NBA trade deadline talk and trade rumors are bound to heat up with February 10th soon approaching. To make a trade, a team has to have something to give. It’s great to think about what the Bucks want, but what do they have?
Milwaukee has a first-round pick in 2022, three presumably untouchable players in Giannis, Khris, and Jrue, and a bunch of really good veterans, some of whom have either really good “cap-friendly” deals or are working on expiring deals. The Bucks also do not have much space, nor do they probably think they need to spend more money.
“Show me the money!”
When Boogie Cousins was recently waived, GM Jon Horst spoke about needing roster flexibility. What he seemed to avoid talking about was money, specifically the financial commitment the Bucks were hesitant to make. Milwaukee currently has $433 million dollars in guaranteed contracts. It feels hard to question them about going “all-in”. Conversely, a team like Detroit has $201 million committed and the Chicago Bulls sit at $290 million committed in guaranteed deals.
With so much money spent, the biggest hang-up in making a trade for a Myles Turner or a Josh Hart or a Derrick Favors has got to be making the money work. If they make a deal, it has to be on the cheap. And of course, what does the other team want?
What could GM Jon Horst even trade away to get a veteran piece or other NBA player?
There are not a ton of 1st round draft picks in the cupboard for Horst to deal, given all the pick swaps and his seemingly shrewd dealing of the 2024 and 2025 first-rounders for Jrue Holiday.
Horst has a 2022 1st rounder. He also has Jordan Nwora, Donte DiVincenzo, and George Hill. (Hill has played for eight NBA teams and has been traded six times in his career.)
So, not much in terms of making a “big splash”. But he does have some leverage. Here are those basics again.
The 2021 First Round Draft Pick
Hey, watching OKC and Orlando and Houston and Detroit just play really, really bad basketball makes you sympathize, right? Remember Todd Day/Lee Mayberry? Or Yi Jianlian? The NBA really requires that shotgun approach to drafting. For every Giannis, you get a Greg Oden or Johnny Flynn. It just takes so much guesswork to know what will work. (Did you know Dirk Nowitzki was a Buck?)
I get the temptation to want to keep adding young talent to a roster that is currently the third oldest in the NBA (27.9 yrs). But this is Giannis’ time. You build around him, especially in the 4-5 year window you’d expect him to have based on his playing style. And you trade that pick if you can get something in return that can be useful now.
Speaking of useful now, Nwora is having a nice season, averaging nine points, four rebounds, and one assist in around ten minutes a game. He’s 23. He is 6’8”. He’s a true rookie, and he seems to be improving.
This one should scare Bucks fans. Remember, at one point, Tobias Harris was a Buck. At that time he was moved for J.J. Redrick, a veteran sharpshooter. Sound familiar? That could be the move again. But under Horst, year three of Nwora has to be understood as something better than what they have today. Again, he’s just a rookie.
It really did take Harris about four years to truly blossom into a scorer. Would anyone be surprised if Nwora showed marketed improvement in year three?
A Combination of Brook Lopez, Rodney Hood, Semi Ojeleye, and the 2022, 2023, and 2024 2nd Round Draft Picks
Lopez is owed $26 million over the next two years. Hood and Ojeleye are on nice, lower-priced veteran contracts. And picks are picks.
Could we include Donte Divincenzo in this mix? Sure. But the Bucks still seem high on him and patient. Hopefully, by March, that patience with Donte will start to show.
Teams seem to want to stockpile picks right now. Of all the options, I’d be surprised if that 2022 1st round pick stays with the team. Given it’ll be a late first-round pick, could Horst work some magic and get a lesser-known center? Maybe Chimezie Metu?
NBA teams today just need healthy players. Even with COVID concerns, one thing has to be certain: there will be a TON of trade action in the NBA this year. With seven teams owning a solid, realistic chance at a shot at a championship, teams are going to want to add that winning piece that will help put them over the top.