There was an array of NBA scouts at last week’s game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards at the Bradley Center, the last game before the All-Star break, the last game before Thursday afternoon’s trading deadline.
That isn’t unusual. There are usually a handful of scouts at every Bucks game, all of them doing advanced work for their respective teams.
What was unusual about the scouting contingent at this particular game, though, wasn’t the number of them. It was that two teams had more than one scout in attendance: the New Orleans Pelicans and the Atlanta Hawks.
If you’ve paid any attention in recent weeks to trade rumors, those two teams have been mentioned prominently in reports. Both teams have made it abundantly clear they’re willing to wheel and deal. And both teams are willing to trade some of the key pieces.
In Atlanta’s case, veteran starting center Al Horford and veteran starting point guard Jeff Teague can be had at the right price. Ditto for long-range bomber Kyle Korver.
In New Orleans’ case, virtually anyone who doesn’t have a last name of Davis could be shipped to another area code, including proven veterans like Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday.
Not coincidentally, the Bucks have been linked in trade chatter with both the Pelicans and Hawks. It’s no secret the Bucks’ front office has an affinity for Teague. In fact, the Bucks gave Teague an offer sheet a couple of years ago when he was a restricted free agent and many in the Teague camp thought he was Milwaukee bound, until the Hawks matched the four-year, $32 million offer at the last minute.
You can safely assume the Bucks’ interest in Teague hasn’t waned. They’re making a concerted effort to find a new starting point guard to replace Michael Carter-Williams, whom they acquired from Philadelphia last February in a multi-trade deal that sent Brandon Knight to Phoenix.
Carter-Williams has been in and out of the starting lineup this season and it’s well known in NBA circles he is available. The truth of the matter is the Bucks have quietly been open to dealing Carter-Williams for some time.
Carter-Williams apparently is well aware of shaky status in Milwaukee. A source said Carter-Williams has been told he could possibly be dealt and, after the Wizards game, he hardly looked like a happy camper.
Carter-Williams left the locker room shortly after the Wizards game and walked directly to the team’s parking lot, saying he was “going on vacation.’’
Carter-Williams has been rumored in a deal with the Houston Rockets for Ty Lawson, an extremely talented point guard who has been battling off-court issues. There has also been speculation Carter-Williams could be part of a package to obtain Holiday, who is injury prone but considered by one NBA exec as “one of the top 10-to-12 point guards in the game.’’ Two other point guards who could be on the move are Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio and Utah’s Trey Burke.
Teague, in the estimation of most NBA officials, is clearly the cream of the available point guard crop. With the Hawks in the market for another center, especially with Horford’s status so unclear (he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season) and likely to demand a point guard in return for Teague, how about a deal that would center around Carter-Williams and John Henson going to the Hawks for Teague?
“I like that,’’ said a veteran NBA player. “The Hawks get two good payers and the Bucks get a point guard who can shoot from the outside. He (Teague) would help the Bucks a lot.’’
Added an NBA executive: “I think that’s good for both teams. Teague would be an upgrade for the Bucks. The Hawks get a big guard, a defensive guard, to complement (Dennis) Schroeder and another solid center to protect themselves if they lose Horford.’’
While Henson is undoubtedly an attractive trade commodity, Monroe is even more attractive. The latter is an established starter and a double-double machine, currently tied for eighth in the league in double doubles (27) with Washington’s Marcin Gortat and the aforementioned Anthony Davis of New Orleans.
Yet, while Davis is enjoying another quality season – 23.4 points and 10 boards a game – he isn’t having the off-the-charts season many NBA observers had envisioned. Some of those same observers contend part of the reason for that is the sub-standard play of veteran center Omer Asik, who is averaging a paltry 3.6 points and 6.1 rebounds after averaging 7.3 points and 9.8 rebounds last season.
The scuttlebutt is the Pelicans are bitterly disappointed with Asik’s play and would like to find a more competent interior scorer and rebounder to complement Davis.
Can you say Monroe?
Not only would he take the scoring and rebounding load off Davis, Monroe would be a P.R. hit for the Pelicans as he was born in The Big Easy.
The acquisition of Monroe and the potential hiring of Hall of Famer Joe Dumars – a Shreveport, La., native who starred at McNeese State University – as a front office executive would most certainly arouse a sleepy fan base.
There have been some reports in recent days the Bucks won’t move Monroe, but my sources contend – as they did last week – that the Bucks are still receptive to moving Monroe under the right circumstance.
Furthermore, the prevailing feeling among several NBA officials is the Bucks aren’t opposed to dealing anyone on their roster with the exception of Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
Most Bucks players claim they aren’t bothered by the incessant trade rumors surrounding the team, but Parker isn’t one of them.
“Yeah, it’s affected me personally because you build so many relationships (with his teammates),’’ Parker said. “You don’t want to see guys leave.
“But at the end of the day, it’s a business. Anyone, at any time, can get traded … even myself. So you have to prepare for the worst.’’