Charlotte gets: Eric Bledsoe, Tony Snell, Matthew Dellavedova, #17
Milwaukee gets: Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Frank Kaminsky
CHA (@alecgreenberg_) gets: Eric Bledsoe, Tony Snell, Matthew Dellavedova, #17 (from MIL)
— Sagar Trika (@BlazersBySagar) May 18, 2018
In a NBA fantasy mock draft hosted by @blazersbysagar which sees 30 NBA writers take over as GM for their respective team, Eric Nehm of ESPN Milwaukee accepted a deal from the Charlotte GM that trades the 17th pick, Eric Bledsoe, Tony Snell and Matthew Dellavedova for Frank Kaminsky, Nicolas Batum and Kemba Walker. The trade looks like a slam dunk until one examines Nicolas Batum enormous 3 year $76.5 million left on his contract. Already 29, Batum’s deal pays out $27 million in the final year of his contract, during which he will turn 32. Additionally, Kemba is in his last year of his contract and will presumably sign to a max deal once he hits free agency one summer from now. If Milwaukee wanted to be serious about acquiring Kemba, it would likely come at the expense of cap flexibility. That being said a core of Giannis, Kemba, Khris, Nic Batum, Jabari and Brogdon may very well be worth the cap inflexibility. Bucks fans have long coveted a point guard with the ability to shoot off the dribble to pair with Giannis. Imagining a pick-and-roll combination that forces the defense to honor the pull up 3 could potentially unlock a multitude of possibilities for Giannis as the roll man. Additionally, Batum is a well-rounded 6’8 guard/wing that can dribble, pass, rebound, defend and shoot reasonably well, but could never live up to the expectations as the second man behind Kemba in Charlotte. Adding talent around Batum and thus lowering his usage would likely benefit Batum’s efficiency that has struggled since taking on a bigger role in Charlotte. All in all, if Milwaukee wants to pair Giannis with a star as soon as possible, taking a serious look at Kemba Walker may be their best option.
76ers get: Malcom Brogdon
Milwaukee gets: pick #10
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let me start by saying Malcom Brogdon is very good and might even be underrated by Bucks fans. There is a strong case to be made that he is one of the top 20 players in the best position in basketball. A player of that caliber (and that contract) should only be involved in a trade that nets you a better asset. That being said, there have been many examples of successful teams retooling their roster by trading up to the 10-15 range to snag a prospect they believe fell too far (Hello, Donovan Mitchell). While the Bucks are not looking for the next superstar, there is little doubt that Milwaukee needs to add at least one more piece to the puzzle. Brogdon is no doubt a very solid player with minimal weaknesses and a superb on-court demeanor, but does he possess the same ceiling of a Trae Young or Collin Sexton? Sure, it is easy to fantasize about the possibilities of player who has yet to touch an NBA court; and yes, finding a sure thing outside of the top 5 is next to impossible, but the time to add another star next to Giannis is running out and the avenues to do it are slim. Of the top 10 prospects according to Sports Illustrated (Ayton, Doncic, Bagley, Jackson Jr, Bamba, Porter Jr, Carter Jr, Young, Mikal Bridges, Williams Jr.) how many prospects would you be willing to trade for Brogdon? I probably could talk myself into trading Brogdon for 6 of those prospects, and if the front office sees real potential in one of those players at 10 I could imagine trading for him would be tempting. Additionally, a back court comprised of Ben Simmons and Malcom Brogdon has potential succeed, especially given Malcom’s strong year from 3 point range. And as much as I love having Malcom on the Bucks, watching Philadelphia fans go from beefing with Brogdon over the 2017 Rookie of the Year to his biggest fan would be oh so sweet.
Brooklyn gets: Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson, #17
Milwaukee gets: Demarre Carroll
The Bucks are getting ready to make one of the biggest decisions in franchise history by signing Jabari Parker this offseason to a deal that potentially could tighten the Bucks salary cap situation for years to come. The Bucks are currently paying $30 million (30% of Salary Cap) per year to the trio of Mirza Teletovic, Matthew Dellavedova and John Henson. The unfortunate circumstances of Mirza Teletovic’s health has forced him to retire early, but the $10.5 million owed to him in 2018-19 won’t come off the books until November, which means the Bucks will not be able to use that money in this summer’s free agency. With no cap space to sign a free agent this offseason, shuffling the roster around to open up cap space for the summer of 2019 might be the only way for the Bucks have a shot at signing a star on the free agent market. Brooklyn got robbed (by themselves) of their first round pick this year from Ainge and Co. and could be looking to take on bad salary from other teams in return for an asset. Demarre Carroll, who is on the last year of his contract, was traded to the Nets along with a first and second round pick from Toronto to help free up cap space by offloading Carroll’s bad contract. John Henson and Matthew Dellavedova both have 2 years left on their deal, and are being paid a combined $19.3 million per year. With Khris Middleton (likely to opt out of $13M final year player option), Eric Bledsoe, and Malcom Brogdon all due up for new contracts in the summer of 2019, the only players still on the books next summer (not including Henson and Delly) with salaries over $5 million are Giannis ($25.8M), Tony Snell ($11.4M), and potentially Jabari ($12-20M?). For the sake of this exercise lets imagine a world where Jabari gets paid $15M per year this offseason; we can then use mental math (definitely not my iPhone calculator) to add up the salaries and find Milwaukee’s projected cap space for 2019. $25.8M (Giannis) + $15M (Jabari) + $11.3M (Snell) + $3.5M (Thon) + $2.9M (Wilson) + $1.6M (Sterling) would put the salary at $60 million but would likely be closer to $65 million with the stretched salaries of Sanders and Hawes. With the expected salary cap in 2019 expected to be between $100-$108 million the Bucks could have up to $40 million in cap space; ample room to add a max contract player in free agency. With free agents like Klay Thompson and Kemba Walker hitting the open market, it is hard not to daydream of adding another big star next to Giannis.