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NBA Trade Grades 2013: Bucks get help now with J.J. Redick, but Tobias Harris could burn them later

The Milwaukee Bucks traded Tobias Harris, Beno Udrih and Doron Lamb to get J.J. Redick, Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith from the Orlando Magic. Did they get a good deal? Here are some deep thoughts on the transaction.


The Milwaukee Bucks pulled out a last-minute trade for J.J. Redick, and they also landed big man Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith from Orlando, but did they give up too much by sending Beno Udrih, Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb to the Magic? It depends on how carefully you want to parse out the different components of the transaction. The answer hinges partly on the new potential of the 2012-13 Milwaukee Bucks, and partly on what you think about the long-term prospects of Harris and Lamb.

I actually kinda like this J.J. Redick deal, and I'm not an easy man to please. Last year I torched the Bucks for the Monta Ellis trade, so I'm only here to give you my honest opinion. To prove there is no homerism at play (in case you're new to the site), here's an exerpt from the Monta Ellis trade reaction piece I wrote as our primary response last season:

Ellis is an inefficient and undersized shooting guard on an expensive contract, and will team up with Brandon Jennings to make one of the most inefficient and undersized backcourts in the entire NBA...

...Excuse me while I light myself on fire.

I give the Bucks a B- grade for this trade. Allow me to explain my entire process of thinking, in detail, with the help of some of my real-time Twitter reactions that developed as the trade news emerged.

(1) The 2012-13 Bucks Clearly Improved Their Chemistry of Talents

Milwaukee genuinely upgraded its chemistry of talents for the final 29 games of the year. I'm not talking about that nebulous 'chemistry' concept that people unwittingly use as a proxy for wins and losses, either. Here's what I mean: the Bucks needed to add a three-point shooter to stretch the defense and open up new angles of penetration for Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. They acquired the best one on the trade market

Milwaukee failed to add a shooter during the off-season, and in a way they paid for their ignorance at the deadline. I pegged them in July for a 34.2% 3PT team and predicted this for their three-point shooting: "they will likely land somewhere in the bottom half of the league overall (somewhere between No. 18 and No. 24)."

Guess what? They currently rank 21st in the NBA on threes with a 34.8 percent mark, and that's with Ersan Ilyasova hitting 44.4 percent of his attempts. The Bucks also rank 27th in true shooting percentage at 50.6 percent. Enter J.J. Redick.

The team will be more watchable. The offense should become more competent and adroit. Redick is a career 39.8 percent three-point shooter and his true shooting percentage (58.5%) floats on clouds far above where Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis operate.

I will miss Beno Udrih more that most Bucks fans, but Redick should fill Beno's shoes without a problem.

(2) Seriously, The Bucks Clearly Improved Their Offense

The Bucks have been torture to watch in half-court offense for the better part of the last four seasons, but that should change now that Redick is here. When they put their new toy next to Brandon Jennings and Mike Dunleavy, it has the potential to be a lot of fun.

For anyone still holding out hope that Monta Ellis can regain some of his from from the 2007-08 season with the Warriors, this may be his best shot. If the Bucks choose to go with an Ellis / Redick / Dunleavy / Ilyasova / Sanders lineup, Monta should have plenty of room to drive and cut and get good looks at the rim. An Ellis revival is not something I'm banking on, but he has a better chance of improving now that Redick is here to stretch the defense.

Every fan of the team should be excited about the opportunity to watch a potent offense. Digesting a Bucks game may soon become fun again.

(3) This Is An Attempt To Recreate Fear The Deer

Did you enjoy the Fear the Deer run? Of course you did. The Eastern Conference is weak behind the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks and (maybe) the Chicago Bulls. Someone has to fill the void, and John Hammond wants that team to be the Bucks.

A championship parade is not coming to Milwaukee this summer, but the action should be exciting in the BMO Harris Bradley Center down the stretch. We owe it to ourselves as tortured fans to sit back and enjoy some legitimately interesting basketball. Larry Sanders, Ekpe Udoh and LRMAM will bring the defense. Redick, Dunleavy, Ilyasova will bring the offense. Jennings and Ellis will bring the swag (and hopefully some better offense).

(4) It's Tough To Part With (Our Visions of) Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb

I've never really been overly optimistic about Harris. However, the 20-year-old forward was drafted as a project by John Hammond, and it's sad to see the experimentation end so soon. When we broke down the lineup combinations early in the year we learned that Tobias couldn't cut it defensively as a small forward, especially next to Jennings and Ellis. That is what could hold Harris back in his career.

