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Bucks pre-deadline trade rumors roundup

Let’s check in on the slop machine, shall we?

Golden State Warriors v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Bucks just completed a 1-4 Western Conference road trip that has many fans restless—at least according to this week’s Tuesday Tracker—as the trade deadline approaches in 24 hours. While they may already have made their splashiest move in the form of a head coaching change (quick aside: maybe a trip out west isn’t a good time to join an organization as head coach and it’s not absolutely awful that they haven’t yet come together under Doc Rivers), GM Jon Horst is running one of the most aggressive teams on the market right now, according to multiple sources. Still, this deadline has been pretty slow so far. Let’s hit some of the biggest Bucks-centric rumors from the last day or three.

Milwaukee is interested in Andrew Wiggins

Some—including our own Kyle Carr—have speculated about a possible Wiggins fit on the Bucks, and it appears the team might be entertaining the idea too according to Marc Stein and Yahoo’s Jake Fischer. It’s been a sharp decline for the former number-one overall pick since his title-winning campaign in 2021–22, where he made his lone All-Star team and was regarded by many as Golden State’s second-best player in the NBA Finals. The 28-year-old wing signed a four-year, $109 million contract before last season when he appeared in just 37 games as his father dealt with some serious medical issues. That deal took effect this year and in 42 games thus far, he’s averaging a career-worst 12.2 PPG on .437/.311/.717 shooting.

While that contract was regarded as team-friendly after it was signed, mainly because Wiggins appeared to settle into a more fitting NBA role as a Warrior as opposed to his high-volume years as a Timberwolf, it’s reasonable to be worried about his performance moving forward during the life of that contract. Still, he’s regarded as a strong defender and at 6’7 with a 7’ wingspan, the Canadian would fit the archetype of wing defender that many fans and pundits feel Milwaukee needs to guard the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in the postseason. After all, Wiggins did a sensational job on those very two in the 2022 Finals.

As Fischer notes, Bobby Portis would have to be in the outgoing package for Milwaukee for salary reasons, unless they were to include one of their core four starters like Khris Middleton or Brook Lopez. With the former now dealing with a sprained ankle and the latter such a key part of keeping their slightly improved defense afloat, the Bucks likely won’t be moving either. That means Pat Connaughton and one other player (even someone on a minimum) would also need to be in the deal along with Portis for a Wiggins acquisition to meet salary-matching rules.

Fischer also notes that Portis was one of Steve Kerr’s favorite players as he coached last year’s Team USA in the FIBA World Cup. The Warriors are currently out of the play-in picture and seem like a plausible bet to sell, but they have an open spot on their standard roster, so they could send out someone like Cory Joseph or Dario Saric and get by with a three-for-two deal. You can bet Golden State would want some draft compensation too, and the Bucks have just two second-round picks to offer. More on those below.

Quick aside about today’s Fontecchio trade

Speaking of second-round picks, Detroit just sent out the better of Memphis’ or Washington’s 2024 seconds to Utah earlier today alongside Kevin Knox, receiving forward Simone Fontecchio and draft-and-stash prospect Gabriele Procida—the 36th overall pick in 2022—in return. Why is this relevant to Milwaukee? Well, one of the two picks they can trade right now is Portland’s 2024 second-rounder, one they acquired in the Donte DiVincenzo-Serge Ibaka deal (they received three seconds in the trade, maybe it wasn’t so bad after all?) two deadlines ago.

Currently, Washington’s record projects them at the 32nd pick in the draft, which Utah gets for a sweet-shooting role player and a salary to match. Portland is currently at 35th, so this gives us a clue as to the type of player an early second-round pick can get you at this deadline. Of course, Detroit also got someone drafted in that same range two drafts ago but has yet to play in the NBA for a pick that’s probably going to be at least a couple spots higher than Portland’s. Just something to keep in mind.

Bobby Portis and MarJon Beauchamp are in discussions

Milwaukee is still placing a high value on Portis per Fischer, as demonstrated by their reported unwillingness to trade him to Dallas for Grant Williams straight-up, wanting additional compensation for their veteran big man, according to Stein. It seems likely that Horst wanted some picks or other players from Dallas in return for Portis. Fischer reports Bucks are said to be seeking extra first-round selections in exchange for packages of seconds or swaps, talking to teams with surpluses of firsts like the Pelicans and Thunder. However, doing the latter would be complicated since every future first is owed to another team thanks to the Jrue Holiday and Damian Lillard trades, including several to New Orleans themselves.

