One Step Back, One Step ?
In a move that can only be characterized as a salary dump, the Milwaukee Bucks traded forward Richard Jefferson to the San Antonio Spurs for forwards Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and somebody named Fabricio Oberto, who I can only assume is someone who used to fill in for Fabio on Harlequin Romance covers.
Just when I was beginning to think there was some hope for the local NBA franchise, they trade the one guy that held the team together last season while most of the starting lineup was sitting out with injuries. Bucks General Manager John Hammond intimated last week that the team may move a player in an effort to get younger. If that’s the case, he’s taking the long way around. Bowen is 37 years old, Thomas is 36 and Oberto, 34, just underwent surgery for an irregular heartbeat. I suppose the Bucks will get younger by default as none of these players ever figure to even put on one of their uniforms in an actual game. All are in the last year of their contracts and reportedly Bowen’s and Oberto’s are only 50% guaranteed for next season, making them even easier to jettison. I’ve already heard speculation that Bowen could end up back with the Spurs.
Jefferson was an ironman for the Bucks last season, playing all 82 games and averaging over 19 points a contest. Considering that the Bucks played pretty well early last season before all their injuries set in, it was not unreasonable to believe that the return of a healthy Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut could combine with Jefferson to establish the Bucks as a playoff contender. Now, with this trade, it’s clear that only a miracle will keep the Bucks out of the NBA draft lottery again next season. And the only thing that the lottery guarantees is that you’re a loser.
I know that the party line will be that this gives the team some financial flexibility to sign more free agents, particularly the Bucks own Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions. So what?! Villanueva seems a nice enough guy but he’s just the latest in a succession of soft “4s” that have doomed the team to mediocrity or worse for the better part of the last decade. Likewise, Sessions is a backup quality NBA point guard that the Bucks or some other misguided team will pay as a starter. The next impact free agent to sign with Milwaukee will be the first one. The odds on that ever happening aren’t high.
I have recently come to wonder whether my indifference to the NBA was because of the product on the floor or simply because the local franchise has been so poorly run. While I still have my suspicions of the former, this trade is firmly evidence of the latter. At least Jefferson has been rewarded with a trade to a team that knows what it’s doing.
UPDATE: The Milwaukee Bucks have traded newly acquired forward Fabricio Oberto to the Detroit Pistons for forward Amir Johnson. Already I’m 1 for 3 in my predictions but there go all those “V-05″ references.