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The trade deadline looming with Feb. 19 only 18 days away, the Milwaukee Bucks are faced with a slight problem. What do they do? Should they be buyers, sellers, or just stay the course?
Faced with this same problem last year with the likes of Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions, the Bucks chose to stay the course and hopefully make the playoffs.
They fell short, and in the offseason, Milwaukee lost both guys in free agency and acquired nothing in return. They could have made a move to acquire a pick or a young talented piece but instead they chose to "compete" for a playoff spot.
Now, here we area again, a year later and in the same position. Wondering the same questions. We have expiring contracts in Luke Ridnour, Hakim Warrick, Kurt Thomas, Joe Alexander, Francisco Elson, and the newly-acquired Jerry Stackhouse. Together they amount to $18.3 million in expiring contracts.
Some contracts we will just let expire, while some have too much value not to acquire something in return for. Both Ridnour and Warrick definitely have the most value.
These guys are solid contributors and would be very useful to a team in the playoffs looking for a scorer off the bench. Some may value Thomas' defense, but he is slow-footed, and all he is good for is low-post defense.
On offense, he can knock down the open 15-18 footer, which works well for a high pick-n-roll situation. Alexander has no value because of injuries, and his expiring contract is his only value to the team (I won't get started on him).
As of today the Bucks stand 20-25, which is only three games behind Chicago and Miami for the seventh and eighth seeds. General Manager John Hammond has insisted that he wants to win now. The Bucks must decide what to do, and I'll examine each option.
Stick with Team as Is
They are 20-25 as stated. They started the season rolling to an 8-3 record out of the gate. Then Michael Redd came back and threw off the entire offense.
Some may ask, how can a 20 ppg player throw off an offense? Well, he is like a black hole: Every time there is a ball swing, he keeps it.
He does a crossover between his legs, and then you know it's going up. He fails to get teammates involved, and that hurts the chemistry. Milwaukee is 5-13 in games he has played in, while 15-12 in games that he hasn't.
Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut also have greater success while Redd is off the floor. Bogut is finally looked at as the team's No. 1 option on offense. He has a great face-up post game and is showing a little ability to hit a 10-12-ft jumper.
Bogut and his running mate, Jennings, have developed a chemistry in the high pick-n-roll game. Jennings is so quick that it is hard to get an angle on him defensively, and he can get into the paint and create for himself or for a teammate.
I do think the Bucks can challenge for a playoff spot by holding on to what they have. But, is it worth it to be the eighth seed in the playoffs? I say yes, because you get invaluable experience for a team full of young players who don't know how different the level of play is in the playoffs.
Trade Away Players
If we fail to win a few games before the deadline, our hand may be forced to make some trades for younger talent and picks. I think Hammond would be more willing to pull the trigger on some of these guys.
Unlike last year, there are not as many young players who would gain some trade interest. I think a team that needs either a scoring or point guard coming off the bench would be in the race for Ridnour.
He hits open shots, runs the offense well, and rarely turns the ball over. If the Bucks could receive a young talent or late first-round pick for him, I'd do it. One team who may need a backup is the Utah Jazz.
Hakim Warrick is of equal value although his stock is expiring less than Ridnour's ($3.6-6.5 million). He is an offensive-minded player off the bench and has proven he can score since he has been in the league. He's also proven that he plays no defense.
One team that may like him is the Atlanta Hawks. I think he would fit well coming off the bench for them, while also not ruining their cap space for FA next offseason.
Kurt Thomas may be traded for a second pick to a contender who is short a backup big man. Again, injuries in the next 18 days will play a factor because new needs may arise.
Alexander and Elson would only be throw-ins for a trade just to make the money work. I can't see either drawing any interest. Stackhouse is here to stay in Milwaukee. Hammond had him in Detroit and sees him as a veteran leader. He can also be Hammond's eyes in the locker room.
I'm sure Jerry is telling him who is good for the team and who isn't. You don't want bad chemistry guys around your young talent (Michael Redd).
Trade for Players
This is the least possible option for Milwaukee. We have no pieces that anyone would want in exchange for a big name. Jennings would have to be involved, but that's not happening.
Caron Butler would be the only guy who could draw interest. He is from Racine, so he'd basically be home, and the Wizards are looking to blow up their team. If we could give them an expiring and our first they might be intrigued.
Would I do it? Probably not. I don't see this happening at all or any other scenario where the Bucks acquire a star player coming to fruition.
The best option, in my opinion, is to stay the course and try to gain cap room for this offseason and next season when Redd and Dan Gadzuric come off the books. One thing's for sure, it will be an interesting two weeks for Bucks fans everywhere.
Let me hear your opinion! Comment on the article, and I will respond. Thank you.