No Andrew Bogut until April at the earliest, highly speculative and tenuous playoff hopes, a Bogut-less Bucks fan base that needs those playoff hopes, no space under the salary cap next season and most of the necessary roster ingredients for a trade.
Stir it all together and you’ve got motive and opportunity for the Bucks to be party to a trade for veteran center Chris Kaman, who’s been publicly placed on the trading block by the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets reportedly want “draft picks, cap space and a young player” for the 29-year-old former All-Star (2010) and his expiring $14 million contract. The Celtics have already declined.
The Bucks have young players, draft picks and the expiring contracts of Ersan Ilyasova and Carlos Delfino, not enough to make the trade. (See Bucks salaries at Shamsports.com). But Stephen Jackson’s contract could get them there, if the Hornets are willing to take on Jack’s $10 million salary next season. Add Ilyasova, draft picks and/or the developing Darington Hobson, Larry Sanders et. al., and a trade could work.
The Hornets could do a lot worse. Ilyasova’s become one of the better rebounding forwards in the league and would be a good addition to the Hornets undersized front court, led by Emeka Okafor. It’s no secret that, while Ersan is a key member of the Bucks core, Bucks management hasn’t been willing to trust him with starting PF minutes. For all the good Ersan does on the court, at the end of the day he’s still standing in the way of Jon Leuer‘s development. Acquiring Kaman helps solve the Bucks defensive rebounding problems (yes, it’s still a problem) in the short term, and clears minutes for Leuer.
So while the Bucks are giving up the better rebounder (currently) and defender in Ilyasova, they would shore up the center position while clearing $14 million in cap space next season. And Jackson? The Hornets would be well under the cap next summer standing pat, and adding Jackson would still leave them Room. They’d only have to pay Jack a year (or less if they trade him). And, as the Bucks have discovered this season, Jack’s a good guy to have around in spite of all the angry yapping.
So why don’t the Bucks keep him? Delfino and Mike Dunleavy, jr. play more or less the same position as Jack, and Luc Mbah a Moute needs small forward/guard minutes, too (locking down on Joe Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Lebron James, Danny Granger, Carmelo Anthony, to name a few). Jack’s fairly expendable, and the Bucks play just fine without him.
Kaman fits in well in the Bucks scheme, and he’s a more reliable offensive player than Bogut. Kaman helps get the Bucks to the post-season, where the Bucks would have Bogues, too (in theory) and a formidable white behemoth front court.
So would the NBA-owned Hornets sting on this trade? With the league office involved, it’s not clear that the Bucks have the right expiring contracts for a trade, but there are a lot worse contracts out there than Jackson’s (Drew Gooden’s comes to mind). A trade would likely depend on the young players, whether the Hornets want to keep Ilyasova, and the value of the draft picks involved.
It also depends on Bucks GM John Hammond, never one to stand pat or worry about stability or player development.
Of course, it’s also likely that I’m just talking myself into it so I can post crazy Chris Kaman photos.