Grading John Hammond (Part 3)


Congratulations! If you have stuck with me thus far you truly are one in a million.  As I’m sure your mom has told you a hundred times over, you are a special person.  I never thought of myself as someone who is long-winded but Part 1 and 2 prove that theory wrong. In this final section of “Grading John Hammond” I break down and evaluate the trades that Hammond as made throughout his tenure. At the end I will also give an overall grade to Hammond and the work he has done as General Manager of the Milwaukee Bucks. Ready?  I hope so! My advice; get a comfy chair and have your popcorn ready!


In the following section I did not outline every single trade Hammond has made, only the one’s that had any real effect on the Milwaukee Bucks.  Hammond loves to wheel and deal so I wasn’t able to go in-depth on every single trade that he has made. I simply give a summary of the main details of the trade and some of the reasoning behind Hammond and the Bucks pulling the trigger and agreeing to the deal. I graded each trade based on the results of both the players the Bucks received as well as the players that they shipped to other teams. The money that was owed to each of the players and the remaining years on their contract also played into the grading.

Bucks received Richard Jefferson from the New Jersey Nets for Bobby Simmons and Yi Jianlian– This was the inaugural move for John Hammonds, unofficially marking the beginning of his reign as Bucks General Manager. This trade allowed the Bucks to rid themselves of Simmons horrible contract (2 years and $20 million remaining) as well as a player in Jianlian who stated he never wanted to be in Milwaukee to begin with. In return the Bucks took on the remaining 3 years and $42 million of Jefferson’s contract, who was coming off a career high 22.6 points per game.  Jefferson only played one season in Milwaukee averaging 19.6 points per game for the Scott Skiles coached team. Jianlian played two underwhelming seasons for the Nets. Simmons continued to digress with the Nets as well, proving that he could never truly recover from the ankle injury that held him out for the whole 2006-07 season. Grade: B

Bucks received Adrian Griffin and Luke Ridnour from Oklahoma City and Damon Jones from Cleveland for Mo Williams (to Cleveland) and Desmond Mason (to Oklahoma City)– 2008 saw the first of many trades Hammond facilitated in order to simply dump salary. Mo Williams was coming off a year where he averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 assists for the Bucks. Milwaukee would release Griffin two months later and Jones would only last one season in Milwaukee appearing in all 82 games. Ridnour would go on to finish the last two years of his contract in Milwaukee and was quietly efficient each of those years. Mo Williams on the other hand would go on to average a career best 17.8 points and earn his only all-star game appearance the following year. Williams was later traded to the Clippers for a first round pick which ended up being the first overall selection in Kyrie Irving. Such is the Bucks luck. Grade: D+

Bucks received Bruce Bowen and Kurt Thomas from San Antonio and Amir Johnson from Detroit in exchange for Richard Jefferson (to San Antonio)– This was a subsequent move made by Hammond again to dump Jefferson’s remaining salary onto the Spurs. It was obvious that Jefferson was declining throughout his one year in Milwaukee so this ended up being a smart move by Hammond.  Jefferson would play the final two years of his contract with the Spurs but never again in his career did he average more than 12.3 points per game. Bowen was released by the Bucks 8 days after this trade was completed. Amir Johnson was traded again less than two months later as well. Thomas would only play one season in Milwaukee and was a defensive enforcer of sorts.  Even though he was 37 years old at the time Thomas always gave the Bucks a gritty performance and one that the younger players could learn from.  Grade: C

Bucks received Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukic from Toronto for Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems– When this trade was completed in the summer of 2009 it didn’t appear to be anything special. As it turned out this is exactly the low-key type of move that the Milwaukee Bucks would need more of in order to be competitive in the Eastern Conference. Hammond was with the Detroit Pistons organization when they drafted Delfino in 2003 so he was familiar with the type of player Delfino was.  Delfino went on to shoot 36% from behind the arc during his three years with Milwaukee. Ukic didn’t make it through his first season in Milwaukee and was released in January of 2010. Grade: C+

Bucks received John Salmons, Chicago’s second round draft pick in 2011 and 2012, and the right to swap first round picks in the 2010 draft for Hakim Warrick and Joe Alexander– This trade, completed at the deadline in 2010, is known as a defining one for Hammond’s career and a major reason he won Executive of the year in 2009-10. Salmons spectacular play down the stretch, averaging 19.9 points per game, was a main reason the Bucks finished the season 10 games over .500. He also helped carry Milwaukee to a grueling 7 game series loss vs the Hawks in the playoffs. Warrick would leave Chicago at the end of the season and Alexander would never play in the NBA again after the 2009-10 season. The Bucks also drafted Larry Sanders after flipping first rounders in the 2010 draft. Grade: A-

