Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bucks trade Bogut & Jackson to Warriors for Ellis

Multiple national media outlets are crediting the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel with breaking the news that the Milwaukee Bucks traded Andrew Bogut (C) and Stephen Jackson (SG/SF) to the Golden State Warriors for Monte Ellis (SG), Ekpe Udoh (PF), and Kwame Brown (C).

For the last three years I gave Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond my advice about how to approach the NBA Trade Deadline: 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Monte Ellis was actually a guy that I targeted for the Bucks in 2010 when I suggested that the Bucks trade the expiring contracts of Joe Alexander (SF), Kurt Thomas (PF), and Luke Ridnour (PG) to the Warriors for Monta Ellis (SG) and Anthony Randolph (PF). Obviously I suggested that deal in 2010 to give the Warriors salary cap relief.

Last week I dedicated an entire blog post to seeing how the Milwaukee Bucks could dump Stephen Jackson. One of the trades I proposed was for the the Bucks to trade Jackson and Bogut to the Detroit Pistons for Ben Gordon (SG), Charlie Villanueva (SF), and Greg Monroe (C).

Long term I would much rather have Monroe than Ellis. It is a tougher call whether I would rather have Gordon, Monroe, and Villanueva or Brown, Ellis, and Udoh. Unfortunately I would probably rather have Monroe et al. than Ellis et al. but since the Bucks got Ellis et al. let's look at that deal.

The financial commitments now facing the Warriors:
- Bogut makes $12.1 million this year, $13.2 million in 2012-13, and $14.2 million in 2013-14
- Jackson makes $9.3 million this year and $10.1 million in 2012-13

The financial commitments now facing the Bucks:
- Ellis makes $11 million this year, $11 million in 2012-13, and holds a $11 million player option in 2013-14
- Udoh makes $3.3 million this year, $3.5 million in 2012-13, $4.5 million team option in 2013-14, and $6 million qualifying offer in 2014-15
- Brown makes $7 million this year

The Bucks gained a ton of financial flexibility since Ellis can opt-out after the 2012-13 season and the Bucks can decline their team option on Udoh for the 2013-14 season. Add in that there is a rumored 15% trade kicker in Bogut's contract and this trade starts to look like a financial train wreck for the Warriors. The Bucks clearly got the better financial end of this deal.

Finances aside, this trade is going to be judged by whether Bogut or Ellis has a more success NBA career. Both players were drafted in the 2005 NBA Draft. Bogut was the 1st pick in the draft while Ellis was the 40th pick in the draft.

I will still never forget the night the Bucks won the right to draft Bogut. The ping-pong balls fell the right way and the Bucks had to choose between Bogut and Marvin Williams.

Many will remember that Deron Williams went 3rd to the Utah Jazz and Chris Paul went 4th to the L.A. Clippers. The Atlanta Hawks had the 2nd pick in the 2005 NBA Draft and were clearly going to draft Bogut or Marvin Williams depending on what the Bucks did with the first pick.

Obviously the Bucks and Hawks are kicking themselves for passing on Deron Williams and Chris Paul with the Hawks looking much more foolish than the Bucks. At least the Bucks thought they were drafting a franchise center, a rare commodity in the NBA while there are tons of players in the NBA with the same game as Marvin Williams. Ironically of the top four picks in the 2005 NBA Draft the worst of the four players is Marvin Williams yet he is the only player left on the team that drafted him.

It's hard to compare shooting guards and centers but over seven injury riddled seasons Bogut averaged 12.7 points and 9.3 rebounds. Over seven similarly injury riddled seasons Ellis averaged 19.6 points and 4.4 assists.

When Bogut suffered a horrific injury at the end of the 2009-10 regular season there some talk that Bogut would never be the same player. Bogut slowly returned to form last season and looked poised for a big year until he suffered another potential season ending injury. When you isolate each injury that Bogut suffered they seem like freak accidents but at some point when they keep happening to the same person on the basketball court, that player is injury prone. Ellis has battled his own injury problems but the Bucks are gambling that Ellis will be healthier over the next few season than Bogut, which seems like a fairly safe bet at this point.

It will be interesting to see how the always defensive minded Milwaukee Bucks head coach Scott Skiles deals with an offense first and defense last shooting guard like Monta Ellis. My bet is that Skiles either gets Ellis to play at least a little bit of defense or both Ellis and Skiles are working for someone other than the Bucks in a few years.

The Bucks also also got an actual center in the trade, Kwame Brown. Whether the Bucks can get anything out of Brown remains to be seen but they will need some production out of Brown because besides him, the Bucks have a ton of tweener big men (Jon Brockman, Drew Gooden, Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders, and Ekpe Udoh) on the roster.

