That left one game before the all-star break, a home game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bucks barely beat the 76ers 94-92 to put themselves four games ahead of the 76ers for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Restricted free agent to be Brandon Jennings changed agents recently sparking rumors that he is trying to force his way out of Milwaukee. Jennings quashed those rumors after the win over the 76ers but take that with a grain of salt because else was Jennings supposed to say? Keep in mind, since Jennings is a restricted free agent after this season, the Bucks have the option to match any offer Jennings receives. Unless a team can come up with a particularly onerous offer sheet, the Bucks have to match any offer to keep Jennings long-term if they don't trade him before the trade deadline this season.
Thankfully Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hannond traded Stephen Jackson last season along with Andrew Bogut to the Golden State Warriors for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh, and Kwame Brown so I do not have to devote my entire trade deadline advice post for Hammond for how to move a radioactive player like Jackson like I had to last season. In the past (see 2010 & 2011) I dissected the entire Milwaukee Bucks roster like a highly skilled surgeon before I gave my five favorite reasonable fake trade ideas for Hammond. Since I recently updated my rankings of the entire roster, I am going to skip that primer.
Despite being barely over .500 with a record of 26-25 at the all-star break, the Bucks are only five games back of the 3 seed with no one in the Eastern Conference separating themselves from the pack besides the Miami Heat. There have been rumors swirling that everyone on the roster besides Larry Sanders is available. The trade rumors I've read mainly surround getting J.J. Redick (makes no sense because he is a free agent this off-season) or trade young assets (i.e. John Henson or Tobias Harris) for another veteran complimentary piece. Those are not the type of middling deals the Bucks need to make at the trade deadline. The Bucks need to swing for the fences to try to land a Top 25 (or at least someone with the legitimate potential to become a Top 25) player so they can build long-term around Brandon Jennings, Larry Sanders, and the player they get at the trade deadline.
With the 2013 NBA Trade Deadline (Thursday, February 21st at 2:00 PM CST) rapidly approaching, here are my favorite trades (least favorite to most favorite) that I put together with an assist from ESPN's NBA Trade Machine:
#5) Milwaukee Bucks trade Marquis Daniels (SF) Doron Lamb (SG) to the Washington Wizards for Jordan Crawford (SG):
For the rest of the trades, I am going to show you my thought process for getting to the final trade by including some of the initial offers that helped me formulate the final trade I would hope the Bucks could pull off with each team.
#4) Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets:
Grantland.com always churns out great work but their coverage of White has taken it to another level. Over the last year they filmed a documentary of his draft day experience as well as an in-depth piece recently by the always entertaining Chuck Klosterman. There is almost zero chance that the Houston Rockets would give up so quickly on a guy like White, despite the fact he has never played in an NBA game, especially with how much they've tried to cater to White's needs. I know offering the same package that I fake offered to the Wizards (Daniels and Lamb) for Crawford will not be enough to get White back to the Midwest.
Grantland.com pieces, he needs to get back to the Midwest to recapture some of the magic he created at Iowa State thanks, at least in part, to his coach Fred Hoiberg (for continuity purposes, let's look past his troubled stint at Minnesota before going to Iowa State). If the Bucks acquire White, make sure Hoiberg is hired as Jim Boylan's (or whoever is head coach of the 2013-14 Milwaukee Bucks) head assistant coach next season and work with White on his aversion of flying.
#3) Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors:
#2) Milwaukee Bucks and New Orleans Hornets:
If this deal went through, it would mean that the Bucks turned Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson into Eric Gordon and Ekpe Udoh. Not sure that is a great return given that Bogut, when healthy, is a force on both ends of the floor. The same cannot be said for any of the other three guys. The problem is that
David Stern New Orleans gave up Chris Paul to get Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman and the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2012 first-round draft pick, which turned out to be the the 10th pick that New Orleans used to draft Austin Rivers. Given all of Gordon's injury issues, only getting Aminu, Ellis, and Rivers for Paul looks like a horrible trade.
#1) Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers:
I would be shocked if the Bucks made any of the aforementioned trades but stay tuned if the Bucks make any moves because I will have a full breakdown. Finally, I am going to the Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field with Dre, Nick, Sug, and Tessa so check back Sunday for my extended thoughts on seeing Notre Dame v. Miami of Ohio and Wisconsin v. Minnesota.