Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Remains of the day

The first rumors I saw this morning had to do with a proposed trade sending Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen to Detroit in return for Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton, and Rodney Stuckey. Like Kelly Dwyer, I was mighty confused that the Pistons would turn down such a deal, and I continue to be confused by the ongoing assumption that the Celtics are looking to move Rondo. Why would they be trying to get rid of the conference's best point guard?

But then the real moves happened. Milwaukee moved to acquire Amir Johnson and Kurt Thomas (along with Bruce Bowen's contract, which is only partially guaranteed until August 1), with San Antonio picking up Richard Jefferson, and Detroit taking Fabricio Oberto (whose contract is also only partially guaranteed until July 1). These moves make a ton of sense for Milwaukee, who needed to clear up space in order to potentially re-sign Ramon Sessions (a very promising young point guard, who I've written about several times here) without going over the cap. They got rid of, essentially, an average but overpaid wing in Richard Jefferson. In other words, the Bucks are cleaning up after a mistake they made last year, when they inexplicably traded for Jefferson in the first place. The Bucks' financial outlook, and options, are laid out really clearly in this well-written piece. A couple of additional points: 1) I am one of the handful of people who still really likes Amir Johnson, and think the Bucks made a solid move in picking him up -- it's a low-risk move that could pay off huge if Johnson can get some minutes and play without foul trouble this year; 2) While the Bucks probably have enough room under the luxury tax limit to sign Sessions and still have money left over (not Charlie Villanueva money, but some money), I wouldn't be surprised, if the Bucks go over the tax line this offseason, to see them make moves to get back under the tax before the trade deadline. If that's the case, watch for a smart contending team to go after Charlie Bell: he's the sort of player - a versatile guard who can play either backcourt position and who defends - who contenders can really use down the stretch.

I was sort of down on the San Antonio side of this move at first -- mostly because I've never particularly cared for Jefferson's game. But the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Because of their smart planning and management, the Spurs have the luxury to overpay an average player for a couple of years. Meanwhile, given the ages of Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, it makes no sense for this team to be planning for any kind of future -- they are looking to win now. So, they pick up Jefferson, a capable defender who can hit the open 3's he'll see in the Spurs' offense. Additionally, Jefferson can still create his own shot -- not with a ton of efficiency, but still adequately -- and is the only Spur outside of the Big 3 who can do so. An inability to generate offense during stretches of games has plagued the Spurs for several years now, so Jefferson should provide a big boost (particularly if Manu Ginobili happens to miss some time again). And Richard Jefferson's tendency to stay on the court -- he's played in 78 or more games in 6 of his 8 seasons and all 82 games in each of the last two years -- shouldn't be overlooked as an asset to his team.

So all in all, a good trade for both teams. I'll try to put up some thoughts about the Wizards-Wolves deal tomorrow, once I've had a chance to digest the details.

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