The Milwaukee Bucks made a trade deadline deal that will reshape their roster, but the name most mentioned in pre-deadline rumors was not involved.
The Bucks have acquired shooting guard J.J. Redick, power forward Gustavo Ayon and point guard Ish Smith from Orlando in exchange for small forward Tobias Harris, shooting guard Doron Lamb and point guard Beno Udrih.
Though the acquisition of the 28-year-old Redick – by far the best player in the deal — improves Milwaukee’s current team, his arrival will add to the uncertain future the franchise faces. Redick will be a free agent after the season, joining top scorers Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis as members of the backcourt who all have the potential to leave the Bucks after the season.
But needing a shooter, the Bucks get a pure one in Redick. Averaging 15.1 points and 4.4 assists for Orlando this season, Redick is shooting 45.0 percent from the field and 39.0 percent from beyond the arc. He has made an average of 2.3 3-pointers per game.
The bright side for the Bucks – who had been linked to star Hawks forward Josh Smith until the final minutes before the deadline – is they didn’t have to surrender much for Redick. Udrih has an expiring contract of $7.8 million and has been a valuable piece as the backup point guard, but he hasn’t played well of late as his minutes have declined.
Harris is the unknown, the only piece the Bucks could regret giving up in the future. Picked 19th overall in the 2011 draft by Charlotte and immediately traded to Milwaukee, he has shown potential to be a scorer in the NBA but has been a liability on the glass and on defense.
A classic case of coming out of school too soon, Harris is just 20 and could blossom into a regular starter, but he would have to improve greatly in order to do so. Harris began the season as Milwaukee’s starting small forward but quickly fell out of the rotation and has played just 41 minutes since Jan. 1.
“Going to miss the wonderful city of Milwaukee and its amazing fans,” Harris tweeted Thursday. “Looking forward to the new journey that awaits in Orlando!!”
Milwaukee’s second-round pick in 2012, Lamb averaged 14.3 minutes per game in December but hasn’t played at all since Jan. 5. He has struggled to find his shot but has the ability to become a solid defensive guard down the road, even if he probably is a career backup.
All week, NBA trade talk had centered on Milwaukee’s interest in Smith. According to ESPN.com, the Hawks were initially part of a three-team deal with Milwaukee and Orlando but backed out of a trade in the final minutes that would have had the Bucks giving up forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, center Ekpe Udoh and a protected first-round pick in exchange for Smith.
Instead the Bucks got Redick. Though a good player and a piece Milwaukee needed, he wasn’t the prize. If the reports are true, it’s disappointing Smith will play at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday still wearing Atlanta across his chest, but the Bucks can’t be faulted for lack of effort. It takes two, sometimes three teams to tango, and the Bucks can do nothing about Atlanta getting cold feet.
So, what happens now?
Bucks coach Jim Boylan is going to be tasked with trying to fit Redick heavily into the rotation with fellow shooting guard Ellis still on the roster. One of the two is going to have to come off the bench, and at least one, if not both, are going to play fewer minutes than before the trade. How Boylan smooths that situation over will go a long way in determining whether this move is really going to help the Bucks not only make the playoffs but do something in the first round.
The other question that needs to be answered is who is the backup point guard? Though Udrih wasn’t playing extensive minutes, he was part of the three-guard rotation. Ish Smith – who has a guaranteed contract for $951,463 next season –is a point guard averaging 10.5 minutes but shooting just 33.6 percent and scoring 2.4 points per game. Ellis, of course, could also pick up some minutes there.
Ayon is a 6-foot-10 forward from Mexico and averages 3.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. The 27-year-old came to the NBA in 2011 with New Orleans and was traded to Orlando last offseason. He has a team option at $1.5 million for next season and joins an already crowded group of power forwards.
In the end, this deal isn’t going to live up to Bucks’ fans expectations simply because of how many rumors flew all week that Smith was on his way to town, but Redick helps this year’s team quite a bit. A lack of a true shooter in the backcourt has been a weakness all season, and the true success of this trade will be judged after the season and even into the offseason, when it comes time to decide who to re-sign.