Well, that escalated quickly. Brandon Jennings is headed to the Detroit Pistons in a sign-and-trade deal that will send Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton and Viacheslav Kravtsov to the Milwaukee Bucks. It's a flashy move late in the NBA free agency period that may not actually improve Milwaukee for the 2013-14 season, but there's a deeper thread to the trade that everyone following the Bucks can appreciate.
John Hammond managed to preserve financial flexibility by avoiding a big contract for Jennings, and now Larry Sanders has emerged as the new face of the franchise. It's hard to argue that Knight is better than Jennings right now, so the Bucks may have taken a step back this summer, but there are some interesting advanced metrics that lean in Knight's favor. New head coach Larry Drew has been praised for his ability to guide the development of young players, so now Drew will get his chance to make a mark in that regard next season. Things are suddenly coming together (?) in a very interesting way, even if the overall plan for how to take the next step is still unclear.
At Brew Hoop we've already covered multiple angles to this transaction. Jake McCormick offered an initial scouting report on Brandon Knight, Dan Sinclair explored the new situation for Brandon Jennings, and Eric Buenning presented some valuable information on Khris Middleton and Viachelsav Kravstov. Frank Madden has something coming on the Bucks' salary cap situation. We've also recorded an hour-long podcast!
The Brew Hoop Reaction Podcast
(3) For Mobile Android Users - You can also visit our Mobile Site.
In response to the Brandon Jennings sign-and-trade excitement, I sat down with Frank Madden and Dan Sinclair to discuss the following topics:
*Did the Bucks get good value for Brandon Jennings? Would his three-year, $25 million contract have been a good thing for Milwaukee?
*Should Bucks fans be worried about Jennings becoming a star in Detroit?
*Is Brandon Knight any good, or can he become a starting-caliber NBA point guard? Is this trade a bet on Larry Drew and his coaching staff? Could the Sport VU cameras have given the Bucks a better perspective on Knight's value?
*Is Milwaukee a more enjoyable team now that Larry Sanders is the face of the franchise? Where does John Hammond go from here? What's the plan to move forward (or backward)? Should Hammond consider trading Ersan Ilyasova or John Henson to make a big move in either direction?
Reactions and Grades from Around the Web
*I will update this list as more grades appear.
ESPN - Kevin Pelton | B+ for Pistons, B- for Bucks
Based on last season, Knight isn't a starting-caliber point guard. He appears best suited to play both guard spots, preferably off the bench for a good team. SCHOENE calls him most similar at the same age to a shooting guard -- new backcourt-mate O.J. Mayo.
...The Bucks get a couple of years to figure out whether Mayo can provide enough ballhandling support to Knight for them to start together at guard, and with their frontcourt in place they'll probably have additional opportunities to find a long-term solution if Knight isn't that.
Like most of Milwaukee's moves this summer, this deal is more than defensible on its own merits but hazier in the bigger picture. After making a series of acquisitions designed to fight for the eighth seed, the Bucks not only weakened themselves in the short term but also boosted one of their Eastern Conference rivals. This trade will be interesting to revisit next spring when we see how the conference shakes out.
Knight runs into trouble creating on his own at times, and generally looks to defer to others when in a jam. It's for that reason that his shot attempts trend much more towards the paint and the three-point line. Knight is no model for shooting efficiency by any means, but tends to attack the basket selectively and play off the ball when he the opportunity isn't there. That restraint makes him a bit too timid to run an offense on a full-time basis (NBA teams frankly need a dash of the audacity that Jennings has in spades), but also counterintuitively leads to him attempting 42.1 percent of his shots inside the paint relative to Jennings' 36.8 percent. The thought to challenge the defense - and initiate the kind of possession that might end up in a forced pull-up jumper - just doesn't occur as often to a player like Knight, for better or worse.
For that reason, we shouldn't expect Knight to be a great immediate fit at point guard for the patchwork Bucks, though he has the tools as a shooter and defender to float between guard positions and ultimately comes at a bargain price. He'll need help, though, in initiating even basic, pick-and-roll-style offense as he grows into his role, which Mayo and Neal will aim to provide with mixed results. Such is the way of the new-look Bucks - a team so strapped by obvious limitations, but largely spared from the frustrations of prior seasons. Ellis and Jennings are gone, and with them the guise that all is well with two brazen, incompatible guards pulling the offense in different directions. Those same departures leave Milwaukee light on shot creation and generalized talent, but better prepared all the same in working toward a more stable design.
Knight, who has two years remaining on his rookie deal, comes cheaper, but he's still a long way from figuring out how to play point guard in the NBA, which might be why Dumars called him a dog. Jennings, who has his own issues running an offense, is at least more talented than Knight. Price aside, I'd definitely rather have Jennings, but it's difficult to completely dismiss price.
Khris Middleton looked late last season like he could become a rotation-level backup, and Viacheslav Kravtsov has an outside shot of reaching that level. Those aren't the type of players to worry about in a trade that acquires a starter, and barring a huge surprise, that's what Jennings is. If an old Chauncey Billups or lost Rodney Stuckey takes the job, this trade has likely gone wrong.
On the bright side when it comes to marginal talent, the Pistons should have no trouble signing Peyton Siva now.
But all that is peripheral. This trade is about Jennings and making the playoffs this season.
Jennings is an upgrade for the Pistons. How much of one and at what cost will determine the long-term ramifications of the deal. For the Pistons, who seem to be thinking more short-term anyway, I don't think they could have done much better.
More from Brew Hoop:
- Brandon Jennings joins Pistons squad looking to jumpstart drive to contention.
- Examining the other parts of the Bucks-Pistons trade
- The First Of Many Brandon Knight Scouting Reports
- Report: Pistons nearing sign-and-trade deal for Brandon Jennings; Brandon Knight heading to Milwaukee
- Larry Sanders is saying the right things about the Bucks and John Hammond's plan