On Monday, Greg Monroe wasn't being "made available" in trades, while Michael Carter-Williams was in the words of ESPN's Marc Stein, "undeniably gettable."
Fast forward 24 hours, and multiple reports have pegged Monroe as a potential target of the New Orleans Pelicans, while MCW has also reportedly been told he won't be dealt ahead of Thursday's trade deadline. Consider it all part of the posturing that makes this the wackiest week in the NBA calendar. Let's take it player-by-player:
Lowe: The NBA trade deadline could be full of big names and cap questions | ESPN
Let's start the Monroe conversation with ESPN's Zach Lowe, who suggested the Bucks and Pelicans have discussed some kind of Monroe-centric move:
The Pelicans still like the idea of surrounding Anthony Davis with a bruiser; they've gone back and forth with the Bucks about Greg Monroe, sources say. New Orleans' roster is pretty bare going forward, and the team might feel pressure to salvage something from this disastrous, injury-riddled season.
You can read into this whatever you want, but it certainly doesn't sound as though anything is imminent. Still, I'd trust Zach Lowe with my life, and it turns out he's not the only one talking about a potential Monroe homecoming...
New Orleans native Greg Monroe remains at center of trade speculation | NOLA.com
The New Orleans Times-Picayune's Pelicans beat writer John Reid reiterated Lowe's report later on Tuesday afternoon, referring to the Monroe discussions as only "exploratory," which if I had to guess is code for "the Bucks want Jrue Holiday and not Omer Asik, while the Pelicans DEFINITELY want to trade Omer Asik and really don't want to trade Jrue Holiday."
Whether there's any middle ground is the ultimate question, though the mere fact that there's been some discussion would suggest the Pelicans see a potential fit between Monroe and Anthony Davis. Of course, Anthony Davis figures to make just about any center look good, but that doesn't mean every center is the best fit for AD. On the flip side, I can't imagine the Bucks have more than a passing interest in anything on the Pelicans' roster beyond Holiday (signed through next season at $11.3 million) and their first round pick, neither of which the Pels will want to give up. Free agent-to-be Ryan Anderson has attracted plenty of attention as well, but as a short-term rental he makes infinitely more sense for a contender.
Aside from Monroe's potential fit on the court, the other key to this rumor is the prodigal son angle:
Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe's preference is to return home to play in New Orleans, league sources say.
Monroe had the same preference last summer when he became an unrestricted free agent after playing his first five seasons with Detroit, but the Pelicans did not make a push to sign him.
Monroe signing off on a potential move is critical for the Bucks given it should mitigate the whole "no one will want to sign in Milwaukee if they trade their biggest free agent!" fear that I've seen so often over the past month. Of course, everyone would prefer a big-name free agent to work out in Milwaukee, but if you're not competitive with the group you have it really doesn't matter; keeping Monroe won't help the Bucks lure any big free agents if they win 35 games. It's not to say the Bucks come out looking good if they do move Monroe after seven months, but given their defensive struggles and Monroe's short deal it's reasonable for them to be looking at all their options. The New Orleans option is particularly interesting given the potential hometown marketing angle for the Pelicans, who have been in a free fall this season and have a roster in disarray heading into the summer.
Holiday has been really good this season while working his way back from yet another leg injury, and overall he ticks many of the boxes the Bucks would want in a point guard. The 25-year-old can score when needed, hits threes at a solid rate (37.1% career), is a solid passer, has good size defensively, and he's known as a high-character guy; a couple years ago, John Hammond named Holiday and Tobias Harris as the two most impressive interviews he's ever had at the Chicago pre-draft combine. Still, his injury history can't be taken lightly, and in many respects that's the main reason he's available to begin with. After a relatively healthy first four seasons in Philly, he missed a combined 90 games in his first two season in New Orleans and has spent much of this season on a minutes restriction due to leg issues that have left some teams "petrified." He's also not the hyper-efficient, lower-usage type that you might ideally dream up offensively; he's been below average in true shooting terms every year of his career, and coming off the bench this year he's seen his usage spike significantly -- from 23% to 28%.
A deal centered around Monroe and Holiday would have some obvious appeal if the Bucks were willing to gamble on the latter's injury history, but that doesn't mean the two sides can agree on a deal. The Pelicans owe Asik $32 million over the next three seasons, a deal that no one would like to take on but you'd imagine New Orleans would require be part of any package that ships out Holiday and brings in another big.
We noted yesterday that Holiday and Teague would seem like the two most attainable, slightly above-average point guards on the market, so it's not surprising to see Lowe also mention the Bucks as potential tire-kickers for Teague, the 2015 all-star who almost was a Buck in the summer of 2013.
A Jeff Teague deal is more likely, with the Bucks, Jazz, Nets, Knicks and perhaps even the Magic kicking the tires. The Bucks chased Teague in free agency three years ago, and they remain unconvinced that Michael Carter-Williams, coming off the bench again, is the long-term answer, league sources say.
Like Holiday, Teague isn't perfect, but he doesn't have any major holes, has a rather affordable $8 million deal next season, and at 27 he's still young enough to fit into the Bucks' youth movement. I'm not sure he's the long-term solution -- Atlanta isn't making him available if he was -- but he's a good player.
You'd think that a deal for another point guard would spell the end of MCW's tenure in Milwaukee, and as of Tuesday his fate in Milwaukee remains murky. In a piece mentioning the Pelicans and Hawks as potential Bucks trade partners, Gery Woelfel reported that Carter-Williams had even been told by the team that he might be dealt, which jives with the broader sentiment that Jason Kidd and company have lost their faith in MCW.
That made sense...and yet we also heard this Tuesday afternoon:
Guard Michael Carter-Williams has been told by the Bucks that he would not be traded, a source said, but the Sixers told him the same thing.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) February 16, 2016
As always, context is everything, and while Spears is generally very reliable, we also don't know from his tweet why the Bucks would tell him he's not being traded. Was that the Bucks' way of admitting they wouldn't be able to get a palatable return for him? Were the Bucks simply shooting down a specific trade rumor? Only 24 more hours until we know.
There hasn't been much sense of concrete talks with any team about Wolves' playmaker Ricky Rubio, suggesting that Minnesota may wait until the summer to consider moving him. Still, Adrian Wojnarowski noted Jason Kidd's potential interest:
Minnesota may start canvassing the market for a better shooting point guard to pair with young stars Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. One NBA coach who has long been enamored with Rubio, league sources said: Milwaukee's Jason Kidd. The New York Knicks' desire to find a point guard could lead them to Rubio, too.
While Rubio certainly wouldn't address the Bucks' shooting issues at the point (30% from three in his career), he's a phenomenal low-usage playmaker and plus-defender who still has three years remaining on his reasonable four-year, $55 million deal. He's certainly no superstar, but he could make Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker look a whole lot better (just ask Kevin Love).
The Bucks' current starter/usual third-stringer has appeal as an energy big on a cheap deal, so it won't surprise anyone if he's dealt before Thursday's deadline. Still, chatter around him has been fairly quiet aside from Chris Broussard tweeting that the Wolves are interested -- which feels a little random given the Wolves aren't going anywhere this season and Plums will be a restricted free agent this summer.
A bit more interesting is this bit from Woj:
The implication is that the Bucks might be hanging onto Plumlee in part to keep bigger options open, which makes sense given all the names we've seen tossed around. Plumlee could be a useful throw-in on a bigger deal, or the Bucks might like to keep him if Monroe or John Henson were moved without another center coming back.
Washington could revisit talks with Milwaukee on center Miles Plumlee closer to Thursday's deadline, should the Bucks be unable to find a larger deal on the market, sources said.