Just three hours remain until the NBA's annual trade deadline hits at 2 pm central time on Thursday, and the rumormill of Bucks-related banter has slowed after talk of possible moves for another point guard on Wednesday. Your latest rumor and innuendo update:
No Sanders deal...yet
Wednesday's big news: Troubled Bucks big man Larry Sanders was close to agreeing to a buyout deal with the Bucks that would see Milwaukee save something on the order of $20 million, leaving Sanders a free agent as he focuses on solving his undisclosed off-court problems. All indications are that those issues will likely to prevent him from playing basketball for the remainder of the season.
However, nothing had been made official as of Wednesday night, and Jason Kidd was still playing it coy at Bucks practice Wednesday afternoon. Via Andrew Gruman of Fox Sports Wisconsin:
#Bucks coach Jason Kidd on Larry Sanders: "There’s nothing to say at this point."— Andrew Gruman (@AndrewGruman) February 19, 2015
More Kidd on Sanders: "It is hour by hour. If he does come back, we go from there. We don’t know which way this thing is going right now."— Andrew Gruman (@AndrewGruman) February 19, 2015
Jorge Gutierrez currently not with the #Bucks due to full roster. Kidd said hopefully they can talk to him or someone else in next few days.— Andrew Gruman (@AndrewGruman) February 19, 2015
The Bucks don't play again until Friday night at home vs. Denver, though you would imagine that they'd prefer to finalize the Sanders situation before having to make any decisions on trades.
Ty Lawson and Reggie Jackson still on Bucks' minds? Maybe not
Speaking of Denver, could the Bucks really make a legit play for Nuggets veteran point guard Ty Lawson? None of the A-team insiders (Marc Stein, Adrian Wojnarowski, etc) have suggested it, but there was some "buzz" out there yesterday that the Bucks are looking for another point guard to either pair with and/or use as insurance against Brandon Knight possibly departing this summer. And that somewhat naturally leads to speculation about Lawson and Reggie Jackson, both of whom have been ready to exit Denver and OKC, respectively. Here was the speculation yesterday:
Bucks have pursued PGs (including Reggie Jackson and Ty Lawson), per sources. They like the idea of pairing Brandon Knight with one of them.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 18, 2015
Sources say the Bucks may be willing to move John Henson if he could help them make a splashy addition (such as Reggie Jackson/Ty Lawson).— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 19, 2015
Told Bucks in market for quality point guard, especially with Brandon Knight becoming RFA this summer.— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) February 19, 2015
OKC has drawn interest from numerous teams about Reggie Jackson, but Milwaukee isn't one of them. OKC wants more than first-rounder for him.— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) February 18, 2015
Via Basketball Insiders:
The Bucks' stance has been that they would not mortgage their future for a "quick" fix today, but they do seem open to making a move that bolsters their playoff hopes now and improves the roster for next season.
The Bucks have dangled names like Ersan Ilyasova, O.J. Mayo and even big man John Henson in offers to other teams, so its clear the Bucks want to make a deal and with Sanders' $11 million per year salary likely being stretched down to just over $2.1 million per year, the Bucks have some unexpected breathing room to take on a player that could command real money in July.
However, the Jackson possibility ended with word that Brooklyn and Oklahoma City had finally agreed on a Brook Lopez deal that would send Jackson among others to Brooklyn, while Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Denver did not expect to make more moves after dealing Arron Afflalo to Portland and dumping JaVale McGee's salary to Philly. .
I'm not sure I fully buy into the logic of paying a high price to add another high-profile guard at this point anyway, especially if it compromises the Bucks' big man depth in the process. It's true the Bucks are short on point guard depth, Knight has done well playing off the ball this season (example: 58% eFG% on catch-and-shoots), and -- as nice as the Bucks have been this year -- it's not as though they have a championship core already locked in place. They should be making calls to teams with assets for sale, even if the asking price is ultimately too high to strike a deal.
So if it's just a value play that's one thing -- both Lawson and Jackson reportedly wanted out of Denver and OKC, respectively, so it doesn't hurt to see if they could be had on the cheap. All those teams will insist they're not desperate to deal, which may or may not be true. But it's tough to imagine the Bucks nabbing someone like Lawson unless they give up real assets and/or take back some bad salary in the process. Nothing comes for free (except maybe that Jared Dudley deal).
The harder part to make sense of is how another ball-dominant guard would affect the Bucks' dynamic now and going forward. While Knight has had success playing with other ballhandlers over the past two seasons, it's worth noting that the Bucks' recent success has come from pairing Knight with a trio of big wings in Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jared Dudley. Jabari Parker replaces Dudley whenever he comes back next year, but the Giannis-Khris-Knight combination -- provided the Bucks are willing to pay top dollar to keep them -- could be one that takes the Bucks a long way. So as good as Lawson is, there's always an element of risk that throwing him into the mix doesn't actually make the Bucks better, especially if a significant amount of talent (Middleton? Henson? First rounders) is shipped out to get him. It's not to say the Bucks should stand pat forever, but they've got a pretty good thing going with a young group that will hopefully get even better. Tread carefully, you know?