Aussie Matthew Dellavedova is coming home… sort of.
The Milwaukee Bucks are reportedly trading the out-of-favour point guard back to Cleveland, where he was part of the 2016 NBA championship-winning Cavaliers.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Bucks are sending a package of Dellavedova, John Henson and first (protected) and second round draft picks in 2021 to the Cavs in exchange for George Hill and Sam Dekker — pending league approval.
Dellavedova spent three seasons in Cleveland as a running mate of LeBron James, before signing a lucrative four-year US$38 million contract with the Bucks in 2016.
The 28-year-old has had a tough start to the season under new Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, averaging the fewest minutes of his career (8.1) after he fell out of the team’s rotation.
It was only a few days ago Budenholzer had praised the Aussie Boomer as a leader at the Bucks.
“Delly’s leadership and his voice in all kind of situations — practices, film sessions, timeouts — having Delly around is great,” Budenholzer said.
“He’s got a lot of great insight, he’s been in deep playoff runs and on great teams; guys like that are invaluable.”
But a week is a long time in the NBA and money talks, the deal set to save the Bucks almost US$18 million in salary in 2019-20 — cash they can throw at a bumper free agent class that could include the likes of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson.
Dellavedova returns to a very different Cleveland squad.
Gone are superstars James (LA Lakers) and Irving (Boston) and coach Tyron Lue — and with them, the winning culture.
He leaves a Bucks outfit that has established itself as an early title contender with the second-best record in the eastern conference (16-7) for a Cavs side that has lost 19 of its 25 games to date and is third-worst in the conference.
Dellavedova could find some minutes behind 20-year-old rookie point guard Collin Sexton, who should benefit from his veteran presence. But, the reality is, it could be much of the same as the Cavs continue to eye the future — which currently looks like Duke monster Zion Williamson at pick No.1 in next year’s draft.
His contract could also be used in another trade before the February deadline.
A cult figure in Cleveland, many fans have welcomed the return of ’Outback Jesus’.