Milwaukee Bucks rumors: Team makes big moves to bolster bench

By Matt Johnson
Feb 8, 2019; Dallas, TX, USA; A view of the Milwaukee Bucks logo during the game between the Mavericks and the Bucks at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Bucks rumors: The Milwaukee Bucks are determined to keep two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. After acquiring All-Star guard Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee is still looking for pieces that will help convince Giannis to stay.

Following a meeting after the season, Milwaukee committed itself to offering Antetokounmpo a super-max contract extension and wanted to surround him with more help. Let’s take a look at the Milwaukee Bucks rumors.

Update: Nov. 23, 11:30 AM EST

Milwaukee Bucks rumors: Team signs D.J. Augustin, Torrey Craig, Bryan Forbes and Bobby Portis

After striking out on Bogdan Bogdanovic, Milwaukee’s front office to a quantity over quality approach to NBA free agency. With enough cap space to spend to improve the roster, the Bucks signed an impressive group of talent.

D.J. Augustin comes to Milwaukee on a three-year contract worth $21 million. The 33-year-old will serve as the backup behind Jrue Holiday and should see a nice role off the bench. In 57 games with the Orlando Magic, he averaged 10.5 points and 4.6 assists per game, shooting 34.8% from deep. He’ll operate as the primary ballhandler when the second unit is brought out, a quality addition to strengthen the depth of Milwaukee’s backcourt.

Seeking more perimeter shooting, the Bucks signed guard Bryn Forbes to a two-year contract. He played shooting guard across four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, earning a reputation as a reliable outside shooter. He averaged a career-high 2.3 three-pointers made per game during the 2019-’20 season and is a 40% shooter during his NBA career. He’ll share minutes with Donte DiVincenzo and Torrey Craig.

When the Denver Nuggets pulled their qualifying offer to Craig, Milwaukee struck quickly. The 29-year-old wing signed with Milwaukee over the weekend, but the details of the deal are undisclosed. After losing Wesley Matthews, Craig will step in as Milwaukee’s defensive-minded wing off the bench. He can occasionally fire back from beyond the arc, but his defense and team-first mentality are more important to the Bucks.

In addition to multiple signings for the backcourt, Milwaukee also bolstered its frontcourt in free agency. Bobby Portis, the No. 22 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, signed a two-year deal with the Bucks. A stretch four with a nice shot, Portis will bring energy and scoring off the bench. Just don’t expect him to help Milwaukee defensively.

Milwaukee Bucks roster: Depth chart for 2020-’21 season

  • PG: Jrue Holiday*, D.J. Augustin
  • SG: Donte DiVincenzo*, Bryn Forbes
  • SF: Khris Middleton*, Torrey Craig, Pat Connaughton
  • PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo*, D.J. Wilson
  • C: Brook Lopez*, Bobby Portis

Update: Nov. 19, 9:40 PM EST

Milwaukee Bucks rumors: NBA investigating team for tampering

Determined to strengthen their lineup, the Bucks reportedly agreed to a sign-and-trade with the Sacramento Kings for Bogdan Bogdanovic at the start of the week. However, the deal was agreed to before the NBA’s free-agency window opened on Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. EST.

According to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, the NBA launched its investigation into the Bucks and Kings on Thursday. After years of tampering being the league’s worst-kept secret, teams were warned before the 2019-’20 season that the consequences for tampering could be more severe than ever before.

It’s believed that the Bucks leaked word of the trade to ESPN, with the intention being to help convince Giannis that the necessary moves were being made. However, while Bogdanovic wants to play for the Bucks, he wants to test free agency.

Unfortunately for Milwaukee, the trade is dead. The team waived Ersan Ilyasova on Thursday, whose contract was crucial to making the salaries work in the sign-and-trade. With the move off the table and Holiday’s contract eating up cap space, Milwaukee’s options will be limited in free agency.

Depending on what the NBA’s investigation finds, both the Kings and Bucks could face discipline. The penalties could range from a significant fine to draft-pick forfeitures.

Update: Nov. 18. 9 PM EST

Milwaukee Bucks rumors: Bogdan Bogdanovic trade falls through

Milwaukee Bucks rumors: Bogdan Bogdanovic trade falls through
Aug 13, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Bogdan Bogdanovic #8 of the Sacramento Kings drives against Dion Waiters #18 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second quarter at The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 13, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The sign-and-trade that brought this sharpshooting wing to the Bucks from the Sacramento Kings has now fallen through. Instead, Bogdanovic plans to hit the restricted free-agent market on Friday.

