The First Domino Falls: Spurs Acquire Richard Jefferson
In what will certainly be the first of numerous trades in the next couple days, the Spurs have reportedly acquired small forward Richard Jefferson from the Bucks in exchange for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto (though it is rumored Bowen and Oberto will be released by Milwaukee.). This is the second time in as many years Jefferson has been traded just before the NBA Draft. Last year on Draft Day, the Nets dealt Jefferson to the Bucks for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.
Why this makes sense for Milwaukee:
Jefferson is still owed $29-plus million over the next two years. It has been reported the Bucks financial situation is tight like a few other teams around the league so dumping Jefferson's bloated deal for three players who are all in the final year of their contracts will save Milwaukee about $3 million this year and give them some cap flexibility for the much anticipated 2010 offseason. It will also allow them to attempt to re-sign restricted free agents Ramon Sessions or Charlie Villanueva without massively going over the luxury tax this season or next. Thomas gives the Bucks some much-needed toughness and depth inside.
Why this makes sense for San Antonio:
The Spurs dynasty is on its last legs, and making a major splash like this gives them a little more life and one more chance at winning a ring. Adding Jefferson to the core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli means San Antonio will have one of the most talented and most experienced crunch-time lineups in the league.
My biggest concern from the Spurs' standpoint is how this weakens their already thin lineup down low. Besides Duncan, Matt Bonner and Ian Mahinmi are the only other post players under contract for next season. I would expect another move to be made where the Spurs look to add depth up front, and almost certainly their mid-level exception will be thrown at a veteran like Rasheed Wallace.
How this affects the 2009 NBA Draft:
For the Spurs, it doesn't change much since they don't own a first-round pick. They will likely use two, if not all three of their second-round picks to add some size or maybe try to package them to move up into the first round.
This trade almost certainly means the Bucks take a point guard at No. 10. There is a high interest in Arizona's Jordan Hill, but it is very unlikely that he drops to the 10th pick. Jonny Flynn or Jrue Holiday should be the target of Milwaukee's on Draft Day. The door is now also open for drafting a wing player since Jefferson is gone and Bruce Bowen will be a free agent. But don't forget Joe Alexander and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, last year's draft picks, can help fill the void at the three.