Redd to Cleveland?

The Racine Journal-Times is reporting that the Bucks have been “gauging the interest” that other teams have in Michael Redd. There’s a new sheriff in town (GM John Hammond) and he’ll want to reshape the team. The Bucks have some talent, but clearly there wasn’t much chemistry there and changes have to be made. Keep in mind that Hammond comes from Detroit, where they built a consistent winner without a single bona fide superstar. The Pistons’ strategy is to find solid star- and starter-level guys that represent good value. Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace… these are all players who play beyond their respective contracts.

Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com wrote a blog post campaigning to bring Michael Redd to the Cavaliers. Here are a couple of his key points…

Dan, why Michael Redd?

Great question. First reason, the Cavs biggest asset is expiring contracts. Their next biggest asset is a first round draft pick. Who likes expiring deals and draft picks? Teams going nowhere. Especially teams going nowhere with one particular player that is grossly overpaid. Milwaukee, I’m looking in your direction.

Wait a minute, Dan. You just said Michael Redd was grossly overpaid, yet you want the Cavs to go get him? Sounds like crazy talk to me.

Ahhh, excellent point you make there. But Milwaukee and Cleveland are in two very different situations. That $47 million due Redd over the next three years (not to mention a player option for $18 million that fourth year) is an albatross to the Bucks. That’s franchise player money and Redd’s not a franchise player. Not to mention the Bucks aren’t a contender. But for the Cavs, a team trying to win a title ASAP, who cares how much money it costs? A good shooter like Redd that can create a bit on the wing could be the difference playing next to LeBron. Besides, the Cavaliers have no contracts that currently run past ’09-’10 (assuming LeBron James opts out), so Redd’s deal wouldn’t hamper them too excessively down the road.

So how do the Cavs get him?

It can be done. It starts with Wally Szczerbiak’s expiring deal. That alone would get Redd by league rules. But Milwaukee will want more. So you throw in some talent. Maybe you have to part with Daniel Gibson (though you’d have to sign him first). Or maybe you do them a favor and take Bobby Simmons’ not-so-good contract in exchange for the expiring deals of Damon Jones and Anderson Varejao (he’s got a player option after next season). Maybe you toss in a draft pick. Find a combination they’d want and do it. Look, that’s not my job. I just think it can be done.

Labbe is right on a couple of points. First, Michael Redd is getting paid franchise money but is not a franchise player. One of the problems with the NBA is that there are only 10-15 so-called “franchise” players. Here’s a list of guys that I’d give max contracts to retain: LeBron, Kobe, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Deron Williams and Dwyane Wade. Those eight players don’t really have any serious flaws in their games. Then there are guys like Dirk Nowitzki, Carlos Boozer, Yao Ming, Chris Bosh, Elton Brand and Steve Nash, who are almost on that level. There might be a player or two I’m forgetting, but the point is that just because you’re the best player on your team doesn’t mean you deserve a max contract. But the Bucks, who are already at a disadvantage since they play in a small market, had to overpay Redd almost three years ago so that he wouldn’t bolt to Cleveland. Now, after seven seasons of consistent improvement and one season of questionable shot selection that brought about charges of selfishness, the Bucks are thinking about moving on.

And really, is Redd “grossly overpaid”? I don’t think so. Larry Hughes is grossly overpaid. Ben Wallace is grossly overpaid. Wally Szczerbiak is grossly overpaid. But Redd, who just two seasons ago averaged almost 27 points a game on 46.5% shooting, has a fair market value of $12-$13 million.

Even at the risk of pissing off Redd (who might need a little kick in the butt anyway), a possible trade is worth exploring, but the kind of deal that Labbe is talking about – Daniel Gibson, a first round pick and the expiring contracts of Wally Szczerbiak, Damon Jones and Anderson Varejao – is like the Grizzlies’ decision to send Pau Gasol to the Lakers for Javaris Crittenton and bag of peanuts. It isn’t going to happen. That deal is ridiculous.

The only way that a small market team can become a consistent winner is if they hire a good coach, draft well, retain the talent they have (by overspending) and have an owner willing to pay the price (i.e. luxury tax). Nobody wants to play in Milwaukee, but they will if they have to, or if the money is right, or if the Bucks are a winner. (Just look at San Antonio.)

Redd’s ideal role would be as a sidekick that can make teams pay when they double-team the star. The Bucks do have an emerging big man, Andrew Bogut, but the two are rarely on the same page and seem to be in a constant tug-of-war over the direction of the team. Bogut came into his own after the All-Star break, averaging 16.3 points and 11.6 rebounds, while shooting 51% from the field. He’s never going to be Dwight Howard, but he could be a semi-affordable cog in the wheel like Rasheed Wallace is in Detroit. That’s where the good coaching comes in.

But back to Labbe… If Hammond hates Redd’s game, the Bucks could conceivably take his deal. It would allow Milwaukee to cut a ton of salary heading into the 2009 season, but at what cost? They’d be trading one of the best scorers in the league to a division rival for cap flexibility, a late first round pick, and Daniel Gibson. How is that any different than the Gasol trade? Since no one really wants to play in Milwaukee, they won’t be able to use that flexibility to attract a superstar, so what’s the point? If Hammond were to take that deal I’d say fire him on the spot and re-hire Larry Harris. At least he didn’t give his players away.

But for Cleveland, that deal would be a no-brainer.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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