A day after it was first suggested by Gery Woelfel, the Journal-Sentinel is reporting that the Bucks have indeed traded the expiring contract of Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell to the Golden State Warriors for swingman Corey Maggette and the 44th overall pick in Thursday's draft. There's no question the Bucks win the trade going away in talent terms--Gadzuric and Bell were barely rotation-worthy over the past couple seasons while Maggette has elite scoring ability. But the 30-year-old Illinois native is also owed $9.60 million, $10.26 million, and $10.92 million over the next three seasons and has made a living as a single-minded scorer on bad teams.
The plus side is that Maggette brings the Bucks a slashing dimension they didn't have even with Salmons, and they do get much better value out of their 10/11 roster by converting Bell and Gadzuric into a dynamic scorer. Maggette's $9.6 million salary next year is about $1.5 million less than that owed Bell and Gadzuric, and that doesn't include the money that probably won't get spent on Salmons. It's less pretty beyond 2011, when Maggette is owed $21 million over the final two years of his deal. In contrast, Gadzuric is off the books this coming summer and Bell is owed $4.1 million in 11/12, but again that doesn't factor in a potential multi-year deal that Salmons might have gotten in Maggette's absence.
But as I tweeted earlier in the day, my biggest concern about the deal is that Maggette just doesn't seem like a real upgrade to Salmons, particularly when you factor in his contract. We know the Bucks worked well with Salmons, and presumably he'll sign for a bit less than the dollars owed Maggette (unless the market goes really crazy). So why not try to re-sign Salmons in July, and if that fails then make a move for Maggette or some other swingman thereafter? Did the Bucks feel Salmons was unlikely to re-sign? Did they think someone else was going to deal for Maggette if they didn't move quickly? Did they not like any of the other potential trade or free agent options out there? Presumably it's some combination of all three, and we shouldn't overlook the value of adding another 2010 pick that they can use to possibly make another move this week.
So long to Salmons?
The Bucks' move comes (not coincidentally?) the same day that John Salmons informed the Bucks he was opting out of his deal to become an unrestricted free agent. Salmons' decision won't surprise anyone given his terrific finish to the season in Milwaukee and his fairly modest $5.8 million salary next season, but it would now seem unlikely that the Bucks pony up to retain him with Maggette's deal on the books.
With many teams flush with cap space and only so many stars to go around, the 30-year-old Salmons will understandably be looking to cash in for one last big contract. The Bucks had hoped to sign Salmons to an extension before July, offering him three years and $21 million beyond the $5.8 million his existing deal would have paid him next season. That was the most the Bucks could offer in an extension (which is limited by the salary of the player's existing deal), but they could have offered more after Salmons opted out to become a free agent. Still, the extension seemed pretty reasonable--and perhaps a bit too long--considering Salmons' age and the likelihood that his game declines over the next few seasons. Ironically, Chris Tomasson wrote just hours before the trade was announced that the Bucks hoped to continue talking extension with Salmons up until the opt-out deadline on June 30, but we'll have to see if the party line changes now that Maggette is on board.
[Update] Not surprisingly, John Hammond has told the Journal-Sentinel that he still wants to re-sign Salmons:
"Absolutely not," Hammond said when asked if obtaining Maggette had any impact on the Bucks' interest in Salmons. "We still want John on our roster."
There's no reason Salmons and Maggette couldn't coexist, especially considering that Maggette's scoring has frequently been used off the bench at his previous stops. The better question is if the Bucks are willing to carry two aging scorers on their books for the next two or three years. They might not have better use of the short-term cap dollars anyway, but Salmons' return just seems like a bit of a longshot now that the Bucks have the added leverage of a reliable fallback option.
How does Maggette fit in?
There's no questioning Maggette's pedigree as a scorer, but my main concern is how he fits in with a Bucks roster that was clicking on all cylinders after Salmons' acquisition in February. Salmons is a better passer, defender and three point shooter than Maggette, who compensates by scoring at a much better clip (career-high 26.7 pts/40 minutes last year) and with exceptional efficiency (61.5% true shooting, 51.6% from the field). In terms of mindset, that makes Maggette look a lot more like the old Michael Redd than Salmons.
Though he shot just 26.0% and 25.3% from deep the past two seasons in Oakland, Maggette gets to the line at an incredible rate (at least 8 fta/game each of the last seven seasons) and is an excellent finisher around the hoop (65-66% on shots at the rim each of the past three seasons). The Bucks were dreadful in both departments last year, so Maggette offers clear benefits in that sense. But he has also developed a reputation for being a reluctant passer and indifferent defender over his decade-long career, and it bears mentioning that he was often used as a sixth man for both the Clippers and Warriors. Considering the Bucks' emphasis on ball movement and lack of scoring depth, it wouldn't be shocking if Scott Skiles opted to use Maggette in that capacity for the Bucks, though I'd also be shocked if he didn't play 25-30 mpg every night. Remember that Skiles often used Ben Gordon in that capacity in Chicago as well.
What about the draft?
It's less clear how the Maggette deal affects the Bucks' draft plans, though you have to think the Bucks will continue to wheel and deal now that they've added the 44th pick to their existing 15th, 37th, and 47th picks. There have been rumors that the Bucks were looking to trade down from their 15th overall pick in the first round, but usually that means acquiring more picks--which isn't exactly a priority now. It could also involve acquiring more veterans, which seems to make a bit more sense.
As it stands I'd be pretty surprised if the Bucks brought four rookies to camp in October, though they could also stash a European player abroad. More likely is that they try to package multiple second rounders for another pick in the late first round, which would make a lot of sense given all the late first round talent they've been working out--Larry Sanders, Jordan Crawford, Hassan Whiteside, and Lance Stephenson come to mind.
If they do stay put in the first round, does the Maggette move signal their intent on going big? That was my first reaction, but in the end I'm not sure that's the case. The Maggette trade seems like a value move more than anything, and it's not like anyone at 15 could replace Salmons' 18-20 ppg immediately anyway. Given Maggette's on the wrong side of 30, has missed his share of games, and has often come off the bench in recent years, there wouldn't be any harm in grabbing a talented young wing player to provide scoring depth and a potential long-term starter at the 2/3. Maggette's lack of outside shooting ability also means the Bucks probably need to add another shooter to the rotation, with Xavier Henry, Luke Babbitt and Jordan Crawford as the best possible solutions that might come from the draft.