I find something poetic about trades that help both teams get better – even if I don’t really care about either team involved. that’s definitely the case in the NBA today. The Spurs found a way to get much more competitive next year, and the Bucks sacrificed some scoring now for some real payroll flexibility next year, and they added some real veteran presence in the meantime. If you missed the deal, the Spurs picked up Richard Jefferson, and in exchange they gave up Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto.
Jefferson should be a great fit in San Antonio. He’s a great wing scorer who will complement Duncan and Ginobli well, and he’ll add an explosive spark to a team that can sometimes lack creativity on that front. He’s also incredibly durable and reliable. If he can fit into the system then this is a chance for him to really emerge as a star. It’s also a great way for San Antonio to send a message – this tells the players, fans, and the rest of the league that they aren’t going to settle for what happened in the playoffs this year.
The Bucks seem likely to release Oberto and Bowen, so that will free up more than $6 million salary cap space this year, and more than $15 million next year because all three contracts expire after this year. That could free them up to chase a free agent, or they could re-sign free agents Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions. Though they will obviously miss Jefferson, this move will also free up a lot more playing time for sophomore Joe Alexander, and will give them a chance to see what they have in him. Alexander wasn’t great last year, but his role was very limited, and he clearly had game in college so there is definitely room for the step forward.
All in all, I think that this is a positive move for the Bucks on one condition – that they don’t just use the money savings to fatten their pocketbooks and instead put it back onto the court. As for the Spurs, this makes them a considerably better team, and they were already right at the top of their conference if they were healthy. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak will be losing some sleep over this one, and this could be enough for some of the fringe Western teams to just give up.