For the past seven seasons, the Milwaukee Bucks have had one of the biggest stars in the NBA on their roster in the form of Giannis Antetokounmpo. At this point, though, it’s not clear how much longer the Greek Freak will play in the Midwest. The forward’s contract expires after this season, and, at least as of now, it seems like he’ll wait to make his final decision.
The Milwaukee Bucks, however, aren’t going to sit on their hands; the club recently acquired Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovic, hoping to build a legitimate contender around Giannis Antetokounmpo. While the strategy makes sense, it also comes with a massive risk.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a year away from free agency and wants to win
Over the past several seasons, the Milwaukee Bucks have grown into one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, at least during the regular season. That hasn’t been good enough for Giannis Antetokounmpo, though.
As mentioned above, Antetokounmpo’s current contract expires at the end of this season. The forward, however, has been unwilling to sign a supermax extension and tie his future to the Bucks; the general narrative is that he wants to win championships above all else and isn’t sure if Milwaukee is the place to do it.
The Bucks, for their part, though, are apparently unwilling to trade their forward as a rental. Instead, the front office will use the 2020-21 campaign as a final effort to build something special around Giannis and prove that they’re serious about winning with the Greek Freak as their centerpiece.
The Milwaukee Bucks acquired Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovic
If the Milwaukee Bucks want to state their case to Giannis Antetokounmpo, they needed to fill out their roster with additional talent. That’s exactly what they tried to do on Tuesday, acquiring both Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Holiday came from the Pelicans via a trade; in theory, he’ll take some of the weight off Giannis’ shoulders, both as a ball-handler and a defender. The Bogdanovic deal, which is a sign-and-trade with the Kings, gives the Bucks a stretch-forward capable of knocking down outside shots with ease.
Those acquisitions, however, obviously came at a price. “As part of the trade for Holiday, Milwaukee is sending New Orleans a package that includes Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and three first-round picks, sources said,” reported ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez. Woj also tweeted that the Bucks are sending Donte Divincenzo, Ersan Ilyasova, and DJ Wilson to Sacramento for Bogdanovic.
The Milwaukee Bucks have taken a massive risk trying to appease Giannis Antetokounmpo
Based on their offseason so far, the Milwaukee Bucks are clearly trying to do what they can to convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to stay in Wisconsin. While that’s completely understandable—the Greek Freak is a generational talent—it also carries a major risk.
Let’s say, as a hypothetical, that the 2020-21 season doesn’t go according to plan, and the Bucks struggle. Based on everything we’ve heard, Giannis would then leave for greener pastures. Jrue Holiday has a player option for the 2021-22 campaign; he’d be free to leave Milwaukee as a free agent alongside Antetokounmpo.
At that point, the Bucks would simply be out of luck. Without Eric Bledsoe and the rest of their supporting cast, their roster would be Khris Middleton, Bogdan Bogdonavic, and spare parts. They wouldn’t even be able to hope they hit the lottery in the draft, as three first-round picks are heading to New Orleans as part of the Holiday deal.
Once again, the logic behind the Milwaukee Bucks’ moves is clear: if you have a chance to win a championship and keep Giannis on your roster, it’s tough to do anything else. With that being said, though, that logic doesn’t eliminate the risks. If things go poorly this year, the Bucks could go from the penthouse to the outhouse in a matter of moments next summer.
At this point, though, the team has gone all-in. Only time will if it was worth it.