ESPN's Chad Ford touched on virtually every member of the Bucks' roster in a chat earlier today, mostly corroborating what we've been hearing regarding the Bucks' continued pursuit of Josh Smith and the unlikelihood of a deal involving Brandon Jennings ahead of tomorrow's NBA trade deadline.
Ford suggests the Bucks and Suns are the most motivated suitors for Smith, while Jennings and Sam Dalembert (having played well of late) are increasingly unlikely to be moved. Here's Ford on the possibility of Jennings getting a big offer this summer:
The Bucks are gambling that the answer is no. That's why they've pulled back, per Marc Stein's report, on any sort of trade deadline deal for Jennings. But they have to be sweating three teams -- Dallas (who registered interest in Jennings at the trade deadline), Orlando and Atlanta. Of the three, Dallas is the one that will keep John Hammond up at night. If they decide to put together a toxic offer, the Bucks lose him for nothing.
So if the Bucks won't move either of their guards, who could we see shipped out? Ford writes that the Bucks "won't trade" John Henson and Larry Sanders, leaving Ersan Ilyasova as the Bucks' most marketable remaining asset.
Further confounding matters is the latest from USA Today's Sam Amick, who still lists Ellis as a potential trade centerpiece with Atlanta, expects Jennings and Ilyasova to stay in Milwaukee, and tabs Dalembert or Ekpe Udoh as potential sweeteners. OK then.
Amick is also skeptical of Ellis' willingness to walk away from the $11 million option he has for 13/14, a decision we've discussed plenty over the past year. Personally, I'd still guess Ellis exercises his early termination option and explores unrestricted free agency in July with the hopes of locking in a new long-term deal (with someone), but it wouldn't be shocking if he took the Bucks money and deferred free agency until 2014. And for the record, I doubt anyone's going to offer Ellis $11 million annually this summer, but his decision is more complicated than that anyway. Does he actually want to be in Milwaukee? Is he itching to lock in one more long-term deal while he's still healthy and in his prime?
Whatever the case, I've reached the point where I'd be fine rolling the dice on Smith in a "screw it, why not?" kind of way, provided the Bucks don't include multiple assets or either Larry Sanders or John Henson. But it's hardly a no-brainer, given that trading for Smith now also means the Bucks would no doubt throw monster dollars at him this summer. Because let's be honest: you don't give up assets for Smith just to let him walk in three months. And giving Josh Smith $80-90 million? Well, that's an absolute ton for a guy who is unlikely to make Milwaukee a contender in the near term, but you could just as easily argue the Bucks have little choice but to gamble in the rare instances they have a chance at acquiring an all-star caliber talent. The fun of cheering on a small market NBA team, eh?
Redick interest waning?
Lance Allan from TMJ4 also waded in on the Bucks' trade rumormill, throwing some cold water on both the Smith deal as well as the Bucks' reported interest in Magic guard J.J. Redick.
YOU'RE NO FUN, LANCE.
Orlando reportedly didn't think Luc Mbah a Moute and a first round pick were enough for Redick, though from a Bucks' perspective I would consider even that overpaying for the sharp-shooting free agent-to-be.
Don't get me wrong, I like Redick. A lot. But he's not the only shooter in the world and he won't be a bargain to retain this summer, likely commanding $6-8 million annually (his agent Arn Tellem wants $10m, but whatever). And when you combine the cost of acquiring him AND signing him to a long-term deal...well, it's a lot. There's no doubt the Bucks could stand to add another shooter, but I'd just as soon see the Bucks go the budget route on a guy like Anthony Morrow over the summer rather than send assets to Orlando for the right to pay Redick starter money.
Long story short: stay tuned.