Even when the Bucks get something for virtually nothing, it feels like they've gotten a lot less than they could have.
That will be the feeling many Bucks fans will have following Tuesday's three-team deal involving the Suns, Clippers and Bucks, which sent young point guard Eric Bledsoe and veteran wing Caron Butler to Phoenix, Jared Dudley and former Bucks guard J.J. Redick to L.A (sign-and-trade), and netted Milwaukee a pair of as-yet-undisclosed second round picks. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski was first to break the deal on Twitter.
In isolation, the deal nets the Bucks a pair of picks for a role player expected to depart Milwaukee anyway. Hardly a king's ransom, but a solid get-something-for-nothing move given Milwaukee had the least leverage of any team in the deal. Redick's new deal in L.A. is reportedly worth about $6.5 million annually for four season, which is a little over a million more per season than the Clippers could have otherwise offered.
Only that's not how the larger narrative around this deal--and the deals leading up to it--will be written. No, the context of this deal will no doubt leave many Bucks fans once again bitterly disappointed for two obvious reasons. First, it officially closes the book on Redick's disappointing 30-game tenure in Milwaukee, serving as a painful reminder of the stiff price Milwaukee paid when they surrendered promising youngster Tobias Harris to the Magic. Second, fans will no doubt also be disappointed to have seen the Suns snap up Bledsoe, who for one fleeting day offered Bucks fans some hope of an alternative to re-signing restricted free agent Brandon Jennings.
Couldn't the Bucks have sweetened the deal somehow to snag Bledsoe? Was the Suns' offer of Jared Dudley that much more desirable than Ekpe Udoh or Luc Mbah a Moute? Those are the very reasonable questions that Bucks fans will be asking about this deal, and it's not clear we'll ever get an answer. Dudley is owed a cap-friendly $4.25 million each of the next three seasons, and nominally would seem the most attractive asset out of the aforementioned group. Still, it's valid to question whether the Bucks were aggressive enough in trying to acquire Bledsoe, especially considering that Milwaukee's cap space and roster holes would have made Butler's expiring deal an easy pill to swallow. These are precisely the sort of opportunistic deals that the Bucks should be looking to make given their advantageous cap position, but in the end they weren't able to claim a valuable asset like Bledsoe. He may not be a future all-star, but the explosive 23-year-old still has room to grow as a distributor and already looks like a premium defender in the backcourt. And unlike Jennings, he won't hit restricted free agency for another season.
Instead, the first two days of free agency have netted the Bucks two future second round picks and no additions to the nine names on their roster, a curious position for a team supposedly attempting to compete for a playoff spot. Fans holding out hope of a rebuilding year and those wary of reckless spending may at least take some solace in the Bucks making no attempt to wade into the usual free agent feeding frenzy, but then again...well, there's still plenty of time. It's anyone's guess how the Bucks resolve the Brandon Jennings situation, while other rumored targets like J.R. Smith, Kevin Martin (who reportedly has a four year, $30 million offer from Minnesota and talking to the Bucks), and O.J. Mayo could still be offered big dollars by the Bucks.