Tag Archives: Joe Smith

Mo Williams trade: Cavaliers get their shooter – but how did the Bucks do?

Photo Illustration: Jeremy Jannene

Mo blows town for ClevelandMo Williams had to be one happy-go-shooting point guard Wednesday after the Bucks, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City finalized a trade that sent Mo to the Cavs and brought point guard Luke Ridnour from OK City to the Bucks.

To make the trade happen, the Bucks sent forward Desmond Mason to OK City and accepted the final year of former Buck Damon Jones‘ contract at $4.5 million.

Also coming to Milwaukee is 34-year-old journeyman forward Adrian Griffin from OK City (still nameless out of Seattle). In addition to Mason, OK City receives Cavs forward-center Joe Smith, a Bucks fan favorite (2003-06) many had hoped would be coming back to Milwaukee in this trade.

Why is Mo happy? The Bucks best shooter last season leaves a lottery team where his growth as an offensive player caused rifts, and goes to a title-contending team where pushing the ball and shooting jumpshots will be a big part of his job description playing with Lebron James.

That the Bucks had to add more than Mo into this trade (Mason) and take Jones off the Cavs hands was no surprise.(See yesterday’s post). The Cavs had balked at taking on Mo’s 5-year $43 million contract and $8.35M salary, and needed more incentive. This trade had to get bigger in order to happen, and Bucks GM John Hammond stepped up to absorb the messy side of it, all but guaranteeing that the Bucks would be viewed as the team that got the worst end of this deal.

BUCKS:  The fact that Hammond was willing give up Mason while taking Jones’ contract shouldn’t be interpreted as a statement that coach Scott Skiles thinks Luke Ridnour is his answer at point guard. It is, however, a statement that Hammond and Skiles could not foresee moving forward with Mo. It also says fairly loudly that Mason, never the type of game-changing small forward who delivers wins, was expendable on the Richard Jefferson Bucks. Bucks GM Hammond didn’t say much in the official Bucks press release, but offered this comment to JSOnline’s Charles Gardner when it was suggested that the Lebron-Mo combo could be explosive:

“At the end of the day, you have to evaluate your own situation,” Hammond said. “Does it help us, first and foremost? The evaluation was that it did.”

How does it help the Bucks?: Gardner didn’t ask but I’ll fill in. 

1) The trade removes a potential headache in Mo. This is not a criticism of Mo as much as it is a recognition of bad blood that exists on the Bucks roster from previous losing seasons. It was apparent at the games that Mo no longer had much tolerance for “the Michael Redd show” and invested part of his final season as a Buck in proving to anyone who cared that he was just as prolific a scorer as Redd. Bucks fans have seen quite enough of the Mo-Redd backcourt, and Hammond and Skiles were wise not to reboot it for one more run. In Brewhoop’s estimation, Mo was “the odd man out” when it became clear that Redd was staying after the Jefferson trade.

2) The trade relieves the Bucks of Mo’s 5-year, $43 million contract. Ridnour is a two-year, $13M commitment.  In trading Mason and Mo, the Bucks cleared out about $14.3M in salary while taking in $12.7M – an immediate $1.6M more in wiggle room under the luxury tax limit, most of which they used to sign Francisco Elson the day of the Mo trade. The Bucks remain about $2M under the luxury tax limit and could free up another $1.7M by cutting Griffin, whose salary is not guaranteed. Next year the Bucks will save $2.36M (the difference between Mo and Ridnour’s salaries) but the big benefit comes in 2010, when Ridnour’s contract expires and the $9.3M Mo is set to be paid becomes free and clear — giving the Bucks some room to grow.

3) Acquiring the 27-year-old Ridnour, a point guard in Scott Skiles’ image, takes Ramon Sessions out of the fire next season. Sessions, 22, is a focus of Bucks development but has only seven starts under his belt and may need some more time to grow into the starting point guard position. He may not need more time, but that’s something for Skiles to sort out in preseason, knowing that he has Ridnour at his disposal and veteran Tyrone Lue behind them. And Jones, if he’s allowed to suit up.

