Milwaukee was one of the more active teams at the trade deadline, heavily engaged in discussions for Josh Smith, and even coming close to making a deal for him before Atlanta reportedly pulled out at the last minute.
With Smith unavailable to them, the Bucks settled on another solid player, and were able to pull off a deal for sharpshooter J.J. Redick.
In both cases, the players Milwaukee was targeting would be finishing out contracts that expire at the end of this season, making them unrestricted free agents this summer. Teams typically don’t like to give up assets in exchange for simply renting guys for less than 30 games, but Bucks GM John Hammond said the team is doing what it can to win now, without worrying too much about next season.
From the Associated Press:
“This comes down to us trying to win, us trying to remain competitive,” Hammond said. “We’re hoping to get an uptick from this. We haven’t been playing quite as well lately and we’re hoping we can at least solidify this eight spot. We’d like to move up, try to get the seven, the six … whatever we can do. This, for us, trying to get a piece like J.J. is about us trying to win games.”
“You do look up and you don’t know what it’s going to look like in a few years. But his is kind of more about trying to win now.”
It’s also about something else.
Milwaukee is not a market that big-name free agents have willingly signed up to play in over the years, which is part of the reason the team is consistently struggling to show substantial improvement over time. By acquiring talent through the draft (like Brandon Jennings), or trading for talent (like Monta Ellis and now Redick), the Bucks as an organization can try to convince guys that playing there isn’t so bad.
Redick will hit free agency this summer, so the Bucks have a brief window to convince him to consider Milwaukee as an option. Jennings is a restricted free agent, and as long as another team doesn’t offer him a max contract, the Bucks will likely match any offers he receives to keep him in town.
This may be about winning now, but the ceiling for Milwaukee isn’t much higher than a sixth or seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and along with it a first round exit. It’s more about giving Redick a chance to see for himself what playing for the Bucks is all about, and perhaps using his time there to convince him to consider re-signing with the team this summer.