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The fast and furious trade season has begun, and it did not disappoint. Two of the coveted names have changed teams, and one desperate team may have taken their all-in move.
The Milwaukee Bucks needed a playmaker, and that term became synonymous with Chris Paul. After being branded as one of the worst contracts in the league, CP3 reminded us last season that his basketball mind is not at all washed.
CP3 elevating the OKC Thunder into a playoff run before they go on full rebuild allowed OKC to reap assets on trading Paul rather than burning an asset to get rid of him — which could be the case for the Houston Rockets and Russell Westbrook.
There could be a chance that Ricky Rubio or Kelly Oubre may be flipped for further assets. The Thunder could use the same trick — showcase the veterans to elevate trade value. OKC will dominate the next two drafts since that’s what Presti does best.
It seems like the Thunder has embraced their role as the “star stopover” until someone stays long enough for them to win a championship. They have Steven Adams and Danny Green as elder statesmen, and those two may also be sent to a contender later in the season. (Watch out for an Adams to Boston if they don’t get a big man).
Final push for the Greek Freak
The Bucks did not have enough assets for the Thunder, who still wanted to continue stockpiling assets. Milwaukee was rumored to offer anyone not named Giannis or Khris. They were sending Eric Bledsoe (they really wanted to unload him) and George Hill, but they practically emptied their bench.
In return for their present and future assets, they got Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovic. That will give them a tall and talented starting lineup with Middleton, Giannis and Brook Lopez. However, their bench will be shallow with only Pat Connaughton, Sterling Brown and an aging Kyle Korver.
It seems like the Bucks learned their lesson and now they have a top-heavy, short rotation built for playoff contention. The only caveat is that in a condensed season, having a deep bench may come in handy.
It is a worthy and necessary risk. They cannot just let a generational talent like Antetokounmpo walk away. The big question is whether the Bucks made these moves with a conditional “wink-wink” deal with their two-time MVP. If they did not, and Giannis doesn’t sign the extension, Milwaukee literally must win the title or return to mediocrity.
Pelicans fleecing contenders
The New Orleans Pelicans have fleeced another contender. It was no surprise that Anthony Davis will bring in young stars and all the first-round draft picks the Lakers could offer, but it was surprising to see Jrue Holiday merit a similar package.
Three first round picks and pick swaps are on the way to New Orleans, but they start in 2024, which means the Bucks get to keep their picks in the loaded 2021 and 2022 drafts.
Granted, since these teams are likely to be contenders (assuming Giannis — and even AD sign their extensions), so the picks are likely to be in the 20s, Holiday was already being shopped, and the Pelicans exploited the Bucks’ desperate need to improve. Since Chris Paul was out of the market, Milwaukee needed to go all in for Jrue.
Brooklyn Nets star hunt could backfire
Grabbing big names with disregard for chemistry can be a mortal sin for GMs. The Lakers in 2004 is the best example, and their 2012 iteration (with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash) was a nightmare.
The Brooklyn Nets grabbed big names (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams) and mortgaged their future in the process, and that team only had one real productive year.
It might be awesome to add James Harden alongside Kyrie Irving, but it could turn out to be an ankle-breaker fest that will not translate into a title.
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