The Milwaukee Bucks are (at present) the best team in the NBA, and as such they attract all manner of attention during this phase of the season, when roster spots are still open and wily veterans try and latch on for one more shot at a ring. Bucks general manager Jon Horst has regularly participated in the buyout market, and if this latest report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is any indication, Horst might land another target in veteran point guard Goran Dragic.
Dragic is visiting the Bucks on Friday, sources said. The Bucks tried to sign Dragic prior to him committing to the Nets a year ago and could have agreement as soon as tomorrow.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 2, 2023
Dragic, 36, fits the description of a “buyout guy” to a tee. He’s experienced (939 total games played in 14 seasons in the NBA, across 6 teams), has never won a championship (despite playing in 60 playoff games), and is likely able to produce far below his career averages (13.3 points, 4.7 assists, 3.0 boards, on 0.459 / 0.361 / 0.766 shooting splits). He happens to play a position of need for Milwaukee; the only other guard-sized point guards on the roster are Jrue Holiday and Jevon Carter.
You may think to yourself, “huh, that name is familiar! Have the Bucks tried to sign him before?” And you would be right! Last season, Dragic picked Brooklyn over Milwaukee; unfortunately for him, neither team turned out to be the right one to latch on to for a trip to the NBA Finals (that was the Boston Celtics). As fate would have it, Dragic’s new team from last mid-season needed to waive a player to create an open roster spot...and that player was the Bucks’ very own Jevon Carter. You can’t make this up!
The Nets are waiving guard Jevon Carter to clear a roster spot for Goran Dragic, sources tell ESPN. Dragic's agent Bill Duffy tells ESPN that Dragic's deal will be for the rest of the season.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 21, 2022
Rather than join the Bucks this past offseason, Dragic opted to throw in with the Chicago Bulls, who gave him roughly 15 minutes per game but have been eminently forgettable this season and released him a few days ago. The one-time NBA All-Star is highly unlikely to play a major role with Milwaukee for the remainder of this season, but having a steady hand in the backcourt as a deep reserve is a worthwhile position to fill as the Bucks gear up for this year’s run towards a championship.
Of course, nothing is written in ink yet; however tomorrow’s visit between Dragic and the Bucks goes will determine whether or not Milwaukee uses one of its remaining roster spots on him. If so, the Bucks’ roster will be nearly complete once they decide how to handle Meyers Leonard’s 10-day contract. On that front, Leonard can either be converted to a standard rest-of-season deal, re-upped into a second 10-day deal, or allowed to expire and walk. The only other spot available is the two-way vacated by Sandro Mamukelashvili, a transaction from which all of Bucks fandom is still trying to recover.
All things considered, Milwaukee could do worse with their remaining regular roster spots. With anywhere between 8 and 12 players that can be trusted in the playoff rotation, spots fourteen and fifteen are there to round out the team’s depth and serve as short-term injury insurance. With Goran Dragic, Milwaukee at least has a capable ball-handler who has demonstrated the ability to find teammates and create shots; even if he’s fully washed up at this point, the job requirements are so minimal that Dragic might be able to fill any gaps that spring open between now and June. After all, that’s the only timeframe that matters right now; we’ll see if Dragic and the Bucks want him to spend that time here.
We mentioned that the Bucks had options for what to do with Meyers Leonard, and that the deadline for picking an option was fast approaching. Shortly after this article was posted, Woj also reported that the Bucks went with the middle option and signed a second 10-day deal with the veteran center, essentially kicking the can down the road when it comes to their front court depth.
The Milwaukee Bucks are signing F/C Meyers Leonard to a second consecutive 10-day contract, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 3, 2023
From this point, the Bucks can either keep Leonard on a standard (prorated) deal for the rest of the season and playoffs, or he will become a free agent again after this 10-day deal expires. Considering the state of available bigs who are playoff-eligible, it’s not looking likely that the Bucks bring in another player in Leonard’s place...but they’re at least keeping their options open between now and March 13.