- The Milwaukee Bucks have reportedly swung two big trades for Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovic.
- The deal signals the Bucks going all-in on a championship this season and convincing Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign a five-year, $US230 million supermax contract.
- The Bucks traded multiple first-round picks for Holiday, which could backfire if they lose Antetokounmpo in free agency next offseason and enter a rebuild.
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The Milwaukee Bucks have gone all-in to win a championship and convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to stay with the team.
On Monday night, the Bucks swung two big trades to upgrade their roster. They agreed to trade Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and three first-round picks to the New Orleans Pelicans to acquire guard Jrue Holiday. They also agreed to trade Donte DiVincenzo, Ersan Ilyasova, and D.J. Wilson to the Sacramento Kings for Bogdan Bogdanovic and Justin James.
Holiday and Bogdanovic are not household names. Holiday hasn’t made an All-Star team since the 2012-13 season. Bogdanovic hasn’t made an All-Star game in his three-year career. However, both are talented, versatile players who could help swing the championship odds in Milwaukee’s favour.
In Holiday, the Bucks get one of the most well respected guards in the league. Holiday averaged 19 points and 6.7 assists per game last year and is a competent three-point shooter who can play on or off the ball. He is also widely considered one of the best defensive guards in the NBA and capable of guarding multiple positions.
Bogdanovic is a lesser-known talent, but last season averaged 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists per game on 37% three-point shooting for the Kings. He has deep three-point range, can score and make plays off the dribble, and many think he has room to grow if he plays in a bigger role.
The deals are designed to convince Antetokounmpo to re-sign with the Bucks.
The $US230 million decision
Antetokounmpo can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2020-21 season. The departure of a two-time MVP and Defensive Player of the Year would cripple a Bucks team that is not a major free agency destination.
Antetokounmpo is eligible to sign a five-year, $US230 million “supermax” deal that would keep him on Milwaukee.
After two early playoff exits following remarkable regular seasons, Antetokounmpo has thus far not committed to the the Bucks. He recently gave a cryptic quote about what he wants from the Bucks.
“I do not know what the plan is,” Antetokounpo told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet of his future. “It depends on what decisions they make. If they make the right decision, I’ll be there for many years. If they do not, we’ll see. The NBA is business and we take it day by day. Hopefully we can succeed together.”
ESPN’s Zach Lowe had reported that the Bucks do not plan to trade Antetokounmpo ahead of free agency to avoid losing him for nothing.
The deals for Holiday and Bogdanovic are undoubtedly swings at Antetokounmpo-approved moves.
But in trading for Holiday and Bogdanovic, the Bucks have gambled their future. Antetokounmpo can leave in the offseason. Holiday has a player option worth $US26 million for next season; if he declines it, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.
The draft picks surrendered to acquire Holiday stand out. If the Bucks lose Antetokounmpo in free agency, they will enter a rebuilding period without valuable first-round picks that figure to be in the lottery.
The Bucks also essentially scrapped their bench and will have little flexibility to add meaningful depth this offseason.
It could all be worth it for Milwaukee if it means making the Finals and keeping a generational talent for the foreseeable future.
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