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Slow News Day: Oberto traded immediately to Detroit for Amir Johnson

It's a shame I had to be at a conference today, because I picked the wrong day to be away from the internet.  Just when I had kind of caught up with my post praising the Jefferson deal, John Hammond spun around and traded Fabricio Oberto--or more accurately, his only half-guaranteed $3.8 million contract--to the Pistons for perennial prospect Amir Johnson.  Johnson only turned 22 a month ago and has just one year left on his deal at $3.66 million, so he's a low risk acquisition who can provide athleticism (and still some potential) at both big spots.  He was always very productive in his first three seasons for the Pistons, but he dropped off this year as he struggled to get minutes under Michael Curry.  That's obviously not a good sign, but John Hammond was with the Pistons when they drafted him and probably still has some hope for him.  The only downside from a Bucks perspective is that having Johnson rather than cutting Oberto cuts out $1.76 million of the cap savings provided by the Jefferson deal. 

Still, the Bucks will end the day with significantly more financial flexibility than they started, and that's why Bucks fans should be feeling much better about where their team is.  While he's still a solid player, Jefferson was owed $14.2 million this season and $15.2 million next year, numbers that just didn't make sense anymore.  The Bucks can now save up to $4.74 million this year (if they cut Bruce Bowen) and the full $15.2 million next year since all of the acquired players' contracts are expiring.  And that's all assuming that Kurt Thomas isn't bought out, which could cut another million or two.  Though Johnson provides some additional depth up front, I'd be happy to keep Thomas and his $3.8 million salary--he's a smart defender of both big positions and has been an excellent rebounder (17.2 rebound rate last year) despite the fact that he's turning 37 in October. 

As for Bowen, there's no sense in cutting him while his contract is still only partially guaranteed, though at this point I'm guessing he gets cut to free up more dollars under the luxury tax.  It sounds like his deal might not become guaranteed until August 1, which would allow the Bucks to keep him on the roster for the next month in case they want to trade him for another asset (or just keep him period, though I really doubt that).  The only tricky part is that Bowen can't be traded in a deal that aggregates his salary with other players for two months.  In other words, you couldn't trade Bowen's $4 million salary along with a $6.5 million salary (say, Luke Ridnour) for a $10.5 million player.  You'd have to be able to break the trade down into pieces such that Bowen was being traded straight up for someone else.  The same was true of Oberto, which is why the trade straight up for Johnson worked.