By Rob Mahoney
The Bucks clearly aren't content letting their two leading scorers drift toward free agency. The trade rumors come in flurries at this point in the season, and not every report can be taken at face value. But a slew of top-notch NBA reporters have made frequent mention of the Bucks in relation to a variety of potential trade targets, which makes sense given that GM John Hammond has a number of pivotal decisions on his plate. His latest consideration: a rumored deal for Orlando's J.J. Redick per Ken Berger of CBS Sports:
If Milwaukee gets involved in discussion of a larger deal involving Smith or one of their own starting guards, Jennings or Monta Ellis, one valuable piece who could be added to the mix is Luc Mbah a Moute. Teams like his defensive versatility, rebounding and a reasonable contract that declines from $4.8 million this season to $4.4 million in 2014-15, which coincides with the NBA's next big free-agent frenzy. One deal that has been proposed is Mbah a Moute and a first-round pick to Orlando for J.J. Redick, who will be a free agent this summer, multiple league sources say. The belief is that Milwaukee would only do that deal if they moved Ellis first.
It's obviously a hypothetical deal which may not happen at all (or might change significantly even if it does come to pass), but Redick -- even as an impending free agent -- is a worthy target as a complement to the Bucks' growing core. His work off the ball would open up things beautifully for a more functional pick-and-roll offense, thus clearing the way for Brandon Jennings to get to the rim more consistently. Plus, his persistent perimeter defense would surely save Larry Sanders a few of those Ellis-induced headaches, not to mention prevent the shot-blocking big man from picking up so many cheap fouls while cleaning up the defensive mistakes of the Bucks' backcourt.
On Orlando's end, this would be a solid return on a coveted trade chip. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is a fantastic defender on a reasonable deal, and the first-round pick would give the Magic another piece to play with in future trades or as an element of their rebuild. It'd be nice to keep Redick around, but it makes perfect sense for a team looking to maximize its assets to bank on a sure acquisition of a rotation player and future first-rounder rather than court Redick in free agency in the hope that he isn't swayed by a contender. All of that said, once we start getting into the realm of discussing trades that are contingent on other trades, we risk inflating the probability of an inherently unlikely scenario. It's hardly certain that Milwaukee will deal Ellis at all, though it appears Hammond is at least entertaining the possibility. That said, if things on that end fall through, then so too might a prospective deal for Redick or whichever other guards the Bucks have in mind.