Bucks received Corey Maggette and a 2010 second round draft pick from Golden State for Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric– In the summer of 2010 Hammond again unloaded two massively bad contracts that he inherited from the previous regime.  Milwaukee, a team who was in need of scoring in case John Salmons chose to opt out of his contract (which he did and then was re-signed), in turn acquired Maggette for the Warriors. Maggette never worked out for the Bucks as he was a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.  He struggled to fit in with the Bucks and was subsequently traded the following year. Bell only appeared in 19 games for the Warriors and never again played in the NBA after that. Gadzuric also struggled during his brief time with the Warriors and was traded halfway through the year.  Even given the struggles Maggette had in Milwaukee the players the Bucks shipped out proved to fare far worse. Grade: C+

Bucks received Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston, and draft rights to Tobias Harris from Charlotte along with Beno Udrih from Sacramento for Corey Maggette (to Charlotte), John Salmons (to Sacramento), and Jimmer Fredette (Sacramento) – In 2011 the bad contracts once again caught up to the Bucks when their need to acquire cheaper talent cost them 9 spots in the first round of the NBA draft.  In order to rid themselves of Maggette and Salmon’s contracts the Bucks had to also take in another disgruntled player in Stephen Jackson. Jackson would only last half a season in Milwaukee before being shipped out in another trade.  Udrih would last a season and a half and produced disappointing results. Livingston continued his return from a horrific knee injury in his one season in Milwaukee. He started 27 games for the Bucks and gave them much-needed size at the point guard position. Salmons continued his downward trend with the Kings and had some of his worst years of his career with their organization.  Maggette would only play 50 more games in his career before retiring. Grade: C

Bucks received Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh, and Kwame Brown from Golden State for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson– Good riddance Stephen Jackson. Jackson was upset with his contract situation, his playing time, and who knows what else before he was traded in March of 2012. Two days after this trade Jackson was again traded to the Spurs for TJ Ford, Richard Jefferson AND a first round pick (holy cow did the Bucks mess that up).  In order for the Bucks to get rid of Jackson however they had to attach their former number one overall pick in Andrew Bogut. Bogut has gone on to anchor the Warriors defense until he was traded to the Mavericks this offseason. Ellis was known for his ability to put up shots and that is exactly what he did in Milwaukee next to Brandon Jennings. I’m not sure if their has ever been a smaller, more shot happy starting duo than Jennings and Ellis. Ellis is also famous for once comparing himself to Dwane Wade. Udoh played the next three seasons of his rookie deal in Milwaukee but was never anything more than a defensive role player at best.  Brown never suited up for the Bucks. Grade: D

Bucks received Samuel Dalembert, 14th pick in the 2012 draft, and a future second round pick from Houston for Jon Brockman, Jon Leuer, Shaun Livingston, and 12th overall pick in 2012 Draft– Shortly before the 2012 draft Hammond was at it again, this time maneuvering picks and players in order to acquire a much-needed big man. This marked the second straight year Hammond traded down in the draft and gave them a player in Dalembert whom he thought would be the starting center going into the year. However, Dalembert only started 23 games during the 2012-13 season and was often disinterested in Milwaukee. He was not re-signed the following season. Leuer has gone on to have a decent NBA career, however not with the Rockets as they waived him less than a month after the trade. Jeremy Lamb was selected with the 12th overall pick and was shipped to Charlotte and the Bucks took John Henson at 14. Grade: C-

Bucks received Gustavo Ayon, J.J. Redick, and Ish Smith from Orlando for Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb, and Beno Udrih– Oufta.  This is one of the nastiest looking trades I have ever seen.  In this 2013 deadline deal Hammond was schooled straight up, no chaser.  The Bucks gave up a 20-year-old Harris who had been given very little playing time in exchange for making a run at the 8th seed in the playoffs. Redick came off the bench behind Jennings and Ellis and was not happy about it at all. The Bucks did end up making the playoffs that season as the 8th seed but were quickly swept by the Miami Heat. Redick would only shoot 31% from down-town during his time with the Bucks. To make matters even worse Tobias balled out and averaged 17.3 points per game with Orlando after averaging 4.9 with the Bucks. Grade: F