This is not great news for a team that has been attempting to placate Giannis Antetokounmpo. It also means that Donte DiVincenzo, Ersan İlyasova and DJ Wilson revert back to the Bucks’ roster. In particular, one has to wodner if DiVincenzo is going to be happy after being traded.

As for the remainder of the offseason, Milwaukee will now look for another starter-caliber player out on the wing. It is selecting 45th overall in Wednesday night’s NBA Draft. Can the Bucks entice another team with a package including DiVincenzo and the second-round pick? We’re not too sure.

Update: Nov. 18, 7:53 PM EST

Milwaukee Bucks rumors: Latest moves enough to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo?

The acquisitions of All-Star guard Jrue Holiday and sharpshooting wing Bogdan Bogdanović in separate trades earlier this week underscores a win-now mentality for general manager Jon Horst and Co. They were also a clear ploy to help retain two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo over the long term.

There’s good news on this front despite Milwaukee paying through the roof for Holiday. The expectation is that Giannis will agree to a five-year super-max extension once free agency opens. Antetokounmpo likely worked with the Bucks’ brass to make these moves come to fruition.

What does this mean moving forward in the offseason? Milwaukee now finds itself more than $13 million over the cap heading into free agency and no first-round pick. It has a midlevel exception to use, which could come in handy as it relates to adding another rotational player. Outside of that, the heavy lifting appears to be done here.

Update: Nov. 15, 2:24 PM EST

NBA rumors: Is a Bradley Beal trade happening?

Updated: Nov. 15, 2:15 PM EST

Bucks rumors: Milwaukee eyeing trade for Robert Covington?

According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, the Bucks are pursuing a trade with the Houston Rockets for forward Robert Covington.

Houston acquired Covington from the Minnesota Timberwolves this past season, heavily relying on him with their smaller lineups. He proved to be an effective shooter from beyond the arc during the 2019-’20 season, hitting more than 32% of his three-point attempts. The 29-year-old averaged 12.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks per game across 70 contests with the Rockets and Timberwolves.

Beyond his three-point shooting, Covington would also provide Milwaukee with defense and depth for their front court. While he wouldn’t match the scoring ability the Bucks would receive from Bogdan Bogdanovic or Victor Oladipo, he is a better defender. Furthermore, Covington is under contract for under $13 million annually in each of the next two seasons.

Bucks rumors: Milwaukee interested in Bogdan Bogdanovic, Victor Oladipo

Milwaukee Bucks rumors
Aug 18, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (4) talks to an official after a hard foul during the first half of an NBA basketball first round playoff game against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

While Antetokounmpo hinted he is open to playing elsewhere, the NBA star’s preference remains to stay in Milwaukee. To commit to the Bucks, that will require the front office to prove they are in win-now mode with aggressive moves.

According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Bucks will be active this offseason and they love Sacramento Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic. The 28-year-old is a restricted free agent this winter and adding him would require the Bucks to pull off a sign-and-trade.

After replacing Vlade Divac with general manager Monte McNair, who emphasizes flexibility and three-point shooting, the Kings could be interested in a deal. While Sacramento likes Bogdanovic, moving him for assets could be attractive for the organization.

It could get even better for Sacramento. Lowe also reported that Milwaukee is open to taking on Harrison Barnes’ contract, which guarantees him $60.85 million over the next three seasons.

  • Sacramento Kings receive: Ersan Ilyasova, Eric Bledsoe, Donte DiVincenzo, 24th pick in 2020 NBA Draft
  • Milwaukee Bucks receive: Harrison Barnes, Bogdan Bogdanovic

The above trade could be appealing to both teams. Milwaukee lands a strong guard, who averaged 15.1 points this season on 44% shooting and hit 37.2% from beyond the arc, and a reliable forward in Barnes.

In exchange, the Kings acquire the No. 24 pick to land some young talent, Ilyasova’s expiring contract and bolster their bench with DiVincenzo. While they take on Bledsoe’s contract ($25 million over the next two seasons), he is owed just $3.9 million in 2022 compared to Barnes’ $18.35 million guaranteed.

The Bucks are also interested in Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo. The two-time All-Star selection hasn’t looked the same since suffering a ruptured quad tendon during the 2018-’19 season, but he should return more to form for the 2020-’21 season.

Related: Latest Victor Oladipo trade rumor

He would add another scoring threat to Milwaukee’s lineup, providing Antetokounmpo with more help. The Bucks could make a similar offer to Indiana, perhaps attaching a future first-round pick.

One thing is for certain, Milwaukee’s front office will be busy this offseason. With the next NBA season starting in a few weeks, the clock is ticking. If the Bucks want to prove to Giannis that they are committed to winning, it needs to be proven quickly.

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