The entire outlook on the Milwaukee Bucks’ season shifted yesterday when news broke of first-year head coach Adrian Griffin’s dismissal.
After an initial report jumped the gun last night, today it became official that Doc Rivers would be taking over as head coach. With a new leader at the helm, it now seems even more likely that the Bucks will shake up the roster in the 15 days leading up to the NBA trade deadline.
In an article for Yahoo Sports, senior NBA reporter Jake Fischer says the Bucks have made their bargaining chips apparent to potential trade partners. Their main moving piece is the rights to Portland’s 2024 second-round pick, which currently projects to be the 35th overall selection in the draft. They are interested in parlaying that pick with guards Pat Connaughton and Cam Payne, who yield a combined salary of $12.5 million.
That combined figure gives the Bucks the financial ability to pursue some interesting names. Bulls guard Alex Caruso is a logistically possible target, but Milwaukee doesn’t have anywhere near the draft capital to convince Chicago to part with him. More realistic targets in this price range include Matisse Thybulle of the Trail Blazers and P.J. Tucker of the Clippers (remember him?).
Even though Thybulle and Tucker are available, there are obvious red flags that make trading for them difficult. Tucker is 38, and his output since leaving Milwaukee in 2021 doesn’t exactly scream “I’m not washed!” Thybulle doesn’t carry any real physical concerns, but Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Sports indicated that he might not be on board with this operation after the coaching change.
Worth keeping in mind: Matisse Thybulle (mentioned in here as Bucks trade target) has veto rights over any deal for the first year because he had an RFA offer sheet matched.— Sean Highkin (@highkin) January 24, 2024
I don't think he's signing off on a trade to Milwaukee in light of the coaching hire they just made. https://t.co/E9f6zddyv6
If the Bucks are interested in exploring a pricer player, there’s a path to that as well. By including power forward Bobby Portis and his $11.7 million salary, the Bucks would be closer to the range of Hawks’ guard Dejounte Murray or Raptors’ guard Bruce Brown Jr., both of whom are signaling to be available in trade packages.
Like the Caruso situation, though, it doesn’t seem like Portland’s 35th overall pick would be enough to convince Atlanta or Toronto to part with their key starters. According to Fischer, the Hawks are seeking “two first-round picks plus a starting-level player” in exchange for Murray, which is a far cry from what Milwaukee is able to offer. Similarly, Toronto wants “a first-round selection” for Brown, whom they recently acquired in the blockbuster trade to bring Pascal Siakam to Indiana. Although he has quality value, his unattractive contract situation may render that asking price unrealistic.
Time will tell if the Bucks are able to land another key contributor, and it’s still unclear what is truly possible with their limited availability for a trade haul. Jon Horst and company have been aggressive before, and the resounding assumption is that the Bucks aren’t done dealin’ yet. We’re in for a ride leading up to February 8th!