The Rumormill: Multiple trade-down scenarios unfolding for Bucks
Looking for certainty around the Bucks' draft night plans? Don't bother. While the Bogut trade rumors never seemed to make much sense, most everyone seems to agree that the Bucks' first round pick is very much in play, with multiple rumors suggesting the Bucks are working to trade down into the middle of the first. It's tough to say which if any of these specific rumors could be real, but the overall trend suggesting an interest in trading down seems very legit. A recap of the rumors thus far:
- #10/Drew Gooden for Knicks' #17/Ronny Turiaf/Toney Douglas. This one started Monday night and made it to RealGM by Tuesday morning, and would be contingent on Knick target Jimmer Fredette being available at #10. If it happened, the Bucks shed long-term salary in Gooden, add a couple of useful Skiles-type players in Turiaf (backup banger/energy guy) and Douglas (streaky scorer/shooter and willing defender), and would then hope to still grab Marshon Brooks or another guy they like at #17. DX even has Burks sliding all the way to #19, which would probably be the ultimate coup--trade down AND get the guy you want. But realistically the Bucks would have to have multiple guys they like at 17 in order to justify moving down seven spots, and I would hope the Bucks feel pretty confident that the guy they get at 17 is comparable to the guy they could have gotten at 10. Otherwise they may be paying a rather steep price to convert Gooden into Turiaf/Douglas.
#10 for Houston's #14 and #23. First reported by DX's Jonathan Givony and also mentioned by Gery Woelfel, this deal would be contingent on the Bucks not getting the guy they want at #10--Givony speculates this might be Jonas Valanciunas, whose stock suddenly could be on the slide with news that he probably won't be able to leave his Lithuanian club until the summer of 2012. Woelfel adds that players could also be involved, namely Ersan Ilyasova and Patrick Patterson or Jordan Hill. The buyout issue has been there all along, so it's interesting that only now we're seeing it raised as a reason he might slip past Detroit, which for a while seemed like his floor. Was everyone just assuming another team would bite the bullet? I suppose, and a bunch of teams may be breathing a sigh of relief if Valanciunas gets picked ahead of them, sparing them the difficult decision themselves. You'd think the Cavs and Jazz could afford to wait given they have two lottery picks and GMs who don't need to win 50 games next season, but it's not clear if that's the case. Moreover, remember that NBA teams can only contribute $500,000 to a draft player's buyout, so the rest would have to come out of Valanciunas' pocket. And the lower he gets picked, the less money he'll have to put towards his buyout.
John Hammond scouted Valanciunas in person in mid-April, but since then we've heard precious little about the Bucks' interest in him. And why would we? Valanciunas has long been thought to be a certainty to be gone by the time the Bucks pick, so it probably doesn't say too much that he's been somewhat off the Bucks' radar. The problem with picking Valanciunas is that the Bucks (and every team to some extent) want an immediate contributor. Can they wait a year if the guy is clearly the best value? Even if they're wary of waiting, Valanciunas slipping would also have the benefit of driving up the value of their pick, so it's not like the Bucks would be backed into a corner. One reason to doubt this one is that it's not clear who the Rockets might want so badly at ten--other than perhaps Valanciunas. There's been some talk the Rockets are desperate to use their two picks to get into the top ten, so the Bucks might be their last choice. One other theory: what if the guy that the Bucks "want" is not Valanciunas but simply Fredette--in order to do the Knicks' deal? In that scenario, the Rockets deal could just be a backup plan in case the Kings snap up Fredette at 7, though I'd personally probably prefer the Rockets' offer.
- #10 for Indiana's #15 and Brandon Rush. Gery Woelfel floated the Bucks' potential interest in Rush in his last piece, so this is probably the most half-baked of all these deals right now. Rush is a deep threat and solid defender, but he does nothing else and has shown virtually zero improvement over his first three seasons in the NBA. Still, if you think a lack of shooters is what truly ills the Bucks (I think that's oversimplifying) then this deal might float your boat. Also worth noting: the Bucks would have to send some salary the other way to make it work.
A number of outlets (among them Woelfel and The Hoops Report) have suggested the Bucks prefer Burks among the guys likely to be available at ten, but it's worth noting that there's hardly a consensus. Would they prefer to trade down? Would they only like Burks if they couldn't find a suitor like the Rockets, Knicks, or Pacers? It's not clear which if any of those deals are actually on the table now, though it appears the Bucks are doing everything they can to pump up interest in their pick. Bottom line: interest in guys like Fredette, Valanciunas, Burks, and Klay Thompson could give the Bucks options to move down if they don't find anything compelling by staying put. This is a good thing.
Also worth noting is that both Givony and Ford have the Bucks going with someone other than Burks at ten. Givony has had the Bucks going with Marcus Morris for some time, while Ford still has the Bucks going for the safer Klay Thompson. Ford's final mock draft (expect it to drop just ahead of the draft on Thursday) has correctly predicted the Bucks' pick each of the past three seasons in addition to the Mbah a Moute pick in 2008, so it will be interesting to see if he keeps his streak going on Thursday.
The fact that the Bucks have worked out a slew of guys in the 15-20 range would also lend some credence to the trade-down talk. Just take a look at the group working out in Milwaukee on Tuesday: Marshon Brooks, Tobias Harris, Chris Singleton, Josh Selby, Jon Leuer and Chandler Parsons. Brooks has been perhaps the hottest name out of that group of late, and would probably be available if the Bucks deal down from ten to somewhere between 14 and 17. I generally prefer versatile scorers like Burks and Brooks to shooters like Thompson, but Brooks' age (he turns 23 next January) and fast ascent makes me a bit wary. Sure, some guys are just late bloomers, but there seems to be a loud chorus of skeptics who think Brooks is not all he's cracked up to be.
Basketball Jones: Yours truly makes the case for Alec Burks
I had the honor of repping the Bucks today in The Basketball Jones' live video mock draft (Skeets/Tas were in studio, I just called in), so head over there to hear how I've talked myself into Burks, what worries me about Jan Vesely, and the Bucks' potential trade down options. My segment starts just after the 39 minute mark of the video. Big thanks to Skeets and Tas for letting me participate.
SPORT.es: Ilyasova looking for return to Barcelona?
There's no reason for the Bucks to let Ersan Ilyasova out of the final year of his contract, but that's not stopping the Spanish press from speculating that Ilyasova could seek to return to Europe as early as next season. There were similar murmurs about Ilyasova right after the season ended, but Hammond summed up the situation rather neatly: "He's under contract."
ESPN: Hollinger draft rater
It's hardly perfect, but it's always interesting to see how John Hollinger's draft rater compares with conventional thinking about draft prospects. Probably of most relevance to Bucks fans right now: Marshon Brooks grades out terribly (he's old for a prospect and his numbers were inflated by pace and big mpg) while Alec Burks checks in more respectably and just ahead of Klay Thompson.