Many fans also note how MarJon Beauchamp has fallen out of the rotation completely in the last several weeks, even before the coaching change. As I’ve said in the past, Beauchamp is still new and unproven enough in the league that his NBA future is still an open question: he might belong, or he might not. In a year, the shine might have come off him if he doesn’t develop further than he already has, so his trade value could currently be at its highest. Milwaukee is indeed including him in their trade discussions, per Fischer.

Wizards guards seem to be interesting the Bucks

Yesterday, Fischer told us that Milwaukee has been linked to veteran Washington combo guard Delon Wright, a name I’ve seen fans bring up as a fit in the last year or two. Wright is on an expiring deal, but the Bucks would have Early Bird rights, allowing them to retain him at up to 175% of his current $8.1 million salary this offseason if they’d like. That salary matches up pretty cleanly with Connaughton’s $9.4 million, though with three years left on that deal, the Bucks would have to send out at least one second. At 6’5”, the 31-year-old has the size and ability to handle either guard spot: his per-36 assist numbers have always been good and he has a strong defensive reputation. While he might not be the point-of-attack defender some fans want, and might not be the kind of player you rely on for significant postseason minutes, he’d certainly become the Bucks’ best backcourt defender instantly.

The Wizards also have another accomplished ballhandler in their backcourt: Tyus Jones. While he’s not a quality defender at all, he is a solid three-level scorer and perhaps the league’s best at taking care of the ball, leading the league in assist-to-turnover ratio the last five seasons (he’s tops this year too, but his teammate Wright has a higher figure despite not being qualified). From the moment he was traded to Washington this offseason, the 27-year-old has seemed like an odds-on trade candidate, and his employers sought a first-round pick in return. However, Fischer told us last week that executives around the league are “confident” that the Wizards will accept a package of multiple seconds for him instead. This is because he’s also on an expiring deal and would come off the bench for most teams (he starts in Washington).

While there have been no rumors directly linking him to Milwaukee as far as I can tell, and he wouldn’t solve their backcourt’s defensive woes at all (maybe he’d compound them), Jones would do a lot for the second unit’s offense. The Bucks would have Bird rights on him next year, allowing them to as much over his current $14 million salary as they want to retain him. Though the Wizards can probably do better than the Bucks’ only two second-rounders they’re able to move (the other is the Bucks’ own in 2027) plus Pat Connaughton, the Bucks would have to send out two more players making the minimum or close to it for the trade to work. Washington has one open spot on their standard roster, so they would either have to send a lower-salaried player back to Milwaukee in the deal or a third team would need to be involved.

More available two-way wings that would fit the Bucks

HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto says that the Cavs’ Isaac Okoro is considered by GMs to be a trade candidate, and Scotto speculates the Bucks as a potential landing spot for him. The former fifth-overall pick out of Auburn hasn’t yet developed as a scorer to match that lofty draft position, though his three-point percentage has risen each year in the league to a very strong 38.5%. With his well-known defensive chops, Okoro seems to have a definite future as a 3&D wing in the NBA. At 6’5” and 225 pounds with a 6’8” wingspan, he has enough size and athleticism to deal with larger assignments.

Okoro will be a restricted free agent this summer and executives think he could get an annual salary around $14 million. He’s one of Cleveland’s best trade chips, and for him to end up in Milwaukee, it probably would only happen as part of a multi-team deal that nets the Cavs a better player than the Bucks can offer. He makes $8.9 million currently, so while Connaughton would meet the salary-matching requirement, Horst would definitely have to send out a better asset or two to get Okoro.

He also tells us that the Bucks are in on both Dorian Finney-Smith—who Alex profiled as a trade candidate yesterday—and Royce O’Neale from the Nets. None of those players will require Portis’ salary, but rival executives think that Brooklyn could acquire a first-rounder for DFS, who has up to three years left on his current deal. As Alex noted, the best Milwaukee could probably do in that case is the Portland second and one of their young players like Beauchamp or A.J. Green.

O’Neale is on an expiring contract and his $9.5m salary is a perfect match for Connaughton’s. The 30-year-old wing is slightly younger than Connaughton and slightly bulkier at 226 pounds, with a similar 6’4” frame. Though his days as a high-performing 3&D specialist in Utah might be behind him, he’d bring much more defensive value to Milwaukee than Connaughton. He also would have full Bird rights for next year.

That’s all for now. If any other significant rumors pop up, or a trade does indeed go down, we’ll be here with analysis on the newest Buck(s).