The Milwaukee Bucks staggered to the All-Star break, winning just four of their last ten games while hanging on to eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Boston Celtics leap-frogged the Bucks by finishing 8-2 before the break, but their future remains in flux with Rajon Rondo out for the season and trade winds swirling around Kevin Garnett. Regardless, the Bucks can't seem to gain any traction to climb in the East with their current roster, so breaking the team up before the trade deadline may be more appealing for the future than a low playoff spot and possible match-up with the Miami Heat.
According to reports out of Wisconsin, Milwaukee remains active in discussing deals as the trade deadline approaches and the most-likely candidates to be dealt remain guard Monta Ellis and big man Samuel Dalembert. Brandon Jennings normally attracts the most trade chatter, but moving Ellis instead may be more prudent.
Both starting guards could be free agents in the offseason. But while Jennings will likely be a restricted free agent, meaning the team can match any offer and keep him, Ellis will be an unrestricted free agent if he opts out of the final year of his deal at $11 million. The team has had mixed success with the undersized but occasionally dynamic backcourt duo. Ellis is averaging 18.3 points per game, but he's shooting a career-low 39 percent this season.
Dalembert is making $6.7 million in the final year of his contract. He'll turn 32 later this season and his role has fluctuated with the Bucks this season. But as a defensive-minded center on a short-term contract, Dalembert will certainly attract attention, particularly after his Feb. 5 performance against Denver when he scored 35 points with 11 rebounds.
While Larry Sanders remains sidelined with a back injury, the Bucks need Dalembert to fill the void in the short term. But Dalembert may be more valuable to the Bucks in a trade, offering a playoff contender a backup big while giving Milwaukee something in return that they can use beyond this season.