HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks kicked off this trade deadline season with a bang, agreeing tonight on a five-player deal that will send guard Monta Ellis, forward Ekpe Udoh and center Kwame Brown to Milwaukee for center Andrew Bogut and guard Stephen Jackson. The deal, first reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, was also confirmed by TNT’s David Aldridge.
If the magnitude of this first move is any indication — Bogut was the No. 1 pick in the 2005 Draft, Ellis is one of the league’s top scorers and Jackson, despite his issues with Bucks coach Scott Skiles, remains one of the league’s most dynamic backcourt performers when he’s playing in an environment he likes — we could be in for a wild ride the next 24 hours.
Ellis has been the subject of trade rumors in Golden State for the past three seasons, with the reasoning being as nuanced as his game. Bottom line, just like Bogut and Jackson (who had expressed their own desires to be shipped out of Milwaukee from whatever restrictions they felt Skiles’ system placed upon their respective games), Ellis is being moved at his own behest.
The only problem? You can bet Ellis didn’t have the Bucks at the top of his list, not with the chatter about him joining Dwight Howard in Orlando heating up in recent days. The addition of Ellis also raises questions about Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, whose name has also surfaced in trade rumors in the past few weeks. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported yesterday that the Bucks don’t have any plans on moving Jennings, which should make some chemistry issues down the stretch this season for Skiles with an Ellis-Jennings backcourt.
Jackson presented a unique set of challenges, same as he always has for whoever is coaching him. A backcourt with two offensive-minded guys like Ellis and Jennings should be as exciting as any combo in the league, but will they defend the way Skiles demands?
We’ve got it covered for you from every angle …
NBA.com’s numbers guru and HT East Coast Bureau chief John Schuhmann breaks down the mechanics of the deal for all involved:
The deal basically erases (with Jackson’s contract) the $10 million of cap space the Warriors had this summer, and gives the Bucks about $8 million of cap space this summer (because Brown’s contract is expiring and Jackson’s is for one more year). Neither team’s payroll is affected much in 2013-14, when the new, more punitive luxury tax system kicks in and Bogut, Ellis and Udoh (if his options are picked up) are all on the books.
The Jazz (via New Jersey) have the Warriors’ 2012 first round pick, but it’s top-7 protected. And with Bogut out and Stephen Curry’s health a question, the Warriors could sink in the standings and keep the pick. They’re currently six games in the loss column from having a bottom-7 record, but have played the fewest games in the league.
NBA.com’s and HT West Coast Bureau chief Scott Howard Cooper weighs in with the Bay Area perspective:
The deal is exactly the kind of bold strike the Warriors have been looking to make for years, and this season in particular to address the glaring need at center in the wake of another disappointing showing by Andris Biedrins. They came close to landing Tyson Chandler as the interior defensive presence, before Chandler took a free-agent deal with the Knicks in what he termed a late switch away from Golden State, and signed DeAndre Jordan to an offer sheet the Clippers predictably matched. In what would have been the riskiest move of all, they were willing to trade for Dwight Howard even without a commitment from Howard that he would sign an extension, as long as it did not require including Curry in the package.
General manager Larry Riley told NBA.com on Feb. 21 the Warriors were “working day and night” to make a big move and “hopeful” one would happen. Their prominent profile in the days leading to the trade deadline – with the Magic for Howard, with the Bucks for Bogut – was not surprise. Neither was their willingness to part with Monta Ellis as lottery pick Klay Thompson continued to develop into an obvious successor at shooting guard.
The deal they finally got with an obviously itchy trigger finger comes with interesting draft implications. The Warriors keep their first-round pick only if it lands in the top seven after the lottery. With no Ellis, no Udoh, no Bogut for the foreseeable future and Curry a question mark with continuing ankle problems, chances just increased that Golden State will retain the selection. At eight or lower, the choice that was first sent from Golden State to New Jersey in a 2008 Marcus Williams deal and then from New Jersey to Utah in the 2011 Deron Williams blockbuster, belongs to the Jazz.
Finally, NBA.com’s elder statesman and HT Midwest Director of Operations Steve Aschburner has kept as close an eye on the Bucks as anyone, and weighs on the impact this will have in Milwaukee:
Bogut was prepared for a trade, maybe even seeking a fresh start after his recent injury issues in Milwaukee. He responded to a text question from NBA.com Monday about his trade-deadline fate with: “Who knows? It’s like an adolescent version of a lucky dip!” A lucky dip is a British and apparently Aussie version of what’s known here as a grab bag – as in, he was expecting something, he just wasn’t sure what.
The Bucks often found themselves in the same predicament with Bogut: They never knew what they were going to get. He was the third team all-NBA center in 2009-10, but that season ended abruptly when Bogut suffered a horrendous fall on a dunk, his right arm, wrist and hand folding beneath him and requiring surgery that hampered his play all of last season. He played just 12 games this season before fracturing his left ankle at Houston on Jan. 25, with a return this season uncertain.
Also uncertain: The fate of Squad 6, the section of diehard Bucks fans Bogut sponsored at every Milwaukee home game, standing and cheering from start to finish. On many nights, Squad 6 has been the only source of noise at the Bradley Center.
Shedding Jackson — a high-maintenance scorer who had fallen out of favor with coach Scott Skiles — means the Bucks again were hoping for some addition-by-subtraction. They had taken on Jackson via trade with Charlotte as a way to unload Corey Maggette, another scorer with a me-first reputation. But Jackson, who is due another $10 million salary in 2012-13, made noise about a contract extension last summer before he ever played a game for Milwaukee.
Pairing Ellis with Jennings gives Milwaukee a scoring-centric and smallish backcourt not unlike Golden State’s with Ellis and Stephen Curry. Udoh could join the Bucks’ center committee that, in Bogut’s absence, included Drew Gooden, Larry Sanders and a cast of several others. Brown was acquired for his $7 million expiring contract.