A rather simple, straight forward trade went down last night between three NBA teams the average NBA fan wouldn’t necessarily know too much about or even care.
The Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers traded away and received players with no headline names to turn heads in their direction. Any Washington trade that doesn’t include John Wall, Bradley Beal or Otto Porter is not interesting since such a move does not alter Wizards approach moving forward amidst a disappointing season thus far.
Cavaliers are one of the worst sides in the NBA and have been forgotten since LeBron James left for the second time. Milwaukee Bucks has the most appeal with its star man Giannis Antetokounmpo leading Mike Budenholzer’s side to third place in the East.
Milwaukee traded away Center John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova and a couple of future draft picks to Cleveland in exchange for George Hill. The draft picks and Forward Sam Dekker were moved to Washington for backup Center Jason Smith who was moved to Milwaukee. In effect, the Bucks got Hill and Smith in a timid move while Cavs got Dellavedova and Henson and Wizards got Dekker and draft picks.
Trades are made with intent to improve team quality as in the case of Milwaukee. Wizards fall in this category considering Dekker would be counted on to produce for Washington’s weak bench.
Others are done to get assets for a rebuild as in the case of Cavaliers.
With this deal, Cavs get first year Guard Collin Sexton more playing time as Dellavedova is likely to play fewer minutes than Hill while Henson’s $10 million contract next season and production- 5.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in 13 minutes- is an attractive trade piece for more draft picks. On the other hand, it is quite difficult to stay positive on Milwaukee’s prospects after this trade.
For starters, the team doesn’t get better after this trade and certainly doesn’t vault above Philadelphia Sixers and Indiana Pacers in the class that comes beneath Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics. As things stand, a playoff series against Charlotte Hornets could well go to a Game 7. Hill has been in the NBA for over a decade and has enormous playoff experience during his time in San Antonio, Indiana, Utah, Sacramento and Cleveland.
However, his presence on the roster keeps Milwaukee in the above average spot at the Point Guard position alongside Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon. Aside Antetokounmpo, Bucks have a host of good and consistent players in Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Brogdon and Brook Lopez. But the team needs more than that to have a legit chance of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals or in the NBA Finals. In Milwaukee’s 95-105 loss to Golden State Warriors, Giannis was double teamed several times and in one on one situations, Warriors Kevin Durant matched Antetokounmpo’s insane length to bother the Greek Freak.
Golden State committed 18 turnovers and Milwaukee scored 26 points off it yet couldn’t turn it into a win because of a lack of options beside Giannis and Middleton who scored just ten points. What Milwaukee needs is an extra scorer and shot creator especially from the perimeter to improve its chances hence a move for Wizards Guard Beal should have been the trade Bucks management ought to have gone for.
On the flip side, there is logic behind Milwaukee’s move for Hill and Jason Smith and letting Dellavedova and Henson go. It all boils down to finances and letting Delly and Henson walk is a shrewd move since the pair is owed $20 million combined next season.
Conversely, Hill is owed $19 million in the final year of his contract but only a million dollars is guaranteed ahead of the 2019-2020 season. This makes him a prime candidate to be waived off the team ahead of the campaign to create space for Milwaukee’s management to resign soon –to- be- free agents. Bledsoe, Brogdon and Middleton are in line for new contracts which is bound to take up all the team’s salary cap space and could even push Bucks into paying taxes to the league for breaching the salary cap.
Smith is owed $5 million but is a free agent once this season ends opening more space for new salaries to be handed to the aforementioned group. But there is a downside even after this expertly calculated financial wrangling since signing Middleton, Brogdon and Bledsoe to richer, longer contracts still does not get Milwaukee beyond Raptors should Kawhi Leonard stay longer in Toronto beyond this season and Boston should Kyrie Irving stay beyond this season.
In the event both star players leave, Indiana has a matured Victor Oladipo and a strong cast to win the Conference. In the present and future, Bucks bright prospects could die out if bold moves aren’t made by management.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter