I think it’s fair to say Milwaukee Bucks fans had a fair amount of angst and worry about the 2019 offseason. Despite one of the best seasons in franchise history the Bucks failed to overcome the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals, and given the possibility of seeing three key players (Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Malcom Brogdon) leave in free agency it seemed changes might be inevitable for the team.
As the free agency period loomed the Bucks began making moves, announcing the team had re-signed Brook Lopez to a four-year, $52 million contract followed by an even bigger announcement – Khris Middleton had been re-signed to a five-year, $178 million contract. While I absolutely LOVE the deal the Bucks cut with Brook Lopez, I’m less enthusiastic about the contract the Bucks gave Middleton. While I don’t think they overpaid considering the market for players who can do what he does, I do think the last two years of that contract could be an absolute albatross for a team that might not have much wiggle room when it comes to absorbing bad contracts.
Quickly two of the team’s biggest areas of concern were resolved, leaving only the status of Malcom Brogdon. The team waited until the last hour to extend a qualifying offer to Brogdon, thus making him a restricted free agent, and then it was announced the team had in fact re-signed Brodgon…and then traded him to the Indiana Pacers for three draft picks. Some Bucks fans were upset by the move, but I think it’s a winner. The team turned an injury-prone second round draft pick into a first round pick and two second round picks – that’s not a bad haul for a guy who had injury concerns coming out of college and hasn’t done much during his time in the NBA to assuage those concerns.
To address their depth at guard after trading Brogdon the Bucks re-signed guard George Hill to a pretty reasonable three year contract and the team then signed center Robin Lopez to a two-year contract to add some front court depth. Today the team announced it had agreed to terms with swingman Wesley Matthews on a minimum-salary deal. Wesley Matthews is a great low-risk, high reward signing, and what’s more it shows Milwaukee may finally be a destination for veterans looking for a chance to play on a legitimate NBA title contender.
Signing Hill, Robin Lopez, and Matthews may not be as “sexy” as some of the moves made by teams like the Brooklyn Nets in free agency, but I think the Bucks have actually improved their depth and defense with the moves they’ve made, and I’d argue this is a vastly improved team from the one that lost to Toronto in the Eastern Conference finals.