While the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t have the noisiest free agency, the common theme from the organization was to retain their depth while adding an extra veteran piece to their championship-caliber roster. They did just that this offseason and seem to have their roster spots all but decided ahead of the NBA season.
How each move pans out in the grand scheme of things will remain to be seen, so the next best thing is to provide pre-season analysis. Down below is a ranking of every Bucks’ free agency move this summer categorized into two sections; Most Impactful and Most Middling.
1. Re-Signing Bobby Portis After His Opt-Out
Considering the season Bobby Portis had this past year, it wasn’t shocking he opted out of his two-year deal this offseason for a more extensive pay raise. Portis had career-highs in points (14.6), rebounds (9.1), games played (72) and games started (59) during 2021-2022 while mostly serving as the team’s starting five when Brook Lopez was out the lineup in the regular-season.
Free agent F Bobby Portis is returning to the Milwaukee Bucks on a 4-year, $49M contract, his agent Mark Bartelstein of @PrioritySports tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2022
Retaining Portis under the $50 million dollar threshold for four years is a bargain for the Bucks’ franchise. With his ability to be a long-term small-ball five and stretch four for the Milwaukee frontline, expect the starting frontcourt of Portis alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lopez to be the paint protecting trio throughout the decade.
2. Re-Signing Pat Connaughton After His Opt-In
To the surprise of many outside the Bucks’ organization, Pat Connaughton opted into the last $5.7 million of his original contract to stay with the team. What many came to realize soon after, the contractual decision by Patty C was all a part of obtaining a more lucrative multiyear in-house deal with the organization. The Notre Dame standout re-upped with a three-year extension that varies between $28.5 million to $30 million depending on the reporting sources.
Milwaukee Bucks G Pat Connaughton has agreed on a three-year, $28.5M extension with a player option, his agents Jeff Schwartz and Jordan Gertler of @ExcelBasketball tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 13, 2022
Like Portis, Connaughton was relied on as a starter during the regular-season due to injuries and delivered on his enhanced reps. The swing guard had career-highs in games started in 2022-2023 (19), minutes played per game (26.0), three-point attempts (5.7) and points per game (9.9) all while shooting north of 39% from distance. At just 29 years old, the reserve guard has more impactful basketball ahead of him, and his re-signing ensures more Bucks’ depth for a variety of lineups at the guard/wing spots.
3. Buying Low On A Recovering Joe Ingles
The last time Milwaukee bought low on an underrated frontcourt talent, they struck gold with Bobby Portis to the tune of a 2021 NBA Title. They decided to go to the well again by taking a flyer on Joe Ingles who is recovering from an ACL tear that acquired successful surgery on February 22. He will be 35 before the start of the season.
Sources very close to free agent @Joeingles7 can confirm that he has agreed to a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.
CEO of the house, Renae Ingles, is thrilled for Joe and their family.
— Renae Ingles (@RenaeIngles) June 30, 2022
Obviously a recovering wing on the backend of 30 isn’t the greatest investment on paper, but the Bucks lacked quality forward depth beyond Giannis throughout the Boston Celtics series. Grayson Allen, Patty C and even Bobby Portis at times all played out of position to compensate for the loss of Khris Middleton at SF when Giannis wasn’t on the floor. So if Ingles by his projected post-all star break return can muster up a semblance of his 45% three-point ability from two season ago, it’ll be a beneficial plus to the Milwaukee second-unit wing lineup.
1. The Re-Signing of Wesley Matthews
Matthews was a slightly better two-point percentage shooter and free-throw line percentage shooter his second stint with the Bucks organization this past year, but he still shot worse from distance and from the field on much fewer shot attempts. At 35, signing him to a single-season $2.9 million deal seems a bit backward considering he hasn’t maintained a positive level of offensive ability in three seasons.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 30, 2022
Bucks GM John Horst has openly valued Matthews minutes, impact and competitive spirit while guarding some of the best offensive wings this past year. It’s a great asset to have on one’s roster, but when they’re an aging talent who provides little-to-no consistent offensive production it somewhat defeats the purpose of a 3&D backcourt player.
2. The Re-Signing Of Serge Ibaka
Like Matthews, it’s fair to assume Ibaka’s best days are behind him. The shot-blocking extraordinare had his lowest block-per-game total of his career last season in Milwaukee (0.4) and only played 19 games with the Bucks this past season.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 4, 2022
Ibaka showcased flashes of offensive effectiveness during his recent campaign in the Cream City. He made at least six shots from the field three times in the month of March including his 6 for 10 field goal performance versus the Phoenix Suns. Yet at 33 years of age, it’s safe to assume Milwaukee will be getting only spurts of Ibaka’s best as he heads into the twilight of his career.
3. Re-Signing Jevon Carter to a Multiyear Deal
Carter has etched out a solid NBA career for himself since being a second round draft pick of the Memphis Grizzlies four years ago. He’s played in over 200 games for four teams, and has added a multiyear extension of $4.3 million to his resume.
— Priority Sports (@PrioritySports) July 7, 2022
The dilemma with the re-sign is that Carter becomes the team’s backup point guard. While Carter has made himself a nice role as a reserve, the big pay day entrusts him with the responsibility of running the second unit. Carter eclipsed a career-high for assist average in his 20 games played with the Bucks (2.2), but he’s more of a secondary reserve than a primary one. If the Bucks truly wanted to move the needle, getting the likes of a Goran Dragic at a bargained price could’ve done the trick.
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