I would have liked to see Harris get a chance as a face up PF, where the quickness calculus changes a bit for defensive assignments. The Bucks simply didn't have the room (or the margin of error this year) to take the experiment in that direction. He's a young, cost-controlled asset with more upside than production, so he should get a chance to prove his worth in Orlando.

Doron Lamb flashed more defensive potential than offensive skill during his time with the team, but it's important to remember that he graded out as a better prospect than Jeremy Lamb on the Draft Express prospect board. Could the inclusion of Lamb turn into another Jodie Meeks 'sell too early' situation?

Nobody knows what Harris and Lamb will become. If anyone pretends to know, they're lying. The Bucks have a good idea of what they will get from Redick and Ayon. What the Magic get from Harris and Lamb is anyone's guess.

(5) Don't Think Too Hard About How This Could Impact a Potential Off-Season Contract For Redick

It's tempting to get caught up in Redick's free agent status this summer and speculate on what will happen differently now that the Bucks made this trade. Don't do it.

The assumptions get too dicey for my liking. Some people will think the trade makes the Bucks more likely to overpay for a guy coming off a career year. Others may believe Redick is on an audition for a new deal during this stretch, and that a good result will make it more likely that he wants to stay.

The truth is that Hammond and company could have offered Redick a ton of money this off-season even if they didn't make this trade. If Redick signs on for the long-term, this deal shouldn't have any material affect on our perception of a future move.

If the Bucks offer the most money this summer, Redick will sign with them. That's how free agency works. The only way the 'audition' theory makes sense is if Redick later turns down a more lucrative offer to stay with the Bucks because he likes the fit. That's a bit too speculative to even consider at this time.

(6) ...Unless John Hammond Didn't Learn His Lesson From John Salmons, Then Panic

When the Bucks traded for John Salmons and made their improbable Fear The Deer run in 2009-10, John Hammond made out like a bandit in that swap. It's hard to remember how good the initial trade felt, because the Bucks used that 30-game sample to significantly recalibrate (read: horribly miscalculate) Salmons' value.

No GM would have ever considered signing Salmons to a five-year, $40 million contract prior to that trade. John Hammond let the quirky salary cap rules and sweet sensation of FTD coax him into that exact albatross of a long-term agreement in the following off-season.

Hopefully Hammond learned his lesson. That Salmons contract should haunt his dreams (along with the companion Gooden signing). Here's the lesson he should have learned: a 30-game sample should have absolutely no effect on how you value a player.

If J.J. Redick plays lights out for his 29 games (+ post-season), it should not change the team's overall assessment of his value going forward. We as fans need to resist the urge to materially recalibrate Redick's value in our minds during this playoff stretch, because we should demand the same sound approach from our GM this off-season. Narratives are what bait GMs into stupid moves.

Here's to hoping the John Salmons experience is burned into Mr. Hammond's memory forever.

(7) Could the Bucks Have Pursued A Riskier Option as a Shooter and Kept Harris? Ehhh

If you want to second-guess Hammond, this is the way to do it. Morrow's value is low at this time, but he's developed a reputation as a dead-eye shooter from beyond the arc, and the Hawks traded him to Dallas for a song. It's almost conceivable that the Bucks could have made a smaller deal with Atlanta to land Morrow without giving up Harris or Lamb, but with the way the Josh Smith negotiations ended there probably wasn't time to split Danny Ferry's attention. I also bet that the Hawks didn't want to send Morrow to a team in the East -- especially a team competing with them for playoff positioning.

(8) If You Wanted Josh Smith, the Groundwork Has Been Laid For Bidding In Free Agency

Quite a bit of trade information leaked to the media concerning the Bucks' serious interest in acquiring Josh Smith. Doesn't it seem a little too convenient that we were kept in the loop on every step of the negotiating progress? Or that we happend to catch wind of every possible Bucks player involved in hypthetical offers? Isn't it funny that the Hawks were the ones who were painted as the team that torpedoed the deal?

My theory -- which is based on nothing concrete -- is that this information emerged as a part of a controlled leak from somewhere inside the Bucks organization as part of a long play at Smith during free agency. If J-Smoove listened at all to the avalanche of rumors, he head a very clear message: you are wanted in Milwaukee.

I suppose that's a good place to stop and open things up to conversation in the comments.