Udoh is the other player the Bucks acquired from the Warriors. While Ellis is a shoot first, defend second player. Udoh looks like exact opposite type of player, which make him a very valuable asset.

Barring another trade or injury with the combo of Brandon Jennings at point guard and Monta Ellis at shooting guard through at least the 2012-13 season, the Bucks might have the most exciting back court in Eastern Conference.

Up until this trade I was pulling for the Bucks to tank the season to get a high draft pick. writer John Hollinger claims this trade gives the Bucks +4 wins and the Warriors -9 wins. I want to see how the new squad plays for a few games before passing judgment.

The Milwaukee Bucks were able to grab the headline right as NFL Free Agency opened and the NFL announced that Green Bay Packers defensive end Michael Neal will be suspended for the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Bucks fans will most likely get to see their new pieces in action this Friday when the Bucks visit the Golden State Warriors.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

2012 Free Agent Shopping Guide for Ted Thompson

The Green Bay Packers follow a similar blueprint for other successful NFL franchise by building through the draft and sitting on the sidelines for free agency. This is mostly academic because my shopping guides have been ignored in the past. It wouldn't be that fun if I just posted the last sentence and said check back for my draft coverage in a month though so I am going to push on.

The Packers are set at a number of positions (QB, WR, TE, T, and MLB) so I am going to focus my advice for Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson on other positions. Trust me, I know the chances of Thompson signing any of the players below are equal to the chance I have of leveraging this blog into a job running a professional sports team but I still hope you enjoy my 2012 Free Agent Shopping Guide for Ted Thompson:

#25 - Terrell Thomas (CB, 6'0", 191 lbs, 27 years old): There is .0001% chance that Thompson signs a borderline starter that is coming off a serious injury. The only reason I added Thomas to the list is that he might bring some of the secrets for why the Giants have dominated the Packers in the playoffs at Lambeau Field.

#24 - Nick Hardwick (C, 6'4", 305 lbs, 30 years old): Since Thompson didn't follow my advice to sign Wells there is going to be a bunch of centers on this list. Hardwick is an upper echelon center in the NFL but his age hurts his case. If Hardwick were a few years younger he would have already signed a lucrative extension with the Chargers though.

#23 - Mark Anderson (DE/OLB, 6'4", 255 lbs, 28 years old): Last year Anderson had a career renaissance as a pass rusher for the New England Patriots. After an impressive rookie season in 2006 when he registered 12 sacks, who would have thought it would take till 2011 for Anderson to registered another double digit sack season. It's hard to tell whether Anderson is going to post a bunch of sacks every five years or whether he is turning into a legitimate pass rushing threat. As always I think Anderson is somewhere in between but clearly an upgrade at the outside linebacker spot opposite Claymaker.

#22 - Israel Idonije (DE, 6'6", 275 lbs, 31 years old): This marks two former Bears in a row. It pains me to talk up one, let alone two former Bears but either Anderson or Idonije would clearly be an upgrade for the Packers.

#21 - Matt Birk (C, 6'4", 310 lbs, 35 years old): Despite being a former Viking (before playing for the Ravens) and being old, I am very happy to put Birk on the list because he is the current recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. After hearing Birk's acceptance speech, I blocked out that Birk is 35 years old. Don't get me wrong, I would much rather have Wells on the roster than Birk in 2012 but if Wells leaves via free agency then Birk would be a fine stop gap starer for the Packers in 2012.

#20 - Andre Carter (DE/OLB, 6'4", 255 lbs, 32 years old): Much like Anderson, Carter had a career renaissance with the New England Patriots in 2011. If Thompson didn't want to keep Cullen Jenkins last year the odds of him signing Carter are slim but much like Birk, signing Carter for one year seems worth it to me.

#19 - Samson Satele (C, 6'3", 300 lbs, 27 years old): I know I am starting to sound like a broken record but if the Packers are going to let Wells leave via free agency then adding a guy like Satele would be a younger, more cost-effective version of Wells. Let me be clear, I would rather have Wells than Satele in 2012 but I am not sure if that is the case in 2014.

#18 - Manny Lawson (OLB, 6'5", 240 lbs, 27 years old): Thanks to playing Madden with my buddy Sug I have a Madden Crush on Lawson. Although Lawson's purported skills according to Madden have rarely been backed-up on the field, I am still a huge Lawson supporter.

#17 - Jeremy Mincey (DE, 6'3", 270 lbs, 28 years old): Since the Packers let Aaron Kampman leave via free agency to sign with the Jaguars, may be its time to return the favor. Unfortunately if the Jags are returning the exact favor they got when they signed Kampman then Mincey would struggle through a handful of injury riddle seasons. Even I am getting confused now, let's just move on.

