The Milwaukee Bucks have agreed to send former Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams to the Chicago Bulls for Tony Snell. Here are NBA Trade Grades for both sides.
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Feb 5, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams (5) dribbles up the court during the first quarter against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
When Michael Carter-Williams first entered the league, the future seemed bright. He averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game as a rookie, and though those numbers came on .405/.264/.703 shooting splits for a 19-win Philadelphia 76ers team, the raw potential was there.
Just two seasons later, the former Rookie of the Year will be traded for the second time in his young career.
Late Saturday night, the Milwaukee Bucks decided to part ways with MCW, sending him to the Chicago Bulls for small forward Tony Snell. The deal makes Carter-Williams the only Rookie of the Year in the modern era to be traded twice within the first four years of his career.
With the Bucks giving up on their flawed point guard and the Bulls giving up on their 3-and-D dreams for Snell, which team got the better end of this exchange? Here’s a look at NBA Trade Grades for both sides.
Oct 23, 2015; Lincoln, NE, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Tony Snell (20) dribbles against the Dallas Mavericks at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Chicago defeated Dallas 103-102. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
For the Milwaukee Bucks, the thinking behind this deal is fairly obvious. With Khris Middleton out for around six months and the Bucks wanting to return to the postseason, they needed some semblance of shooting on the wing.
It also should be no surprise after ESPN reported Milwaukee unsuccessfully tried to trade him to the Sacramento Kings for Ben McLemore.
Trading for Michael Beasley a few weeks ago added some scoring, but Milwaukee still needed someone who could spread the floor. By trading for Tony Snell, the Bucks are hoping the fourth-year forward out of New Mexico can develop into the 3-and-D wing Chicago envisioned when they took him with the 20th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Carter-Williams, the 11th overall pick and Rookie of the Year in that same draft class, had become an unnecessary part of Milwaukee’s rotation. He was demoted to bench duty for a 17-game stretch last season, averaging 11.5 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game on the year.
With Giannis Antetokounmpo taking over point forward duties and Matthew Dellavedova joining in free agency, having a backup point guard who couldn’t shoot prompted this somewhat desperate trade for a perimeter threat. This also avoids the issue of overpaying to keep Carter-Williams when he hits restricted free agency in 2017.
Middleton injury created this need for Bucks. Teams banking that both Snell, Carter-Williams will benefit from change in scenery.
A career 35.1 percent three-point shooter, Snell shot 36.1 percent from long range last season while fading from head coach Fred Hoiberg‘s rotation. The season before under Tom Thibodeau, Snell averaged 6.0 points per game on 42.9 percent shooting from the floor and 37.1 percent shooting from downtown — all career highs.
Unfortunately, the Bucks may rely on Snell to spread the floor more than he’s currently capable of doing. They also didn’t get great value for MCW, a costly acquisition from 2015 when they shipped out Brandon Knight. This leaves Milwaukee with only two point guards, and the third one they just shipped out was the best player in the deal.
Though MCW clearly has his flaws and was slightly superfluous on this team, he might have been a useful bench piece alongside Delly, who could’ve spread the floor in a shooting guard role like the one he played alongside LeBron James in Cleveland.
Snell won’t move the needle much in terms of Khris Middleton replacements, but even if a change of scenery unearths a breakout season, Milwaukee traded away the best player in this deal.
Oct 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo (9) passes the ball against Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams (5) during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Carter-Williams is the best player in this trade, but the Chicago Bulls are only winners by default in this exchange.
By no means was Snell an intrinsic part of what the Bulls are trying to build, since the 24-year-old wing’s 37.2 percent shooting and 5.3 points per game are easily replaceable. His 20.3 minutes per game last year were a career-high, and he never emerged as the 3-and-D player the Bulls envisioned.
This move also frees up more time for Doug McDermott and Denzel Valentine, players who need minutes on the wing to show what they can do. Compared to a player who had proven very little like Snell, that’s definitely the more attractive option.
Carter-Williams lost his starting spot last season, underwent hip surgery in March. Bulls acquiring him for defense/size, not shooting.
However, Snell did shoot at least 36 percent from three-point range in each of the last two seasons, and in Hoiberg’s offense, three-point shooting is vital.
Unfortunately, the Bulls front office continues to talk about empowering their head coach while making moves that directly conflict with that idea.
As if signing non-shooters like Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade wasn’t bad enough, Chicago has now added another player with zero three-point touch to its bench. That Rondo-Wade-Jimmy Butler starting threesome will struggle to spread the floor as it is, and now the Bulls are going to compound the issue by bringing MCW off the bench.
Not entirely sure I get the point of MCW in Chicago. But then again, I didn’t really see the point of Snell there, either.
There’s a quality player hidden somewhere in Michael Carter-Williams, and perhaps learning from one of the game’s smartest players in Rondo will help him tap into that potential. MCW did shoot a respectable 45.2 percent from the field last year, he’s still only 25 years old and Chicago has a hole at the point guard position for the long-term (Rondo isn’t that guy).
Unfortunately, Carter-Williams barely put up that 11-5-5 stat line in 30 minutes per game last year, he’s a career 25.5 percent shooter from long range and he’s awfully injury-prone, with 70 games in his rookie season being his career high thus far.
Even if Chicago got the best player in this deal, Carter-Williams is a poor fit for a roster that wants to revamp its offense without any of the pieces needed to do so. If point guard whisperer Jason Kidd — a player who had put up similar stats as MCW to that point in their respective careers — couldn’t get through to him, the Bulls will have their hands full in trying to do the same.