The Milwaukee Bucks aren’t in the most enviable place in the NBA right now. Sure, they’ve got the likely back-to-back MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and have led the NBA in wins in each of the past two regular-seasons. But now Antetokounmpo is going to be graciously receiving his second MVP trophy from the comfort of his own home rather than inside the bubble, and the clock is ticking on his impending free agency next offseason.
Antetokounmpo can, and will, be offered the supermax contract from the Bucks this summer, but unless he absolutely loves the City of Milwaukee (it is a great city!) do you really believe he’s there for the long haul? He’s already said that he will not be requesting a trade away from Milwaukee this summer, per Yahoo! Sports, so that’s not what we’re going to dive into at this point.
This means that the Bucks are going to have one more season to do everything in their power to put Antetokounmpo in the best position to win a title before he’s a free agent. They’re going to need to surround him with a better roster, and potentially a different coach.
We took a look at five trades the Bucks should try to make in order to make things better next season. Whether or not any of these deals get made this off-season is yet to be seen. We do know that the Bucks have never had a move consequential off-season in franchise history and cannot afford to just run things back as they are right now. If they do, the noise about Antetokounmpo bolting for Miami, Toronto, Dallas, Golden State, or somewhere else is only going to grow louder by the day.
CP3 to Milwaukee
This time last year, the rumors were that if the Thunder wanted to move on from Chris Paul before he ever played a game for Oklahoma City, assets would likely have to be attached to him to make it worth it for the other team in the trade.
Well, they hung onto him and his value increased quite a bit. Sure, his contract is still a pretty hefty number moving forward, but this year he showed that he still has plenty left in the tank. He’s an immediate upgrade over Eric Bledsoe, and could still be the second-best player on a team that wins a title. The Bucks probably already have buyer’s remorse over Bledsoe’s extension. He agreed to the four-year, $70 million contract in March of 2019, and has since only disappeared in two playoff runs. The final year of his deal has only $3 million guaranteed, making moving him just a little bit easier.
Blake and D-Rose Ring Hunting
With Troy Weaver taking GM duties in Detroit, the Pistons have a number of questions moving forward. But heading towards a rebuild seems like the most logical option for a team that’s been stuck in neutral for the last decade or so. Blake Griffin is certainly a gamble for Milwaukee considering his unhealthy track record, and obviously the same can be said for Derrick Rose.
Griffin gives a bit more star power to the Bucks and someone that can create for himself to help take the pressure off Antetokounmpo in the halfcourt, and Rose would be able to give the team a serious scoring punch off the bench, and considering how Mike Budenholzer refuses to play Antetokounmpo more than 35 minutes per game in the playoffs, that should be welcomed.
Jrue Holiday Heads North
The Pelicans are all-in on their youth movement fronted by Brandon Ingram (restricted free agent) and Zion Williamson. While they didn’t make the playoffs in the bubble this year, it’s clear who the future in New Orleans revolves around. Holiday’s contract has a player option for the 2021-2022 season, giving the Bucks a bit of flexibility in the future. He’s a clear upgrade over Bledsoe offensively and there isn’t too much of a difference between the two on the defensive end of the floor.
Victor Oladipo Moves Within the Division
Victor Oladipo's situation in Indiana right now just feels weird. Maybe there’s nothing there, but it certainly feels a bit like he’s an under-the-radar star who could be on the move. After all, the Pacers don’t love to dish out huge money in free agency and already have a lot invested in Malcolm Brogdon. With just one year remaining on Oladipo’s deal, moving him to grab a few assets in the form of players and draft picks seems like a pretty good haul.
The health of Oladipo is a pretty big thing to watch here. The quad injury he suffered last season was a pretty significant one, and it was evident that he wasn’t the same player once he returned this season. If he can return to an All-Star level, everything the Bucks give up in this one would be worth it.
Buddy Hield Bombs Away
Speaking of uneasy situations, let’s visit Sacramento with this. Despite signing an extension with the Kings, Hield has been unhappy with the organization. Maybe with a leadership change, his demeanor will improve, but it’s certainly not crazy to think that a trade could be in the works for him.
With this deal, the Kings grab quite a few assets that can be used to try and stock the team with talent around De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley if he ever gets healthy. The Bucks get to add a sharpshooter that can stay on the floor for 30-plus minutes a night next to Giannis.