Bucks Rumors

Haynes’ Latest: Harris, Beasley, KCP, Ingram, George

The Pistons, Spurs, and Pelicans are among the teams expected to have interest in Tobias Harris this offseason, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report (video link), who confirms that the Jazz and Mavericks are in that group as well, as previously reported. While Harris, an unrestricted free agent, isn’t expected to return to Philadelphia, he’ll draw “ample interest” from other suitors, says Haynes.

Detroit, San Antonio, and Utah are all in position to open up cap room this summer, whereas New Orleans and Dallas project to at least flirt with the luxury tax line. If the Pelicans or Mavs pursue Harris, it would likely have to be via sign-and-trade, Haynes notes.

Here are a few more items of interest from Haynes:

  • Malik Beasley has almost certainly played his last game with the Bucks, according to Haynes (video link). Milwaukee doesn’t have the ability to offer Beasley more than 20% above his minimum salary, whereas the veteran swingman will likely be seeking a deal in the mid-level range after ranking among the NBA’s top three-point shooters in 2023/24 — he made 41.3% of 6.9 attempts per game.
  • If Kentavious Caldwell-Pope doesn’t agree to a new deal with the Nuggets during the exclusive negotiating period, he won’t pick up his $15.4MM player option for 2024/25 at the June 29 deadline, per Haynes (video link). That doesn’t mean Caldwell-Pope will definitely leave Denver, since he and the team could still come to terms after that, but he would at least test the market in that scenario.
  • Haynes says he “definitely” thinks Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram will be traded this summer, though he’s still working to confirm the likeliest landing spots for the former All-Star (video link).
  • Five months after they extended Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers still don’t have a deal in place with their other star forward, but they’re “not panicking” as Paul George nears potential free agency, according to Haynes, who says signing the nine-time All-Star to a new contract continues to be L.A.’s number one offseason priority (video link). Haynes adds that he believes the Magic have shown some interest in George, which has been previously reported.

Trade Rumors: George, Bucks, Centers, Lakers, Murray

Although Paul George sits atop our list of 2024’s top 50 free agents, there’s a chance that the Clippers forward won’t actually become a free agent this offseason. George could sign an extension to remain in Los Angeles before free agency begins. There’s also another scenario worth keeping an eye on in the next week or so, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who has mentioned during multiple recent podcasts and TV appearances that an opt-in-and-trade could be an option for George (hat tip to RealGM).

George holds a $48.8MM player option for 2024/25, and if he decides he wants to join a team that doesn’t have the cap room necessary to sign him as a free agent, he could pick up his option in conjunction with a trade agreement in order to allow the Clippers to get something back for him while getting him to his preferred destination. A former Clipper, Chris Paul, took this route in 2017 in order to accommodate a trade from Los Angeles to Houston.

While it sounds more like speculation than hard reporting, Windhorst has repeatedly referred to the Knicks as a suitor who would make sense in this scenario, since they could offer a strong combination of rotation players and draft assets in a trade package for George (Twitter video link).

If George opts for free agency, a sign-and-trade deal in which the Clippers acquire multiple players for him likely wouldn’t be possible, since a new CBA rule prohibits second-apron teams from taking back salary in exchange for a signed-and-traded player.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • Windhorst said during an appearance on Friday’s episode of First Take (YouTube link) that the Bucks may look to shake up their core this offseason, though neither Giannis Antetokounmpo nor Damian Lillard is considered a trade candidate. “There’s starting to be rumblings that (Bucks head coach) Doc Rivers is looking for a change or two to some of their core pieces,” Windhorst said. “Not Dame or Giannis, but potentially looking at another maneuver they could make to alter their team.” Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported earlier today that Milwaukee center Brook Lopez is viewed as a possible trade candidate.
  • The Lakers, Grizzlies, and Pelicans are a few of the teams who are “closely monitoring” the market for centers this offseason, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who took a closer look at whether New York will consider moving Mitchell Robinson. Like Lopez, Robinson has been cited as a potential trade candidate.
  • Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday (Twitter video link), Shams Charania of The Athletic suggested that the Lakers may renew their pursuit of a Hawks guard in the coming days. “They have to be aggressive,” Charania said. “One name that they did pursue last season at the trade deadline that teams around the league expect to come up again in trade conversations over the next week or so and makes sense for the Lakers is Dejounte Murray of the Hawks.” Atlanta is widely expected to trade either Murray or Trae Young this summer — Young has also previously been mentioned as a possible Lakers target.

