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Report: Bucks Sign TyTy Washington to two-way deal

The former first round pick could have some untapped upside

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Houston Rockets v Washington Wizards Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s been a solid month since the Bucks have had any type of transaction, and while this might not be the big one some fans have been hoping for, it’s a new player in the organization nevertheless! Earlier this afternoon, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Milwaukee has signed former Rockets guard TyTy Washington Jr. to a two-way contract:

As you can see, we’re just barely a year removed from Washington’s name being called at the 2022 NBA Draft, late in the first round. The Kentucky alum will turn 22 in November and stands at 6’3” with a 6’8” wingspan while tipping the scales at a skosh under 200 pounds. Like his fellow former Wildcat Chris Livingston, Washington was also a five-star recruit coming out of high school, ranking between fourteenth and nineteenth in the major rankings. He put together a solid freshman season for John Calipari’s squad, averaging 12.5 PPG on .451/.350/.750 shooting with 3.5 RPG and 3.9 APG as Kentucky rose to as high as fourth in the polls. After a first-round upset to 15 seed Saint Peter’s to kick off their legendary Cinderella run, Washington declared for the NBA draft, going one-and-done like so many Wildcats before him and to come.

Success in the NBA, however, has yet to come for the young guard. Even on a young Rockets team, as one of five rookies and the last of three first-round picks the team ended up making, he didn’t see the floor much at all for one of the league’s worst teams. He got into just 31 games, starting two of them, and 433 minutes played, averaging out to 14 MPG. In those minutes he shot very poorly from everywhere (.363/.238/.556), resulting in a forgettable 4.7 PPG, 1.5 RPG, and 1.5 APG. Spending parts of the season on assignment with Houston’s G League affiliate, he got into eighteen games there where his numbers pop quite a bit more: 23.1 PPG on .435/.317/.833 shooting, 6.1 APG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.3 SPG. Most notably, he scored 53 points in a January game, prompting a swift call-up from the Rio Grande Valley back to H-Town.

Nevertheless, there seemed to be some doubt whether or not he’d stick with the Rockets, buried behind other young guards like Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. after such a forgettable rookie year, and he started appearing in trade rumors as July 1 approached. Houston’s signing of Fred VanVleet to a massive deal to be their new starting point guard dimmed Washington’s outlook there further. Sure enough, he was sent to the Hawks as part of their five-team sign-and-trade deal for Dillon Brooks.

That wasn’t the only trade he’d be a part of this offseason, though, as Atlanta sent him to Oklahoma City just four days later as part of their outgoing package to get Patty Mills. The Thunder have far too many players on guaranteed deals, so cuts were coming, and on August 18th, Washington was waived. Since he went unclaimed, OKC will pay him the salary he’s due in the second season of his rookie deal while he’ll make another $560k on this two-way from Milwaukee. No word yet on whether or not this is a two-year two-way deal like Omari Moore’s this summer and Lindell Wigginton’s last year.

With Washington filling the Bucks’ third and final two-way spot, their eighteen-man roster is now full. In addition to the fifteen fully-guaranteed players on the standard roster and the three two-way guys, reported deals for Drew Timme and Jazian Gortman—which would pretty much have to be Exhibit 10, or training camp deals—take them to twenty players, one shy of the NBA’s offseason roster limit of 21. So barring another move from the main roster or releasing one of the two-way players, Milwaukee can only bring in one more player for training camp, to compete for a roster spot which probably won’t exist. Before the regular season starts, the Bucks can have only eighteen players total on their roster, and it seems like Washington will be one of their allotted two-way players.

Now that he’s a Buck, Washington will hope to get involved in a very wide-open mix for minutes at the point behind Jrue Holiday. Theoretically, he should be on equal footing with fellow PG Wigginton and perhaps ahead of undrafted rookie wing Omari Moore (who played a lot of point in college), though Wigginton does have the advantage of being with the organization much longer. Despite being a bit shorter than Andre Jackson Jr., who also ran point a lot in college, will still put him in competition somewhat with him for ballhandling minutes in whatever opportunities there are, be they rotational minutes or garbage time.

Efficiency hasn’t been Washington’s strong suit as a pro, to say the least, so it will be incumbent on the Bucks’ player development staff and their newly-installed G League coach (and former Buck) Beno Udrih to get him to perhaps cut down on the attempts and focus on playmaking. He’ll see plenty of time with the Wisconsin Herd in Oshkosh since as a two-way player, he can only be active for a maximum of 50 games and is not eligible for the postseason. He’d need to be signed to a standard roster spot for further games or playoff appearances to happen.

We’ll have more on Washington as the season draws closer, but in the meantime, how do you feel about this move? Are you excited by signing a recent first-round pick, and how much of a shot do you think the Bucks should give him? Does he have any NBA skills or a future in the league? Let us know.