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Report: Tyler Zeller Waived, Last Roster Spot Still In Play

The Zeller brother’s 2018-19 salary was non-guaranteed, and the team has two more suitors for the final spot.

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

And then, there were two. After bidding farewell to Shabazz Muhammad, the Milwaukee Bucks have eliminated another contender for a roster spot: Tyler Zeller has reportedly been waived.

Zeller, a six-season NBA veteran, joined the Bucks last season in exchange for former first round pick (and apparently former NBA player) Rashad Vaughn. Zeller appeared in 24 regular season games for Milwaukee, and while his individual contributions rarely stood out he often found himself helping the team succeed for short long as his lack of top-end big man talent wasn’t actively being challenged, like it was in the playoffs.

In hindsight, the writing was on the wall during the Bucks’ final preseason game against Minnesota, where Wood took the floor late in the first quarter, while Zeller’s number didn’t get called until well after the game was decided.

The Bucks’ fifteenth spot is now down to two, at least when considering players brought in ahead of training camp: Christian Wood and Tim Frazier. Wood is considered the heavy favorite to make the opening night roster, especially since his rumored “inside track” was coupled with rumors that the Bucks were open to moving on from last year’s first rounder D.J. Wilson, although that part of the rumor hasn’t come to fruition.

Frazier’s ability to serve as a capable reserve point guard is a valid counterpoint to Wood’s claim to the spot, especially since the Bucks’ big man rotation appears full with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ersan Ilyasova, Brook Lopez, John Henson, and Thon Maker. The Bucks could use more help at the point, given that Eric Bledsoe and Matthew Dellavedova are the roster’s only “true point guards,” although Malcolm Brogdon is a solid combo guard and Donte DiVincenzo appears to be drawing ball-handling responsibilities. Additionally, Giannis and Khris Middleton’s playmaking abilities mitigate the need for actual point guards behind the main contributors.

Barring any unforeseen transactions, there’s no reason to believe that Christian Wood isn’t a shoo-in for the Bucks’ final spot. He has upside to develop into a higher-level player, while Frazier...doesn’t. However, this is the NBA, and crazier things have happened. The cut-down date is quickly approaching, as is the regular season tip-off on Wednesday. We will be sure to follow this story as it draws to a close!