After a second-consecutive playoff disappointment, the Milwaukee Bucks are reloading for the 2020-21 NBA season. The Bucks made two separate trades to significantly upgrade their roster just ahead of the draft on Wednesday, and free agency, which begins Friday.
Milwaukee sent Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, three first-round picks and two pick swaps to the New Orleans Pelicans for guard Jrue Holiday.
Holiday averaged 19.1 points and 6.7 assists and shot 35.3% from deep last season. The former All-Star will give reigning back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo a much-needed playmaker on the offensive end. Holiday will make $25.4 million this season and has a player option for the 2021-22 season at $26.3 million.
Bledsoe and Hill will join a Pelicans team that is building around Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball. New Orleans GM David Griffin has acquired six first-round picks in trading away Holiday and Anthony Davis.
Milwaukee GM Jon Horst then made a deal in principle with the Sacramento Kings for restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic that saw the Bucks send away promising guard Donta DiVincenzo, Ersan Ilyasova and D.J. Wilson.
The Bucks were rumored to have interest in Bogdanovic over the past days and get the reliable outside shooter they were looking for during the offseason. Bogdanovic shot 43.2% from beyond the arc last season, averaging 15.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists. He turned down a four-year $52 million offer from the Kings last season.
Sacramento GM Monte McNair looks like he’s going to rebuild the roster around promising point guard De’Aron Fox. The recently hired McNair said he would be looking for financial flexibility moving forward, and this move will give him precisely that in the coming seasons.
Horst made these moves to show Antetokounmpo that he’s all in to win a championship. Antetokounmpo has until Dec. 21 to sign a supermax extension with Milwaukee; he will become an unrestricted free agent after the season. The Bucks have had the best record in the NBA the last two seasons but have failed to make it past the Eastern Conference Finals.
If Antetokounmpo elects to let the deadline to re-sign pass, he could walk away after the season to a team of his choosing. If that happens, Milwaukee will be in for a long rebuild. If Giannis does go into free agency, how serious of a contender will the Golden State Warriors be for his services?
A team from the Warriors division also has a trade in place. The Portland Trail Blazers got Robert Covington from the Houston Rockets in exchange for veteran Trevor Ariza, a 2020 first-round selection and a protected 2021 first-round pick.
Covington could have been a target for the Dubs with their $17.2 million trade exception, which the team has until Nov. 23 to use.
James Harden reportedly wants to end his time with the Houston Rockets. The Athletic’s Shams Charania says the former NBA MVP wants to be traded to a contender.
Rockets star James Harden wants to be on a contender elsewhere, and Brooklyn and Philadelphia are believed to be his top desired trade destinations, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 16, 2020
Houston is fully comfortable keeping Harden and Russell Westbrook into the season.
If Harden goes to the Brooklyn Nets, he will join former Warrior Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, making for a Big 3. The names look good together on paper, but seeing how the three iso-heavy players would make it on the work would be fascinating.
The Rockets former GM Daryl Morey is now with the Philadelphia 76ers and could move either Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid to land his former prized possession.
The drama is just getting started in what should be an eventful week.