The Milwaukee Bucks are the best team in the NBA, but they are not immune from the drama of the business. In a wholly unexpected report as the team embarks on a five-game road trip, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Thon Maker is unhappy with his role on the team and wants to get an opportunity to play, either here or elsewhere.
Agent for Milwaukee's Thon Maker has told management that he'd prefer franchise finds a trade to a team that would offer a larger role for 7-footer. Sides working on a solution. Story on ESPN: https://t.co/1J2DU2v6JA— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 26, 2019
From a purely objective (and monetary) standpoint, the request makes sense. Maker, a third-year center who has been extremely up-and-down since entering the league as the tenth overall pick in 2016, has an opportunity to work out a rookie contract extension this summer, and he’s simply not playing enough to move his stock. It also would stand to reason that a player with as notorious of a work ethic as Thon’s might not appreciate continually being passed over in the rotation; with Ersan Ilyasova, D.J. Wilson, and small ball Sterling Brown, there have not been enough minutes behind Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
However, having followed Thon’s career closely, we’ve seen that it takes a fairly narrow set of circumstances for Thon’s skill set to shine through. When the Bucks employ a switch-heavy trapping defense, Thon’s footspeed and agility are assets. But in their base zone-drop defense, his general lack of spatial awareness, slight frame, and sometimes-spastic activity levels are a bane, not a boon. And while he’s become more consistent hitting threes on offense, he has shown less versatility than Wilson, who seems to be better at catching in traffic, finishing close in, and passing the ball around.
There are two ways to read this report. On the one hand, Thon isn’t being used all that much, so it would cost very little to send him on his way. Hell, there’s even a potential replacement already on the roster who would be more than happy to take over his spot minutes:
Talk to coach bud before he sent me down he told me to stay focused my time is going to come so I’m gonna KILL everyone until then https://t.co/9h0LSp3TQE— Christian Wood (@Chriswood_5) January 20, 2019
On the other hand, Thon is reportedly a beloved teammate and has always been in the good graces of Giannis Antetokounmpo, and even if his use cases are sparse, he can fundamentally alter a game (or a playoff series) when he’s fully online. Maybe this situation gets worked out and Thon sticks around, or maybe Jon Horst (who has been a hit during his short career as general manager) finds a solution that gets Thon the opportunity he craves while returning something useful for the Milwaukee Bucks’ future.
Either way, it’s somewhat unsettling to hear that there’s trouble in paradise, no matter how minor it turns out to be. Stay tuned...