The 2020 off-season was supposed to be the most important in Milwaukee Bucks history. Giannis Antetokounmpo has yet to ink his supermax extension and the Bucks are scrambling following a front office mistake. Bogdan Bogdanovic appeared set to arrive via sign and trade from the Sacramento Kings. However, a series of missteps by the Bucks front office has them in strife before the season has even begun.
A couple of weeks ago, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski announced a sign and trade between the Bucks and Kings.
The Bucks are trading Donte Divincenzo. Ersan Ilyasova and DJ Wilson in the deal to the Kings, sources said. https://t.co/Vrho6gZQhH
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 17, 2020
This was a terrific deal for both sides. The Kings moved off Bogdanovic who was discontent with his role while receiving back a young, defensive-minded Donte DiVincenzo. However, the issue was the timing of the deal’s release.
Commissioner Adam Silver reminded teams of the league’s stance against tampering prior to the start of free agency. A memo was reportedly sent to all 30 teams that an investigation would take place should the NBA suspect tampering was at play. The above deal was first reported four days prior to free agency. Bogdanovic and his representatives vehemently denied any deal was in place, and he was remaining a restricted free agent.
It was later announced the league was launching an investigation into the transaction.
The NBA has opened an investigation of the reported transaction involving Milwaukee and Sacramento that was to send Bogdan Bogdanovic to the Bucks via sign-and-trade after Friday's scheduled start of free agency, @NYTSports has learned
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 20, 2020
Bogdanovic has now gone on to sign a four-year, $72 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks.
Shams Charania of The Athletic details the trade.
MIL: Jrue Holiday, No. 60 pick Sam Merrill
NOLA: Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, ‘25/'27 1sts, ‘24/'26 swaps via MIL
OKC: George Hill, Josh Gray, Kenrich Williams, Zylan Cheatham, Darius Miller, ‘23 protected 1st via Denver, two 2nd round picks
DEN: RJ Hampton
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 22, 2020
In essence, Milwaukee traded Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, its 2025 and 2027 first-round picks, as well as 2024 and 2026 pick-swaps. This was a monster haul for New Orleans and a massive overpay if Antetokounmpo doesn’t sign the supermax. Still, Holiday is an elite two-way guard who is the jack of all trades and can fill a number of roles.
The 30-year-old averaged 19.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.7 assists on 45.5 percent shooting and 35.5 percent from three last season.
Milwaukee now must pivot with a grand total of five second-round picks and four pick-swaps. They have no assets to their name but one player on the roster with a valuable contract is Brook Lopez.
The veteran’s three-point shooting came back down to earth, converting just 31.1 percent of his triples on 4.8 attempts per game last season. However, his combination with Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton gave Milwaukee the league a historically great defense. Lopez possesses a great deal of size and has shown marked improvement on defense as he’s aged. The 31-year-old averaged 12 points, 4.6 rebounds, and a career-high 2.4 blocks per game.
Teams around the NBA love big men with Lopez skillset. A seven-footer who can defend and shoot three’s is worth a ton on the market. With Milwaukee’s lack of assets, Lopez will bring back assets the Bucks can flip to upgrade its squad. As currently constructed, Milwaukee shows a lack of shot creation, scoring, and a reliable offensive option behind Middleton and Holiday.
Time is ticking for the Bucks to convince Antetokounmpo to sign the supermax. Rumors suggest the “Greek Freak” is willing to sign as long as he possesses the option to request a trade. On the flip side, it has been reported Antetokounmpo is more likely to move on after this year given the moves that the front office has made.
The botched Bogdanovic trade could spell the end of the superstar’s tenure in Milwaukee. If he is to walk for nothing, the Bucks only have themselves to blame and are staring down the barrel of a rebuild similar to that of the 2015-2018 Brooklyn Nets.
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