As the Cleveland Cavaliers continue to embrace their rebuild, the Milwaukee Bucks are improving both their current roster and future finances.
According to ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst, the Bucks are set to receive veteran point guard George Hill from the Cavaliers and power forward Jason Smith from the Washington Wizards. The Cavaliers in return will get a protected 2021 first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick from Milwaukee, a 2022 second-round pick from Washington, point guard Matthew Dellavedova and center John Henson. The Wizards will pick up forward Sam Dekker and a 2021 second-round pick from the Cavs.
After believing they could still compete for a playoff spot in the East entering the season without LeBron James, the Cavs have seemingly accepted their fate following a trade of Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz and now shipping Hill to Milwaukee. The Bucks, in second place in the East, traded their next available first-round pick to strengthen their rotation and shed some salary in the process. The 11-14 Wizards, well, shave off their luxury-tax bill.
With the dust finally settled, here are the winners and losers.
For the second straight season, Hill has been traded from NBA bottom-feeder to serious playoff contender.
After leaving a good Utah Jazz team in free agency for a huge payday with the Sacramento Kings (three years, $57 million) in 2017, Hill will likely once again end his season in the playoffs.
The Cavaliers rescued him at the trade deadline last year in a deal for Iman Shumpert, giving Hill his only trip to the Finals. He can start at either guard position for the Bucks, who sit just 3.5 games behind the Toronto Raptors for the top seed in the East.
Hill's time in Cleveland wasn't going to last beyond this year, anyway. With the drafting of point guard Collin Sexton to be the point guard of the future and Hill's 2019-2020 salary of $18 million able to be bought out for just $1 million, his days with the Cavaliers were always numbered.
"Sorry I couldn't get it done when I was here for the Finals, missing that free throw, but it's nothing but love," Hill told The Athletic's Joe Vardon. "You gotta give the organization thank you, you gotta give my teammates a huge thank you for welcoming me with open arms since I first got here, giving me a chance to play in the NBA Finals, something I've never dreamed of."
Assuming Milwaukee reaches the playoffs, this will be the 10th time Hill has played past mid-April in his 11 professional seasons.
Milwaukee's Salary Cap
Adding Hill to a playoff rotation is nice, but the Bucks are also setting themselves up to be major players in this summer's free agency.
Moving Henson and Dellavedova clears about $20 million off Milwaukee's books for next year, and neither was a given to even see postseason minutes.
Khris Middleton will almost certainly decline his $13 million player option in search of a raise, and Eric Bledsoe's expiring $15 million deal was set to create some cap room as well.
Buying out Hill's deal for $1 million is likely, given it would save the Bucks an additional $17 million, opening up nearly $50 million in total projected cap space. This is money that could be used to re-sign Middleton and Bledsoe or chase a star like Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler or Kemba Walker to pair with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
With Malcolm Brogdon also entering restricted free agency, the Bucks needed the extra financial flexibility that they now have by flipping Dellavedova and Henson for Hill and Smith's expiring $5.5 million deal.
If Cleveland has to sit and watch its team plummet from annual Finals participant to tank artists once again, at least adding players with an existing cult following will help.
Dellavedova is one of the most beloved Cavs of the past decade, given his scrappy defensive play and constant energy he brought to both rebuilding and championship teams. He signed on as an undrafted rookie in 2013-14 the year before James returned, easily outplaying first overall pick Anthony Bennett.
When Kyrie Irving was hurt in Game 1 of the 2015 Finals, Dellavedova started at point guard in his place for the rest of the series. He dropped 20 points, five rebounds and four assists in a Game 3 victory that put the Cavs up 2-1 over the heavily favored Golden State Warriors. Without Irving and Kevin Love, the Cavs had no business even winning a game in the series, yet actually held a lead after three games thanks to James and the play of Dellavedova.
"First my quads both cramped. Then my hammies. Then my adductors. I couldn't move off the training table," Dellavedova told Windhorst when recalling how fatigued he was after playing 80 total minutes in Games 2 and 3. "I was stuck on the table. I had the IV in and I was still cramping. They helped me to the cold tub and I just collapsed in it for 20 minutes."
There won't be heroic Finals performances from Dellavedova in Cleveland anytime soon, but his presence and hustle will make the season much more enjoyable to watch.
Calling Dekker a loser is a bit unfair, but rather the situation that could have been.
Initial reports coming out about the trade had Dekker heading to Milwaukee, near where he starred at the University of Wisconsin from 2012 to 2015. For Dekker, it seemed like a perfect homecoming and the chance to move from the bottom to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Dekker will now be heading to the 11-14 Wizards. While it does give him some renewed playoff hope, it's a stark difference between joining a 16-7 Bucks team.
Dekker's wife, ESPN's Olivia Harlan Dekker, best summarized the night in two tweets.
Henson won't be suiting up for the Cavaliers anytime soon as he works to return from November wrist surgery.
Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported that Henson likely won't be back until after the All-Star break, which now falls after the NBA's trade deadline.
This makes another trade unlikely for Henson, meaning following his rehab he'll be back playing for a floundering Cavs team. What's worse, his spot in the rotation isn't even guaranteed.
Despite being young enough (turning 28 this month) to still fit into a rebuild, Henson will enter into a logjam of centers for Cleveland. Tristan Thompson is playing the best basketball of his career (11.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists). Larry Nance Jr. just signed a four-year, $45 million contract extension with the Cavs in October, and second-year big man Ante Zizic should get some run this season as well.
Henson was a regular staple of Milwaukee's second unit and has a lot of work to do to even make it to Cleveland's.
The chances of the Hawks actually collecting the 2019 first-round pick owed to them by the Cavs in the 2017 Kyle Korver trade continues to plummet.
Cleveland gets to keep the pick if the selection falls in the top 10 overall, a situation that seemed possible following James' signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. Still, as the Cavaliers showed no signs of rebuilding when entering the season, it looked as if the pick may still wind up in Atlanta this year.
Now with Korver, Hill and Dekker all gone and Henson not able to play until at least February, the Cavaliers are cementing themselves in the bottom 10, if not bottom five, teams in the league. JR Smith, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and even Kevin Love could be traded by the end of the season as well.
This is great for Cleveland with what looks to be a top-heavy draft and it pushes the Hawks pick back to next year (again top-10 protected) or converts to second round picks in 2021 and 2022 after that.
Greg Swartz covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.