Brook Lopez, Mitchell Robinson Among Centers On Trade Block

Bucks veteran Brook Lopez and Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson are among the prominent centers who are available for trade this offseason, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Fischer hears from sources who say Clint Capela (Hawks), Walker Kessler (Jazz) and Isaiah Stewart (Pistons) are other big men names to watch on the trade market.

According to Fischer, Milwaukee is open to roster changes and has been gauging Lopez’s market value. The 36-year-old will earn $23MM in 2024/25, which is the final season of his contract. League sources tell Fischer the Rockets warned Lopez when they pursued him last summer that returning to the Bucks could eventually lead to him being traded.

While the Alex Caruso trade wouldn’t preclude the Thunder from making a run at Isaiah Hartenstein, they seem far more focused on finding a “situational reserve” center instead of a signing a starting-caliber big man like Hartenstein, per Fischer. As of now, the Knicks seem to be in the driver’s seat to re-sign the 26-year-old, Fischer writes — that’s why New York has been discussing Robinson deals.

Ian Begley of SNY.tv has also heard Robinson has popped up in trade talks (Twitter link). Begley believes the Knicks aren’t “fully committed” to dealing Robinson, but they view his contract — he’ll make $27.3MM over the next two seasons — as a valuable trade chip.

As cap expert Yossi Gozlan observes (via Twitter), moving off Robinson’s salary would give New York more financial flexibility this offseason, perhaps to re-sign Precious Achiuwa and OG Anunoby. If the Knicks make no other cost-cutting moves, they would project to be well over the second tax apron if they bring back all their key free agents.

Capela, 30, is on a $22.3MM expiring contract. He has popped up in trade rumors for some time. While Fischer suggests the Hawks and Pistons been actively exploring deals for Capela and Stewart, respectively, his wording on Kessler is more speculative, writing that “rival teams believe” the Jazz are open to the possibility of moving the 22-year-old, who excelled as a rookie in ’22/23 but had an uneven second season.

International Notes: Giannis, Team Canada, Hezonja, Clarkson, Vildoza, Ataman, Team China

Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking forward to participating in Greece’s training camp, though he’s still dealing with the injury that short-circuited the Bucks’ playoff run. Milwaukee’s superstar will look to help Greece advance out of the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament in Piraeus early next month.

“I have not practiced yet, but I feel better. I cannot wait to join the training camp,” he told Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net and other reporters.

Antetokounmpo suffered a calf strain late in the NBA regular season. The announcement that he would play for Greece was made at the beginning of this month.

We have more international basketball news:

  • Canada’s preliminary Olympic roster is loaded with NBA players and there will be tough decisions ahead to pare it to 12 players, Josh Lewenberg of TSN notes. Kings forward Trey Lyles, former NBA bigs Khem Birch and Mfiondu Kabengele and two-time National Player of the Year Zach Edey are some of the players who, on paper, will be fighting for the last two spots on the roster, writes Lewenberg.
  • Former NBA forward Mario Hezonja announced on social media that he’s re-signing with Real Madrid, Sportando relays. “Real Madrid believed in me when many didn’t, cared for me and my family since the first day I arrived and made us feel at home. My only intention was to stay so I am happy to communicate to you that I will continue my journey at MY HOME, MY REAL MADRID for a long time!” he wrote. There had been speculation he might look at NBA opportunities.
  • Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson was not on the Philippines’ 12-man roster for the FIBA Olympic qualifier. Coach Tim Cone opted for continuity, according to executive director Erika Dy. Cone decided to go with the same group that participated in an Asia Cup qualifier over the winter. “Premise of coach Tim, we have the same roster every time. The shorter training periods will accumulate, and the players will build chemistry,” Dy said, per BasketNews.
  • Virtus Bologna is reportedly interested in former NBA guard Luca Vildoza, who is leaving Greece’s Panathinaikos, according to another Sportando report. Vildoza had a seven-game stint with the Bucks in 2021/22.
  • After leading Panathinaikos to a Euroleague title, Ergin Ataman is eager to get a shot at coaching in the NBA. But he told the Spanish outlet AS that he only wants to make the jump if he’s offered a head coaching job. “Before it was my dream, now it’s not, but if you want a star coach from Europe, here I am. Why would I be afraid of training NBA stars?” he said, per Eurohoops.net.
  • The Chinese national team will participate in the California Classic in Sacramento next month, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reports. They’ll be grouped against Summer League teams from the Kings, Hornets, and Spurs. Squads from the Warriors, Lakers and Heat will play against each other in San Francisco.

