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Rumors: Wood Makes Roster, But Bucks Still Mulling Options

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Christian Wood’s status is unconfirmed, and “sources” claim that Jon Horst isn’t done yet...

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks have been busy sorting out the last few spots on their roster. Shabazz Muhammad was sent packing, as was Tyler Zeller, and Summer League fan favorite Christian Wood appears to have secured a seat on the Milwaukee bench.

With Wood’s presence, the team’s count of guaranteed contracts stands at fifteen, but Bucks general manager Jon Horst appears to be looking to shuffle the deck one more time, with D.J. Wilson and Tim Frazier’s immediate NBA futures hanging in the balance.

First off, shout out to Christian Wood, for traversing a difficult path to stick in the NBA. As a college teammate of Rashad Vaughn’s at UNLV back in 2015, Wood’s draft stock was very much uncertain, despite his obvious talent. He was rated as a second-round prospect, but ended up going undrafted, and proceeded to ply his trade in the G-League with affiliates of the Charlotte Hornets and Philadelphia 76ers. Over two seasons he accumulated 30 games in the NBA in either city, but never managed to stand out. Then Summer League with the Bucks happened, he earned a spot to compete in training camp, and now he stands at the precipice of making an opening night roster as a promising 23 year-old player. Perseverance is a virtue, and it’s refreshing to see a young player find some success in the league. Here’s hoping that his story continues along the current track.

Over the course of the preseason, Wood has been seen playing more power forward than center, which leads us to another end-of-the-roster big man: D.J. Wilson. Last summer’s first round pick has been a non-factor since being selected at #17 overall, logging less than 100 minutes in the pros and playing in fewer than a dozen G-League contests. He was so-so in Summer League and barely played (due to a hamstring injury) in preseason, leading many fans to question whether or not Wilson should even remain in Milwaukee for his sophomore season.

The argument for Wilson is straightforward: He has rare physical talents, interesting skills for a big man, and has only been in the NBA for a single season under a coach (Jason Kidd) who did not prioritize his development. The argument against is similarly simple: he wasn’t great at Michigan and has never shown anything approaching league-average in a variety of NBA settings.

The Bucks have three options available for Wilson. First, and easiest, is to simply keep him around, where he will remain at the end of the bench and do little harm to the team. This will later lead to deciding whether or not to pick up his third-year option, but that’s a “next summer” problem. This option also necessitates setting Tim Frazier free via waiver, which is also low-cost.

The second option for the team is to waive Wilson and keep Frazier in his place. Frazier could be a decent reserve point guard, but most Bucks fans might pine for him to stay if only because he’s not D.J. Wilson. This path carries with it the heaviest financial hit, but a bearable one since Wilson is still on a rookie-scale contract.

The third, and most interesting, option is to find a trade where Wilson gets sent elsewhere. The possibilities here are more varied; returning a player would then force Frazier out, whereas returning a pick would allow Frazier to stay. Of course, the hangup here is that Jon Horst needs to convince another team to take a flier on Wilson, and it’s hard to believe that the market for his services is particularly hot, which is the case for other “assets” that Bucks fans are interested in putting on the block.

The deadline for final rosters to be in place is 5:00pm (EST) on Monday, October 15. That gives Jon Horst (and Mike Budenholzer) a little more than a day to sort out D.J. Wilson’s future, and who his potential replacement will be. Either way, the Bucks are primed for their Wednesday opener in Charlotte, and the minutiae of the last-minute roster crunch will give way to the excitement of the regular season.