5 Deals the Milwaukee Bucks Could Make to Better Balance Their Rotation
The general consensus amongst NBA executives is that the worst thing you can be in the NBA is a team that finishes 41-41, or is, in other words, mediocre. You're not quite good enough to be elite and not quite bad enough to improve in the draft.
The last few years, the Milwaukee Bucks have been hovering right there and seem destined to remain there this season, unless a change is made.
The Bucks have their headlining, high-scoring backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis surrounded by players who don't necessarily fit well together.
They have a young and talented front line, but most of their depth consists of players who are defensive-minded and unable to create their own shot. And, for everything that Jennings and Ellis bring to the table offensively, they are undersized and lacking on defense.
These needs and others will be addressed via the magic that is the ESPN trade machine.
Sam Dalembert and Mike Dunleavy for Al Jefferson
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The Bucks get: A frontcourt player who is able to create his own shot, create shots for others and get rebounds that they desperately need. Big Al's contract expires at the end of the season, but the Bucks would be in prime position to re-negotiate and sign him long term.
The Jazz get: Minutes and room freed up in their loaded frontcourt for young, improving players like Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Plus they would remain competitive with the addition of shot-blocking Dalembert. Dunleavy gives the Jazz veteran depth at the wing position and a shooter who can stretch the floor.
Mike Dunleavy for Corey Brewer
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The Bucks get: A rangy, long defender in Brewer who is capable of guarding bigger guards, an area of weakness for the Bucks, who struggle defensively with their smallish backcourt.
The Nuggets get: Dunleavy's expiring contract, but also a shooter who is well-suited to play in an uptempo system like the Nuggets. The Nuggets, with Andre Iguodala in tow, can afford to trade defense for offense on the wing.
Ekpe Udoh for Chris Singleton
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The Bucks get: A better-fitting Chris Singleton who can not only defend on the wing but also at 6'8" just might be a perfect power forward in today's modern small-ball NBA world. Oh, did I mention he too can shoot the three?
The Wizards get: A young, shot-blocking big that provides much needed depth to their aging frontcourt. He would be a perfect understudy to Emeka Okafor who once was a young, shot-blocking center. Udoh could become the Wizards' center of the future.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute for Wes Matthews
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The Bucks get: Once again, a deal giving them better-fitting players. L.R. Mbah a Moute is a good player, but the Bucks have other wings who can guard the perimeter and bring the skills Mbah a Moute has. What they lack is a bigger guard capable of creating his own shot, like the skills Wesley Matthews would bring. Matthews also can shoot it and has a toughness that would make any team improve.
The Blazers get: A Swiss-army-knife-like defender in Mbah a Moute who can guard multiple positions well and is a perfect complement to LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum in the Blazers' frontcourt rotation.
Monta Ellis, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Mike Dunleavy for Pau Gasol
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The Bucks get: This final trade is a bit of a home run swing for the Bucks and it breaks up the Ellis/Jennings backcourt, but it does land them one of the top big men in the NBA in Gasol. Gasol is a player who can serve as the fulcrum of their offense and take loads of pressure off Jennings, who would no longer have to be the primary scorer every single night.
The Lakers get: With the news of the Lakers hiring Mike D'Antoni, the glaring miscast player in the Lakers' lineup is Gasol. So moving him for multiple pieces seems to make the most sense from a player-personnel standpoint.
Coming back to the Lakers would be Ellis, a dynamic scorer with the potential to thrive in an up-tempo, spread system like D'Antoni's; Mbah a Moute, a high-energy, good defending player who can play the four in small-ball lineups (like a vintage Shawn Marion); and Dunleavy, who brings a much-needed shooting presence.