Report: Dudley Will Be Traded to Wizards

It’s been quite the busy week for Milwaukee Bucks’ GM John Hammond. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Jared Dudley will be traded to the Washington Wizards on July 9 for a highly protected first-round pick (likely a future second-round pick). The report comes two days after Dudley opted-in to his player option to stay in Milwaukee for one more season.

Hammond has made quite a splash already in this young offseason, resigning shooting guard Khris Middleton and also signing forward/center Greg Monroe away from bigger markets in New York and Los Angeles. There seems to be a method to his madness, though at this point it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what Hammond has in mind for next year’s roster.

Dudley carved out a nice niche with the Bucks last year, fitting well into the Bucks’ aggressive switching defensive scheme that sometimes saw him logging minutes as a stretch-four. He’s a career 39.6% shooting from three and brought a much needed veteran presence to a young squad. Aside from his shooting stroke, there really isn’t one thing that Dudley does especially well, though it’s hard to find many weaknesses in his game either. He’s a smart passer, a solid rebounder and a smart defender who communicates constantly on that end of the floor. His versatility allowed the Bucks to counter the Bulls’ bruising frontcourt last postseason with a small-ball lineup that kept them in the series.

Dudley averaged 7.2 points, 3 rebounds and 1 steal in 24 minutes per game last year as a Buck. His True Shooting percentage was .620 before the All-Star break, yet post All-Star break it plummeted to .412, and he subsequently only shot 20% from three according to @brewcitypaul. But the Bucks would be committing a grave error of recency bias if  his poor second half shooting performance influenced trading him. With a career mark of just under 40% from deep, his shooting display post All-Star break feels much more like an outlier than it does anything else. He also battled a back injury for a large portion of that stretch, which is significant. Let’s not forget, he also made one of the highlights of the Bucks’ previous season, scoring 24 points on 10/10 shooting while leading Milwaukee to a rout of the Hawks in Atlanta. It’s one of the best individual single-game shooting performances ever. 

That said, I love this trade. If you’re a Wizards fan, that is. The Wiz had a huge gap to fill on the wing in the aftermath of Paul Pierce heading home to L.A., and finding a replacement in exchange of a likely second-round pick is reason to celebrate. Dudley is clearly not The Truth, but he provides exactly what their young team needs: a versatile shooter who can play both forward positions and bring veteran leadership and playoff experience to the locker room. The Wizards had the 22nd most efficient offense last year, so they need to do everything they can to improve their ability to score the ball. Without loads of cap room to work with this offseason, trading for Dudley was the perfect low-risk move for Washington.

It’s not necessarily a terrible problem to have, but the Bucks simply have too deep a roster at this point, which is what I’m assuming led them to unload Dudley to the Wiz. Dudley’s presence meant less minutes for Giannis, Jabari, Middleton and Inglis, all of whom fit in to the Bucks’ future plans, which Dudley clearly did not. Shedding his contract and roster spot opens up flexibility for Hammond and Kidd. But was it worth it?

One of the few things most agreed on was that the Bucks needed to improve their outside shooting. After trading Ilyasova, Dudley was the only consistent three-point shooter the Bucks had who could play the four. In today’s pace-and-space league that values versatility, trading a solid veteran on a valuable deal simply because you have too many players on your roster seems, to put it lightly, shortsighted.

Trading a second-round pick and two expiring contracts to the Clippers for Dudley and a first-round pick was one of the most underrated moves of last year’s hectic offseason. Though as I’ve pointed out before, Hammond has a tendency to make a brilliant move and then negate it with an equally questionable one. This feels eerily like one of those situations. Perhaps still coming down off the high from swindling Doc Rivers and the Clippers, he has since turned Dudley and that first-round pick into Greivis Vazquez and a likely second-round pick (not to mention he had to throw in a second-round pick to do so). Which begs the question: which of the two would you rather have?

As aforementioned, there must be something bigger brewing in Milwaukee. The Bucks still have one too many players in the roster, and although Jorge Gutierrez’s non-guaranteed deal is expected to be waived, Hammond has showed he’s willing to build for the future while somehow staying aggressive today. Something tells me Hammond isn’t done, and at this point it feels like pretty much anything could happen.

Still, after what has been the Bucks’ splashiest (and probably best) offseason in quite some years, it felt peculiar and downright weird when I heard they had traded a known and valued commodity. Hammond seems to think he’s on a roll, and he certainly might be, but he needs to remember that sometimes the dice bounce the wrong way. This move feels more like Hammond unnecessarily pulling the trigger on a salary/roster spot dump rather than something that will really help the Bucks now or in the future. Trading away areas of need doesn’t feel much like a recipe for success to me. This is one of the rare instances where I will gladly be proved wrong. The ball’s in your court, Hammond.

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