Michael Redd will return to the Bucks Monday, after All-Star weekend. By all accounts, he won’t play right away, but will work to get himself “in a position” where he could possibly play.
Redd’s in the final year of a contract that pays him $18.3 million this season, more than Carmelo Anthony, more than anybody on the Celtics not named Kevin Garnett, more than anybody on the Lakers not named Kobe Bryant.
This makes Redd very valuable to any team looking to cut costs next season, including the Bucks, who could use some payroll breathing room after last summer’s flurry of contract activity (Drew Gooden, John Salmons, Keyon Dooling).
Nobody in Milwaukee media has bothered to ask GM John Hammond, with the trade deadline eight days away, whether a trade is a possibility. Those questions will surely arise once Redd is back in camp.
Currently, the Bucks insurance is reimbursing the team 80 percent of the cost of the contract, due to Redd’s long rehabilitation from a second knee surgery.
$18.3 million! For Michael Redd? It’s insane, but there was very little the Bucks could do to avoid it back in 2005 when the deal was struck. Such are the NBA economics that spun out of control in the last decade, as teams wrote ridiculous agreements with All-Star players such as Redd, Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas, not so much because they were forced to, but because the ethos of the league and the setup of the league’s collective bargaining agreement said that superstars bring in the fans, and that every team should have one — a superstar, that is, not a fan (even the Clippers had a fan or two before Blake Griffin). Even very good, borderline All-Star players such as Richard Jefferson got similar deals (RJ’s still working off his final year down in San Antonio).
The justification for Redd’s contract points most directly to the five-year, $85 million contract that Ray Allen signed with the SuperSonics in the summer of 2005. Redd, of course, was effectively replacing Allen as the Bucks star shooting guard and had been an All-Star in 2004. The Bucks:
1) Didn’t want to lose Redd in free agency. He had courted some interest (about 5-yr/$70 million) from the Cavaliers, on the hunt for a second scoring option after Lebron James; and
2) Wanted to reward Redd with a contract comparable to Allen’s $17 million per season deal. The market dictated that Redd should not be paid quite at Allen’s level, so the Bucks basically made a 5-year, $14.5 million per year offer (exceeding what the Cavs were able to offer over five years) and tacked on the outrageous sixth year “player option” to exceed the total of Allen’s contract.
Was the sixth year necessary? Probably not, but five-six year agreements with the final year an option for players were in vogue back then, and, well, nobody in the Bucks organization wanted to see Redd suit up alongside Lebron James, unless it was for an All-Star game.
So here we are, the 2011 trade deadline fast approaching, the Bucks needing a shot in the arm and Redd (probably) nowhere near playing shape.
This may be little more than an insurance check to upgrade Redd’s status and handle the legalities of his sunsetting disability status. It may mean the Bucks have brought him back into the news to draw trade interest. It may mean that Redd has rehabbed his way into shape to play. It almost certainly means that Redd doesn’t want his career to end, and wants to show the NBA that he can play next season.
On Monday, the elephant returns to the Bucks locker room.
(Special thanks to Bucks fan Sidney Lanier, the originator of the altered New Yorker artwork above).