The Milwaukee Bucks are frequently mentioned among the teams most active on the market leading up to Thursday's trade deadline. With playoff aspirations dashed, the Bucks look to have fully embraced a youth movement, making many of their veteran players expendable. If a substantial rebuild is to take place in the near future, this week will go a long way toward determining its extent.
It's still a big jump from "expendable" to "gone" though, especially when many of Milwaukee's veteran players are attached to long-term contracts. Many could be useful for contenders looking to bolster their playoff or title chances, but finding the right deal isn't easy.
So who's most likely to be dealt? Can Milwaukee hope to nab any assets at the deadline, or is a strict salary dump the best they can hope for? Only the anonymous sources know, but we can speculate!
2013/2014 - $3,250,000
2014/2015 - $3,250,000
2015/2016 - UFA
Why he'll be traded: In the right situation, Gary Neal is still capable of getting buckets in bunches. For all the maligning he's faced in Milwaukee, his stats are very similar to those he put up in San Antonio last season. He's still hitting a respectable 36.4% of his three-point shots and is drawing fouls more than ever. Perhaps more importantly, his contract is easily swallowed by a team with a trade exception or little-used, cheap player to send back.
Why he won't be traded: Neal's shooting efficiency has dropped every single year in the league, and there are legitimate questions as to whether his success was anything more than a product of San Antonio's rock-solid system. He's not necessarily an easy guy to just "slot in" a set bench rotation because he's a ball-dominant player.
Chance he's traded: 80%. Woj doesn't throw stuff like this around lightly. A contending team with a traded player exception (eg. Golden State, Memphis, Oklahoma City) could easily take on his salary.
2013/2014 - $4,420,000
2014/2015 - UFA
Why he'll be traded: As 2nd-unit point guards go, Ridnour is still one of the best. He can run the pick and roll effectively thanks to his solid pull-up jumper, vision, and passing. He's been hitting threes this season, shooting 36.8% from behind the arc. His low-cost expiring contract is easily accomodated with no-term cap impact. He's still pound-for-pound the best open-court fouler in the NBA.
Why he won't be traded: Generally speaking, he's been a terrible scorer this season, with a career-worst 45.3 TS% and his highest turnover rate in 3 years. He's had trouble with injuries, particularly lingering back issues that could scare off potential suitors. Some of the teams in the market for point guards are chasing higher-profile targets.
Chance he's traded: 55%. Sacramento and Washington are both rumored to have interest in Ridnour. Moving Luke would give the Bucks very no depth behind Brandon Knight and Nate Wolters at the point, barring a free agent signing or fill-in trade. But Ridnour is one player who could potentially return a second-round pick or so in a deal because of his successful track record.
2013/2014 - $4,469,548
2014/2015 - RFA ($5,962,377 qualifying offer)
Why he'll be traded: He has almost no value to the Bucks at the moment, making him another player who could be traded in a simple salary dump. A contender in need of frontcourt depth could make use of Udoh's defense, as long as they don't need any offensive production out of him whatsoever. Teams might be interested in acquiring him now to gain RFA rights on him this summer, and he's unlikely to command a big contract.
Why he won't be traded: How do you even calculate Udoh's value right now? His box-score production is minuscule and his legendary +/- effect seems to have yielded in the face of Milwaukee's ineptitude. The Bucks might prefer to keep Udoh for depth purposes in light of Larry Sanders' injury, even if they don't intend to re-sign him after this season. Like Ridnour, Udoh has been troubled by nagging injuries this season.
Chance he's traded: 30%. There have been few, if any, rumors regarding the former 6th-overall pick, and Milwaukee is suddenly a bit short on bigs with Sanders out.
2013/2014 - $8,000,000
2014/2015 - UFA
Why he'll be traded: Wings with size and decent three-point strokes are always useful, and Butler's substantial expiring contract could help a capped-out team clear its balance sheet. With Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton ahead of him on the priority/depth chart (plus Carlos Delfino possibly returning next year), Butler's minutes are squeezed, and the Bucks might want to give him a shot with a contender.
Why he won't be traded: By most accounts the Bucks still value Butler as a mentor to their young roster. He apparently has a strong leadership presence in the locker room. After milking the Wisconsin connection all summer, shipping Butler out now might be seen as a shady move, unless Caron himself requests a move to a more competitive environment. Shipping out his $8M deal might require taking back substantial long-term salary.
Chance he's traded: 25%. Any Butler deal is more likely to be motivated by money than on-court production, but the market for big expiring contracts continues to shrink under the new CBA. Matching salaries might make the deal unpalatable for the Bucks unless a major sweetener is added, such as a draft pick.
2013/2014 - $7,900,000
2014/2015 - $7,900,000
2015/2016 - $7,900,000
2016/2017 - $8,400,000 ($400,000 guaranteed)
Why he'll be traded: Half a year ago Ilyasova was viewed as one of the more valuable young forwards in the NBA thanks to his combination of solid rebounding and exceptional long-range shooting. He's been bad this season, but the Bucks are a mess and a change of scenery could do wonders. He has the ultimate plug-and-play skillset and would provide a big boost to any offense if he regains his shooting touch. He's effectively an expiring contract in two years. And honestly, what's two years...?
Why he won't be traded: A lot can change in half a year. Ilyasova's value has tanked thanks to a terrible first half this year in which he's set career-low marks in just about every category. Two more years at $8M per is a lot to swallow if Ersan never regains the form of his previous two seasons. The Bucks might prefer to keep Ilyasova through the deadline, hope he regains some value, and look to move him in the summer.
Chance he's traded: 35%. The Bucks have presumably (hopefully?) learned their lesson about needlessly selling low, and Ilyasova's track record of second-half recovery offers some hope his value will be higher in the summer (he can't stay this bad forever, can he?), when there will be only two fully guaranteed seasons left on his deal. Still, if a team is willing to meet Milwaukee halfway with regard to Ersan's true value, getting an asset sooner than later might be enough to push a deal through.
2013/2014 - $5,200,000
2014/2015 - $5,200,000
2015/2016 - $5,200,000
Why he'll be traded: Zaza stuffs the box score with the best of the bench big men. His toughness and on-court leadership are highly regarded around the league. He has starting experience in the playoffs, which teams like. Oh, and he DOESN'T MISS FREE THROWS.
Why he won't be traded: Teams don't usually line up to pay rotational big men $5M-plus for three-straight years. Unless a team intends to start him or at least give him significant minutes, he's a very expensive backup who contributes next to nothing as a shot blocker.
Chance he's traded: 5%. I just can't see anybody being desperate to take on Pachulia's deal in anything more than a junk-for-junk swap, and he's one of just two true centers on the team with Sanders out.
2013/2014 - $8,000,000
2014/2015 - $8,000,000
2015/2016 - $8,000,000
Why he'll be traded: Well, he's still hitting 36% of his threes! And he's mostly taking good shots!
Why he won't be traded: He's missed a ton of time with a lengthy illness and questions about his conditioning have dogged him all season. Aside from the three-point shooting, his offense has dipped drastically. That contract is nasty if he's not going to be playing a lot.
Chance he's traded: 5%. Mayo has been strangely spared of truly harsh criticism, mostly because everybody realizes that he's not actually this bad, I expect. He's another guy the Bucks have to hope gets going in the second half so they can either trade him in the summer or reintegrate him into the rotation.