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Bucks Trade Candidate: Dorian Finney-Smith

A two-way wing to (hopefully) help make the Bucks a two-way team

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2024 NBA trade deadline just a couple days away, the Brew Hoop staff has highlighted potential trades featuring a number of players. As we wind down the series, today we look at one hypothetical acquisition as we explore the idea of adding the Brooklyn Nets’ Dorian Finney-Smith to the Bucks’ roster.

The Player

Dorian Finney-Smith, 30, 6’7” 220 lb., forward

Season averages: 9.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG, .412/.383/.700

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported Monday that the Bucks have registered interest in Finney-Smith and fellow Net Royce O’Neale in their search for a two-way wing to add at the trade deadline, so there is already real buzz about a potential deal getting done between the two teams this week. There is also some precedent, as the franchises’ front offices have worked together in the recent past with Milwaukee general manager Jon Horst acquiring Jae Crowder from Brooklyn for the cost of five second-round picks almost exactly one calendar year ago.

The Trade

Anyone who has watched the Bucks this season knows that Pat Connaughton’s play has taken his trade value to an all-time low. Acquiring his contract in a potential Finney-Smith trade, however, would save the Nets a significant chunk of change in the long run. Through the end of the 2025–26 season, Finney-Smith is owed $44.2 million, including a $15.3 million player option in the final year of his contract. Over the same period, Connaughton is owed just $28.2 million, also including a player option in the final year. Adjusting that number to $4.6 million per year for three seasons, the Nets could add a veteran on a team-friendly deal or a rookie on a cost-controlled contract, either of which would have value for a young team still determining the direction of its immediate future.

Coincidentally, that same line of thinking would be reflected in having Robin Lopez’s contract come off the books after this season (Cam Payne’s contract is essentially identical to Lopez’s, so if Brooklyn preferred to add another ball-handler, he could be swapped in instead). The Nets would also have the opportunity to develop a spot-up shooter like A.J. Green into the second coming of Joe Harris to play alongside Brooklyn’s burgeoning star Mikal Bridges and any other high-tier players the organization may look to acquire in coming seasons.

A second-round pick as compensation for adding Connaughton would allow them further draft capital to flip in future trades too—in this case, the 2024 second-rounder that the Bucks own via the Portland Trail Blazers would be more valuable in helping outbid other suitors than Milwaukee’s 2027 second-rounder.

In addition to Finney-Smith, the Bucks would also absorb Trendon Watford and the remainder of the $2 million owed to him over the rest of the season. A partial-season look at Watford to gauge his on-court fit as a potential stretch big coming off the bench could prove useful in the likely event that Bobby Portis is traded in a separate deal this week or at any other point before his three-year contract is up. Milwaukee would have non-Bird rights on Watford this offseason, should they look to bring him back.

To keep both teams under the fifteen-player roster limit, Brooklyn would also need to either cut someone or send one more player to the Bucks in order for the deal to be successful. Former first-round pick Harry Giles would be the obvious candidate in either case. Averaging just 5.1 minutes per game, the Nets would not necessarily be missing many contributions by cutting him, and the Bucks could get an emergency frontcourt piece were they to roster him.

Overall, this would ultimately represent a low-risk, high-reward trade for Milwaukee while serving Brooklyn beyond this season—a win-win, depending on the lens you choose to view it through.

The Fit

While Crowder’s on-court impact has been largely tenuous when he has been available, Finney-Smith could serve as the effective 3-and-D player the Bucks are continuously hoping to add. With 97.7 percent of his three-point attempts coming off assists according to Basketball Reference, he would be an instant fit in an offense featuring talented and willing passers such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, and Khris Middleton. Canning 42.5 percent of his corner three attempts while attempting 5.5 shots from behind the arc on average would make Finney-Smith an ideal complement to the Bucks’ existing offense, which has been their undeniable calling card throughout the 2023-2024 season.

After being dealt by the Dallas Mavericks as part of a package in return for Kyrie Irving last season, Finney-Smith entered his first full campaign in Brooklyn as the spearhead for a rebuilt Nets defense:

Finney-Smith’s versatility is debatably his biggest asset for teams hoping to make an upgrade at the trade deadline, as he can capably defend guards, wings, and bigs alike. Having played alongside Luka Dončić for the bulk of his NBA career, Finney-Smith also understands the buy-in to a role required for team success on a roster built around a superstar.

Sharing the floor with two such players in Milwaukee would allow him to double down on his defensive effort while either maintaining or streamlining his diet of shots. For context, Malik Beasley currently hoists 8.5 attempts per game, after which Crowder’s 5.5 shots per game is the next-highest on the Bucks’ roster. Finney-Smith is currently averaging 8.1 field goal attempts on a team that is not nearly as talented, meaning he would likely find an easy fit between Beasley and Crowder on that list.

As has been the case with most recent Bucks rosters, youth has been sacrificed for the sake of a win-now approach. Finney-Smith is fast approaching his 31st birthday and would seem to fit that narrative perfectly in addition to the (fairly well-earned!) narrative that newly minted Eastern Conference All-Star team head coach Doc Rivers trusts and doles out playing time to veterans more readily than he does to younger players.

In the search to stop the season’s bleeding on defense, Finney-Smith would not be a cure-all, but he would certainly be more than a simple bandage. In taking a portion of the defensive burden off of Antetokounmpo and Middleton—who has shown glimpses of being a capable defender again, if not entirely the player he was on that end of the court pre-injury—and covering up for some of the staunchness that Lillard and Beasley tend to leave to be desired, Finney-Smith could be the salve that keeps the Bucks from getting burned. Sometimes that’s enough to succeed in the postseason.

Let us know what you think of this trade. Is it too much/not enough to give up? Do you think one team balks at this offer? How do you feel about Finney-Smith and his fit on the Bucks?