Draft Rumors: Hawks, Risacher, Sarr, Knecht, C. Williams, Dillingham, More

The Hawks don’t appear to have made any final decisions yet, but intel from teams around the league suggests forward Zaccharie Risacher still looks like the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick, Jonathan Givony writes in ESPN’s latest mock draft (Insider link). Risacher is working out for Atlanta on Wednesday.

While Alexandre Sarr is widely considered to be another contender for that No. 1 pick, Givony says the Hawks have been unable to get the French big man in for a workout so far, and suggests that UConn center Donovan Clingan might be Risacher’s top competition for the top spot in the draft. Clingan impressed Atlanta during his workout with his passing ability and his performance in film study and interviews, according to Givony.

The Hawks have brought in several lottery prospects for workouts, including Reed Sheppard, Matas Buzelis, Cody Williams, and Ron Holland, Givony notes, which suggests they’re preparing for potential trade-down scenarios as well. One possibility that has been “widely discussed” by rival teams, per Givony, is a deal with the Spurs that would see the Hawks move down to No. 4 and get back one of their draft assets controlled by San Antonio, such as Atlanta’s 2025 first-rounder. A move along those lines would put the Hawks in a better position to rebuild, as Givony observes.

If Atlanta doesn’t select Sarr with the No. 1 pick, teams and agents believe he’ll come off the board at No. 2 to the Wizards, per Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Both Wasserman and ESPN have Sarr second overall in their latest mock drafts.

Here are several more draft-related tidbits from ESPN and Bleacher Report:

  • Dalton Knecht‘s draft range seems increasingly small, according to Givony, who says that every team between No. 4 and No. 9 (with the exception of the Pistons at No. 5) has shown interest in the Tennessee forward.
  • Rival teams are predicting that Colorado’s Cody Williams will be picked higher than expected, possibly by the Spurs or Pistons, says Wasserman, who has Williams at No. 7 in his mock. Givony adds that Williams has worked out or will work out for nearly every team in the top 10 (except for the Rockets) and that teams with lower picks haven’t been able to bring him in, signaling that his camp is confident about his draft range.
  • Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham hasn’t been able to work out for teams for most of the pre-draft process due to an ankle injury, prompting speculation that he could slide on draft night, according to both ESPN’s Jeremy Woo and Wasserman. ESPN has Dillingham coming off the board at No. 8 to the Spurs, but Wassmeran’s sources believe San Antonio is an unlikely landing spot based on what the team is signaling to agents. Wasserman has the former Wildcats guard at No. 11 in his mock.
  • Ja’Kobe Walter, one of the first 12 players who received a green room invite, worked out for teams like the Pistons, Hornets, Spurs, Jazz, and Kings, per Givony, which bodes well for his odds of being a lottery pick.
  • French forward Tidjane Salaun worked out for the Thunder, Kings, and Trail Blazers, then sprained his ankle at a workout with the Spurs this past weekend, Givony reports. Salaun had also lined up workouts with the Pistons and Hornets, but his ankle injury might prevent those sessions from happening.
  • Serbian point guard Nikola Topic has had a handful of meetings scheduled with lottery teams, including the Trail Blazers, Spurs, Grizzlies, and Jazz, Givony writes. However, Givony cautions that a team interested in picking Topic will have to prepare for the possibility of a redshirt rookie year due to the guard’s partially torn ACL.
  • Teams were “buzzing” about Indiana center Kel’el Ware after a strong shooting display at his pro day, according to Wasserman, who says the big man is receiving consideration as high as the late lottery. Givony agrees that Ware seems to be building momentum in the pre-draft process, but notes that he hasn’t received a green room invite yet — that could change later this week when the final invites are sent out. According to Givony, Ware has worked out for over a dozen teams, ranging from late-lottery clubs to those near the end of the first round. The Bucks are one of those teams, and ESPN’s mock has Ware going to Milwaukee at No. 23.