4) Ridnour could find an NBA rebirth of sorts in Milwaukee; and in Skiles, he couldn’t ask for a better point guard coach. He’s not a player Bucks fans have had much of a chance to see (Seattle’s national NBA profile having been about as high as Milwaukee’s) but Ridnour thrived early in his career as Ray Allen’s backcourt mate. He started his second season in the league, as the Sonics won the Northwest Division and routed Sacremento from the playoffs before falling to the eventual champs, the Spurs. Ridnour averaged 11.5 pts, 7 asts that year, and drew comparisons to “a young Steve Nash.”  But Ridnour lost his starting job to Earl Watson in his fourth year, and last season played 20 minutes per game in a backup role. He was the small (his 6′ 2″ listing is generous), flashy point guard Sonics fans loved but knew wasn’t good enough, or something like that.

Ridnour is a member of the 2006-08 Olympic Senior Men’s Basketball program (33 players) and last summer Seattle tried to trade him to Atlanta for the #11 draft pick but the deal fell through (the Hawks eventually traded for Mike Bibby). He reminds me of a smaller version of Scott Skiles, who became an effective NBA point guard with Shaq in Orlando. Ridnour does like to pass and he’s fun to watch, even when he’s falling down trying to guard Toronto’s Jose Calderon (see yesterday’s post).

Today we have MiniShaQ’s mix, “Lucky Luke Ridnour: Future of the Sonics” … the “young Steve Nash” interview is at the end.

A couple of other notes: I don’t know, obviously, what the roster plans are for Damon Jones or Adrian Griffin. I assume Jones won’t be on the active 12-man roster (barring injury, how he could he be with three point guards already on the roster?) and may be further removed still. Trading Jones, however, may be next to impossible.

With Griffin, it’s more difficult to say. The Bucks could send 2nd round draft pick Luc Mbah a Moute to the D-League (and/or Joe Alexander if he struggles) and Griffin could fill a stopgap reserve role at small forward. If they release Griffin, however, the Bucks would have $1.7M more to play with under the luxury tax limit should another trade come along or if free agent help is needed.

Whatever pans out with the Bucks new forward, you should read shamsports Adrian Griffin player bio.

Mo Williams trade brewing (and stalling) with Cleveland and Oklahoma City… Luke Ridnour VIDEO hour

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ quest for backcourt help for Lebron James continues … With Michael Redd apparently unavailable for the time being, Cavs GM Danny Ferry has set his sights on Bucks point guard Mo Williams, first reported Sunday in the News-Herald of Northern Ohio, a Cleveland area daily.

The Cavs want scoring, and that’s our Mo. He was one of the top shooters in the NBA last season, 2nd only to Utah’s Kyle Korver in 2-point jumpshooting with a .508 percentage (Korver, Mo and 2-time MVP Steve Nash were the only players in the NBA above 50%). Mo led the Bucks in three-point shooting (38.5%) and free throw shooting (85.6%), averaging 17.2 pts, 6.3 asts per game.

Yet while Mo was the Bucks best shooter last season, he leaves a lot to be desired as a floor general and playmaker — and he’s terrible defender with a five-year, $43M contract. This doesn’t make him coach Scott Skiles’ kind of point guard. And Cleveland has been knocking.

News-Herald writer Bob Finnan speculated that trade talks may have begun with Cavs point guard Delonte West and two Cavs 2009 expiring contracts — former Bucks Joe Smith and Damon Jones. West, a restricted free agent, is in a contract dispute with Cavs GM Danny Ferry, and has been offered a “take it or leave it” minimum offer — $2.8 million for one year.  A sign and trade deal sending West to the Bucks with a higher salary would break the impasse.

