Milwaukee Bucks NBA Trade Deadline: 3 Buyout Candidates For Another Championship Push

The reigning NBA champions have struggled to stay near the top of the Eastern Conference so far this season, and unfortunately for the Milwaukee Bucks, reinforcements will be hard to come by at the trade deadline.

At 30-20, the team sits sixth in the Eastern Conference standings prior to a Jan. 28 game against the New York Knicks. But it’s still anyone’s game as the top six teams in the East are within two games of each other.

The injury bug hit hard in Milwaukee, but when the Bucks are close to full strength, they’ve proven to still be one of the league’s best — when Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday all play, the Bucks are 18-4.

So without a lot of players in high demand across the league and not much in the form of future draft picks, Milwaukee will have to turn to the buyout market to fortify its roster for another deep playoff run.

Here are three buyout candidates that would be a perfect fit next to Giannis and Co.:

Everybody’s No. 1 target: Goran Dragic

Dragic is at the top of the list whenever the word “buyout” is mentioned. He would be the most popular and desired player on the market if, indeed, the Toronto Raptors make him available.

He left the team after the first four games of the season, returned once in November, and then left again. He hasn’t been back since.

The Serbian is 35 years old, has been in the league for 13 seasons, and has played five games in 2021-22. There’s no telling what form Dragic would be in when he retakes the court.

He was a solid second-unit floor leader with the Miami Heat in 2020-21, averaging 13.4 points and hitting 37.3% of his threes on nearly five attempts per game.

Milwaukee has George Hill backing up Holiday at the moment. Hill has played the third-most games of any player this year and is playing more than 25 minutes a night.

However, he’s averaging just 7.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. He led the NBA in 3-point percentage a few years ago, but that has plummeted, and he’s now shooting just 31.3% from deep.

Acquiring a more steady, productive, floor-spacing hand behind Holiday would benefit Milwaukee. And with Holiday’s size and strength, he and Dragic could play minutes together in the backcourt.

The Bucks add more shooting in veteran guard Gary Harris

A more popular target here would be a backup center as Brook Lopez’s absence continues. His brother, Robin, could be a buyout casualty, but in this case, Milwaukee scoops up another ex-Orlando player in Harris.

The Bucks backcourt rotation consists of Holiday, Pat Connaughton, Grayson Allen, and 35-year-old Wesley Matthews. Donte DiVincenzo hasn’t been the same player since his return from injury earlier this year.

Milwaukee is seventh in the league in 3-point percentage and fifth in points per game, and those guards are all serviceable.

But Allen averages the most points out of that group at 11.8. Connaughton is the only other to average double figures and is the only one shooting above 40% from deep.

Harris is simply another option and, throughout his career, has proven to be a solid two-way guard. He’s averaging 11.8 points this season with shooting splits of 44/36/85 in 29.8 minutes a game in Orlando.

Finally some size in the form of Thaddeus Young

The elephant in the room in Milwaukee is another big to help solve the absence of Lopez. Giannis has spent a lot of time at the five and has been spelled by Bobby Portis.

That’s been it for the Bucks this season other than a few brief appearances from DeMarcus Cousins, who’s since moved on.

Young is a 6-foot-8, 230-pound 14-year vet who’s appeared in 51 playoff games during his career. Not an extensive amount of experience, but it’s not nothing for a team pushing for back-to-back titles.

Thad has been wasting away as a role player in San Antonio — he’s played in 33 games but hasn’t started a single one despite providing a steady veteran presence on a young team with an 18-31 record.

Young might not stretch the floor the way head coach Mike Budenholzer wants, but he’s a proven commodity at the power forward spot and has played some small-ball center late in his career.

He would give Milwaukee flexibility up front — in certain lineups, he would be capable of guarding a center and allowing Antetokounmpo to roam as a rim-protector.

It would also give Bud the luxury of allowing Giannis a break and running with Thad and Portis in the frontcourt rather than Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Portis, or the current third option of just going incredibly small.

He’s not a game-changer, but Young would give the Bucks a deeper rotation of bigs which could further unlock their two-time MVP in certain matchups for a championship push.

All statistics courtesy of NBA.com.

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