Jan 10, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Charlotte Hornets center Roy Hibbert (55, right) and Charlotte Hornets forward Marvin Williams (2) speak during a timeout against the Houston Rockets during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
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The Denver Nuggets have agreed to send a protected second round pick to the Milwaukee Bucks for Roy Hibbert. Here are NBA Trade Grades for the deal.
Sandwiched between the high-profile swap of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls and the Toronto Raptors snagging defensive ace P.J. Tucker, the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks pulled off a minor move in the waning minutes of the 2017 NBA Trade Deadline.
Oct 26, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Charlotte Hornets center Roy Hibbert (55) blocks the shot of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) during the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
For the Bucks, this deal was not about any potential return. A 2019 second round pick that’s protected for all but the last five picks in the draft is obviously a joke of a return, even if it did convey two years from now.
No, the real reason behind this trade was to get Roy Hibbert’s deal off the books. This may seem curious since he’s an expiring contract and will hit free agency this summer anyway, but by sending him to Denver, Milwaukee gains a nice trade exception:
Bucks will get a $5.0M trade exception in its trade of Roy Hibbert, keeping them above salary cap (and allowing them to retain other TPEs).
In addition to the $1.4 million saved by moving his salary, that $5 million trade exception will allow them to keep their other Traded Player Exceptions as well — $1.2 million for Miles Plumlee, $1.7 million for Tyler Ennis and $815,199 for Michael Carter-Williams.
It’s clearly a lopsided deal, but Hibbert didn’t play a single minute for the Bucks anyway. Milwaukee managed to dump some salary and will probably never see that second round pick, but that’s not the end of the world.
Mar 2, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) takes a shot against Los Angeles Lakers center Roy Hibbert (17) in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
As for the Nuggets, it may seem curious that they added a washed up center after just trading for Mason Plumlee less than two weeks ago, but Hibbert provides them with frontcourt insurance and depth as the playoffs creep closer.
Though Denver currently holds the eighth playoff spot in the West, the New Orleans Pelicans are only 2.5 games back in the standings. After adding DeMarcus Cousins to a frontcourt that already had Anthony Davis, the Nuggets were wise to add another seven-footer to the equation just in case.
Though Hibbert deal is for depth & gets the #Nuggets closer to salary floor, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on court in the NO games
Hibbert is only averaging a career-low 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 16.0 minutes per game this season, but he could be useful in a pinch and he’s not much of a risk since his contract expires at the end of the season.
Acquiring Hibbert also gets Denver closer to the salary floor and saves them $3.6 million. For the price of a second round pick that’s unlikely to convey anyway, that’s a decent deal.
Hibbert trade is about savings. Bucks save $1.4M and likely won’t see the pick. Nuggets save $3.6M and move to within $2.1M of salary floor.
Now the question is whether Hibbert, Plumlee and Nikola Jokic are ready to hold their own in head-to-head matchups with New Orleans’ formidable frontcourt duo. Their playoff lives could very well depend on it.