Update: The trade is now official, with the Bucks also acquiring a future second round pick and cash considerations. Story updated accordingly.
Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond is at it again, people. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Houston Rockets have traded the No. 14 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, center Samuel Dalembert and a future second rounder to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for the No. 12 pick, Jon Brockman, Jon Leuer and Shaun Livingston.
The Bucks move down two spots in a draft class already famous for the confusing network of depth and high-upside players expected to land in the late-lottery and mid-round, but they take care of their glaring issue at center for the short-term with a proven veteran. The 31-year-old Dalembert is owed $6.68 million in 2012-13 with just $1.5M guaranteed, but the Bucks will almost certainly keep him for the upcoming season and install him as their starting center on opening night. Dalembert's minutes have fallen in recent years (less than 26 mpg each of past four seasons) but his productivity has remained fairly steady, traditionally ranking among the league's best shot-blockers (1.7 bpg) and rebounders (18.3% rebound rate). He's also been among the league's most durable players, missing a total of just three games over the past six seasons.
Depending on your view of the prospects available at #12, the best part of the deal might be that Milwaukee will no longer feel compelled to address their need for a center in the draft, freeing them up to take anyone they like at #14. Over the past month they've worked out more potential first rounders than in any of John Hammond's previous four drafts, including Terrence Ross, John Henson, Perry Jones III, Terrence Jones, Fab Melo, Quincy Miller, Will Barton, Arnett Moultrie and Jeremy Lamb (OK, he just stopped by for breakfast). The deal also opens up two roster spots, which provides even more flexibility heading into draft day and free agency. Zeller is the guy whose stock likely drops the most given he was most prepared to step in and play right away in the pivot, though the likelihood of drafting Leonard presumably also drops despite being more of a long-term project.
As for what they give up, it's merely some nebulous value associated with the two-spot drop in a wide-open draft and a couple of role players that aren't part of the big picture. Jon Leuer flashed potential to become a solid rotation player over the next few years, while Brockman was dead weight at the end of the bench and Livingston got lost in the point guard shuffle after Beno Udrih opted in on his deal for this season. Leuer and Livingston are certainly useful players, but nothing anyone should be too upset about, honestly. The Bucks' depth was an asset last season, but having the best players from 12 to 15 doesn't win you many games. Instead, the deal today allows them to repackage some of that depth into a proven starter at their biggest position of need, at the cost of dropping a couple spots in a deep draft.
Dalembert and the 14th pick go the Bucks for the 12th pick, Jon Brockman, Jon Leurer and Brockman, sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 27, 2012
Shaun Livingston also goes to the Rockets as part of the package, sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 27, 2012
Since '08 Bucks have never worked out more than 10 eventual 1st rounders. This year? Visits from 12 projected 1st rounders. #BucksDraft— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) June 27, 2012
Stay tuned for more updates.