Andrew Bogut's most recent unlikely injury will keep him in civvies for the next 8-12 weeks. The void in the middle is palpable for the Bucks, who replaced him with Drew Gooden in the starting lineup and extra minutes from Larry Sanders and Jon Leuer off the bench. The Bucks' depth will likely win them games that other teams missing a similarly important player would not, but the team will lose more often than they would have with Bogut in the lineup.
We go from one team stuck in NBA purgatory to another who is currently falling out of it: the New Orleans Hornets. Fresh off losing Chris Paul to the Clippers, they're now in full-on tank mode. Chris Kaman, one of the pieces the Hornets received from L.A. in the trade, has been deactivated until a suitable deal has been made.
So we have one team that just lost a good center to injury, while another just put a good, healthy center on the market. Is there a deal here?
Kaman is a lot like Bogut in many ways. He is comfortable on either block, a willing passer, rebounds at a high rate, and plays efficient defense. On the season, he's averaging 9.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game, good for a slightly below average PER of 13.98. He's okay, but he's not significantly better than Bogut in any way (except for having a far better midrange game). But he would be a worthy replacement for the time that Bogut is sidelined. Is there a mutually beneficial deal to be had?
Kaman's cap value of $
14.03 slightly over $12 million is a big hit to take, but his deal expires at season's end, making him an attractive piece for teams looking to shed salary. The Bucks are no exception, with players like Gooden ($6.2 mil cap hit, 4 years remaining), Stephen Jackson ($9.26 mil cap hit, 2 years remaining), and Beno Udrih ($7.2 mil cap hit, 1 player option year remaining) making more than their production might deserve.
The Hornets, who are strictly looking past this season, would covet a few things in a trade. They would want young players with potential, draft picks, or cheap veterans who would be able to mentor their current youths. Given that they have their own draft pick (likely top-5) and Minnesota's unprotected pick (likely mid-lottery), they might be willing to part with one of them if the deal were good enough.
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This is the easiest deal to make, salary wise. Milwaukee gets their second-most expensive player off the books while only losing their current backup center and one of their outside-shooting wing players. The Hornets get a big contract back, but one that expires after 2013, as well as another rim protector to work with Emeka Okafor.
This deal is a no-brainer for New Orleans: a decent backup PG, a decent backup F/C, and another draft pick in a loaded class. The Bucks get rid of two bloated contracts, including the third of John Hammond's three terribly-conceived free agent signings from a year ago.
If you want to talk about sacrificing the future to win now, here's your deal. Four players get shipped out, including both of this year's draft picks and last year's first round selection. Al Jefferson provides the low-post scoring we so sorely need, and his deal would allow Milwaukee to look at a Bogut-Jefferson-Jennings trio in 2013. Utah gets some salary cap relief, as well as extra PT for Favors, Kanter, and Millsap. The Hornets get two young prospects and a versatile wing. Draft picks can be thrown in as needed; Milwaukee would probably have to give up a pick or two to sweeten the deal for someone.
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The BrewHoop community is firmly divided into two camps: the "Win-Nows" and the "Tanking McTankersons". Some of us look at the Bogut injury as a huge step back for a team that should threaten in the playoffs, while others see it as a gift that should result in a higher draft pick.
When it comes to Kaman, a versatile big with a solid face-up game, the Win-Nows might want to bring him in (or use him to land another player) and see what happens. As a card-carrying member of the Tanking McTankersons, allow me to speak for the rest of my brethren:
NO NO NO NO NO DEAR SWEET LORD NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
It's obvious that the Bucks are several pieces away from contending, but the only way they can acquire those pieces are either a) through the draft or b) through shrewd trades of their own. Going after Kaman would do little more than empty the cupboards of Milwaukee's young players and opportunities to bring in other impact players. Oh, sure, they might make the playoffs as a 7 or 8 seed, only to get steamrolled by Chicago or Miami or Philadelphia (who were awful in their own right a few seasons ago, but solid drafting and good decisions helped build them into what they are now: a good team).
Kaman to the Bucks? A way to win a handful of games now, but a guaranteed way to lose any hope of a championship for the next decade. Unless of course we manage to finagle a 2012 first round pick from New Orleans. Then I might change my mind.