if he was going to have difficulty playing more without the ball — then, perhaps it is better all around for him to go to a team that might be a better fit. I don’t see Brandon as a selfish player, but it’s possible that he has had such amazing success in his formative years as the main guy with the basketball by far, that it could be hard for him to adjust to a situation that significantly limited his touches.

    Even rooting for Brandon to have a super career, my hunch is that this is an excellent trade for the Bucks because of who we received in return, It might be hard for any of these new guys to match Brandon in character, but let’s hope the Bucks considered the character issue with great emphasis.

    What is evident is that the Bucks actually got youth for youth, and quality for quality. It’s so hard to project the future for young players, but we received three guys to get excited about as far as becoming at least solid contributors or perhaps even stars. We have two pass-oriented points who could very well lead the Bucks into a bright future, and quickly raise the play of our guys this season if they give themselves to the culture of unselfishness that has been so refreshing and effective for this team thus far.

    So this trade is a risky move for the Bucks, but seemingly a smart risk. I like that it’s a bold move in the sense that it could turn out badly; but then again, it could elevate the Bucks much higher, I think, than if they hadn’t made the trade. There’s a ton of potential upside here, and to me, the best of it is getting two true point guards who are good prospects to bring out the very best in Giannis and Jabari and Khris and John and all the rest — as individuals, yes, but also as a team that’s truly winning, and a pleasure for Bucks fans to share in for years to come. Here’s hoping.

  11. I’m sort of torn too. I became fond of Knight, but the Bucks did focus on the future, because they can be REALLY good if Jabari and Giannis meet potential but they need help. If Knight wanted that much money, I don’t think they would have been able to meet that potential as I think he has a ceiling as a pg. In return the got two point guards who were lottery picks in the past two years, with good roster/cap control, and the ability to develop, and a big man who can play some minutes. None of them are as good as Knight, but that’s a couple more swings at getting good young players. It’s a step back this year, for a potential step forward in the future. MCW has crazy length, but has difficulties shooting. Him and Giannis will be a nightmare defensively for teams, but need to improve shots. Ennis is someone I liked coming out of college. So yes, Knight leaving makes them worse this year, but their chances of winning two playoff series are limited. If he was going to leave, or clog up the cap, why not get some young pieces out of it? I just hope the Bucks knew Knight was for sure not interested in staying.

  12. Great trade from a defensive standpoint. Look at the length of the backcourt now with a 6’6 pg paired with Giannis.

  13. Bucks fan from the UK here. I don’t understand the trade. BK and MCW are the same age, but BK has performed to a higher level, has good chemistry with the team, showed steady improvement and that he is capable of being a main contributor on a winning team. What is there to suggest that Knight’s ‘ceiling’ is lower than MCW’s given he is developing from a higher starting point? Also, in a league where shooting and spacing are key, why trade a good shooter for a poor shooter? In view of the 2016 salary cap rise, paying BK max or near max this summer doesn’t seem like a disaster.

  14. I’ve been watching MCW and Ennis since they were in high school (I’m a Cuse alum/fan on top of being a Bucks fan). I couldn’t be happier about this trade. In all my time watching Syracuse, nobody has ever impressed me as much as MCW did in his sophomore year. All hell broke loose during his time in Philly, but if Kidd can get him back to playing the pure point role like he did at Syracuse, I think people will be much more impressed with MCW than they currently are.

    MCW is going to wreak havoc in our defense once he gets settled. I’ve never seen a player intercept as many inbounds passes and strip both his own man of the ball as well as stripping other players as they drive by more than MCW did at Syracuse. His hands and defensive instincts are phenomenal.

    He’s struggled with his shot ever since he got to Syracuse, but for whatever it’s worth, he was lauded as an elite shooter coming out of high school, and his mechanics aren’t bad. It’s also worth noting that the shoulder injury that plagued him during his rookie season (the one he had surgery on in the offseason) also plagued him at Syracuse. He just never had it repaired until after his rookie season in the NBA, so I think there’s a chance he improves at least a little bit as a shooter.

    As a passer, he tries to do too much sometimes, but his actual vision and passing ability are elite IMO. He, much like Kidd, has a knack for seeing plays before they develop, which helps him both as a passer and as a defender. And then the icing on the cake is that he’s a great rebounder and a very good athlete. I really think we just got our point guard of the future.

    Regarding Ennis, I think his ceiling is a below-average starter or a good backup. He’s very poised and very good at getting the ball to the correct spots on the floor, but he struggles to create for teammates due to his below average athleticism (he struggles to beat his man off the dribble, so he’s not able to put much pressure on the defense). Like MCW, he has great hands defensively, but unlike MCW, he’s not athletic enough to be a great defender. I think they both complement each other very well though.

    • Appreciate the Orange perspective, and it’s heartening to hear the encouraging observations and opinions.

  15. Consensus seems to be that it’s sad to see BK go, but the trade is fair and makes sense. This was a trade that didn’t have to be made, but I can’t imagine the Bucks getting anything better than what they got and if BK commanded a max deal and didn’t want to stay after this year then this deal was necessary. If the rumors are true about the Suns offering Dragic, I’d much rather have the trio we got.

    What we know is, Knight became more efficient under Kidd this year, so there’s no reason to believe he can’t do the same for MCW. MCW is a better passer and defender now and should only improve. Parker is going to be the man on offense, so why not have someone who can get him the ball instead of battle for shots with him. I’m already looking forward to MCW throwing up alley-oops to Giannis. Plumlee and Ennis are solid backups with Ennis having the potential to be even more.

    No one expected the Bucks to contend for the playoffs, so if they somehow miss out now, it’s no big loss, with the best scenario being the Bucks play a competitive first round and give their young guys that experience to build on for next year.

    Any trade has it’s risks, but assuming the trio of MCW, Giannis and Parker are able to grow together over the next several years, the future looks bright. Hopefully Kidd sticks around and a new arena to go with a winning team would just be the icing on the cake.