For an overview of this project, check out the introduction here.
Yesterday’s contest between the backup point guards for the Brooklyn Nets and Memphis Grizzlies wasn’t quite a barnburner, but it was a much more spirited debate than our initial post because each of the proposals had merit. In our 7-10 bracket matchup, Milwaukee Bucks fans selected the package from Brooklyn, netting Spencer Dinwiddie for Ersan Ilyasova’s expiring salary and Donte DiVincenzo.
Personally, I thought that this contest would be closer than it was, but the Brooklyn proposal seems to be too heavily in favor of Milwaukee given Dinwiddie’s production and Brooklyn’s desire to win now (and willingness to use assets to do it). Had Milwaukee included the 2020 IND pick in this deal, it’s possible that the voting may have been closer. We may opt to add a draft selection in the next round to level the playing field, but that’s a bridge to cross later.
Now, we turn our attention to another pair of deals that are less flashy than some Bucks fans might want, but both feature Milwaukee gaining players who could be significant contributors in the postseason. In any offseason, but especially this one, it requires creativity and fortitude to find success, so let’s see if any success can be found here.
8) Los Angeles Lakers: Danny Green, Quinn Cook
Why the Bucks do it:
Despite his admirable work on Jimmy Butler in the conference semis, Wes Matthews didn’t have quite enough on offense to stay on the floor consistently. A stout defender, Matthews’ shooting never felt like as significant of a weapon as the Bucks needed it to be because of the amount of time it takes to load up his shot. Danny Green, an equally capable defender, has better length and a quicker release, and even at 33 would slot in nicely at the starting 2-guard position. Quinn Cook returns in the deal to give the Bucks a bit of point guard depth; he’s never been more than a reserve, but perhaps Mike Budenholzer is able to maximize his skill set like he did with Jeff Teague in Atlanta.
Why the Lakers do it:
The champs are buoyed by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and neither one seems to be going anywhere anytime soon. The resurgent Rajon Rondo, though, has already opted out of his final year, leaving a hole at (nominal) point guard for Los Angeles. Bledsoe gives the Lakers an excellent point guard defender with speed to match the rest of the Lakers’ size. Wilson is added to make the salaries work in Milwaukee’s favor, as well as provide some relatively cheap depth for the Los Angeles frontcourt.
Milwaukee receives: Danny Green, Quinn Cook
Los Angeles receives: Eric Bledsoe, D.J. Wilson
This deal is likely viewed through the same lens that one views Eric Bledsoe’s tenure as a Buck. If you’re taken by his regular season success in Milwaukee, you probably feel that this is far too low of a return. If you’re more focused on his playoffs struggles, you might feel relieved to get off his contract and instead return a proven postseason performer in Green. The expiring salary works in Milwaukee’s favor too, not that they’ll be able to create cap space, but that they can make other moves that take them into the tax with a bit of breathing room on the horizon.
9) Houston Rockets: Robert Covington, Ben McLemore
Why the Bucks do it:
Brook Lopez is an NBA All Defense-level center, and he did his job damn well over the last two years in Milwaukee. But change may be inevitable, and the Bucks need to find a way to keep their center relevant in the postseason. Against both Toronto last year and Miami last month, Lopez wasn’t able to be a difference maker at the pivot in part because of his lack of foot speed. Enter Robert Covington, who at 6’7” is one of the league’s smaller big men but makes up for it with agility, tenacity, and shooting prowess. Likewise, Ben McLemore has revived his NBA career as an effective low-usage shooter, and would help shore up the Bucks’ guard depth for another run at the Conference Finals (and beyond). The future second rounder and the pick swap are low-value draft capital that Houston can market as a win without further depleting the Bucks’ pipeline down the road.
Why the Rockets do it:
The Rockets’ small ball experiment met it’s doom in the playoffs, and it may have been the last ditch effort of former head coach Mike D’Antoni to make something – anything! – work with the players available to him. D’Antoni has moved on, but James Harden and Russell Westbrook have not, and their time to go for the title is now. What they might need is to pivot; instead of going smaller, go bigger, but maintain the ability to space the floor on offense while controlling the paint and the glass on defense. Brook Lopez is an excellent complement to Giannis Antetokounmpo, and would too be complementary to Russell Westbrook. Similar to Steven Adams, Lopez could soak up bodies while Russ grabs rebounds and takes off down court, and his shooting ability lets him avoid clogging the paint while Westbrook and Harden go to work. The second-round pick and the future pick swap allows Houston to save face from the price paid for the Covington acquisition.
Milwaukee receives: Robert Covington, Ben McLemore
Houston receives: Brook Lopez, 2022 MIL 2nd, swap rights on 2023 MIL 1st
The Bucks trading Brook is already a stretch, but it might be just the sort of stretch that forces Mike Budenholzer to break out of old habits. The zone drop has been hugely successful in Milwaukee, but the playoffs reveal cracks that are exploited all too easily if an opponent is patient. Replacing Lopez with a free agent center in order to get through the regular season would allow Milwaukee to ease into a small-ball approach in the playoffs, where both Covington or Giannis could handle the 5 position on defense and unlock the Bucks’ small-ball offensive potential.
Vote for your preferred trade package!
8-9 Trade Package Matchup
This poll is closed
Lakers: Green, Cook / Bledsoe, Wilson
Rockets: Covington, McLemore / Lopez, future 2nd, future 1st swap