The Milwaukee Bucks have been one of the NBA’s most disappointing franchises this season, sitting at 20-31 after a surprise run to the playoffs last season and the free agency coup of signing Greg Monroe and the acquisition of Michael Carter-Williams at the trade deadline a year ago. They’re a team full of interesting pieces that simply don’t fit together correctly, and a report from the Racine Journal-Times suggests that the Bucks have realized this and are looking to make a major deal.
The two most recent additions to the core, Monroe and Carter-Williams, are the pieces they’d most gladly part with, but they won’t stop there, according to the Journal-Times‘ source.
“From what I’m hearing is they (the Bucks) are willing to trade anybody not named Parker, Antetokounmpo or Middleton,’’ an NBA executive said. “I even heard they’d listen (to offers) for Parker and Middleton, but it would have to be some crazy offer.
“They want to do something; they know they have to do something. That group they have isn’t working.”
Those three that would be harder to pry away — Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo — make up three-fifths of an exciting lineup. Parker is still very raw, but the other two are already proven to be great defensive pieces with the right teammates; at least they were as recently as last season. What’s more, Middleton’s shooting and Giannis’ penetrating could potentially be a great combination. But Monroe and MCW are both fairly one-dimensional players whose skill sets don’t mesh with such a versatile set of wings.
Monroe’s signed to a big contract, but with the salary cap set to explode, he’s still movable to a team in win-now mode in need of a low-post scorer. And Carter-Williams is too athletic and talented to give up on. And yet, their presence in place of Brandon Knight and Zaza Pachulia (who has worked his magic in Dallas this year, as well) has turned the Bucks from an exciting team with promise to a depressing team stuck in a rut and in need of a shake-up, so it’s hard to say if anyone will be excited to receive them in a trade.
The real question for the Bucks is whether they think this core of Parker, Middleton and Antetokounmpo needs a win-now trade or can sustain a rebuilding effort. In other words, does Milwaukee ask for picks or players in exchange. The Boston Celtics have a war chest of picks, but they may not be willing to suffer the defensive hit that Monroe could very well inflict on them. If the Bucks want players, they’d probably get more offers, but almost certainly would have to trade a first-rounder to get anyone of substance in return.
It’s a sad spot that the Bucks find themselves in relative to a year ago, as the Journal-Times article discusses. In order to pivot from it and move forward, they may find themselves forced to take another step back first.