Grab your camo, deer call, and remote: It is open season for trades. (On second thought, just grab the remote.) The NBA trade deadline is now less than a month away, and teams are scrambling to unload contracts and fill roster gaps. I’m not even ashamed that I just said “camo” or “deer call,” because a hunting metaphor is actually appropriate for Thursday’s transaction in which the Milwaukee Bucks traded Miles Plumlee to the Hornets in exchange for Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert.
Winner: The Bucks
This move aligns with the direction the Bucks should be heading as a young team focused on the near, but not immediate, future. As Ringer writer Kevin O’Connor pointed out, the Bucks were able to wriggle out from under one of their own missteps by relieving the team of the rest of Plumlee’s four-year, $50 million contract (signed just this summer with the help of Bird rights). Now the team will have flexibility this offseason.
Hawes is in the final year of his $6 mil-per-year contract, and he’ll join center Greg Monroe as guys with player options coming up this summer. That’s another place that Milwaukee could potentially find some cap room, good news for both the team and for free agents this offseason. No matter how cold it is and how much Wisconsin is not Miami, New York, or L.A., Milwaukee becomes a tempting destination when it means playing alongside Giannis, Khris Middleton (on the verge of full recovery), and Jabari Parker. The league saw splashes of the Bucks’ potential this season without Middleton, beating teams like the Cavs and the Spurs — and any decent team in the East is desirable.
Loser: Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert is a likable dude who has fun off the court. Unfortunately for him, his on-court performance keeps causing his off-court home to change. Hibbert is now on his third team in three seasons, after moving from the Pacers to the Lakers in the summer of 2015, and then from Los Angeles to Charlotte only a year later. To say his career fell off quickly is overestimating the strength of the word quickly. He went from one of the NBA’s best rim protectors (I still have not forgotten this, Carmelo), impressing the league with his performance in the 2013 Eastern Conference finals against LeBron’s Miami team, to averaging a block and five points a game this season. I hope he finds longevity in Milwaukee, and I hope he likes cheese.
Loser: The Hornets
Winner: The movie ‘Hoosiers’
Here is a fun game: Luke, Mason, Tyler, Miles, Cody, and Marshall. Name the Zellers, the Plumlees, the Hatfields, and the McCoys. The two trios of brothers both hail from Indiana towns that begin with W (Warsaw and Washington), and have been confused with each other since their college days. What we know for sure is that one trio split its members up between Notre Dame, UNC, and finally an Indiana school (Cody? Cody), and the other deferred to Coach K at Duke. Think of all they could do if teamed up with one another, like making a 42-foot-tall Vincent Adultman (or at least playing good defense at the rim, if you’re into that). With the exception of an Indiana Elite AAU team seven years ago, none of the Zellers have ever played with any of the Plumlees on the same team before. Now Miles (Plumlee) will join Cody (Zeller) in Charlotte. This trade is giving me a Midwest moment. Hickory High is making a comeback, baby.