Warriors Top List Of NBA’s 2023/24 Taxpayers

While the official numbers from the NBA aren’t yet in, Bobby Marks of ESPN estimates (via Twitter) that the Warriors led all teams in 2023/24 with a luxury tax bill in the neighborhood of $176.9MM.

Golden State was subject once again to the “repeater” tax penalties this season, meaning that every dollar spent above the luxury tax line cost them more than a first-time taxpayer. The Warriors paid roughly $206MM in player salaries, meaning their roster as a whole cost more than $380MM. They didn’t make the playoffs, having been eliminated in the first play-in game by Sacramento.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Luxury Tax Penalties]

The Warriors weren’t alone among teams that are on the hook for tax payments without a playoff series win to show for it. Of the eight taxpayers, only two (the Celtics and Nuggets) made it beyond the first round of the postseason, with only one Boston advancing past the second round. Unlike Golden State, the Clippers, Suns, Bucks, Heat, and Lakers all made the playoffs, but they were each eliminated in the conference quarterfinals.

Here are the estimated tax penalties for 2023/24, according to Marks:

  1. Golden State Warriors: $176.9MM
  2. Los Angeles Clippers: $142.4MM
  3. Phoenix Suns: $68.2MM
  4. Milwaukee Bucks: $52.5MM
  5. Boston Celtics: $43.8MM
  6. Denver Nuggets: $20.2MM
  7. Miami Heat: $15.7MM
  8. Los Angeles Lakers: $6.9MM

Half of those tax payments get distributed among non-taxpaying teams, so those 22 clubs should each receive a little less than $12MM, Marks observes.

That payout for non-taxpayers serves to highlight why some teams who were hovering around the luxury tax line earlier in the season made a concerted effort to duck below – or stay below – that threshold. For instance, the Pelicans finished the season below the tax line by less than $400K after initially moving out of tax territory by salary-dumping Kira Lewis’ expiring contract back in January. That cost-cutting move didn’t just save Pels ownership a tax payment — it also ensured that the team will receive that extra $12MM.

The tax line for 2024/25 is projected to be just north of $171MM, and while many of the teams listed above project to once again be taxpayers next spring, at least a couple of them could be in position to avoid the tax next season, including the Warriors.

Could Target Center In Draft

  • The Bucks currently hold the No. 23 and 33 picks in the draft. What type of players should they target? The Athletic’s Eric Nehm and Sam Vecenie explore that topic, with Vecenie suggesting Indiana’s Kel’el Ware, Purdue’s Zach Edey and Dayton’s DaRon Holmes could get a long look with one of their selections as the club seeks a long-term option at the center spot. Vecenie also mentions numerous prospects at other positions.

Scotto’s Latest: J. Smith, Toppin, Weaver, Hartenstein, Huerter, O’Neale, More

Early indications suggest that Pacers power forward Jalen Smith will decline his $5.4MM player option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reports in his latest aggregate mock draft. Sources tell Scotto that a final decision hasn’t been made, but Smith appears to be leaning toward testing the free agency waters. He has a June 29 deadline to opt in for 2024/25.

Smith, 24, appeared in 61 games this season and posted a career high in scoring at 9.9 PPG, along with 5.5 rebounds and 1.0 assist in 17.2 minutes per night. He was selected 10th overall by Phoenix in the 2020 draft and was acquired by Indiana at the 2022 trade deadline.

Scotto notes that rival teams are watching to see whether the Pacers will re-sign restricted free agent Obi Toppin. If the fourth-year power forward reaches a new deal, there’s a belief that Indiana might be willing to trade Jarace Walker, who was a lottery pick last June.