Bucks received Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton, and Viacheslav Kravtsov from Detroit for Brandon Jennings– As bad as the last trade was for Hammond and Milwaukee this 2013 trade was equally amazing. Jennings was a free agent and was set to make a lot of money which the Bucks did not want to pay him.  Knight was most known by fans around the league as the player who Deandre Jordan destroyed with his monstrous dunk.  However Knight nearly ascended to all-star status during his year and a half with the Bucks. At the time Middleton was just a throw in but has turned out to be the best player in the trade. He has continued to make great improvements each season and as a result has seen his statistics rise all across the board. Kravtsov never played a game for Milwaukee.  Brandon Jennings, who I previously shared is my favorite Bucks player of all time, has not seen the type of success that he saw in Milwaukee. His points per game averages dropped in Detroit and he is currently on his third NBA team in a span of 12 months. Grade: A-

Bucks received Jeff Adrien and Ramon Sessions from Charlotte for Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour– This deal in 2013 was simply made to save the Bucks and owner Herb Kohl a little cash. And I mean a little, at least by NBA standards that is. This move saved the Bucks $2 million in 2013 and $3.25 million in 2014.  That is all that is noteworthy in this trade. Lets please move on. Grade: C

Bucks received Jared Dudley and a future first round pick from L.A. Clippers for Carlos Delfino, Miroslav Radujica and a future second round pick– This 2014 move was a sneaky good deal for Milwaukee. Dudley, like Pachulia, is a player who was worth more to the Bucks then the box score led on. He was a main proponent in a revitalized Milwaukee defense during Kidd’s first year as head coach. Delfino never ended up playing for the Clippers as this was purely a salary cap dump for them. The Bucks ended up squandering the future first round pick in another trade but that is for another grade. Grade: B-

Bucks received Michael Carter-Williams from the 76ers and Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee from Phoenix for Brandon Knight and Kendal Marshall (both to Phoenix)– Hammond and the Bucks sure blew this opportunity.  Milwaukee did not want to pay Knight, who was an impending free agent, so they chose to shop him instead.  Knights stellar play had almost resulted in his first all-star appearance and his value could not have been any higher. The Lakers first round pick was also a part of this deal and will come due to the 76ers in the upcoming draft, no matter where it lands. In Phoenix Knight has had his ups and downs learning how to fit in alongside point guard Eric Bledsoe. Marshall was waived by Phoenix due to an injury.  Ennis played sparingly, to say the least, for a season and a half before being shipped to Houston. We all know the story of Miles Plumlee and his rise(?) to a four-year $52 million contract extension. The Michael Carter-Williams experiment did not go as hoped for Milwaukee either.  Their was thought that Kidd would be able to work with the lengthy point guard and help him further his game. MCW was never able to develop anything near a consistent jumper and was traded to Chicago this past offseason. Grade: C-

Bucks received Caron Butler and Shawne Williams from Detroit for Ersan Ilyasova– This was another trade made by Hammond as simply a salary cap dump for the Bucks.  The Bucks wanted to get rid of Ilyasova’s almost $8 million annual salary and did it in exchange for two players who they had no interest in.  Both Butler and Williams were released less than a month after this trade was processed. Ersan played 52 games for Detroit before being traded with Brandon Jennings to Orlando for Tobias Harris. Talk about coming full circle. Grade: C-

Bucks received Greivis Vasquez from Toronto for Norman Powell and 2017 first round pick- I have no idea what Hammond and Milwaukee were thinking when they made this trade. Milwaukee agreed to send the Clippers 2017 first round pick along with their second round selection, which ended up being Norman Powell, in exchange for the lengthy point guard Greivis Vasquez. The Bucks already had MCW starting at point but apparently they wanted another 6′ 6″ point. Greivis battled injuries during his one year with Milwaukee appearing in only 23 games. Powell would go on to be a contributor to a Raptors team that made the playoffs.  The Raptors JUST traded that first round pick along with Terrance Ross to Orlando for Serge Ibaka. To make matters worse for Milwaukee Vasquez was a free agent and didn’t resign making the first rounder the Bucks gave up totally not worth it.  Grade: D

Bucks received a future second round draft pick from Washington for Jared Dudley and received a future second round draft pick from Dallas for Zaza Pachulia– The Bucks ended up needing to move both Dudley and Pachulia in order to get their salary off Milwaukee’s books. At the time the Bucks had just resigned Khris Middleton and were also bringing in Greg Monroe.  As I have previously noted the departures of Pachulia and Dudley were felt because of the void in veteran leadership it left. Grade: D+

