After re-upping with cult hero and Finals contributor Bobby Portis, the Bucks pivoted to replace the defense lost from losing P.J. Tucker to the Heat—and compensate for the likely absence of Donte DiVincenzo to begin next season—by signing free-agent forward Semi Ojeleye from the Celtics.
Free agent F Semi Ojeleye has agreed to a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, his agent Sean Kennedy of @excelbasketball tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 3, 2021
Ojeleye is a former second-round pick who developed into a moderately-used rotation player in Boston, rarely starting (24 starts over his four years in the league) or shooting (just 3.0 FGA for his career). As you’d expect from those figures, the former Duke and SMU wing is known for his defense. In fact, he’s so known for his defense that his Wikipedia page still notes he once “held” Giannis to 16 points in a playoff game, earning him a (mostly unearned) reputation among Celtics fans as a “Giannis stopper.” Guess he hasn’t done much since?
In all seriousness, Ojeleye is a good defender and a solid insurance piece on the wing for one season. He’s able to soak up 15–20 minutes as an eighth or ninth man off the bench and guard an opponent’s best wing. He’ll hit the occasional triple too, as evidenced by his .378 and .367 percentages the past two seasons, but that came on just 1.8 and 2.8 attempts per game, respectively. Perhaps that volume ticks up moving to the three-happy Bucks. Once he’s official, the first-generation Ojeleye become the third member of Milwaukee’s roster with Nigerian roots after Giannis and Jordan Nwora.
Still, this is a downgrade from PJT defensively (and Ojeleye isn’t really any better on offense) and I think it’s safe to say that if Ojeleye is getting serious minutes next year, there are bigger problems on the Bucks. We’re still waiting on financials, but given that Ojeleye made barely over the minimum on his rookie contract with Boston, it’s possible that Milwaukee used part of their taxpayer mid-level exception to sign him.
UPDATE: According to our friend Eric Nehm, it is indeed a minimum-salary contract for one year. The Bucks retain the entirety of their taxpayer MLE of $5.9m. That makes this deal rather palatable, if you ask me.