A few days ago, we asked you some of the most burning questions surrounding what projects to be something of a pivotal offseason for the Bucks. Two years removed from their championship, the core that took them to the promised land remains largely intact but has come up short ever since mainly due to injuries and underperformance. With a new head coach installed, the focus now turns to the roster as GM Jon Horst looks to win a second title in four years.
Let’s start off with perhaps the most discussed trade candidate on the team, or at least the one who could net the best return: Jrue Holiday. After putting in yeoman’s work defending Supernova Edition Jimmy Butler, guarding him as well as anyone can be expected to guard someone that locked in, Holiday struggled mightily on the other end, in what has become a recurring theme for him in the postseason. The combination of shooting inefficiency, somewhat frequent turnovers, and the tendency to dial his own number—even when his jumper is consistently amiss—rather than create for teammates oft frustrates fans. Enough to make a change at the point guard spot, or use him to upgrade another area, though? Perhaps not:
Next up is Sixth Man of the Year finalist Bobby Portis, who remains as popular as ever in Milwaukee. While The Mayor puts up gaudy regular season production with double-doubles galore, his playoff limitations were again on full display in a key series where he appeared largely unable to help the Bucks. Unlike against Brooklyn in 2021, Portis saw minutes versus Miami, but like 2022’s Boston series, he provided little offensive firepower to justify his defensive shortcomings: in 21.5 MPG, he averaged 9.6 PPGand 8.2 RPG on .488/.278/1.000 shooting, down from the 14.1 PPG and 9.8 RPG on .496/.370/.768 he posted in the regular season. It’s not uncommon for even high-level role players to be unplayable in certain matchups, and Portis contributed big time in the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Finals, but can the Bucks continue to employ someone whose playoff contributions are somewhat spotty? And with such a moveable contract, should he be used to strengthen the roster? Again, most don’t think so:
So, if those two shouldn’t be moved, then who? There are few other trade candidates under contract who could net the Bucks something useful in return, but each of the non-stars has a salary figure that is eminently moveable on its own or could be aggregated with others for someone making more money. That makes them all assets, though not sexy ones. The only Buck with real future value and on a highly-coveted rookie-scale contract is MarJon Beauchamp, who would very likely be an important piece in a trade that brings in an All-Star caliber talent. However, a plurality of fans would prefer to hang onto him for now:
What surprises me mildly is that few would prefer to hang onto Pat Connaughton over Grayson Allen. While Allen still has his detractors among the Bucks' fanbase, harping on his drawbacks while ignoring his positives—he had a 65.8% TS% and 11.6 PPG in the Heat series thanks to hitting at a 48.3% clip from deep—his contract is the only expiring (and cheapest) of the above so it makes sense. Connaughton, however, was a more reliable contributor to the title run, is a couple of years older, and is under contract through at least 2025 at a slightly higher pricepoint than Allen. Coming off a down season and dogged by injuries, maybe fans are ready to move on from Planet Pat.
Now let’s get to the more binary decisions in free agency. After he opted out on Wednesday, Khris Middleton joins Brook Lopez among the Bucks’ several unrestricted free agents. While there is a very vocal minority of Milwaukee fans who hate on Middleton for dubious reasons, a clear majority of fans surveyed support bringing him back on a long-term deal... at what price point? Time will tell:
More obvious support registers for Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Brook Lopez, who even at age 35, might have been the most important player to Milwaukee’s vaunted defense of the Mike Budenholzer era. Though he’ll likely get a raise on last year’s $13.9m salary, fans are comfortable keeping him in a Bucks uniform into his late thirties, at least from a time perspective:
There you have it; a majority of fans polled want to retain Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Bobby Portis. If you’re one of them, how do you propose the Bucks make changes to the roster via trade? If you’re not one of these majorities, what moves would you look to make? Take to the comments and explain away.
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