I watched a lot of Cleveland Cavs playoff basketball. West was acquired from Seattle in the three-team Ben Wallace-Larry Hughes trade and had been on the team only two months — yet he had stepped in and was doing yeoman work running the offense with Lebron, playing scrappy defense and hitting key shots. He started all 13 playoff games as the Cavs ousted the Wizards and pushed Pierce, Garnett and Allen to the final minute of game seven.  Mo Williams for Delonte West and Smith, the crafty 33-year-old forward-center with a soft shooting touch, works for me.

But apparently Bucks GM John Hammond and Skiles are not interested in West. Too much like Mo, probably. Enter Oklahoma City (the team that left its name in Seattle), one of the teams that have reportedly been involved in talks with the Cavs r.e. forward-center Anderson Varejao. (The Bucks have also been one of those teams). OK City, as luck would have it, has a corral of point guards that Scott Skiles could like — draft pick Russell Westbrook, last year’s starter Earl Watson and Luke Ridnour, the point guard during the Ray Allen years in Seattle.

After days of speculation centering on Watson and the possibilities for a larger trade involving power forwards Varejao, OKC’s Chris Wilcox and Charlie Villanueva, who do the Bucks reportedly want for Mo Williams?  Luke Ridnour, the third stringer, fallen on hard times since the departures of coach Brian Hill and Ray Allen. With the Sonics last season, West played more minutes per game than Ridnour prior to being traded. The Mo trade would reportedly send Mo to Cleveland, Joe Smith to OK City and Ridnour to Milwaukee. Setting aside for a moment whether or not this deal works within NBA rules …

Luke Ridnour???

That had to hurt. I can understand how Skiles sees a little bit of himself in 27-year-old Ridnour, but

… Luke Ridnour???

And people say Mo is a bad defender … But hold on. This trade is now stalled. Apparently, ESPN league sources say, Cavs GM Ferry is “balking at taking on Williams’ contract. OKC and Milwaukee are ready to do the deal. The trade is not dead, but I’m told as of right now it has stalled.”

At least someone came to their senses. I don’t think, however, that this was ever “the trade.”  The salaries don’t match. [whole bunch of trade $ mumbo jumbo deleted]  Cleveland and Milwaukee are both over the cap, and the Cavs are over the luxury tax threshold.

The Cavs need to find at least $2.3M to send out in order to take on Mo’s contract. This trade could work if the Cavs sawed Delonte West or Damon Jones in two (I’m assuming they would choose Jones) and sent half a player and contract to Milwaukee and half to OK City. Barring that, they could send 1st round draft pick J.J. Hickson, a 6′ 9″ forward to either team, and fill in the other team’s gap with Tarence Kinsey, an athletic 6′ 6″ guard built to play D whom the Cavs signed this month. After all that, the Cavs would still be $200,000 short of being within 15 percent of Mo’s salary. Going deeper to the Cavs bench, guard Billy Thomas or center Lance Allred would cover it.

By now, Danny Ferry is no doubt cursing Larry Harris for paying Mo too much last summer. The Cavs have an $85.5 million payroll, some $13M over the luxury tax limit. Because Cleveland is over limit, the Cavs would have to send a dollar-for-dollar tax to the league based on how much additional payroll Mo’s contract adds. As this deal lays now, the Cavs would pay Mo his salary plus about $1 M to the NBA — a total of $9.3 million. For this privelege, they would give up Smith, a key role player in their front court rotation, and possibly three players including the 1st round draft pick — after pinching pennies with Delonte West.

No wonder Ferry’s balking and the deal is stalled. The price is high. Keep in mind that the Cavs can stand pat and still know that they are a contender for the title. The only team in the East that has proven it can beat Lebron in a playoff series is the Boston Celtics. Would Mo make the difference? Or would a healthy Boobie Gibson serve just as well? Cleveland and Ferry may have picked up the phone to get the ball rolling on this trade, but they’re good enough as a team to risk nothing by waiting to see how the season unfolds.

And Luke Ridnour? Here he is in better times, the 2005 playoffs against Sacramento. This must be the guy that Hammond and Skiles are hoping to acquire: