The Bucks trade deadline this year was quiet and uneventful with their token move being a Hibbert salary dump. Hibbert was with the Bucks for a few weeks but did not play for them at all, the Bucks got a pick back that will likely never convey. Nothing substantial worth writing about for the Milwaukee Bucks. The trade deadline as always contained more rumors than substantial trades. Lots of bench players were flipped to contenders to bolster up for a playoff run.
As the dust settled I had one glaring question facing me: Should the Bucks have gotten involved in any of those transactions? There were a couple of guys moved that could potentially fit very well with the Bucks. The truly aggravating aspect was the fact that these guys were traded for very small returns that the Bucks easily could have matched and/or exceeded.
In theory Nerlens is the perfect anchor for the Bucks swapping and swarming defense. He flies all over the court and wreaks havoc on opposing offenses. Noel was traded for Bogut’s expiring contract, Justin Anderson, and a protected first round pick that will likely turn into two second rounders. A matching trade for the Bucks would probably look something like:
76ers get: Milwaukee’s 2017 First Rounder top 18 protected (turns into their ’17 & ’18 second rounders if Milwaukee finishes in the top 18), Rashad Vaughn and Mirza Teletovic
Bucks get: Nerlens Noel
This trade allows the Bucks to keep most of their assets while also getting a long term answer at center. Nerlens Noel will enter restricted free agency with the Bucks holding match rights and likely ending up paying him a near max. That is likely the reason Philly sold him for pennies on the dollar, he is a cheap rental about to become very expensive.
This is the big one, likely the biggest name moved at the deadline since Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams in 2011. Cousins oft noted for his attitude issues would give the Bucks another top 15 player to pair with Giannis Antetokounmpo. He would help Giannis on offense, Cousins has a great all around game on offense with range on his jumper and great vision. He has shown to be a capable defender in the right system and with Giannis could be a formidable front court duo. Cousins is far from a perfect player, but chances to acquire top 15 players are few and far between especially for small markets like Milwaukee. I think the Bucks matching the Pelicans offer would look something like:
Kings get: Teletovic, Thon, Dellavadova and Bucks First Rounder this year unprotected
Bucks get: Darren Collison and Demarcus Cousins
The Bucks give up a few valuable role players and a potential future stud in Thon. I believe that Thon is the equivalent of Buddy Hield in this trade, but at this point in their careers Thon has more value than Hield. He is younger and has a higher ceiling, Thon has actually exceeded expectations and Hield has been sort of a disappointment. The Bucks get a temporary point guard in Collison and keep Brogdon for the future. I believe the Bucks could have also tossed Vaughn and a second rounder in as sweetener if the Kings still preferred the Pelicans offer. This immediately vaults the Bucks up a tier in the East adding a player of Cousins caliber and the loss of Thon is offset by the fact that Cousins will be the center for the foreseeable future.
I believe both of these trades are realistic, but the Bucks would have had to taken a risk in both of them. Cousins requires losing a handful of assets and brings a potentially thorny personality into a locker room that is currently gelling. Noel has complained about his situation before, and will require a big contract despite not playing consistently the last two seasons. The Bucks are also cash strapped and unless they believe Monroe or Thon are definitely the answer going forward, they have few options at center. The Bucks are a young enough team that foregoing a few draft picks is not the end of the world, and the chance to acquire an impact talent is something they should have acted on.