Twenty-four hours after losing out in the Paul Pierce sweepstakes, the Washington Wizards found someone who can help replace Pierce by acquiring Jared Dudley from the Milwaukee Bucks for a protected future second-round pick Thursday, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The Wizards will use a trade exception to execute the transaction, which cannot be finalized until July 9.
Like Pierce, the 6-foot-7 Dudley provides wing depth and a stretch-four option but is eight years younger, nearly $2.4 million cheaper ($4.25 million as opposed to $6.6 million), and a better defender. Most importantly, his salary will be off the books after this season, giving the Wizards the financial flexibility they desire for a free agent class that will be headlined by Kevin Durant.
The move comes two days after Dudley, who turns 30 on July 10, opted in to the final year of his contract with the Bucks instead of becoming a free agent. But Milwaukee needed to dump salary after signing center Greg Monroe to a three-year deal worth approximately $50 million and re-signing swingman Khris Middleton to a four-year, $70 million contract.
The Wizards capitalized and used one of their two trade exceptions — a $4.625 million exception acquired in trading Andre Miller to the Sacramento Kings for Ramon Sessions in February — for the deal. The trade also increases the chances of the Wizards signing a free agent to a one-year contract with the mid-level exception, which they hope to do to add quality talent but also maintain cap flexibility next year.
An eight-year veteran, Dudley’s career is a tale of evolution. First, he developed into a three-point specialist over parts of five seasons with the Phoenix Suns after shooting 22 percent from three-point range his rookie season and is a 39.6 percent three-point shooter for his career. And after being traded from the Los Angeles Clippers as part of a desperate salary dump, he added another dimension last season by displaying valuable versatility and playing power forward for the resurgent Bucks in his only season in Milwaukee.
Dudley averaged 7.2 points and shot 38.5 percent from beyond the arc in 72 games (22 starts) for the Bucks last season.