Scotto shares more inside information in his aggregate draft:

  • Washington is believed to be a potential destination for former Pistons general manager Troy Weaver, who recently parted ways with the team, Scotto writes, noting that Weaver was once part of Oklahoma City’s front office along with Wizards executives Michael Winger and Will Dawkins.
  • Scotto talked with some NBA executives who believe the Magic should be considered a threat to sign Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein. Orlando could have close to $50MM in cap space to work with.
  • Executives also expect the Kings to explore deals involving Kevin Huerter and Harrison Barnes, Scotto adds.
  • The Raptors plan to work out an extension with Scottie Barnes this summer, sources tell Scotto. The versatile swingman made his first All-Star appearance this year.
  • Scotto echoes other reports in stating that Royce O’Neale is likely to reach a new contract with the Suns. The 31-year-old forward, who was acquired from Brooklyn at the trade deadline, is expected to receive about $10MM per year, according to Scotto.
  • Vice president of basketball operations Brent Barry isn’t expected to return to the Spurs next season, sources tell Scotto. The longtime NBA player has been an executive with San Antonio since 2018.
  • Assistant coach Jason Love will likely leave the Sixers and join Doc Rivers’ staff with the Bucks, Scotto states. Love previously worked for Rivers in Philadelphia.
  • The Hornets are assembling a staff of assistants for new head coach Charles Lee. Scotto hears it will include Lamar SkeeterJosh LongstaffChris JentRyan FrazierZach PetersonMatt Hill and Blaine Mueller.

Stein’s Latest: Van Gundy, Cassell, Lakers, Cavaliers

Current Celtics special adviser Jeff Van Gundy, who’s just one win away from claiming his first NBA championship, is being eyed as a possible assistant coach for recently extended Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, sources tell longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein (Substack link).

Van Gundy is being considered to replace former Clippers assistant coach Dan Craig, who is headed to the Bulls. According to Stein, L.A. team president Lawrence Frank has long been an appreciator of Van Gundy’s acumen. Van Gundy last coached in the NBA for the Rockets in 2006/07, though he has been serving on USA Basketball’s staff since 2017.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Celtics assistant coach Sam Cassell, one of the remaining contenders for the Lakers’ head coaching vacancy, had been viewed as a possibility to reunite with Doc Rivers on the Bucks this offseason. Now, with ex-Los Angeles head coach Darvin Ham back in Milwaukee, it is considered more likely that Cassell with remain in Boston, assuming he doesn’t get a head coaching job (the Cavaliers also have an opening). Rivers has worked with Cassell as an assistant off and on for nine seasons.
  • ESPN broadcaster J.J. Redick and Pelicans associate head coach James Borrego are still seen as the leading contenders to land the Lakers‘ head coaching gig, sources inform Stein. He adds that the Cavaliers, meanwhile, seem to be honing in on Borrego and Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson.

2024 NBA Offseason Preview: Milwaukee Bucks

Several of the core contributors who played key roles during the Bucks‘ championship run in 2021 – including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Bobby Portis, and Pat Connaughton – have remained on the roster since then, but the team has struggled to replicate the success of that season.

After being bounced in the second round of the 2022 playoffs, the top-seeded Bucks were upset by the No. 8 Heat in the first round in 2023. Determined not to get complacent following that disappointing outcome, Milwaukee made two major changes last offseason, firing head coach Mike Budenholzer and replacing him with first-time head coach Adrian Griffin in the spring, then packaging Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, a future first-round pick, and a pair of first-round swaps for seven-time All-Star Damian Lillard just before training camp got underway.

To say the results were mixed would be generous. Griffin opened the season with a strong 30-13 (.698) record, but Milwaukee never seemed to be firing on all cylinders during that stretch, and the Bucks’ veteran players were reportedly questioning the new coach’s schemes, especially on defense. Griffin was replaced just halfway through his first season by Doc Rivers, with Bucks general manager Jon Horst citing Rivers’ championship experience and leadership as a better fit for the veteran roster.

Lillard, meanwhile, earned his eighth All-Star nod and led the Bucks with 7.0 assists per game, but his scoring average (24.3), field goal percentage (42.4%), and three-point percentage (35.4%) were all below his career rates and he didn’t mesh with Antetokounmpo quite as seamlessly as the club had hoped.

