With the trade deadline less than a week away, the Milwaukee Bucks have been the subject of a considerable amount of transaction speculation.
Greg Monroe, fresh off signing a deal making him the Bucks’ most significant free agent signing in their history, has been the center of attention. Michael Carter-Williams, Jabari Parker, and Miles Plumlee have all attracted a decent amount of trade buzz, as well.
While it’s unlikely that the Bucks make a splash deal that would involve either Parker or Monroe, it’s possible they move Carter-Williams, and even more likely they trade Plumlee a year after acquiring from Phoenix. The problem is they might not be able to get back what they are looking for.
The Bucks are in need of three-point shooting, preferably from a point guard, which is what they are looking for in any deal they swing. They would also likely require a first round pick for either Monroe or Parker, who would most likely command a high lottery pick.
A deal involving Parker would signify the organization considers him a bust, which they don’t, and it’s near guaranteed they don’t move him.
This is essentially Parker’s rookie season after he tore his ACL in December 2014 and missed the majority of his debut season in the NBA. Although Parker hasn’t hit the heights many thought he would at this point in his career, it is important to remember he is still recovering from his injury. His defense is suspect at times, but it is improving. Lately he’s shown better passing abilities, more confidence in his jump shot, and explosiveness at the rim. His quickness on the ball and the danger he possesses in transition reminds us of the high ceiling the Chicago native has.
Monroe on the other hand could be traded, although, the Bucks would only accept an offer that blew them away. Monroe’s contract is essentially a two-year deal that expires in the summer of 2017. The third year in his deal is a player-option, which Monroe is highly unlikely to exercise because the max salary he could get that summer will be significantly higher than the max salary he signed in 2015. The Bucks could look to cash-in before seeing Monroe walk for nothing.
Earlier this month, Gery Woelfel, an in-the-loop Bucks beat writer for the Racine Journal Times, reported that both Monroe and Carter-Williams are available on the trading block. ESPN’s Marc Stein later played down Monroe and Parker's availability, while not ruling out Carter-Williams’ departure. Where there is smoke there is fire, and its very likely the Bucks at the very least shopped Monroe around just to find out what his market could look like.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe notably threw around a few teams that could be interested in Monroe. He listed Boston, Portland, and Charlotte as possible destinations.
Boston makes sense considering the plethora of 1st round picks they possess, but they would have to be willing to part with one of them and Avery Bradley.
Bradley is a good three-point shooter who could create space for his teammates. The Bucks would have to be okay taking on his four-year deal that averages $8 million. If Bradley turns out to be a bad fit, it could turn into a bad contract for Milwaukee.
Boston would have to be okay sending a 1st round pick and a good young player on a Boston-friendly contract, for Monroe who would likely be a one-year rental. Essentially, this potential trade would be a “win-now” move for Boston in a season where they are highly unlikely to overcome Cleveland in a playoff series, even with Monroe. This is a risky deal for both teams.
Portland is an interesting option for both the Bucks and Monroe. The Trailblazers pursued Monroe this past summer and their interest in him is well known. They could use a big man with elite inside scoring ability, especially after losing LaMarcus Aldridge to free agency this past summer. Portland has $20 million in cap space, making this trade possible, and possesses a few young players, who the Bucks could be interested in, namely C.J. McCollum who is the front-runner to win Most Improved Player of the Year.
McCollum provides three-point shooting, he is shooting 39.2% from three according to ESPN Stats, and he’s shown creative ability on offense while averaging 4.2 assists per game. Although McCollum is technically listed is a shooting guard, he is capable of playing the point, especially on a Bucks team whose creativity can also flow through Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
It’s doubtful that Portland would be willing to send a 1st round pick along with McCollum for Monroe, and it’s possible the Bucks would have to settle for that. This is still a far-fetched deal considering Portland would have to be convinced to part with the promising McCollum who has jelled so well with Damian Lillard in their backcourt.
Two players who could very well be traded are Plumlee and Carter-Williams. Plumlee is a talented center that has two young gifted big men ahead of him on the depth chart. His contract is team friendly, for now, and he is young enough where an organization could mold him to their system. He is an active shot blocker and can clean up on the offensive glass. He could be an asset for most teams.
Michael Carter-Williams on the other hand could be a more difficult piece to move. He’s failed to impress since the Bucks acquired him exactly a year ago. He has been benched twice this season, most recently the week of the All-Star break, and hasn’t improved despite the large minutes he sees on a nightly basis. His inability to shoot the ball from anywhere but at the rim hurts the Bucks’ offense. He constantly clogs the lane because no one respects his shot and he doesn’t run a good pick-n-roll. His defense is valuable at times but he often gets stuck under screens.
In the same piece where Lowe discussed possible Monroe destinations, he also revealed an interesting conversation he had with Bucks assistant coach Joe Prunty who said that both O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless are better options at the point than Carter-Williams.
"We don't rely much on the pick-and-roll," Prunty says. "And our spacing is better when O.J. [Mayo] or Jerryd [Bayless] is out there."
The reasons the Bucks are probably looking to trade Carter-Williams are the same reasons why he is a difficult player to move. In a league where a premium is placed on three-point shooting, a 6-foot-6 point guard without a jump shot seems more like a luxury than a key piece.
There is no obvious destination for Carter-Williams despite his friendly rookie contract that still has 2-years left on it, including restricted free agency and a qualifying offer. If the Bucks are able to move him, they won’t get much back, and certainly nothing close to the likely lottery pick they could have had from Phoenix when they moved Brandon Knight for Carter-Williams in a three-team trade that included the Suns and Philadelphia.
The bottom line is, the Bucks are open for business, but there may not be any business to be had. In Woelfel’s article, he stated that one of his NBA sources believes the Bucks want to, and probably have to make some moves.
“From what I’m hearing is they (the Bucks) are willing to trade anybody not named Parker, Antetokounmpo or Middleton,’’ an NBA executive said. “I even heard they'd listen (to offers) for Parker and Middleton, but it would have to be some crazy offer. They want to do something; they know they have to do something. That group they have isn’t working.’’
If the right offer presents itself, they will do something.