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Falling Into Place: Milwaukee Bucks Offseason Update

Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks

Technically, the offseason hasn’t even started yet! But don’t let that dampen your excitement about the Milwaukee Bucks’ moves; just because the moratorium (wink-wink) on any official NBA free agency business ends on July 6 doesn’t mean that we can’t treat all these reports and rumors as gospel.

The only big change from our last update has been the signing of Wes Matthews, a move widely lauded for his picturesque fit with Milwaukee and his bargain-bin price for the 2019-20 season. His addition goes a long way, though, to shore up the Bucks’ guard depth, where the void left by Malcolm Brogdon will apparently be filled by committee. Here’s an early look at what the depth chart might look like in October (with today’s players included, except Leuer, who would likely be at the end of the bench anyhow):

As we found out last year with Brook Lopez and Pat Connaughton, just because free agency has been going on forever (doesn’t it feel like forever?) doesn’t mean additional pieces aren’t out there worth finding. For example, Kyle Korver is reported to be available following a buyout from the Phoenix Suns, and Milwaukee just happens to have an opening at backup small forward (and can always use shooting). If Korver is interested (Woj says he is!) willing to accept a veteran’s minimum deal, it’s fair to say that the Bucks would be a nice landing spot for him. As Blogfather Frank Madden notes below, there is ample space in the Bucks’ salary structure for this season for a handful more minimum contracts.

Because of the moratorium (remember: the NBA isn't technically allowed to do business right now!), the sequence of moves is yet to be fully revealed, and there may be aftershocks once the floodgates open. Assuming Brook Lopez and George Hill are both signed using cap space (which is the only possibility, given their salaries), what exact numbers they come in at will determine whether or not the Bucks keep or renounce the $10ish million Traded Player Exception they hold from the Brogdon sign-and-trade. Once that’s decided, the rest of the minimum-level deals can be inked, and Khris Middleton’s not-a-max-but-pretty-close-to-one contract can be made official as well.

Oh, you have questions about the Traded Player Exception? If you’re looking for an in-depth explanation of how a team can use a TPE...keep looking. Larry Coon’s excellent CBA-FAQ site is incredibly helpful, but all I know about Traded Player Exceptions is that a team can get an exception worth roughly half of the outgoing salary (hence the $10M estimate for the Bucks after trading Brogdon), and that the TPE counts against the salary cap, meaning they can only use it to absorb salary if they choose to not renounce it, which they may have to do just to complete the signings that have been reported.

/deep breath

All that said, the Bucks have finished their first round of moves, and now they’re waiting (as is the rest of the league) for the rest of the dust to settle...which may not be until after Kawhi Leonard makes his decision. There are a number of interesting free agents still on the market (DeMarcus Cousins! Vince Carter! Jabari Parker!...ooooh, too soon...). There will be additional transactions to track down and analyze, but the majority of the Milwaukee offseason objectives have been met: keep things together while remaining fiscally responsible.

A number of Bucks fans will cringe at the last part there; many have speculated that the Bucks declined matching Brogdon’s offer from the Indiana Pacers because it would have pushed them too deep into the luxury tax, and that ownership cheaped out. While this is feasible and could very well be the case, Jon Horst and the front office have stated time and time again that the luxury tax will not preclude them from making the team better, giving credence to the argument that Brogdon’s offer was simply more than Milwaukee thought he was worth...and getting draft assets back from the Pacers is just gravy.

It’s only been four days, and we have a ton more offseason to go. What else do you want to see? Who would you be interested in to fill out the final few roster spots? Who do you think the Bucks ought to stay away from? Let us know in the comments, and have a pleasant and safe Fourth of July!