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Roster & Depth Chart Analysis: Bucks Send Richard Jefferson to Spurs

UPDATED: Adding the Amir Johnson Trade

ESPN has reported the San Antonio Spurs have traded the expiring contracts of Bruce Bowen and Kurt Thomas for Richard Jefferson.  In a move reminiscent of the Lakers trading spare parts for Pau Gasol, the Bucks have gotten some cap relief to attempt to sign two restricted free agents and the Spurs have rejoined the West Coast arms race.  The Spurs then trade Fabricio Omberto to the Pistons for Amir Johnson who went to the Bucks.  Let’s look at the probable rotations with players currently under contract.

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs just did a three-for-one trade, plus Drew Gooden, Ime Idoka and Jacque Vaughn are all unrestricted free agents, so the cupboard is a little bare right now.  Assuming that Michael Finley exercises a player option year, the current depth chart should look like this:

C:   Bonner; Ian Mahinmi
PF: Duncan
SF: Jefferson; Michael Finley; Marcus Williams
SG: Ginobli; Michael Finley; Roger Mason, Jr.
PG: Parker; George Hill

The Spurs being the Spurs, you can argue about whether Duncan is a center and Bonner is a power forward, but those two are the only ones currently signed that will be playing up front.  Jefferson has been pressed into power forward service in a pinch before, but you really don’t want that in a half-court game.  It is likely that Bowen and Oberto will be waived and could theoretically be back on the Spurs.  It’s possible Kurt Thomas will get a buyout.  Until such a time as these things occur, the Spurs will need to be shopping for big men to fill out the roster.

If Ginobli is healthy, and if they can get a decent big man for that 4/5 rotation, this is a very dangerous team.

Milwaukee Bucks

With the Bucks, they just got themselves painted into a financial corner.  The theory is they’re hoping to save enough money waiving Bowen to re-sign at least one of restricted free agents Charlie Villenueva and Ramon Sessions.  Ideally, both.  Coach Scott Skiles also dearly loves Luc Mbah a Moute, who should get most of Jefferson’s minutes.  It also will open up minutes for Joe Alexander, who saw a lot of pine as a rookie.  One also wonders how happy Jefferson was in Milwaukee.  Amir Johnson was a back-up power forward for the Pistons and has been viewed as something of a talented project.  He is likely insurance against not retaining Charlie Villenueva.

I’m operating under the assumption that Kurt Thomas will be retained.  He has an expiring contract and he seems like the sort of physical, no-nonsense front court player Skiles would like.  Just for effect, let’s take a look at what the depth chart might look like if all the free agents departed (assuming Elson and Allen exercise their player option years).

C: Andrew Bogut; Dan Gadruzic; Francisco Elson
PF: Johnson; Thomas; Francisco Elson;  Malik Allen
SF: Luc Mbah a Moute; Joe Alexander
SG: Michael Redd; Charlie Bell
PG: Luke Ridnour;

Johnson might or might not start over Thomas, depending on experience vs. development concerns.  This roster doesn’t exactly strike fear into your heart and Michael Redd had best not get hurt when he has a chance to take a huge percentage of the team’s shots.  That’s a line-up where Skiles would have to break down and let him shoot.  (Ask Ben Gordon how unusual that would be.)

On the other hand, if they can resign both players you end up with:

C: Andrew Bogut; Dan Gadruzic; Francisco Elson
PF: Charlie Villenueva;  Johnson; Thomas; Francisco Elson;  Malik Allen
SF: Luc Mbah a Moute; Joe Alexander
SG: Michael Redd; Charlie Bell
PG: Ramon Sessions; Luke Ridnour

This still isn’t a championship squad by any stretch, but at least you have some scoring with Villenueva and Sessions.  Ridnour’s a good back-up, but a bit of a sketchy start at point.  All of the Bucks other free agents aren’t in the picture until they know what’s happening with Villenueva and Sessions.  Mind you, if the Bucks get outbid for Villenueva and Sessions, they’ll still have some money to spend.  They’ll need to.

Detroit Pistons

Omberto is most likely destined to be cut for cap room.  If he isn’t, that’s a sign the Pistons plan on letting either Rasheed Wallace or Antonio McDyess go.  You’d think they cold do a bit better if the front court was a free agent priority.

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