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Wednesday Notes: Final Pre-Draft News, more trade reaction

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  • DX: DeRozan suddenly falling to Bucks?  By now you've seen me mention DeMar DeRozan's name a bunch of times as a major upside pick who unfortunately hasn't been on the Bucks radar (at least not from anything I've seen). Well, with less than 24 hours until draft time that could be changing. Jonathan Givony reports that Jonny Flynn could now be gone as high as fourth to the Kings while Toronto could opt for Jrue Holiday instead of DeRozan, who until now has been the mock favorite for #9. With Jordan Hill possibly going seventh to Golden State, that would mean none of the favorites for the Bucks' spot would be around.

    In this scenario, Milwaukee may have an interesting choice on their hands at #10. DeMar DeRozan was never supposed to get to their pick, but all of a sudden they find him right there for the picking, just a few days after trading away an extremely athletic wing player in Richard Jefferson. Do they swing for the fences on DeRozan’s upside, or will they stay true to their plan of drafting a point guard at all costs and reach for Jeff Teague?
    Teague would seem to be a pretty shocking pick--he doesn't exactly scream Scott Skiles favorite--and Gery Woelfel bluntly shot down the possibility of Teague being the pick earlier this week.  But both Ford and Givony continue to mention him as being in the mix. 
  • Broussard: Jennings in the mix?  No one seems to know where Brandon Jennings might go, but Chris Broussard mentions him as a possiblity for the Bucks:

    Golden State likes Jennings at No. 7, but coach Don Nelson told Jennings he'd be a backup to Monta Ellis. Nelson's going to move Stephen Jackson to 2-guard. Jennings is hoping to go somewhere and play right away. Milwaukee's a strong possibility at No. 10. If he falls, Phoenix could nab him at No. 14 or Philadelphia at No. 15.
  • Wojo: Skiles likes Jennings? Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski also says the Bucks could make a move for Jennings:

    Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles has become a proponent of Brandon Jennings, a source said and could push to make the point guard the Bucks’ choice at No. 10.
    I've been pretty vocal in having no freakin' clue whether Jennings should be in the Bucks' plans, but I will say this--it would making things damn interesting, and I'll conveniently choose to ignore his crap European stats and watch this a million times.  Skiles isn't going to want him because of a high school mixtape, so I'm guessing they've seen plenty of substance in his game.
  • Ford: Bucks prefer to draft a PG and keep CV?  From that same page, Ford posits his theory that the Bucks would prefer to use their newfound flexibility to re-sign Charlie Villanueva rather than Ramon Sessions.
    This deal gave them some flexibility to re-sign one of their restricted free agents -- either Charlie Villanueva or Ramon Sessions. From what I can gather, the emphasis will be on Villanueva.

    Why? The draft has something to do with it. The Bucks have several point guard prospects they like at No. 10. The only big guy they've looked at hard is DeJuan Blair, but that's too high for Blair to go.

    I think they'll take Jonny Flynn, Jrue Holiday or Jeff Teague at No. 10 and go into the summer with a solid rebuilding base of talented young players including Andrew Bogut, Joe Alexander and Villanueva. It isn't a championship contender, but it's a start.

    It's tough to tell if Ford is just giving his own rationale or if there's some kind of Bucks source behind this, because it kind of goes against the conventional wisdom that I've just assumed to be true at this point--that CV would likely be allowed to walk, possibly to replaced by Ersan Ilyasova. Also keep in mind that drafting a PG could simply be a precursor to trading Luke Ridnour, not letting Sessions walk.  That would at least seem to be the logical course of action.  Ridnour doesn't have any real value, but with an expiring contract he could be viewed as a possible backup point for a contending team.  In his mock, Ford has the Bucks going for Flynn over Teague and Jennings and Ahmad Nivins in the second round.
  • Flynn and Pendergraph. They've also got DeRozan slipping outside the top ten, but Flynn's there too.

  • JS: Hammond/Skiles explaining their busy day. Apparently the value of yesterday's trades has been lost on some people, so the Bucks braintrust is necessarily trying to soothe the nerves of all the people who had anointed Richard Jefferson their new savior.  Heck, even Gery Woelfel seems disenchanted.  Skiles is trying to argue it wasn't a salary dump, while Hammond was on WSSP trying to articulate the difference between "financial flexibility" and "roster flexibility."  Whatever, this deal had to happen and the Bucks are better off overall for it.

    I don't blame the casual fan for reacting with skepticism to yesterday's trades--when you trade a perceived star and don't get one back, people are going to be ticked off.  But these are the cold economic realities of the NBA, and the Bucks haven't made things any easier on themselves by taking on too many guys whose play isn't commensurate to their inflated contracts.  Much of that falls on Larry Harris, but Hammond also made the decision to keep Michael Redd last summer and RJ at the deadline.  Trading either for expiring deals would have expedited the process, but they seem to have gotten greedy last spring and tried to make a run at the playoffs even after Bogut/Redd went down.  I can understand the need to put a decent product on the floor, but there's gotta be some consideration for the long-term, and we finally reached the inflection point yesterday.

    The bottom line is that anyone who understood the Bucks' cap situation could see a move like this coming for months.  And anyone who follows the NBA knows that $15 million wing players don't have much currency right now. The Bucks tried to wait out the market when nothing attractive materialized at the deadline, but the economy still sucks, the tax threshold is still going down and teams simply aren't willing to fork out huge dollars for overpaid wings.  Considering that Sessions and Villanueva overshadowed RJ for much of the second half of the season, I'll gladly take my chances trying to re-sign one or both to a reasonable deal (or take Ilyasova as a consolation prize).  Even if one walks, the Bucks will have a bunch of expiring deals with which to go fishing for bigger game--Ridnour, Thomas, Johnson, Bowen (if he's not cut), Allen, and Elson (assuming they take their options) add up to $20.96 million in expiring contracts. 

    While no one is expecting the Bucks to attract superstar free agents anytime soon, expiring deals (this year) and cap space (down the road) allow them the freedom to take advantage of other teams' desperation--Pau Gasol and Rasheed Wallace representing the most extreme examples of big name players traded in their prime for relative peanuts.  Unfortunately you can't plan for that kind of opportunity, but you can give yourself a chance to take advantage of them when they arise by acquiring underpriced assets and expiring deals.  The Bucks have now been on the business end of financially motivated deals twice and it could happen again soon, but in the long term they're finally positioning themselves to be a buyer rather than seller.