Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bucks Trade For J.J. Reddick | Three Players Move To Orlando

J.J. Reddick Bucks
Just four minutes before Thursday's trade deadline, the Bucks finally made the move. Long rumored to be in talks with various teams throughout the league regarding a number of deals, Milwaukee general manager John Hammond announced late that night that they had agreed to terms with the Orlando Magic. Six players will be shifting rosters as a result of the agreement, three from each organization.

J.J. Redick, Gustavo Ayon, and Ish Smith will be suiting up for Milwaukee in return for Doron Lamb, Tobias Harris, and Beno Udrih, who will make their way to Orlando over the weekend. Lamb and Harris were not currently active on the Bucks roster, and Udrih has struggled recently off the bench as a backup guard.

The deal was a mutual success for both organizations, said Magic general manager Rob Hennigan. The first year manager told reporters following the official release that after deliberating for days about the deal, he and his staff decided that the young talent he would be receiving would fulfill what his squad was looking for in this time of rebuilding. Highlighting Lamb and Harris as rookies ready for a chance to play, Hennigan said that they would fit nicely into his plans to build the future Magic roster through the draft and more trades. He is also excited to have Udrih as a true backup to compliment veteran Jameer Nelson at point guard.

Hennigan did admit some hesitation, however. Parting ways with veteran fan favorite Redick was no throw-away matter, said the manager. Averaging a career high in points and goal percentage this season, the seventh-year guard seems to have yet to hit a peak. Though, in his final year of a nineteen-million dollar contract, and with no guarantee of resigning with Orlando, Hennigan would rather get something out of him than nothing.

Is Redick The Answer In Milwaukee?

Redick provides a major pickup for Milwaukee, but also some conundrums for the future. With his improvement this season, the twenty-nine year-old has seen his stature on the market increase significantly over years past. Hennigan cited that as a main concern about the guard's willingness to resign with the Magic, and Hammond will be equally as skeptical.

Unless Redick's progress slows or stops once in Milwaukee, come the off-season, a plethora of big-number contracts will comes his way. If Hammond wishes to retain him for 2014, he had better be prepared to take out his wallet. Despite those future concerns, Redick will likely stay with the Bucks for the remainder of this season.

Already, some critics are calling the move a potential playoff-maker for Milwaukee. With his numbers this season, Redick will add yet another threat in the Bucks back court, combining with the already dangerous duo of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Mike Dunleavy, the team's premier perimeter shot, will also benefit from the addition of Redick, who is shooting near forty-percent from beyond the arc. 

In addition to Redick, Milwaukee also picked up a duo of budding, though inexperienced, talent in Smith and Ayon. The pair are both in their second-years in the league, and have been used as trading-pawns during those seasons. And, while that trend likely won't stop in Milwaukee, both have been promising when they did find time on the court.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Who's On The Way Out, Ellis or Jennings?

Two of the Bucks highest profile players are the topic of a swath of trade rumors. Guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis have both been slotted as likely trades before the February twenty-first deadline by a number of media organizations, though each has denied the rumors and both have been adamant about their desire to stay in Milwaukee. 

Jennings, a fan favorite, and the Bucks poster boy, was named the second-most likely player to be traded before the twenty-first. Citing differences impossible to reconcile with the Bucks, even leading sports network ESPN agreed with that statement. Jennings, however, has refuted any of those alleged differences, instead telling reporters at a recent press conference that he would like to stay in Milwaukee past the deadline, especially as the team enters the All-Star Break with a moderate hold on the eighth playoff spot.

Jennings Parts Ways With Duffy

One thing that the twenty-three year old couldn't deny, however, were reports that he and agent Bill Duffy had parted ways. No word on reasons for the split have been revealed by either client nor agent, though rumors are abound that he has already replaced Duffy with Excel Sports Management founder Jeff Schwartz. The move to Schwartz has been a tell-tale sign for some critics of Jennings insistence on wishing to remain with the Bucks.

As with all professional athletes who are represented by an agent, it is plausible to assume that Duffy and his client were in talks with any interested party, as well as with the Bucks organization. Speculation has led many to believe that Duffy's inability to land a max-deal for the point guard over the past few months led to his dismissal, giving reason for Jennings to hire the recently named best agent in the sport, Schwartz.

As a final statement to increase the vagueness of his future home, the point guard ended a recent question and answer session by clearing his name of all responsibility. Claiming a desire to focus his mind on the court, Jennings told reporters that his agent would be the one making the final decision, leaving fans and the Bucks with another week of anxiety before finally knowing whether or not the team's most influential player will be back in uniform on the twenty-second. While his situation has not garnered the media attention of his fellow guard, Monta Ellis has taken a similar hands-off approach to his future in Milwaukee.

Able to relieve himself of his final contract year with the Bucks, the eight-year veteran told reporters this week that his agent and Bucks general manager John Hammond were in talks regarding a contract extension. Not looking to fall into the hype, however, Ellis also said that if there was just one thing he has learned from his near decade in the league, it would be that a trade isn't final until you finally put on that new jersey. Until then, says the guard, he is going to keep doing all that he can to get the Bucks into the postseason. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Brandon Jennings Misses NBA All Star Roster

Brandon Jennings NBA All Star Game
Last Thursday saw Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings hopes of making this year's All-Star roster end without fulfillment. Not named as one of the reserves at the position for the February 17 game, Jennings was happy to just have been in the running for the honorable invitation.

His card for an invite may have just been put back in the deck, however, as the fan-voted starter, the Celtics Rajon Rondo, recently fell victim to a season ending injury. A torn ACL on Sunday against Miami was revealed to be serious enough to sideline the veteran point guard for the remainder of the year. Either Kyle Irving of the Cavilers or the Seventy-Sixer's Jrue Holiday will take Rondo's place as starter, leaving an open reserve slot for the taking.

David Stern, the league's commissioner, will decide who gets a second look at traveling to Houston next month, and a favorites list has already been presented. Averaging nearly nineteen points per game, as well as seven rebounds and two blocks, Nets center Brook Lopez is the most qualified applicant to take the vacant bench-seat. Lopez was one of the most controversial exclusions from the initial All-Star roster, and, though he is a center, there is no requirement that Stern choose another guard to fill the spot.

Despite the lack of requirement to replace Rondo with another guard, there is a good amount of pressure on the commissioner to not go outside of the position with his decision. The promotion of either Irving or Holiday to the starting role will leave just a single guard on the bench, and there are a number of qualified players at the position to step-in.

Who Will Take The Reserve Point Guard Spot At All Star Game?

Jennings main competition for the open reserve spot hails out of New York. Beyond Lopez, Deron Williams has been a highlight for Brooklyn in 2013, and the Knicks J.R. Smith has also been impressive. Stern may have financial incentives to go with some East coast talent to fill the void, as both the Knicks and Nets are very popular on the marketability spectrum. Though, all the players being considered have put up similar stats.

Fellow Bucks guard Monta Ellis could also steal the chance away from Jennings, as he is also being considered. Should Jennings and Ellis, or any of the others, miss out on this second opportunity, there is a slim chance that yet a third could come their way. Chicago forward Luol Deng has missed five games with a hamstring injury, and his return date is still not certain. As the Bucks top scorer, Ellis would be the favorite among Milwaukee players to take over that possible reserve spot.