#16 - Aubrayo Franklin (DT, 6'1", 317 lbs, 31 years old) & Shaun Rogers (DT, 6' 4", 350 lbs, 32 years old): Let's call this the Old Man Bounty Special. I would be downright shocked if Thompson considered either of these older defensive tackles but they both could be a decent upgrade from Howard Green at a slightly higher price.

#15 - Reggie Nelson (S, 5'11", 206 lbs, 28 years old): When the Packers took Justin Harrell 16th in the 2007 NFL Draft I had a huge draft crush on Darrelle Revis and Reggie Nelson. Revis went before the Packers picked and Nelson turned out to be better than Harrell but not the stud safety I thought he would be. I know that doesn't sound like glowing praise for Nelson but the Packers could use a guy like Nelson with the uncertainty surrounding the safety position.

#14 - Luis Castillo (DE/DT, 6'3", 290 lbs, 28 years old): Injury problems make this a long-shot at best but when healthy, Castillo is one of the better combo 3-4 defensive lineman in the entire NFL. Please re-read that sentence. Yes, Castillo is injury prone but with the lack of quality depth the Packers have along the defensive line he seems like the perfect guy to take a risk on.

#13 - Jarret Johnson (OLB, 6'3", 260 lbs, 30 years old): Might be overvalued because he played on the impressive Baltimore Ravens defense but any legitimate presence opposite Claymaker at outside linebacker is poised for a big year.

#12 - Kendall Langford (DE, 6'6", 295 lbs, 26 years old): Miami is moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 so since Langford is a perfect fit at defensive end in a 3-4, the Packers should get on the horn ASAP because Lanford will be a hot commodity.

#11 - Red Bryant (DT, 6'4", 323 lbs, 27 years old): After being a part-time player for his first three years in Seattle, Bryant appeared in every game last season. Although Bryant has never put up a ton of stats but he has a big body that can plug up the middle of the defensive line.

#10 - Chris Myers (C, 6'4", 289 lbs, 30 years old): Thompson reportedly already kicked the tires on Myers despite the fact the he is still under contract with the Texans till March 13th. Much like all the other centers mentioned so far, I would rather the Packers just resign Wells but with only a few days left before free agency it looks like both sides are too far apart so Meyers would be a taller version of Wells with a ton of experience anchoring a zone-blocking offensive line so he is arguably the next best option besides Wells.

#9 - Jason Jones (DE/DT, 6'5", 276 lbs, 25 years old): Although Jones never put up huge stats, he looks like a big combo defensive lineman that is poised for a huge breakout. The odds are that Jones stays in Seattle with former Green Bay Packer front office member John Schneider but if there is any chance the Packers can prying Jones out of Seattle, they should do everything in their power to sign Jones.

#8 - LaRon Landry (S, 6'0", 220 lbs, 27 years old): Call this the Expensive Nick Collins Insurance Policy. Landry is dealing with his own injury problems but they are not of the career threatening variety that Collins is facing. If Collins is healthy, the Packers would be set at safety with Burnett, Collins, Jennings, and Peprah. If Collins is forced to retire because of a neck injury then "should Woodson move to safety" speculation would kick into high gear. All of that would be muted if the Packers added a guy like Landry to the roster.

#7 - Paul Soliai (DT, 6'4", 355 lbs, 28 years old): 6'4", 355 lbs. After foolishly letting Cullen Jenkins leave via free agency, making a run at Soliai would give Thompson a mulligan on that poor decision. Add in that Soliai is only 28 and Thompson would not be overpaying for an older guy.

#6 - Michael Bush (RB, 6'1", 245 lbs, 27 years old): With how little the Packers run the ball, adding a potentially expensive free agent running back seems silly but Bush is just the big, punishing running back the Packers need to add to the young three headed running back monster of Alex Green, Brandon Saine, and James Starks.

#5 - Cortland Finnegan (CB, 5'10", 188 lbs, 28 years old): Will never be mentioned in the same breath as Revis but signing Finnegan would give the Packers a ton of options in the secondary. If Nick Collins is forced to retire, adding Finnegan would allow the Packers to move Woodson to safety. If Collins returns healthy, Finnegan would lock down one side of the field while allowing Sam Shields to mature as the 4th cornerback instead of having to play almost every snap as the 3rd cornerback since the Packers play Nickel on roughly 2/3rds of their defensive snaps.

