The first big shot was fired in what looks to be an active NBA Draft and start to free agency when the Milwaukee Bucks shipped SF Richard Jefferson to San Antonio for SF Bruce Bowen, PF Kurt Thomas and C Fabricio Oberto.
For the Bucks, the deal was purely financial. All three players coming back to Milwaukee are in the final year of their contracts, taking some $15 million dollars off the books for Milwaukee next summer. Even better, Bowen and Oberto are guaranteed only $3.9 million of the $6.35 million they project in contract salary. That means the Bucks can release them, giving them even more flexibility this off-season.
For San Antonio, Jefferson provides the type of wing scoring threat they really haven't had. Now the Spurs have a dynamic scoring threat to go along with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. The rich do indeed get richer.
As for how this impacts the Cavaliers, it takes some options of the table. While Jefferson simply wasn't a fit in Cleveland, there had been talk about the Cavs making a run at Charlie Villanueva, or even Ramon Sessions, two of Milwaukee's restricted free agents. It was widely believed that the Bucks could not afford both, but with the newly created financial freedom Milwaukee could, instead, choose to try and build around Villanueva, Sessions and Michael Redd.
Every deal made makes the next one that much more valuable, that much more difficult. Expect more of these types of cost-cutting deals to be made in the coming days and weeks as the true impact of the economy starts to take its' toll on the NBA.