The writing had been on the wall for Jon Brockman since the 2010 NBA Draft. When Sacramento selected talented big men DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside a week after trading for Philadelphia 76ers center Samuel Dalembert, it became increasingly likely that Brockman would be the odd man out in the 2010-11 playing rotation.
Nonetheless, when the Kings extended him a qualifying offer last month, making Brockman a restricted free agent and giving Sacramento the option to match any offer he'd receive from another team, he was widely expected to be re-signed. He worked on his offensive game with Sacramento's coaching staff over the summer, and even attended the Draft party at ARCO Arena last month.
But with no less than five players currently slated ahead of him on the Kings' depth chart, Brockman became expendable. Rather than pay his relatively high contract (Brockman will reportedly earn as much as $1.5 million next year), Sacramento traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for third-year forward Darnell Jackson and a future second round draft pick. It's unlikely that Jackson, who averaged less than a point per game last season with the Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers and doesn't have a fully guaranteed contract, even makes it out of training camp to fill the last spot on the bench.
Brockman's statistics hardly jump off the page at first glance. The 6-foot-7 forward-center appeared in 52 games last season, starting four, and averaged 2.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per game. But while he clearly wasn't Sacramento's most talented player, he worked as hard as anyone on the court, boxing out and getting in the right position for every rebound, diving for loose balls, and setting hard screens to get his teammates open shots.
Brockman was a rare type of player who understood his role and never complained about his playing time, instead earning his minutes by doing the intangibles that didn't show up in the box score. He brought toughness and physicality, two qualities the Kings sorely lacked last season, each time he stepped out on the floor, and provided a positive presence in the locker room. After Sacramento came back from a 35-point deficit to beat the Chicago Bulls in December, coach Paul Westphal raved that Brockman, who went scoreless and grabbed six rebounds in 17 minutes, was instrumental in the historic turnaround.