The Milwaukee Bucks fell short of expectations in the 2020 NBA playoffs and were eliminated from the postseason by the Miami Heat in the second round. Despite posting the best regular season record for a second straight year behind the efforts of two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the franchise hasn’t been able to reach the final stage.
Antetokounmpo is under contract for the 2020-21 season and is eligible to sign a five-year supermax deal worth between $220 million and $250 million. If he opts to not sign a new deal with Milwaukee, the Bucks could be forced to trade him for fear of losing him for nothing in free agency.
Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry sat down with the Antetokounmpo last week to ensure him that Milwaukee is willing to spend into the luxury tax this offseason to build a championship roster, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Whether the superstar will commit long term to the organization that took a chance on him in the 2013 NBA Draft or look to chase a ring elsewhere remains to be seen.
Because of the potential free agency threat, it makes since to go all out in hopes of persuading him to continue being the centerpiece of the Bucks.
How can the Bucks improve?
What could make the Bucks better? They have the reigning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in Antetokounmpo, an elite 3-and-D All-Star in Khris Middleton, and a defensive big who can stretch the floor in Brook Lopez. The masses are clamoring for a change at point guard, and Oklahoma City’s Chris Paul is seen as a piece who could complete the puzzle in Milwaukee.
Paul is one of the best all-around players in the NBA, even in his twilight years. His hard-nosed playing style, leadership, and efficiency in the clutch helped the the Thunder stay afloat in the Western Conference following the departure of Russell Westbrook and Paul George, so imagine what he could do alongside one of the best players in the world in the Eastern Conference. Dealing for Paul will be risky though, as the 35-year-old is owed $41 million next season. Giving up valuable pieces and draft picks in a trade for a point guard on the decline could be costly for the Bucks. However, he could be an upgrade from Eric Bledsoe and give Milwaukee a third All-Star.
Paul will be one of the most sought after trade targets of the offseason, so it acquiring him could be tough. Alternate options generating some buzz include include Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, and Derrick Rose.
One player won’t completely transform the Bucks. If Milwaukee really wants to build a championship roster, its bench will also need to be retooled. Role players who excel at shooting off the catch and can space the floor have thrived in Milwaukee’s system, but there’s a lack of shot creation. Adding players who can set the table for themselves rather than waiting for Antetokounmpo to drive and dish should be a priority.
Will Milwaukee pull together some spectacular moves and keep its franchise player for the long haul, or be forced to endure a long rebuilding process following the departure of Antetokounmpo?