Many NBA insiders seem to think the Milwaukee Bucks are one of the teams most likely to make a deal with the trade deadline approaching. Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are both options to be shipped out as the team tries to figure out its direction going forward -- a direction that might not include both of them.
The Bucks' outlook
For a team a tad above .500, there's a lot of chaos surrounding the Milwaukee Bucks. Their coach, Scott Skiles, quit in January, leaving the team with interim coach Jim Boylan. Now they're considered one of the top candidates make a big trade at the deadline.
It's easy to see why. With just one trip to the playoffs in the past six seasons, and no years with fewer than 25 wins, the Bucks have consistently been stuck in the middle, never good enough to contend, but never bad enough to get a player good enough to help them contend.
And with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, that's not going to change much. Both are talented players; there's no denying that. But neither is elite, and both are high-usage guards who like to create plays with the ball in their hands. Both players could be free agents this summer: Ellis has an $11 million option in his contract, but could get that much on the open market if he opts out. Jennings is a restricted free agent, so if he finds a team willing to pay him more than the Bucks, he could leave as well.
This team will make the playoffs as constructed but more than likely won't do anything there. Why not get something in return for your stars? Of the two, Brew Hoop's Frank Madden wrote that Ellis is the most likely to be moved.
And so, they're likely to make a move. But what?
A laundry list of options
Ellis and Samuel Dalembert are the two players most bandied about in trade rumors. Dalembert is an expiring contract who randomly scored a career-high 35 points a few weeks back, while Ellis is averaging 18.3 points per game, so both could be useful right away
There's also talk that Jennings is displeased in Milwaukee. The Bucks want to keep him, but Jennings doesn't necessarily want to stay. It might be in their best interest to get something in return before he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. The Mavericks, for one, are interested.
But who would they get? The most interesting rumors involve Josh Smith. It seems more and more likely each day that Smith will get dealt before the deadline, and the Bucks are apparently one of the teams interested. One has to imagine any deals here start with Jennings. A backcourt of Jennings and Lou Williams could be a keeper in Atlanta, though the Hawks are high on Jeff Teague. That said, the Bucks are likely behind the Brooklyn Nets and other teams in this sweepstakes.
A more believable rumor surrounds J.J. Redick. Redick, no longer just a three-point gunner, has improved greatly this year with his role in the Orlando Magic offense. He's a much more natural fit alongside whichever of Ellis and Jennings the Bucks opt to keep. This one is more logistically difficult to figure out. First of all, Redick's contract expires after this year, and the Bucks won't make a trade unless they're sure he'll sign. Second of all, his contract doesn't match up to Ellis' or Jennings'. Likely, they'd trade Dalembert's expiring contract for Redick's, then move Ellis or Jennings in a separate trade to make the team make sense. Wojnarowski calls Redick "a major target" for the Bucks, so he's likely to end up in Milwaukee, even if it ends up being overshadowed by a trade featuring one of their current starting guards.
What's the gist
Milwaukee wants to shake things up. Ellis and Jennings could stay put, but it doesn't seem like they're a long-term solution for Milwaukee. Getting rid of one of them and bringing in Redick would make the team mesh better -- although the team has pipe dreams for a real splash like Smith. Expect to hear the Bucks involved in at least one deal before the deadline passes.