#4 - Kamerion Wimbley (OLB, 6'4", 255 lbs, 28 years old): Although Wimbley is technically still a member of the Oakland Raiders, former Packer front office member Reggie McKenzie has been cleaning house since he took over as general manager. Wimbley has a huge cap number for 2012 so he looks like the next potential salary cap casualty in Oakland. Much like Lawson discussed above I have had a huge outside linebacker crush on Wimbley for years because of his outlandish Madden ratings (speed, agility, acceleration, etc). In fact, if the Packers sign Wimbley I promise to buy a Wimbley jersey (kids XL as always) once Nike releases their new jerseys.

#3 - Brandon Carr (CB, 6'0", 207 lbs, 25 years old): As I've said many times, the odds of Thompson signing any free agents is slim but I view Carr as the best potential free agent not named Carl Nicks or Mario Williams so landing Carr would force Thompson to break the bank. Carr's potential former employer (Kansas City Chiefs) have a ton of cap space so if they let Carr walk without trying to re-sign him that is a bit of a red flag, especially since the Chiefs are run by a well respected general manger (Scott Pioli).

#2 - Carl Nicks (G, 6'5", 343 lbs, 27 years old): In the early 2000's the left tackle became the new sexy position. With the influx of dominate defensive tackles (i.e. Ngata and Suh), the need for bigger guards has become the new sexy position. The Packers seem set at guard with T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton but Sitton regressed last year after signing an extension and Lang is set to become a free agent after the season. Nicks is a very large man but still very agile for his size, which makes him the perfect antidote to dominate defensive tackles. Add in that Nicks is only 27-years old and the Packers would not be paying an over the hill guard for past performance, they would be adding a building block to their roster for the next five to seven years. If the Packers do in fact lose Scott Wells to free agency, moving Lang to center and slotting Nicks at left guard makes a ton of sense to me.

#1 - Mario Williams (DE/OLB, 6'6", 283 lbs, 27 years old): Most people argue that Super Mario's best position is at defensive end in a 4-3 as opposed to outside linebacker in a 3-4 but since the Packers play mostly Nickel anyhow the versatility of Super Mario would be utilized at both defensive end and rush outside linebacker. The only reservation most teams are having is that Super Mario is recovering from a season ending torn pectoral injury. In a weird way I actually look at the injury as a positive because if Super Mario played an entire season as a rush outside linebacker in the new 3-4 defense installed by Wade Phillips last year for the Texans, there is no way he would be a free agent. Super Mario has 53 sacks and is only 27-years old so he has a few more years of improving until he starts to decline in his early 30's. Add in that Claymaker was double teamed on almost every play last year and signing Super Mario would have such a positive waterfall effect on the entire defense. There is a 5% chance that signing Super Mario turns into Joe Johnson 2.0 while there is a 95% chance that signing Super Mario tuns into Reggie White/Charles Woodson 2.0 so open the check book TT.

If any of the players mentioned above actually play for the 2012 Green Bay Packers I would be absolutely shocked but we can always hope.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

2012 NBA Trade Deadline Advice for John Hammond

Usually I dissect the entire Milwaukee Bucks roster like a surgeon right before the NBA Trade Deadline (see 2010 & 2011) but my disdain for the 2011-12 Milwaukee Bucks is at an all-time high so I am going to forgo looking at the entire roster and focus on one man, Stephen Jackson.

When the Bucks traded for Jackson before the 2011 NBA Draft, I foolishly thought Jackson would be just the scoring threat the Bucks needed. Despite having tons of evidence to the contrary, I thought Jackson might be able to turn over a new leaf in Milwaukee. Anyone who has followed the 2011-12 Milwaukee Bucks knows that I was dead wrong. As usual, Jackson wore out his welcome in Milwaukee and become a locker room cancer, which forced me to write this "Dump Stephen Jackson" post.

We can all agree that Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond needs to do everything humanly possible to trade Jackson before the 2012 NBA Trade Deadline on Thursday, March 15, 2012. As a courtesy to all 14 people that currently comprise the entire Milwaukee Bucks fan base, I worked ESPN's NBA Trade Machine to come up with these five Stephen Jackson trades:

#5) Bucks trade Stephen Jackson (SG/SF) & Andrew Bogut (C) to the Detroit Pistons for Ben Gordon (SG), Charlie Villanueva (SF), & Greg Monroe (C):
Andrew Bogut's health problems makes this trade nearly impossible, especially when you add in that Greg Monroe will be the best NBA center in the Eastern Conference sooner rather than later with Dwight Howard most likely moving to the Western Conference next season. Much like John Hammond making the best out of a horrible situation that he created, Detroit Pistons general manager Joe Dumars would be dumping two horrible free agents that he recently signed (Gordon & Villanueva) along with a potential franchise center for a volatile shooting guard and an injured center. Dumars has to pay a slightly higher tax than Hammond in this trade so the Bucks could throw in a Top-5 protected first round pick. Both general mangers would botch the pick anyhow so if a pick that will most likely amount to nothing is all Dumars needs, add in a draft pick Hammond. Who am I kidding, even a bad general manager like Dumars is not dumb enough to say yes to this deal.

