According to a report from CBS Sports' Ken Berger, the Milwaukee Bucks have agreed to send forward Luc Mbah a Moute to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for two future 2nd-round picks. A tweet from Sam Amick clarifies that the Bucks will receive the Kings 2nd-round pick in 2016 and the right to swap 2nd-rounders in 2018.
There are two immediate consequences of this deal for the Bucks. First, shipping Luc west leaves one fewer player available to man the small forward position at all capably. The Bucks have insisted that first-round pick Giannis Antetokounmpo will join the team immediately, but given his inexperience and youth, featuring him in a significant role would seem lethal to a serious goal of actually winning games. That means the Bucks will likely deploy Carlos Delfino as a small forward at least to some extent, and may once again look to him as their starter unless they can still acquire another player to fill that role.
Which brings us to the second consequence: cutting Mbah a Moute's salary without getting any in return pushes Milwaukee's projected cap space (ignoring Monta Ellis' hold) to around $6 million, a figure that could essentially double if the Bucks choose to amnesty Drew Gooden. This raises all sorts of scary, intriguing, and confusing possibilities. For what it's worth, it also effectively takes Sacramento out of the Race for Monta Ellis, who is reportedly deciding between Atlanta and Dallas.
The Bucks haven't shown any inclination to use their cap space for more subtle, strategic purposes, and it's still not clear if cutting Gooden via amnesty is even an option for John Hammond. The list of possible targets who might command significant offers grows shorter by the hour, but one possibility is former Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko. I'm not sure I'd advocate the Bucks throwing an offer his way (I'm still in the subtle, strategic camp, waving my arms and yelling), but he had a very good season in Minnesota last year and could potentially be lured by a high-dollar, short-term offer.
We haven't even discussed Luc's diminishing role with the Bucks yet, and that's probably something that will get covered in more detail soon. For now, it's worth noting just a few points:
- There was little doubt remaining that Luc's best overall position was PF, even though his defense was probably most valuable when checking the NBA's best 3s. His complete lack of perimeter skills was just too damaging to the team when playing SF for extended stretches.
- The Pachulia signing didn't help clear the logjam in the frontcourt, but trading Luc wasn't the most obvious solution. The skills of Ekpe Udoh and Gustavo Ayon are both far more redundant with the rest of the roster, and both are presumably movable with little effort. But if the Bucks conceded that Luc was only effective as a PF, they may have chosen to part with him in order to keep the most positional flexibility allowable.
- The ultimate conclusion that many reached during Luc's tenure in Milwaukee was that he simply didn't fit well with the roster. He would be right at home on the bench of some of the NBA's best teams, ready to come in and frustrate an opposing scorer while other stars took care of the offensive load. Milwaukee never had that luxury, which led to a marginalization of his talents. That was an unfortunate reality, one that we bemoaned on multiple occasions. It's a bit surprising that a rebuilding squad like Sacramento should be the one that snatches him up, but at a relatively low (and far-off) cost, they evidently saw something worth grabbing.
- Luc was one of the Bucks' better draft success stories, another overachieving 2nd-round pick in a long line. That he should bring an equivalent return is something of a poetic Phoenix tale.