The 2020-21 NBA season is a make-or-break one for the Milwaukee Bucks. Not only are they still chasing an elusive championship, but they’re hoping to convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign a contract extension. The latter part of their plan, however, may have gotten a bit more complicated.
In the days leading up to the draft, it seemed like the Wisconsin club had landed two new members of their supporting cast, Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovic. On Wednesday night, though, the latter deal seemed to collapse in real-time, leaving the Milwaukee Bucks in the lurch.
The Milwaukee Bucks need to convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to stay
In the modern NBA, few players have the game-breaking ability of Giannis Antetokounmpo. That reality explains why the Milwaukee Bucks are so desperate to keep him under contract.
While Giannis has played in Wisconsin ever since he moved to North America, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020-21 campaign. As far as we’ve heard, the forward isn’t prepared to sign his supermax contract extension, preferring to see how this year plays out. Similarly, the Bucks don’t have any plans to trade their star; they’re reportedly going to use this season as a final opportunity to convince the Greek Freak to stay.
As far as anyone knows, the easiest way to win Antetokounmpo over is to win basketball games, especially in the postseason. The forward has claimed plenty of individual honors but hasn’t reached, let alone won, the NBA Finals. The Bucks need to prove they’re the right team to help him reach the promised land, otherwise, he’ll leave for greener pastures.
Acquiring two new players to help Giannis Antetokounmpo
In order for the Milwaukee Bucks to accomplish their goal of convincing Giannis Antetokounmpo to stay, they needed to shake up their roster. It looked like they had done just that ahead of the NBA draft.
On November 17, reports indicated that the Bucks had traded Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and three first-round picks to the New Orleans Pelicans for Jrue Holiday. They also seemed set to acquire Bogdan Bogdanovic from the Sacramento Kings in a sign-and-trade deal.
While those deals carried quite the risk—Holiday has a player option after the 2020-21 season, meaning that Milwaukee could be without him, Giannis, and three first-round draft picks if things go south—they did make some amount of sense. If the ultimate goal is to keep Antetokounmpo under contract, and overpaying to get Holiday get it done, then everything will theoretically be worth it in the end.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ deal for Bogdan Bogdanovic may have collapsed
Even if the Milwaukee Bucks overpaid, they theoretically acquired two players who could help Giannis Antetokounmpo chase a championship. One of those men—Bogdan Bogdanovic—might never make it to Wisconsin, though.
While most of Wednesday’s news centered around the NBA draft, some stories about Bogdanovic made their way across the wire as well. Sam Amick of The Athletic tweeted that the forward never agreed to join Milwaukee; ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski also weighed in on Twitter, reporting that Bogdanovic planned to enter free agency on Friday.
While there’s always a chance that the Bucks could get their man in free agency, it could still represent a bit of a blow for the franchise. Given that their entire offseason is predicated around convincing Giannis Antetokounmpo that they’re serious about winning now, potentially losing out on one of the two main players they targeted isn’t exactly a good look.
At this point, it’s not exactly clear what Plan B will be; do the Milwaukee Bucks move on to another target, go after Bogdanovic in free agency, or hope that Jrue Holiday alone is enough to get them over the hump? Whatever they choose, though, they have to get it right. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s long-term signature is on the line.