Bucks, Cavs, Wizards trade grades: Milwaukee preps for free agency; Cleveland acquires assets; Washington saves money
All three teams got something out of Friday's deal
The Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards pulled off a multi-player trade on Friday, the teams announced. There was a bit of urgency to get the deal done by 6 p.m. ET on Friday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports, because it allows the players involved to be combined in potential trades before the Feb. 7 deadline.
The deal had a lot of moving parts, but the players involved were George Hill, John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, Sam Dekker and Jason Smith. Here's a quick recap of all the players and picks that were involved.
- Future second-round draft pick
- 2021 first-round draft pick (via Bucks)
- 2022 second-round draft pick (via Wizards)
- 2021 second-round pick (via Bucks)
That's a lot to digest, but it was an interesting deal that has implications well beyond this season. Let's hand out some grades for a trade that seems to benefit all parties in different ways.
Milwaukee Bucks trade grade: A
The Bucks accomplished two things in this trade. First, they added depth by acquiring a veteran guard in Hill who is capable of playing both on and off the ball. He's been in kind of haze since signing with the Kings last summer and then being traded to a scrambling Cavs team that LeBron James somehow led to the NBA Finals. Hill is capable of being a starting-caliber guard in this league when he's engaged on both ends, so adding a proven vet with plenty of playoff experience will help the Bucks in their quest to go deep in the Eastern Conference postseason. They'll be much more comfortable playing Hill over younger players like Donte DiVincenzo, Pat Connaughton and Sterling Brown come playoff time.
Second, and perhaps primarily, the Bucks set themselves up for next summer, when they'll have to pony up some cash if they want to re-sign Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Malcom Brogdon, all of whom have become essential to the Bucks over the past couple of seasons. Or, if they elect not to resign any or all of them, Milwaukee has some financial freedom to pursue other options. They did this by shedding the approximately $19 million owed to Dellavedova and Henson combined next season, while Hill only has $1 million of his $18 million salary guaranteed next season.
Delly had fallen completely out of the rotation and Henson will miss a good chunk of the remainder of the season with a wrist injury, so there's really nothing lost by jettisoning them. They also picked up Smith from the Wizards as an third big off the bench behind Brook Lopez and Thon Maker.
The Bucks did give up a future first-rounder, always a dangerous prospect, but since they're clearly in win-now mode it was a worthwhile gamble to shed salary and pick up a potential impact player for the playoffs.
Cleveland Cavaliers trade grade: A
The Cavs are officially open for business! Just over a week after trading Kyle Korver to the Jazz for Alec Burks and future draft picks, general manager Koby Altman continued the fire sale by getting rid of Hill in exchange for bad money and more assets. Getting a first-rounder in the deal was a big win, even though it may not convey until 2023, as ESPN's Brian Windhorst detailed. As far as bloated salaries go, the Cavs could do a lot worse than Delly, who is a Cleveland hero and can help mentor young guards Collin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson.
Once healthy, Henson could become a valuable rotation piece if he continues to develop his 3-point shot. He's always been a great shot-blocker, though not a great defender, and will give them some length and versatility off the bench. As mentioned before, the Cavs can also use the salaries of Henson and Dellavedova in another deal if they so choose.
There was no reason for the Cavs to hang onto Hill, so getting a couple of draft picks and a potential rotation player is a good haul.
Washington Wizards trade grade: A
The turmoil in Washington is well documented, and Sam Dekker certainly isn't the answer -- but that's not why they made this deal. As ESPN's Bobby Marks points out, the Wizards' luxury tax bill drops from $14.5 million to $9.8 million by swapping out Smith's salary for Dekker's, and they also create a $2.7 million trade exception. Smith had fallen out of the rotation due to the emergence of Thomas Bryant, so the deal makes sense.
Dekker has been sidelined since early November with a sprained left ankle, but should be nearing a return to the court. His 3-point shooting (39 percent in nine games this season) could potentially help the Wizards, but he likely won't receive many valuable minutes when the roster is healthy.
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