Some big men are moving. The Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks completed a trade on Thursday that sent centers Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert to Milwaukee in exchange for center Miles Plumlee. In sad news, the Bucks had to waive sharpshooter and all-around solid dude Steve Novak to create a roster spot.
“Spencer and Roy are two proven NBA centers who give us additional depth and versatility in the front court,” Milwaukee general manager John Hammond said in a statement. “The trade also gives us future cap flexibility as we continue to shape our roster. Miles and Steve are true professionals both on and off the court, and we wish them all the best.”
“We are excited to add Miles to our roster,” Charlotte general manager Rich Cho said in a statement. “He is an athletic big man who brings additional physicality and rebounding to our frontcourt rotation. He’s a proven player with a strong work ethic and we think he’ll fit in well with our core group.”
This is not a move that will shake up the Eastern Conference. Both teams are looking for a boost, though, and are trying to get that in different ways. Let’s grade the trade:
Hornets get Miles Plumlee
Before this move, Charlotte only had one big man who could roll hard to the basket and make defenses account for his ability to catch lobs: Cody Zeller. Plumlee gives the Hornets another, and he should be able to help them on the offensive glass (though coach Steve Clifford has never prioritized offensive rebounding). Charlotte’s offensive and defensive numbers have fallen drastically in January, and it must hope that Plumlee can help on both ends. As a defender, he lacks length but tries to compensate with hard play, quick feet and positional defense. On offense, he is not much of a scoring option, but he can finish.
Plumlee is an imperfect solution to the Hornets’ problems — they need another playmaker, and getting a better rim protector would have been preferable. Given the price, however, it’s understandable why the front office is giving him a shot. Hibbert did not prove to be the answer at center because of his lack of mobility, so they wanted to go in another direction. They will lose some shooting with Hawes’ departure, but that’s mostly theoreticaly shooting — Hawes is making just 29 percent of his 3-pointers this season.
The concern here is Plumlee’s contract. He signed a four-year, $50 million deal last summer, and while that’s not crazy under the new cap, paying that much for a 28-year-old backup center can still hamper a franchise’s flexibility. Charlotte better be committed to giving him consistent playing time, and it has to hope that his athleticism doesn’t decline too much over the life of the deal.
Bucks get Spencer Hawes, Roy Hibbert
Perhaps they just wanted a mulligan on Plumlee’s contract. He has been in and out of the rotation this year, averaging 9.7 minutes and regularly collecting DNP-CDs. If that was the goal, then Milwaukee accomplished it painlessly — it didn’t surrender any draft picks, and both Hibbert and Hawes will likely be off the books this summer. (Hawes has a player option for $6 million in 2017-18.)
In the meantime, coach Jason Kidd has a couple extra veterans at his disposal. Maybe he can maximize Hibbert’s shot-blocking ability, counting on the Bucks’ length, speed and versatility on the perimeter making up for his weaknesses. Milwaukee has also been searching for stretch bigs for years, so Hawes should have a shot at contributing, too.
This should probably be considered a win for the Bucks, given that it opened up some more financial flexibility, but it’s hard to get too excited about it. The move is essentially an admission that the Plumlee signing was a mistake, and it also gives fans reason to reflect on the Brandon Knight trade at the 2014 deadline. Knight, nearly an All-Star that season, was shipped to the Phoenix Suns in a three-way trade that brought back Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis and Plumlee. All those guys are gone now, with Tony Snell, Michael Beasley and now Hawes and Hibbert in their place.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Grade the Trade: Bucks acquire Spencer Hawes, Roy Hibbert for Miles Plumlee