As much as our readership is (understandably) skeptical of it, the Bucks are apparently positioning themselves as potential buyers ahead of the Thursday trade deadline. At least that's what Chad Ford is hearing, as he has the Bucks among five teams looking to add talent right now.
The Bucks have reportedly talked to both the Wizards about Antawn Jamison and the Pacers about Troy Murphy and shown interest in the Bulls' Tyrus Thomas.
Milwaukee will have to be patient, because other teams might have better offers to make to Washington, Indiana and Chicago. But if the Bucks are willing to throw their first-round pick into a deal, they might be able to trump other teams. As the deadline approaches, don't be surprised to see Milwaukee scoop up someone.
Don't get me wrong, the idea of adding Murphy to the frontcourt rotation for non-Ridnour expirings has obvious appeals. He's a quality shooter/rebounder who would help space the floor around Andrew Bogut, and he'd join Redd and Gadzuric as big expiring deals next season. But as we've discussed, the idea of sacrificing Ilyasova or the Bucks' first rounder seems steep--especially given Ilyasova has a terrific contract and could match Murphy's current productivity in a year or two. John Hammond told Gery Woelfel this weekend that no deals were in the works, but then again I'm not sure why he would say otherwise.
As for the draft, the downside of the Bucks' competitive start is that they're only looking at a mid-first round pick right now--not where you typically find transformative talent. That said, if the season ended today (and the lottery held to form) the Bucks would have the 11th overall pick, which certainly doesn't preclude the possibility of finding a long-term piece. This year's draft also happens to be long on power forwards, which I'd certainly categorize as a good thing from a Bucks' perspective. And while I know I sound like a broken record, I still think those are the kind of assets the Bucks should be stockpiling, not dealing away for good-but-not-great 29-year olds.
Murphy has also been linked with the Cavs and Kings, so the upside of a Suns/Cavs deal for Amare Stoudemire would be that it would take another Murphy bidder out of the picture. Whether Indiana is worried enough about their cap situation next year that they would give Murphy away for expirings is another question, and keep in mind that both teams having the maximum 15 players on the roster adds another complication for the GMs to wrangle with.
Jamison and Thomas each offer some intrigue, albeit at completely different ends of the spectrum. The 33-year old Jamison is an appealing name from a talent standpoint, but his deal goes through the summer of 2012, wrecking any flexibility the Bucks might have a year from now. And while his raw stats are still impressive (20 ppg/9 rpg), they mask a mostly predictable dip in efficiency compared to his last couple seasons. He's old...these things happen.
Meanwhile, Thomas is on the outs in Chicago for a number of reasons. The most obvious is his attitude, which has been an issue throughout his career (including when Scott Skiles coached him as a rookie) and has only gotten worse now that he's not getting starter's minutes in his fourth year in the league. Of course you'd tolerate some of the childishness if he was putting up 18/10, but for all the God-given ability Thomas has, he's never developed the game to match his swagger. On the surface, that makes him the last guy you'd want to add to a well-functioning, unselfish squad like the Bucks. But the guy in the devil's outfit on your shoulder might also point out that Thomas' athleticism and shot-blocking would be a nice shot in the arm given the existing frontcourt rotation. Besides, if anyone outside of the Bulls' organization has a good idea of Thomas' strengths and weaknesses, it should be Skiles, right?
For more trade-related speculation, check out Jeremy's rumor summary at Bucksketball and my take from Friday.