A sidenote to a rather innocuous signing Wednesday by the Minnesota Timberwolves had rather large implications for the Milwaukee Bucks. In order to accommodate the salary of Corey Brewer, who agreed to a 3-year, roughly $15 million deal with Minnesota, the Wolves needed to shed a little salary, and they have reportedly done that by shipping point guard Luke Ridnour to the Bucks. The exact terms of the deal have not been finalized, but all indications so far suggest this is strictly a salary dump for Minnesota, and the Bucks aren't likely to give up much of anything.
The Bucks still have a lot of financial acrobatics to perform, as the only move officially completed so far is the sign-and-trade of J.J. Redick to the Los Angeles Clippers. As such, Milwaukee doesn't technically have the cap space to just absorb Ridnour's $4.3 million expiring contract. We're likely to soon see some movement on the multiple free-agent fronts Milwaukee is engaged in, be it the Brandon Jennings/Jeff Teague saga or whatever it is Monta Ellis is trying to do. There might also be some renouncing and/or an amnesty waiving.
If the trade does go through, Ridnour will return to the Bucks three years after playing a key role in Milwaukee's 2009-2010 Fear the Dear campaign, when he averaged 10 points and 4 assists in 21.5 minutes per game as the primary backup to Brandon Jennings. That was something of a late breakout season for Ridnour, who set career highs in TS% (.570) and PER (17.7). It wasn't enough to convince the Bucks' brass to re-sign him, however, and he left for Minnesota on a four-year, $16 million deal. His first season with Minnesota was a strong follow-up, as most of his numbers remained solid save for a big spike in turnover rate. The past two seasons, however, haven't been as good. His three-point percentage cratered back to the low 30s, and his assist rate has dropped precipitously from even career levels. He's also succumbed to his limited athleticism and become a pretty bad defender. The emergence of Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved in the Minnesota backcourt threw a wrench in Ridnour's role, but there's no denying his performance has taken a hit.
That being said, he's still a moderately capable backup with a lot of experience, and the Bucks' organization is familiar with him, which seems to be the big selling point so far this summer. With an expiring deal, he wouldn't have any impact on the Bucks' future plans either. The Bucks best season in years came with Jennings and Ridnour manning the point, so maybe they're looking to recapture the magic. One might even call it rebuilding...
The curious issue remaining is what, exactly, the trade of Luc Mbah a Moute was intended to facilitate. Considering the return, the obvious benefit would seem to have been the resulting ability to free more than $12m in cap space. Acquiring Ridnour knocks that figure back down around $8m, less than would presumably be required to land a starting-caliber small forward like Andrei Kirilenko (we'll keep throwing his name around until we can't anymore). But nothing else has made a whole heap of sense so far this offseason, so we probably shouldn't take too much time to think about it.