Deal Done: Mo/Mason out, Luke Ridnour/Damon Jones/Adrian Griffin in

Brian Windhorst in Cleveland says it's done: the Bucks, Cavs, and Sonics will be completing a trade shortly that sends Mo Williams to Cleveland, Luke Ridnour, Damon Jones, and Adrian Griffin to Milwaukee and Desmond Mason and Joe Smith to Oklahoma City.

As we broke down yesterday, Ridnour's been disappointing the past two seasons but is owed far less on his current deal than Mo: $13 million total for the next two seasons compared to Williams' $43 million over the next five.  Jones had a quasi-breakout season with the Bucks in 03/04 following the injury to T.J. Ford and has an expiring deal worth $4.46 million. Griffin is a journeyman swingman who previously played for Scott Skiles in Chicago, but his $1.711 million 08/09 salary is reportedly non-guaranteed. 

In sum the Bucks would be shipping out $13.653 million while adding $12.671 million, providing about  $1 million additional room under the 08/09 luxury tax.  If Griffin is cut then the deal would net them about $2.7 million under the tax this year, but they probably won't be able to spend it all anyway.  Since Mason was expiring, the 09/10 benefit is simply the difference between Williams' and Ridnour's deals, which is $1.853 million.  The bigger cap benefits would come the following summer when Ridnour's deal comes off the books.

Acquiring two point guards for Williams leaves the Bucks with a logjam in the backcourt--Ramon Sessions, Tyronn Lue, Jones, and Ridnour would all be battling for time.  And if the Francisco Elson signing still happens as expected then the Bucks would be at the maximum roster size of 15.  That might suggest the Bucks aren't done dealing, but in moving Williams and Mason's expiring deal they now only have Charlie Villanueva left as an obvious trade chip--and they might be too thin at PF to deal him anyway. 

Meanwhile, Jones, Ridnour, and Griffin, cannot be traded with any other players for two months, but could be traded individually at any point.   So hypothetically if Miami decided they wanted Luke Ridnour tomorrow, they could have him for Udonis Haslem straight up (not that I'm expecting that to happen).  The current roster assuming the deal happens and Elson is also signed:

PG: Sessions/Lue/Ridnour/Jones
SG: Redd/Bell
SF: Jefferson/Alexander/Mbah a Moute/Griffin
PF: Villanueva/Allen
C: Bogut/Elson/Gadzuric

The guard situation in particular seems a bit odd, so I'm curious to see what the spin ends up being from the Bucks' perspective.  Clearly Mo Williams was viewed by the Bucks as deadweight in spite of his offensive productivity, and one can only assume that the trade market for him was minimal given the lack of discussion up until now.  Most Bucks fans would agree that the Mo/Redd combination just wasn't going to work--having two scorers in the backcourt who don't defend is awfully tough to pull off.  And since the Jefferson trade there's been a clear message that Redd was staying, which left Williams as the odd man out.

Talent-wise the Bucks would clearly get the short end of the stick, but then again the questions about Mo have never been related to talent.  Clearly the Bucks view this as addition by subtraction, though that might be tougher to sell to the average fan. The Bucks will get some financial benefits over the next two years and then even more flexibility once Ridnour's deal is up in 2010, but the near-term benefits won't be the same as they would have gotten in a straight salary dump. That suggests Hammond and Skiles do see Ridnour as more than just cap relief, though it's not clear what the point guard pecking order will look like once the dust settles.

As for Mo, he could be a terrific fit next to LeBron in Cleveland, where he'll also be surrounded by a more defensive starting lineup than in Milwaukee.

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