The addition of a gifted scorer and play-maker like Lillard to the roster helped Milwaukee improve its offensive rating from 15th in 2022/23 to sixth in ’23/24, but the loss of talented defenders like Holiday and Allen hurt. The Bucks’ defensive rating plummeted from fourth to 19th, bumping the club’s overall net rating from fifth down to 11th.

For a second straight year, the Bucks lost in the first round of the playoffs as the higher seed while Antetokounmpo dealt with an injury. After missing two-and-a-half games in the 2023 series vs. the Heat, Giannis was unavailable for the entire Eastern Conference quarterfinal vs. Indiana this spring. Without the two-time MVP – plus Lillard, who missed Games 4 and 5 – Milwaukee couldn’t keep up with the Pacers.

While there’s optimism that a full offseason with Rivers and Lillard will create more cohesion heading into the 2024/25 season, it’s hard to feel all that bullish about the Bucks’ championship potential with the current roster, based on how the last two years have played out. But barring cost-cutting moves, the club once again projects to operate over the second tax apron, limiting the front office’s options for pursuing upgrades, so better chemistry and better health luck may be Milwaukee’s best hopes for another deep playoff run.

The Bucks’ Offseason Plan

With a roster this expensive, it’s logical to wonder if any of the Bucks’ four highest-paid players could be on the move this summer. However, it seems safe to assume the team won’t be looking to move Antetokounmpo or Lillard.

Middleton, meanwhile, has been affected by injuries over the past two years, but he looked like his old self in the playoffs this spring, averaging 24.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game on .482/.355/.900 shooting vs. the Pacers despite receiving more defensive attention with Giannis out. If the Bucks are relatively confident they’ll get that version of Middleton going forward, as he enters his age-33 season, it doesn’t make sense to trade him.

That leaves Lopez, who will earn $23MM in his age-36 season. Those two numbers look a little scary alongside one another, but Lopez is only a year removed from finishing second in Defensive Player of the Year voting and remains the kind of center every team is seeking — one who can space the floor on offense (he has a .369 3PT% over the past three seasons) and protect the rim on defense (2.3 BPG during that same three-year stretch). He’d certainly have positive trade value on his expiring contract, but it’s hard to see how moving him would make Milwaukee better.

The average age of the four-man core is somewhat concerning (only Antetokounmpo will be younger than 33 next season), but I’d be surprised if the Bucks don’t roll with that group for at least one more season. A year from now, with Lopez’s contract expired and Middleton facing a player option decision for 2025/26, the team will be in a better position to reassess its options.

Portis is one of the league’s best sixth men and is a relative bargain at $12.6MM, so he’ll almost certainly stay put too, leaving the Bucks to fill out the rest of the roster with players who can complement that strong top five.

That collection of complementary players could start with Connaughton, though his production has taken a hit since he enjoyed a career year in 2021/22 — he has averaged just 6.5 points per game on .411/.341/.717 shooting over the past two seasons. I expect the Bucks to explore the trade market to see if there’s a way to turn his $9.4MM contract into one or two more reliable role players (or one lesser-paid player and cap/tax relief), but they don’t have many draft assets left to attach to him to sweeten their offers.

Every single one of Milwaukee’s draft picks from 2025-30 has either been traded or is tied up in a swap. The team’s 2031 picks can be traded beginning in July, so either the first- or second-rounder (or both) could be packaged with Connaughton in an effort to find an upgrade. Under normal circumstances, I’d suggest the Bucks may prefer to preserve the 2031 first-rounder for a more significant move, but they’re so all-in on this team in the short term that they probably shouldn’t hang onto that pick too tightly if there’s a deal out there that clearly makes them better.

In order to fill out the rest of the rotation beyond their top six or seven players, there are only two real paths available to the Bucks: Signing veteran free agents and continuing to add and develop young talent. Let’s start with free agency.

Assuming they’re not able to shed salary, the Bucks will generally be limited to minimum-salary signings as a second-apron team (they’ll be able to offer most of their own free agents 20% above the minimum). Players unable to do better than that on the open market will certainly have interest in Milwaukee, since the team is a potential contender and will likely have rotation spots available.