#4) Bucks trade Stephen Jackson (SG/SF) & Mike Dunleavy Jr. (SG/SF) to DAVID STERN the New Orleans Hornets for Chris Kaman (C):
NBA Commissioner David Stern notoriously rejected a much more favorable trade for the Hornets so the odds of this trade going through are very slim. Just like the last trade, the Bucks should throw in their first round pick next year if that is what David Stern needs to get this deal done. Based on who the Bucks drafted in the first round since John Hammond took over as general manager of the Milwaukee (Joe Alexander in 2008, Brandon Jennings in 2009, Larry Sanders in 2010, and Tobias Harris in 2011) there is a 50% chance Hammond will mess up the pick anyhow.

#3) Bucks trade Stephen Jackson (SG/SF) to the New Jersey Nets for Mehmet Okur (C):
For some unknown reason Dwight Howard wants, read that again, wants to play with Stephen Jackson. Call this the Pandering to Dwight Howard Special, which is really the only way the Nets can justify this trade. If the Nets don't get Howard before the trade deadline (looking less likely since Brook Lopez went down with an injury that will keep him out past the NBA Trade Deadline) Deron Williams will most likely leave the Nets this summer via free agency so the Nets need to do everything in their power to get Howard to appease Williams. If not, the Nets are going to move into their new arena in Brooklyn with Brook Lopez as their biggest star...yikes. The Magic need to realize that Dwight Howard is playing home games somewhere other than Orlando next year so they should get something for Howard instead of letting him walk away for nothing. Howard leaving Orlando will not be quite as bad as Shaq leaving Orlando or LeBron leaving Cleveland but it will be close. If Howard wanting to play with Jackson is befuddling, even more of a head scratcher is that apparently Howard would rather play for the Lakers, Mavericks, or Nets instead of teaming up with Derrick Rose for the next five years in Chicago. There are rumors that Howard and Deron Williams are both going to sign with the Mavericks next year. If that happens, I am fine with Howard not wanting to go to the Bulls. If not, Howard & Turkoglu's carcass for Noah & Deng is about as good as the Magic are going to get for Howard.

#2) Bucks trade Stephen Jackson (SG/SF) & Beno Udrih (PG/SG) to the New York Knicks for Amare Stoudemire (PF):
Before the 2002 NBA Draft I had a huge draft crush on Amare that was never fulfilled when he went 9th overall to the Phoenix Suns. To make matters worse the Bucks drafted Marcus Haslip with the 13th pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. Ten years later this trade finally fulfills my 2002 NBA Draft dreams. Quick side note, I was lucky enough to see a game at Madison Square Garden for the first time in my life when I was in New York at the end of January. Keep in mind this was pre-Linsanity. After watching the Knicks that night I realized they are an NBA team where the sum is worth less than their parts. Camerlo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler are impressive NBA players but do not fit together on the same team. Since the Knicks foolishly already used the amnesty clause on Chauncey Billups, they are freaked out about having Amare's uninsured contract on their books through the 2014-15 season so this trade gives the Knicks some much need salary relief for the 2013-14 NBA season via the Stephen Jackson tax. If playing home games at Madison Square Garden in the middle of Linsanity can't get Jackson excited, he is officially a lost cause.

#1) Bucks trade Brandon Jennings (PG) & Stephen Jackson (SG/SF) to the Boston Celtics for Rajon Rondo (PG):
As crazy as this sounds, according to very well connected leagues sources, the Celtics are actively trying to trade Rondo. Right now Rondo is perceived as a much better player than Jennings but let's not forget that Rondo plays with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. Reports are that Rondo is a locker room cancer even with all those strong willed players in the locker room. What happens when those guys are no longer on the roster? Juxtapose that with what Jennings is doing with a rag-tag team compared to Rondo with a stacked team and I predict in a few years Jennings might actually be a better NBA player than Rondo. In order to get Jennings on the cheap for a few years, the Celtics have to pay the Stephen Jackson tax. Plus may be Jackson playing with Kevin Garnett will give him the kick in the arse that he needs.

My guess is that the other team in each of the trades proposed would laugh at John Hammond if he even floated any of the deals outline above but offering potentially laughable Stephen Jackson related trades is honestly the only fun thing about the Milwaukee Bucks right now.