As I'm sure many have heard, Milwaukee Bucks’ shooting guard Michael Redd tore his ACL and MCL last night, and is out for the rest of the year.
The Olympian's injury not only hampers Milwaukee's playoff hopes, but has significant implications on the remainder of the season, as well as the 2009 and 2010 offseasons.
To replace Redd, Skiles may turn to a backcourt combination that pairs the team's top two point guards, Luke Ridnour and Ramon Sessions. In limited playing time, Sessions has shown the ability to score in bunches. While there is no way he can match Redd's offensive explosiveness and consistency, he appears to be the best option.
For this year's Bucks, currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference (22-25), the loss of their leading scorer (21.2 PPG) is a huge blow to their chances of making the playoffs; a disappointing result for both first-year coach Scott Skiles and first-year GM John Hammond. The sweet-shooting lefty was not only knocking down threes, but giving effort on defense, buying into Skiles’ preaching.
(For more on how this affects the Bucks for this year, see Adam Lindemer's article.)
The more significant implications of the Redd injury, at least in terms of an NBA Championship, deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers and their competitors at the top of the Eastern Conference.
For years now—ever since he almost signed their as a free agent in the 2005 offseason—a Michael Redd-to-Cleveland transaction has been the subject of many trade rumors. Redd, a lights-out shooter from three, would be the perfect complement to Cavs star LeBron James, making teams pay for collapsing on James as he drives to the bucket.
This year, the trade rumors began taking off as soon as Hammond's desire to makeover the Bucks became known. Armed with expiring contracts (such as Wally Szczerbiak's), the Cavs had the ability to give Hammond what he so desperately needed (salary cap flexibility) while giving up almost next-to-nothing to acquire an All-Star guard.
The Redd injury has left the top teams in the NBA ecstatic. By adding Redd, the Cavs would have been moved further past the Celtics and the Magic as the favorites in the Eastern Conference. Now, they are left with questions.
With their top trade target off the table, do the Cavs use their expiring contracts to try and land another player for this year? Or do they save their money, take their chances with this team as it stands, and try to make another move for Redd next offseason?
If the Cavs try and make a move this year, their pickings will be slim.
The Nets' Vince Carter may be available for the right price (probably Szczerbiak, draft picks, and young forward J.J. Hickson), but would he fit in with James? Carter, like James, is a scorer who wants—and demands—to have the ball in his hands.
How he would fare off-the-ball, as a secondary scorer, is unknown. The guess here is, not well.
Another perennial All-Star, Miami's Shawn Marion, could probably be had for a similar price. With his ability to contribute on defense, rebound, and score without dominating the ball, Marion would be a much better fit with James than Carter.
However, Marion, since his trade from Phoenix to Miami, has not fared well outside the Suns' fast-paced offensive system. With his skills seemingly in decline, trading for Marion would be a significant risk.
If the Cavs do not make a trade, and do not win the championship, will they pursue a move for Redd again in the offseason?
While some would emphatically say "yes" to this question, the answer is not as obvious as it seems, given Redd's recent medical history.
Besides this most recent season-ending injury, Redd had already missed 16 games this season due to injury.
In fact, missing significant time due to injury has become a troubling trend for Redd. During the 2006-07 season, Redd only played in 53 games. Last year, Redd played in 71. Combined with this year's total of 31, that gives Redd a three-year average of 52 games played per year.
While this recent struggle with injuries should give Hammond even more incentive to trade Redd during the offseason, are the Cavs willing to make a trade for someone who has, sadly, become an injury risk?
If the Cavs find themselves desperate to win a championship before James hits the free agent market in 2010, the answer is "yes."
But if they think they can keep James in Cleveland by saving cap space and pursuing a 2010 free agent, such as Chris Bosh, to play with James, the answer is "no way."