Still, the minimum-salary pool is a limited one. Malik Beasley was a nice addition for the minimum last summer and I’m sure the Bucks would love to have him back, but he may draw interest at a higher price point than what Milwaukee can offer. The rest of the club’s free agents are probably once again in line for minimum deals, at best, so they’re candidates to be brought back, though there are red flags in each case.

Patrick Beverley‘s year came to an ugly end due to an incident with Indiana fans that resulted in a four-game suspension to open the 2024/25 season; Jae Crowder and Danilo Gallinari are in their mid-30s and aren’t the players they once were; Thanasis Antetokounmpo has a torn Achilles that will likely cost him most – if not all – of ’24/25. Of those four, Beverley would be the most useful on-court fit, if the Bucks are willing to give him another chance following his end-of-season meltdown.

As the Bucks explore the market for outside free agents, they could use another point guard, wing, and center. Jordan McLaughlin and Aaron Holiday are potential under-the-radar targets at the point; Justin Holiday and Cedi Osman would be intriguing options on the wing if they’re available for the minimum; Daniel Theis and Xavier Tillman are a couple options I like at center.

Milwaukee also has a handful of young players on team-friendly contracts and will have to determine whether they remain committed to MarJon Beauchamp, A.J. Green, Andre Jackson, and Chris Livingston. None of those four players logged more than 614 minutes last season, but they showed some promise, with Beauchamp, Green, and Jackson all shooting the ball well. Rivers isn’t exactly known as a player-development specialist, but if those youngsters continue to make strides, there should be room in the rotation for at least one or two of them.

If the Bucks are concerned about their luxury tax bill and their proximity to the aprons, Beauchamp would be the most logical trade candidate of that quartet, since his fully guaranteed salary of $2.73MM is the only one above the minimum — the team could save some money by swapping him out for a minimum-salary replacement.

The Bucks will also enter this year’s draft armed with the 23rd and 33rd overall picks, putting them in a good position to nab at least one player who could contribute immediately. This draft class isn’t top-heavy, but it has no shortage of seasoned college players who spent three, four, or five seasons at school and who should be able to transition to the NBA more smoothly than the average one-and-done prospect. That could work just fine for Milwaukee.

It wouldn’t shock me if the Bucks look to move down from No. 23 unless there’s a specific player they love at that spot. Trading that pick for a 2024 second-rounder and maybe a couple future second-rounders would help them begin to restock a bare cupboard of future draft assets and would be financially advantageous — a second-round pick would likely only count toward the cap and tax for approximately $1.16MM, whereas the 23rd pick would have a starting salary of about $2.95MM.

Marquette’s Tyler Kolek, Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman, Dayton’s DaRon Holmes II, Cal’s Jaylon Tyson, and Kansas’ Kevin McCullar are a few of the prospects who spent at least three years at college and who should be available late in the first round or early in the second for the Bucks.

Salary Cap Situation

Guaranteed Salary

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • A.J. Green ($2,120,693)
    • Green’s salary will become guaranteed if he remains under contract through July 8.
  • Andre Jackson ($945,928)
    • Partial guarantee. Rest of salary noted above.
  • Jaylin Galloway (two-way)
  • Ryan Rollins (two-way)
  • Total: $3,066,621

Dead/Retained Salary

  • None

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Restricted Free Agents

  • None

Two-Way Free Agents

Draft Picks

  • No. 23 overall pick ($2,951,760 cap hold)
  • No. 33 overall pick (no cap hold)
  • Total (cap holds): $2,951,760

Extension-Eligible Players

  • Pat Connaughton (veteran)
  • Bobby Portis (veteran)

Note: Unless otherwise indicated, these players are eligible for extensions beginning in July.

Unrestricted Free Agents

Other Cap Holds

Note: The cap holds for these players are on the Bucks’ books from prior seasons because they haven’t been renounced. They can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.

Cap Exceptions Available

Note: The Bucks project to operate over the cap and over the second tax apron. That means they won’t have access to the mid-level exception, the bi-annual exception, or either of their two existing trade exceptions. If they dip below the second apron, they would gain access to the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,183,000).

  • None