Remember that trade exception that the Washington Wizards got when they traded Andre Miller to the Sacramento Kings?
It allowed them to get a very valuable player at a very low price on Thursday.
Paul Pierce signed with the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, leaving a hole in the Wizards' roster for a veteran who could play the three or four and shoot from three-point range.
Less than 24 hours after The Truth departed from the District, the Wizards traded - according to Marc Stein of ESPN and Ken Berger of CBS Sports - an "extremely protected" future second round pick to the Milwaukee Bucks for the services of Jared Dudley. Dudley's contract will fit into the trade exception from the Miller trade to the Kings, according to the same pair of reporters.
Dudley is not Pierce. Not even close really. But that's okay.
Really, the replacement for Pierce was already on the roster in Otto Porter Jr. Dudley is simply an addition and a luxury.
And he's a relatively cheap one too. As Mike Prada pointed out on Twitter, because of the heavy protections on the pick traded to the Bucks and because of the use of the trade exception, it's like the Wizards just signed Dudley straight up as a free agent for a one-year, $4.25 million deal.
For Dudley's skill set, that's a great deal, but it also allows the Wizards to keep their options open with how they use the mid-level exception in free agency this summer.
However, Dudley will bring some of the same qualities to the Wizards that Pierce brought to Washington nearly a year ago. He can shoot from three, he can play multiple positions on offense and he's regarded in NBA circles as a leader and a "glue guy" in the locker room.
But Dudley is better than Pierce in a number of ways as well.
While the former Buck can't create his own shot and isn't known for hitting clutch baskets in the waning moments of a game, he is younger and cheaper than Pierce. He's also a better defender, which is where a lot of his value really shines.
At 6'7", he can defend two-guards, wings and power forwards. In Milwaukee, he was very effective in small ball lineups as a stretch four on both offense and defense. While playing with the Phoenix Suns under Alvin Gentry, Dudley played a lot of minutes as a stretch four and from 2009 to 2013 and he shot 41.1 percent from behind the arc as a Sun.
Many say that playing the stretch four is Dudley's best role, but many will also argue that he was just benefitting from playing with Steve Nash during those Phoenix years. That might be true, but years later and after an injury-riddled season with the Clippers in 2013-14, Dudley bounced back with the Bucks last season and showed off some of the same skills that he did in Phoenix.
In 53 games prior to the All-Star break with the Bucks last season, Dudley shot over 50 percent from the floor and over 44 percent from the three-point line in about 24 minutes per game. The former Boston College star also did this to the Atlanta Hawks:
Dudley did suffer a back injury after that, but returned just in time for the Bucks' short playoff run and he didn't really miss a beat. In six games against the Chicago Bulls, Dudley played 110 minutes, shot 57 percent from outside, scored 40 points and did a nice job of spacing the floor for the Bucks and defending Bulls' shooters.
He also came through in the clutch in that series, with an inbounds assist to Jerryd Bayless for the winning bucket to help the Bucks avoid elimination of Game 4 of that series.
Dudley racked up last year's stats playing with point guards such as Brandon Knight and Michael Carter-Williams too. While they are fine players, John Wall is better and it can be assumed that Dudley's shots this coming season would find the basket more often because of Wall's superb ability to set his teammates up to score.
Dudley will also be playing on a contract year this season, and players looking for a new contract seem to play well when paired with Wall - see also: Ariza, Trevor and Webster, Martell.
In regards to Dudley being a veteran leader, here's what Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote about his impact:
"Giannis Antetokounmpo referred to Dudley as a mentor during the season and said he missed Dudley's advice when the former Boston College player was absent due to injury."
So while Dudley isn't likely to start, he could have an impact similar to Pierce in terms of mentoring younger players like Wall, Porter, Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. But if Dudley is such a steal and a valuable veteran off the bench as a mentor, defender, and shooter, then why did the Bucks trade him?
The Bucks just signed Khris Middleton and Greg Monroe to large contracts and have some other needs that they need to fill. Because of the trade exception, $4.25 million isn't a big dent to the Wizards, but it hinders the Bucks a bit, or so they thought.
At any rate, what the Bucks thought was expensive trash is now the Wizards' inexpensive treasure.
And it looks like Dudley is ready to start the next chapter of his career in D.C.