MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks are sure happy to see veteran center Samuel Dalembert in town.
The Bucks traded Jon Leuer, Jon Brockman and Shaun Livingston to the Rockets to get Dalembert, and the two teams also traded draft picks, which Milwaukee used to get North Carolina forward John Henson.
General manager John Hammond said interior defense was a big problem for the Bucks, who went 31-35 last season and struggled after center Andrew Bogut was lost for the season with an ankle injury. Bogut was eventually traded to Golden State for guard Monta Ellis.
“We needed help at that center position,” Hammond said Monday as Dalembert was formally introduced by the team. “Someone that can protect the basket, get that ‘need’ rebound down the stretch to help us close the game out. I think (Dalembert) can do that for us.”
Without Bogut, the Bucks were forced to move power forward Drew Gooden into the starting center role. Gooden was often overmatched against bigger, stronger and more physical centers, but now the Bucks have added the 6-11 Dalembert to a group of big men that includes Larry Sanders and Epke Udoh.
“It’s hard to comment on a rotation and things like that in July but Sam was brought here to be the starting center for the Milwaukee Bucks,” coach Scott Skiles said. “That’s what he’s here for. Drew is a quality NBA player and hopefully, if we can get him back into a role he’s more comfortable with, hopefully it can help him individually and then help the roles of everybody else along the way.”
In 727 career games, Dalembert has averaged 8.2 rebounds,1.9 blocks and — notably for the Bucks — has been virtually injury-free the last few seasons. He has played in 80 games or more for five of the last six seasons and appeared in 65 during last year’s lockout-shortened campaign.
Dalembert said he thinks Milwaukee, where Skiles’ plan is built on strong defensive principles, will be a good fit.
“We speak the same language,” Dalembert said. “I’m a defensive guy. That’s my expertise.”
The Bucks will be Dalembert’s fourth team in as many seasons. He broke into the league in 2001 when he was taken in the first round (No. 26) overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. After eight seasons in Philadelphia, he was traded to Sacramento following the 2009-2010 season and signed a two-year deal with Houston just days before the start of the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season.
Dalembert will earn $6.7 million this season. The Bucks hold a team option for the 2013-2014 season, which can be bought out for $1.5 million.