Bucks eceived Michael Beasley from Houston for Tyler Ennis– This is the rare player for player swap. No draft picks, no third team, just a one for one trade.  So far this trade has looked like it will benefit the Bucks more than the Rockets. Ennis has continued to struggle to see the floor in Houston and is averaging less than 2 points per game. Beasley has been Beasley in Milwaukee and overall has had more positive plays than negative ones.  He’s also looking at an expanded role with Jabari Parker out for the year. Grade: C+

Bucks received Tony Snell from Chicago for Michael Carter-Williams– This trade in October of 2016 marked the end of the Michael Carter-Williams experiment. MCW was never able to fully grasp the Bucks offense nor replace Brandon Knight.  Snell has come on to have a career year with the Bucks, even by his modest standards. With Middleton out Snell has been thrust into the starting lineup and has been asked to guard the opposing teams best perimeter player on most nights. Snell has also responded by shooting a career best 39% from the three-point line.  Meanwhile in Chicago, MCW has battled injuries and has struggled to get into the lineup appearing in only 24 games so far this year for the Bulls. And we also have this from MCW… Grade: B

Bucks received Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert from Charlotte for Miles Plumlee– This trade is the most recent example of Hammond dumping salary in order to make up for his past discrepancies. Plumlee was less than a year removed from signing a massive, for his standards, extension with the Bucks. Plumlee failed to produce this year when he was given the opportunities.  Hammond, luckily, found a suitor in Charlotte who had also attempted, for some unknown reason, to sign Plumlee in the offseason.  Neither Hawes nor Hibbert has yet to appear in a game for Milwaukee. Hibbert is a free agent at the end of the season and Hawes as a player option. It’s like the old saying goes, “you don’t have to run faster than the bear to get away, you only have to run faster than the guy next to you.” Grade: C+

Hammond has often found himself with alterior motives than improving his team when it comes to trading.  His main goal has been to typically rid Milwaukee of bad contracts.  On the rare occasion that Hammond was trying to improve the Bucks he showed his creativity in making it happen.  I wouldn’t say that Hammond has ever had a trade that he’s hit out of the park but he has definitely had a couple of triples (first Salmons trade and trade for Middleton). If it wasn’t for Hammond’s inability to sign players to deals close to their worth he wouldn’t find himself constantly running around the trade market to cover his ass. Grade: B-

Overall Grade

You made it! Welcome to the last section of this post where I go over Hammond’s overall grade as Milwaukee’s General Manager once all of the factors are considered. I understand that hindsight is 20/20 so I appreciate Mr. Hammond allowing me to take us through this exercise.  If you made it this far I applaud you as we have covered, by my (very) unofficial count, 90 different Milwaukee Bucks, 39 unique contracts, 22 draft picks, 20 trades, and four coaches. I hope you enjoyed the ride along the way as much as I did.

The road to 2017 has been a long and windy one for John Hammond.  At a couple of different junctures his job security has been called into question only for Hammond to make it through the fog and continue his run as Milwaukee’s head decision maker.  Free agency has been, without a doubt, Hammonds weakest aspect as general manager with player acquisitions like Drew Gooden and OJ Mayo.  He has struggled to find any meaningful players that can come in and have a positive impact for the Bucks. Hammonds biggest signing, Greg Monroe, has not lived up to the hype and has a player option coming up this summer.  Hammond has also struggled to evaluate Milwaukee’s own players dishing out a multitude of bad contracts. He has a questionable track record with extensions signing flops like John Salmons, Ersan Ilyasova, and Miles Plumlee. It’s hard to blame the man though because those signings, for the most part, came at times when the players where producing and looked to be able to improve on their past seasons in Milwaukee. The recent extensions given to Middleton and Giannis are the only thing that has saved Hammonds grade in my eyes.

Luckily Hammond has been able to get out from under quite a number of bad contracts through trades. The trades have rarely brought back welcomed talent but that is how it works in the NBA. Unless you have talent to give up you are very unlikely to get any back. Hammond did manage to pull a highway robbery in securing Middleton from Detroit and that has had huge results for the Bucks so far.

Overall Hammond has made his money through the draft.  Hammond has taken a smart approach in Milwaukee where he realizes he will not be able to attract a superstar unless they are homegrown.  He has constantly had a home run swing when he has stepped up to the plate that is the draft.  He hit a bomb when Milwaukee drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 draft. Giannis is shaping up to be a franchise altering move for the Bucks and a career defining one for Hammond. The heights the Bucks reach with Giannis at the helm will define John Hammond’s legacy as the Milwaukee Bucks General Manager. Overall Grade: B-


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