Well, we knew that the Milwaukee Bucks would try to do something, and it turns out that they found a deal with the Charlotte Hornets, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst:
Story with @WindhorstESPN: Milwaukee has reached an agreement in principle to trade Miles Plumlee to Charlotte for Roy Hibbert/Spencer Hawes— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 2, 2017
In this deal, it appears that Milwaukee is sending Plumlee in return for Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert. It also appears that the Bucks will have to waive a player to make the trade work, and Steve Novak would figure to be the most likely candidate.
The Bucks brought Miles Plumlee back from restricted free agency last summer on a 4 year/$50 million contract. Retaining Plumlee was a move many fans expected, but the price tag saw many eyebrows raised and heads scratched. His half-court chemistry with Giannis during the latter portions of the 2015-16 season was cause for optimism, but Plumlee never recaptured the rim-running magic he shared with Giannis, and saw his playing time yo-yo’d with John Henson over the course of this season. Miles has averaged less than 10 minutes/game this year, appearing in 32 of the Bucks’ 47 games, and has not been particularly productive during his time on the floor.
Roy Hibbert is best known for his dominant defense as a Pacer, but upon departing Indiana in 2015, so did his reputation as a rim protector. After signing a cheap deal (1 year/$5m, expires this summer) with the Hornets, Hibbert has averaged 16 minutes in 42 games, with per-36 numbers of 11.6 points / 8.2 rebounds / 2.4 blocks. He has generally been a net-neutral contributor during his steady tenure with the Hornets, but his improved defensive contributions are still offset by his limited offensive output.
Spencer Hawes may not have an All Star appearance to his credit (Hibbert has two), but brings a much more well-rounded offensive game to the front court. In 18 minutes across 35 games in Charlotte, Hawes has per-36 averages of 14.6 points / 8.4 boards / 3.6 assists / 1.5 blocks, with shooting splits of 0.477 / 0.291 / 0.882. Over the past five games, Hawes has struggled (cumulative +/- of -61, Charlotte lost all 5 games), and he has struggled to find a consistent place in Steve Clifford’s rotation for most of the season. Hawes makes $6.35m this season, and has a player option worth $6.02m that will decide his placement next year.
As a part of the deal, the Bucks will have to also bid adieu to someone else, and that someone probably will be hometown hero Steve Novak, who barely played but was beloved by just about everybody on the team. I mean, who else makes sense to cut?
UPDATE: It does appear that Steve Novak will be released:
Milwaukee will release Steve Novak to clear roster spot to absorb Hawes and Hibbert in Plumlee trade, league sources tell @TheVertical.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 2, 2017
Moving Miles Plumlee is huge for the Bucks for two reasons: the team is no longer capped out at the center position, and the big man rotation will quickly slim down at the end of the 2016-17 season. Roy Hibbert is a free agent, and both Greg Monroe and Spencer Hawes have player options that could set them upon the open market as well.
It is entirely possible that the team starts the offseason with a John Henson/Thon Maker combination, but it’s equally possible that Monroe and Hawes exercise their player options to stay in Milwaukee...which at this point doesn’t seem to be a bad place to be.
In any case, the deal is a huge win for the franchise’s flexibility, as the three years remaining on Plumlee’s deal are replaced by one that expires this summer, and one that expires either this offseason or next. With neither of the returning deals lasting beyond 2017-18, the Bucks’ front office has more wiggle room to work with. Yet again, GM John Hammond undoes an offseason mistake, just like he did previously with Corey Maggette and Stephen Jackson, among others.