The Milwaukee Bucks have pulled off perhaps the most noticeable trade since the NBA 2017-2018 season commenced following the swap involving Greg Monroe and two future first draft picks for Phoenix Suns Guard Eric Bledsoe.
Moving Bledsoe was bound to happen sooner than later following the former Los Angeles Clippers player’s tweet seemingly expressing his displeasure with the team. He claimed the barb was aimed at his dislike for Salons but being a veteran on a then winless team, the tweet spoke volumes of his desire to move.
Bledsoe got his wish and moved to a contending team in the Eastern Conference and the chance to play with future MVP winner Giannis Antetokounmpo. For the Suns, Monroe is an asset who will be parlayed for future picks on top of the pair picked up in the trade while Milwaukee gets an aggressive rim attacking Guard who is a constant double digit scorer.
Bledsoe’s ability to score undoubtedly eases the burden on Antetokounmpo albeit in limited stretches as the former Kentucky floor general lacks the consistent outside threat to completely free the Greek Freak from double teams to do more damage in the league.
After attempting 24 shots from three point range, Bledsoe has converted just five per basketballreference. com; a stat which doesn’t push his new team above top contenders Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors.
However, moving a top rated Sixth Man and two picks for a player who doesn’t exponentially increase the chance for the team’s best player to blossom some more puts Bucks at the losing end of the trade. Here is a look at some players Milwaukee could have traded for:
Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls
Due to a training bust up between the Spanish international and fellow Forward Bobby Portis which resulted in a facial fracture on Mirotic that needed surgery, Chicago has an in house feud to deal with. Several reports have stated, Mirotic isn’t interested in sharing the locker room with Portis opening up the avenue for interested teams to pitch in a trade package around January 21 when the three point shooting Forward is eligible to be traded after signing a two year $26 million move with the Bulls.
After struggling with his shot in his first year in the league, Mirotic has converted nearly half of his attempts behind the arc (scored 135 of 346 attempts in 2014-2015 and 129 of 377 last season). Had the Bucks stuck around for a few weeks, the side could have landed the best complementary piece to Antetokounmpo. Pairing Mirotic with Khris Middleton in the starting unit and relegating Tony Snell to the bench instantly moves Milwaukee past Washington and Toronto in the perking order. For the rebuilding Chicago, adding more picks is never a bad return for a player who wants out.
Wesley Matthews, Dallas Mavericks
Dropping games all over the place with a young roster littered with rookies and second year players, 2011 Champions Dallas Mavericks are in a serious rebuild even if team owner Mark Cuban loathes the term. With just two wins and 12 losses this season, the Mavericks are going nowhere which makes veteran Shooting Guard Wesley Matthews to be moved; Harrison Barnes has way too much money committed to him ($28 million average salary for the next two seasons after the ongoing campaign) in the future. Other vets on the roster JJ Barea, Devin Harris and Dirk Nowitzki don’t fit in Milwaukee’s scope in the present and seasons ahead.
At 31, Matthews is the kind of shooter every contender needs for the long haul coupled with his ability to lockdown opposing wings in big or small lineups. His shooting numbers are below what he put up in Portland, a substantial part of it has to with Matthews being the number one three point target for Dallas since Nowitzki’s time on the court consistently ticks down. With Giannis attracting double teams and Middleton a potent threat outside the arc, Matthews will be open on several possessions to sink shots.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
In dealing Monroe to Phoenix for Bledsoe, Milwaukee missed out on the biggest prize in the desert in scoring machine Booker who is the future Klay Thompson with below average defense. The third year Shooting Guard can flat out score and in his brief time in the league, he has dropped 70 points on the Celtics at the TD Garden. What better way to utilize his skills than to pair him with the next generation’s star man. Despite converting 30 of 82 shots beyond the arc, Booker’s numbers are better than Milwaukee’s best three point shooter Middleton’s – 15 in 57- in the season.
As the franchise piece of the Suns landing him is a stretch but Milwaukee has the assets to have made it possible. A package involving Thon Maker, Tony Snell and reigning Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon is pretty sumptuous to get the Suns to bite. Matthew Dellavedova can be thrown in the mix as a sweetener.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter