The Milwaukee Bucks are coming off their first NBA title since 1970-71, defeating the Phoenix Suns in six games in the 2021 Finals.
For star Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and the team’s front office, there was a bit of vindication to the title run. Milwaukee exhausted a ton of capital to acquire Jrue Holiday last offseason as a way to find the Greek Freak some help. Despite some inconsistencies, Holiday came through when it counted the most.
Unfortunately for the Bucks, the time to celebrate will be short-lived. The 2021 NBA Draft will start in the matter of days with free agency opening immediately after that. Below, we look at Milwaukee Bucks rumors for the 2021 NBA offseason as well as top trade and free-agent targets for the defending champs.
The future of Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer
Despite bringing Milwaukee its first NBA title in a half-century, there’s no guarantee that Budenholzer will return to the team next season.
“We’ll deal with it at the end of the year,” owner Marc Lasry said recently. “Nobody has talked about it.”
Budenholzer, 51, has one year remaining on his current contract. He’s posted a 162-65 regular-season record with the Bucks. However, there’s concerns over him as an in-game coach with some questionable decision-making becoming prevalent during Milwaukee’s run to the title. This is certainly something to pay close attention to even with it being likely he remains in Wisconsin.
Milwaukee Bucks free agent rumors: Core players set to hit the open market
Milwaukee dealt away a 2023 first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for P.J. Tucker ahead of the March 25 NBA trade deadline. It was a win-now move to give the Bucks a three-and-D wing who has a ton of playoff experience. Tucker responded in his time with the Bucks, acting as an anchor on defense during the playoffs. He’s now looking at a raise from his current $7.97 million average salary. Will Milwaukee dole out the proverbial bucks or potentially look to acquire some type of value in a sign-and-trade with another team?
The larger question here are the statuses of veterans Bobby Portis and Bryn Forbes. Each made big impacts in the regular season and the playoffs. Both have player options with Portis’ salary coming in at a mere $3.71 million and Forbes’ option valued at $2.40 million. It’s safe to assume Portis and Forbes will opt out of their contracts after what we saw from them this season. Will Milwaukee use its limited financials to retain the two veterans?
Potential Milwaukee Bucks trade scenarios
Depending on what happens with Forbes and Portis, Milwaukee will be north of $10 million over the luxury tax. It’s something the Bucks’ ownership group has attempted to avoid in the past given their status as a mid-market team. This could very well lead to Milwaukee looking to move off the salaries of Brook Lopez and Pat Connaughton in cost-cutting trades with teams who have cap room.
At issue here is the Bucks’ inability to offer up anything of substance in terms of draft capital. They legitimately only have second-round picks to offer up. Even then, there’s a few scenarios that could make sense for Milwaukee if it is able to buy low on other free agents to fill out its depth chart.
Milwaukee Bucks to trade Brook Lopez?
Lopez, 33, has been a darn good player for Milwaukee over the past three seasons. Unfortunately, $27.2 million over the next two years is going to be an issue.
It’s more than possible that the Bucks would be able to move Lopez to a team with cap room for cheaper player(s). Perhaps, the New York Knicks come calling while offering up Kevin Knox and/or Mitchell Robinson. The Dallas Mavericks might have interest in Lopez for someone like Maxi Kleber — a move that would put Milwaukee under the luxury tax.
Milwaukee Bucks free agent targets
While the Bucks are hard-capped, they do have the non-taxpayer exception to use in free agency. That’s an estimated $9.54 million and could be used to add multiple role players. It could also be utilized for one starter-caliber player to potentially replace the aforementioned Lopez should he be traded. Here’s a look at a few options.
Richaun Holmes: This 27-year-old center has morphed into a starter-caliber player. Last season alone, Holmes averaged 14.2 points and 8.3 rebounds on 63% shooting from the field. While he’s looking for more than the exception, the market will dictate. Holmes would be a long-term upgrade at center for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Robin Lopez: It’s also possible that the Bucks look to pair up the Lopez brothers in the low-post by using their entire exception on this lesser-known veteran. Lopez was solid for the Washington Wizards a season ago, averaging 9.0 on 63% shooting from the field.
Lesser options: Again, Milwaukee could break up the exception and add multiple role players. In this scenario, veteran guards Alec Burks and Lou Williams might makes sense. Big men such as Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter could also be options.