The Milwaukee Bucks have the potential to be one of the biggest players at the trade deadline.
They have one of the league’s best shooters on an affordable deal in Mike Dunleavy. They have a serviceable backup big man on an expiring deal in Samuel Dalembert. They have point guard Brandon Jennings, who will be a restricted free agent this offseason, and Monta Ellis, who has one year remaining on his deal. And for a team looking for a piece that’s locked in, you could do worse than Ersan Ilyasova as a stretch four.
The Bucks have the assets and the cap relief necessary to acquire a big piece. Could that piece be Josh Smith?
One team that hasn’t been publicly mentioned in the Smith Sweepstakes is Milwaukee, although there are whispers the Bucks are interested. The Bucks are in position to offer the Hawks as good of a deal as anyone for Smith, especially if Jennings or Ellis is involved. Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova, whom the Nets seriously courted during free agency last summer and are still interested in, could also come into play.
The big question here is whether Milwaukee thinks they have a legitimate shot at keeping Josh Smith beyond the next few months. Smith has been an Atlanta guy his whole life, and going from hot to cold on another team that’s a middling contender in the Eastern Conference might not be the most attractive situation. Jennings and Ellis aren’t exactly the type of guards that big men are lining up to play with, either.
While Smith may not be a candidate to stick around in Milwaukee, the Bucks could stand to do something with their big expiring contracts (Dalembert, Beno Udrih) for once instead of simply letting them expire. Unlikely to be a player in free agency, this may be the time to try and acquire a valuable piece.
For Atlanta, they’d need to decide whether Ersan Ilyasova is worth his contract. They don’t need Jennings (I like Teague better, personally) and Lou Williams should be able to recover from his season ending injury and do a lot of the same things Monta Ellis does for half the price. That leaves Ilyasova and his 5 year/$45 million dollar deal as the probable exchange for Smith, which probably doesn’t fall in line with Atlanta’s rebuilding process.
The Bucks could offer something along the lines of Udrih/Dalembert/John Henson and draft picks, which would probably be more appealing for Atlanta. Again though, it’s hard to see Milwaukee making a deal like that unless they thought Smith would re-sign with them.
These could just be whispers and nothing more, but Atlanta and Milwaukee certainly seem like two teams in position to make a move before Thursday’s deadline.