We’ve done a few of these now, and the only thing that hasn’t changed is that the Milwaukee Bucks are still the reigning NBA Champions. That being said, the Bucks have very little left to do for reloading their roster to defend their title next year.
On the first day of the offseason, the Bucks brought back one fan favorite in Bobby Portis while bidding adieu to another with PJ Tucker moving on to Miami, then quickly nabbed Semi Ojeleye. On the second day, we welcomed Rodney Hood into the fold and welcomed back George Hill from his jaunt around the league. Yesterday, we had plenty of time to discuss all sorts of topics because...not much happened, besides finding out that George Hill had indeed been given some of the taxpayer MLE.
Both years will be guaranteed on Hill's contract, per a league source. https://t.co/Dkb8lZyzFy— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) August 5, 2021
So what do we have to look forward, besides Summer League next week? Not much! The Bucks have about $1.9M of their midlevel exception remaining, which is roughly the same as the veteran’s minimum exception that they can use to sign a player to their fifteenth and final regular roster spot. Sandro Mamukelashvili has already confirmed to be taking one of the Bucks’ two-way spots, and fellow second rounder Georgios Kalaitzakis is expected to take the other (though that is not yet reported, and therefore can’t be guaranteed).
So with one spot left and no significant resources to fill it, what will the Bucks do? They could always re-sign Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who’s galavanting about Greece with his younger brother Giannis, and it’s fair to guess that the team would enjoy having him back. Alternatively, they could go for a guard to add additional depth to account for Donte DiVincenzo’s expected absence, but few of the players available on Day 4 of free agency demand excitement.
Technically speaking, the Bucks could also pursue a trade, absorbing a player into one of their two Traded Player Exceptions (worth $4.9M and $1.6M, respectively), which we covered in our offseason primer. These TPEs are rigid mechanisms and can fit a small fraction of active players, and only a fraction of those players are gettable with the type of assets the Bucks have available to trade.
And if you wanted to get really crazy, Milwaukee could opt to cut ties with one of their non-guaranteed contracts (most likely Elijah Bryant) to clear up a second roster spot, thus using another one of the aforementioned limited resources we discussed. Or perhaps Jon Horst will be content to sit tight and leave those roster spot empty, knowing that the regular season and projected playoff rotations are already configured.
Having written all this, I’m sure the Bucks will end up pulling off some unforeseeable blockbuster of a transaction that makes everyone’s heads spin. That’s just the way it goes sometimes, and if it does, we’ll be here to figure it out together!