Ladies and gentlemen, we’re not there yet...but we’re getting close.
Per the team, the Bucks have assigned Joe Ingles, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and MarJon Beauchamp to the Wisconsin Herd.— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) December 8, 2022
The Milwaukee Bucks did not have much money to spend in free agency last offseason; fortunately, most of the players they retained were able to be paid through salary cap exceptions. The exception to that was Joe Ingles, a forward formerly with the Utah Jazz who was acquired with the taxpayer mid-level. It was a good gamble for the team, as the absence of All Star wing Khris Middleton sunk the team’s postseason chances after he was unable to return from a knee injury suffered in the playoffs. The only catch is that Ingles has been recovering from a knee injury of his own this whole time; Ingles tore his ACL in January 2022.
So the Bucks paid him, and he’s been a regular presence at practice and on the bench, but we haven’t seen him on the court yet. That seems to be on the precipice of change, especially since he’s recently started working out before games with Milwaukee’s coaching staff.
Joe Ingles out on the floor going through a pregame workout with Patrick St. Andrews tonight. pic.twitter.com/O9102feW79— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) December 8, 2022
The upside with Ingles is clear: he will add both shooting and playmaking on offense, and his overall basketball IQ should make him a decent team defender, rendering his prospective minutes a net-positive for the team. He will undoubtedly get a chance to earn minutes in the postseason rotation (if he’s healthy), making the decisions of who plays and who sits even more difficult for head coach Mike Budenholzer.
We must keep in mind that this is not an imminent return. Khris Middleton was also assigned to the Wisconsin Herd in order to get in some practice reps, and then recalled, and then reassigned, then recalled again, a few different times before he finally suited up for an NBA game this season. The Bucks are likely to follow the same pattern with Joe Ingles, who is older than Middleton and still recovering from a far more serious injury.
Still, this is a positive sign. If Ingles can continue to progress, he might even make good on the cryptic teaser tweeted out by assistant coach Mike Dunlap a few weeks ago. This would finally put the Bucks at full strength, provided nothing else changes with the current roster and Wes Matthews exits the league’s health & safety protocols in the near future. It’s been literal months since that happened, and the prospect of a fully-operational Milwaukee Bucks roster that’s already 18-6 (and only 2 games back of the league-leading Boston Celtics) is an exciting one.