The Milwaukee Bucks have some serious choices to make in the 2020 offseason. While most of the core of the roster is locked in, the central pillar of the Bucks is not. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the back-to-back MVP, is in the last year of his contract. The Bucks will offer him a supermax extension, and he might take it...or he might wait until next offseason to see if committing to Milwaukee is right for him. Giannis wants to win, and the Bucks need to build a winner around him.
It’s difficult to consider Milwaukee’s last two years of regular season success and question whether or not they’re a “winner,” but it’s widely accepted that the Bucks are seeking success in the playoffs, which has eluded them in frustrating fashion. Something has to be done, and while Mike Budenholzer’s postseason coaching is part of the equation, the players on the roster are a variable that we can explore more easily. So let’s help Bucks general manager Jon Horst out.
The Brew Hoop staff has painstakingly scoured the Internet to identify the types of trades that fans think Milwaukee should look at. Many of the names are ones you’ll recognize from various media reports over the last few weeks, such as Jrue Holiday, Victor Oladipo, or Chris Paul. Once we put together the list of potential targets, we took to the TradeNBA Trade Machine (which gives you more customized options than the ESPN tool) to put together a trade package that seems both sensible and feasible. You won’t find any Damian Lillard proposals, but if names like Luke Kennard, Tyus Jones, or Dennis Schroder excite you, this is your moment!
We then attempted to rank each proposal based in three areas: Cost (how much the Bucks gave up), Gain (what the Bucks got back), and Realism (looking at if the deal is simple or complex, and if it’s beneficial for all parties). Once we put that together, we converted the exercise into everyone’s favorite tournament structure: a single-elimination bracket! Over the course of the coming weeks, we’ll post an article in the morning where readers can vote on which trade they prefer in the matchup, and we’ll continue all the way through until we have a ranked list of results. Included in those posts will be rationale for why the trade is worth entertaining, for both sides, and any reported interest on the part of any of the involved parties that can serve as reasonable evidence for why that trade should be considered.
From the Bucks perspective, we can safely make the following assumptions for each and every trade proposal we consider:
- Eric Bledsoe (owed $16.9M next season) is one of the Bucks’ top trade chips. Playoff woes aside, Bledsoe is an All-NBA defender at point guard and an excellent scorer at the rim, and he’s on a team friendly contract (only a quarter of his final season’s salary is guaranteed) to boot.
- Ersan Ilyasova ($7.0M, expiring) can only be traded if his 2020-21 salary is fully guaranteed, so while his salary is mechanically useful, the player that comes with it may garner less interest from other teams. If he’s not able to be included in a trade, the Bucks may choose to waive him instead and give themselves some breathing room. The exact timing of all this is still TBD, since the league is still negotiating changes to the collective bargaining agreement so that the new league year can start for everyone involved.
- The Bucks’ main assets are Donte DiVincenzo ($3.0M, rookie scale), the 2020 Indiana first round pick (#24 overall), their own 2024 first round pick (already owe 2022 to Cleveland, and unable to trade 2021 and 2023 due to the Stepien Rule), a smattering of second rounders, and D.J. Wilson ($4.5M, expiring). The fact that Wilson is on the list shows you just how bare the cupboard is.
- Wesley Matthews ($2.7M) and Robin Lopez ($5.0M) each have player options, so including either in a trade is contingent upon them accepting that option. For that reason, we left them out of any deals.
- Brook Lopez ($12.7M), George Hill ($9.6M), and Khris Middleton ($33.0M) are all important to the Bucks, and while they’re not untouchable it’s not thought likely that they’ll be included in a trade unless absolutely necessary. Of course, if the right opportunity came along, their chances of being traded are higher than that of Giannis ($27.5M), because the chances of him being traded are zero.
In terms of what the Bucks are looking for, the general assumption is that Milwaukee needs a capable offensive point guard, someone who can both manage the offense and hit shots, ideally ones they can create themselves or have created from Giannis’ gravity. There are definitely other areas where the Bucks could benefit (shooting guard depth, power forward depth, general athleticism), but by and large the key to a successful offseason is providing the team a lead guard on the offensive end, one who can remain effective against playoff-level defenses and punish opponents for walling off Giannis.
Let us know what you think! The first post will go up tomorrow morning, and we’ll keep the polls open for 24 hours from the time that the article is published in our system. Put your predictions in the comments, we’ll see you tomorrow with our first matchup!