Bucks get ‘big man’ before draft
MILWAUKEE The Milwaukee Bucks are getting a much-needed big man and the Houston Rockets are positioning themselves to make a big move.
The Bucks acquired veteran center Samuel Dalembert from the Rockets in a trade Wednesday. The Bucks said they got Dalembert, the 14th overall pick in today’s draft, a future second round pick and cash considerations from Houston in exchange for forwards Jon Brockman and Jon Leuer, guard Shaun Livingston and the 12th pick.
Dalembert has career averages of 8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots per game. Center is a major need for the Bucks, who traded away Andrew Bogut last season and never really found a way to replace him.
Dalembert didn’t immediately return a call on Wednesday afternoon. He told KRIV-TV that he wasn’t surprised by the news because he was aware the team was going to make some offseason moves.
“It’s the business,” Dalembert said. “I’m not shocked. I knew it was going to be a long summer for them. We have to make some sacrifices. We have to do some stuff.”
The 31-year-old Dalembert will play his 11th NBA season with Milwaukee, his fourth team.
“They are a very good team and they’re missing the big men out there,” Dalembert said, “and I think I can fill up the spot and help them make the playoffs.”
Houston, meanwhile, is apparently positioning itself for a blockbuster move after dealing Chase Budinger to Minnesota for the 18th pick on Tuesday. The Rockets now have the No. 12, 16 and 18 picks in Thursday’s draft, but the team may make more moves as they put together a package to land a superstar big man—possibly Orlando’s Dwight Howard or Atlanta’s Josh Smith.
Howard, a six-time All-Star center, asked to be traded by the Magic during the season.
Houston picked up Dalembert in December. He started 45 games and averaged 7.5 points and seven rebounds per game in 2011-12.
Bucks general manager John Hammond emphasized this week that he and his staff would take the best player available in the draft, conceding that the Bucks absolutely needed to find a center.
“I think right now there’s the assumption that we’re kind of looking into basically a narrow-minded set of, ‘We have to go big,’” Hammond said. “You know, there’s a need there, so obviously that is going to be a discussion and it’s going to somewhat of a priority for us.”
Before moving to get Dalembert, players projected to be of interest to the Bucks were North Carolina center Tyler Zeller and Illinois’ Meyers Leonard. Both run well for 7-footers, a must on a team that wants to play with an up-tempo style powered by guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.
Milwaukee also could go with a shooting guard such as Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb or Washington’s Terrence Ross.
Hammond and coach Scott Skiles both are going into the final year of their contracts and aren’t considered likely to receive extensions before the season starts. Given the uncertainty, Hammond might be expected to favor drafting a player who can help the team right away over a project with a higher upside.
But Hammond said his contract situation won’t change the way he approaches the draft, even if fans and the media are discussing it.
“The issue at hand is how can we improve the Milwaukee Bucks,” Hammond said. “So for us, that may be discussed at the draft, it may be discussed during free agency, discussed even during the season when we talk about trades or other things that could come our way to change our roster. But at the end of the day, it’s about doing the right thing. And the right thing is what’s best for this team, this organization, this city and our fans. And I would never vary from that.”