Despite holding the NBA’s best regular season record and Giannis Antetokounmpo winning the league’s MVP award, the Bucks were a disappointing second round exit in the NBA playoffs. A long offseason awaits, so what’s next for this Eastern Conference powerhouse?
Can Milwaukee Extend Antetokounmpo?
Even though Antetokounmpo and a host of other big name players aren’t becoming free agents until next summer, that has not stopped the rumors swirling around the Greek Freak. With one year remaining on his contract and after a disappointing exit from the playoffs, trade rumors have been flying around one of the league’s best players.
However, at least for now, the Bucks have put a squash on trading their best player. According to Zach Lowe, if Antetokounmpo won’t sign a super max extension, then they plan to play this out similarly to the Thunder and Kevin Durant a few years back before he bolted to join Golden State.
Lowe says that may include bringing in another star player to try and convince Antetokounmpo to stay and get to the Finals, or winning a championship this season. Either way, it appears this giant game of NBA chicken will continue through the final year of the Freak’s contract, because Lowe says that an extension is unlikely at this point.
With that in mind, there is going to be more pressure on the Bucks this season than almost any other team, except the Clippers. The Bucks are in a very similar position outside of the Clippers’ lack of draft picks, so putting together another championship-caliber season will be paramount. That means getting their supporting cast in order.
Important Free Agent Decisions
The first few decisions the Bucks will have to make is whether they want to re-sign some of their role players. Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver, Pat Connaughton, and Sterling Brown are all free agents and only Brown is a restricted free agent, meaning the Bucks can match anything he gets on the open market.
Considering D.J. Wilson’s strong play and having Brook Lopez under contract for the next three seasons, I don’t think the Bucks will retain Lopez’s brother. Robin Lopez played really well, especially defensively for the Bucks, but with strong depth and the potential that Larry Sanders could be eye-balling a reunion with his former team. I think they let Robin walk.
The same might be said for either Matthews or Korver, as both might be open to a reunion with the Bucks. However, considering Milwaukee already has over $130 million on the books next season, the veteran minimum may be all the Bucks can offer, which could cause both to potentially walk.
Connaughton may be the most important player to retain. He is a legit threat on the wing and has athleticism for days. The Bucks can go into the tax to retain Connaughton, but the Cavs have reportedly shown a lot of interest in the springy guard, so it could get expensive. Retaining Brown may come with similar issues, but because the Bucks can match any of his signed offers, spending bigger to keep their young, drafted talent may be a necessary step for the Bucks, especially if Korver and Matthews walk in free agency.
Much like our last article looking at what’s next for the Lakers, the Bucks don’t have much money to spend and they will have to use what little money they do have on retaining some of their young talent. After that, there won’t be much money to throw around, so the Bucks are going to have to spend wisely on bargain or value-free agents.
That being said, the Bucks may be looking to shake things up and I could venture a guess that they could look to trade Eric Bledsoe this offseason to bring in more shooting. They could easily do a sign and trade with Connaughton and add Bledsoe as the main two pieces in a package for CP3’s massive contract.
Pairing a true point guard with range to Khris Middleton and Giannis may be the formula this offseason. There are other players the Bucks could target via a trade, but getting a floor leader like Paul might be the missing championship piece for Cream City.
Bucks Future Odds