Around the League

With less than 24 hours until the March 15, 3PM trade deadline, this is one of the rare occasions when teams are more concerned about what’s going on in their back offices than on the court.

It is surely an uneasy day for a number of players rumored to be on the trading block who know that they might have to pack up and move to another city tomorrow. Whether or not a trade ultimately works in a player’s favor, what’s guaranteed is the immediate and total disruption of his life. But that’s the nature of playing sports at the pro level.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors got the ball rolling with a multi-player trade. The Bucks will ship their 2005 No.1 overall pick, center Andrew Bogut out west along with 12th-year veteran Stephen Jackson in exchange for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown.

Milwaukee will get a young, explosive scoring guard in Monta Ellis, who could be a be a major factor in playoff race down backstretch. And the Bucks will also benefit from having a couple more healthy bodies on the bench in Udoh and Brown.

The Warriors have landed an All-Star caliber big in Bogut. However, it remains to be seen if he can overcome the injuries that have plagued him throughout his entire NBA career. Jackson was a productive contributor on a number of teams before falling out of favor with coach Scott Styles, so he could wind up helping Golden State too.

Dozens of players traded jerseys in last year’s frenzy of trade deadline deals. Though there may not be as much wheeling and dealing this season, there are some big names in the hat, most notably this year’s Carmelo-Anthony-style headline dominator Dwight Howard. And, in fact, Melo himself has resurfaced in the trade rumor mill. Though this is an incredibly stressful time for all involved, the rest of us who are anxiously waiting, watching and wondering get to buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Drew Gooden

Copyright Notice-Copyright 2012 NBAE-Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images10th–year, 6-10, 250-pound power forward Drew Gooden has stepped up with two strong 23-point performances while filling in for Milwaukee’s starting center Andrew Bogut. The 260-pound, 7-footer from Australia fractured his ankle in last week’s win over the Houston Rockets. Bogut’s injury could cost him the remainder of the season, and it could cost his teammates the postseason.

Bogut was third in scoring with 11.3 ppg, and the Bucks will sorely miss the 2010-11 block leader at the defensive end of the court as he led them in rebounding with 8.3 boards per game. This early season setback is a big blow to the Bucks, who conceded the eighth seed to the Pacers in last year’s Eastern Conference playoff race. Coach Scott Skiles has charged veteran reserve Drew Gooden with the task of filling Bogut’s shoes, and so far “The Truth” has delivered.

Former Kansas Jayhawk Andrew Melvin “Drew” Gooden (who joined fellow freshmen Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich for the 1999–2000 season) was named NABC Player of the Year for 2002. He began his NBA career in Memphis in the small forward role, but it soon became apparent that he was better suited for the power forward position. Gooden has worn as many jerseys as years he’s competed in the league. But his red, white and green shirt just might stick. The Bucks signed the big man to a five-year contract prior to the start of the 2010 season, adding much-needed depth to their frontcourt.

Gooden put up 23 points, pulled down 15 rebounds and dished 6 dimes in 36 minutes during Friday’s 107-100 loss to the Chicago Bulls. And he helped his shorthanded squad deliver the fourth straight road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers with 23 points and 8 rebounds in Saturday’s 100-89 upset.

The Bucks will be looking for consistency in Gooden’s game. If he continues to produce, Gooden will get the majority of Bogut’s minutes, though 6-10, 4th-year forward Ersan Ilyasova from Turkey will chip in as well. This week Gooden will have four opportunities to prove his worth on the frontline and boost his value to fantasy owners. The Milwaukee Bucks begin a stretch of three road games with a match against their Central Division rivals the Detroit Pistons tonight at 8:00 PM EST.

Czar’s End of Year Awards: Defensive Player

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