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Bucks Trade Yi Before Skiles Can Berate Him, Avoid International Incident

The Milwaukee Bucks have shipped off Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons to the New Jersey Nets, which is to say soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets and landed Richard Jefferson. 

The most important facet of this trade is that it ruined one of my favorite half-jokes for the new season: We all know China is very protective of Yao and Yi. The question is, if new Bucks coach Skiles tears into Yi like he did Mike Sweetney or Thabo Sefolosha and Yi goes into a regression, would that create an international incident?

Alas (or is that thankfully) we won’t find out. Senator Herb Kohl’s team got Yi out of town before the crisis hit and ended up with a player who’s defense Skiles will like better. So what do the new rosters look like?


PG: Mo Williams / Ramon Sessions
SG: Michael Redd / Charlie Bell
SF: Richard Jefferson / Desmond Mason / Joe Alexander / Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
PF: Charlie Villanueva / Michael Ruffin (?)
C: Andrew Bogut / Michael Ruffin (?) / Jake Voskul (?)

Yes, the Bucks traded for a small forward and then drafted two more. Is Desmond Mason trade bait?

The draft and trade are at least partially Skiles-related, and this part isn’t a joke. Skiles, if you haven’t observed him, is a defensive-oriented coach. Most of the Bucks roster is in for culture shock. Richardson plays defense. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has a reputation for defense. I suspect Skiles will love Michael Ruffin. He’ll probably get along well with Bogut. Past that is anyone’s guess. Generally towards the end of the second season, players get tired of boot camp, but Skiles will work them like a demonic taskmaster up until the revolution comes (see: Phoenix and Chicago).

This gives the Bucks a stronger starting 5. Skiles likes to have a power forward with 20′ of range on his jumper, so Villanueva may not be totally despised by his boss (if Skiles sniffs medium firm, let alone soft, he starts growling). 

The Bucks need depth at power forward and center and a combo guard wouldn’t hurt things, but what they really are going to need are players with a commitment to defense.

New Jersey / Brooklyn

PG: Devin Harris / Marcus Williams
SG: Vince Carter / Maurice Ager / Chris Douglas-Roberts
SF: Bobby Simmons / Trenton Hassell / Keith Van Horn (technically)
PF: Yi Jianlian / Sean Williams / Stromile Swift (?)
C: Brook Lopez / Nenad Krstic (?) / Sean Williams / Josh Boone

Krstic and Swift aren’t signed right now, so we have to see how that shakes out. First thing you need to know is Bobby Simmons contract comes off the books in ’10 when LeBron becomes available. Well, LeBron isn’t the only big free agent in 2010, but we all know how the Nets covet LeBron, and they’re going to be ready to make a run.

Bobby Simmons played well with the Clippers but fell flat with injuries in Milwaukee. There’s a possibility that a change of scenery and coach will help him. Yi isn’t all that, but he showed a few flashes of worth and does have a nice shooting touch for such a big guy. What I like here, is Kiki Vandeweghe getting his hand on Yi. Vandeweghe can teach Yi all kinds of offense. He could shoot and he used to help run the old Big Man Camp. Yi may not be worth much right now, but he might be in a year.

With the exceptions of Vince Carter and Bobby Simmons, the Nets are a very young team with a mission of developing enough to be attractive to a certain free agent when they move to Brooklyn and said free agent goes shopping.

This looks like a team that might score a few points, but I’m not thinking they’ll be any great shakes on defense.

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