Milwaukee Bucks reportedly sign wing Pat Connaughton

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 27: (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 27: (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks have reportedly signed former Portland Trail Blazers wing Pat Connaughton as they continue to round out their roster in free agency.

Having fortified the back end of their roster in recent days with the addition of Trevon Duval and Jaylen Morris on two-way deals, the Milwaukee Bucks have reportedly now made another move to bolster their depth.

According to a report from Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports, the Bucks are signing former Portland Trail Blazers wing Pat Connaughton to a two-year deal.

According to Charania, the second year of the deal is non-guaranteed and Connaughton’s salary will come in at just above the minimum. In other words, the Bucks have used the remaining amount left over (approx. $1.6 million) from their mid-level exception deal with Ersan Ilyasova.

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Connaughton was the 41st pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, following a full four-year term in college with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Connaughton capped off his time in Indiana with Third Team All-ACC honors, before landing with the Portland Trail Blazers via a draft night trade with the Brooklyn Nets.

The 25-year-old had spent the entirety of his pro career since then in Portland, where he often found his role in flux on a frequently competitive Trail Blazers squad.

Unsurprisingly considering their cap situation, the Trail Blazers opted against extending the qualifying offer to Connaughton back in June, making him an unrestricted free agent and paving the path for him to eventually land in Milwaukee.

Last season, in the best year of his career to date, Connaughton averaged 5.4 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists, while shooting 35.2 percent from deep in 18.1 minutes per game. Having played under 500 minutes through his first two seasons, Connaughton fell just below 1,500 minutes for the 2017-18 campaign.

With something of a log-jam at point guard and center, the Bucks had an obvious need for wing depth, and the Massachusetts native should certainly be able to fill that void.

Connaughton entered the NBA with a reputation as a sharpshooter after knocking down 42.3 percent of his triples as a senior and 38.6 percent from deep overall in his college days, yet he has struggled to match that efficiency to date as a pro.

Still, Connaughton has a smooth shooting stroke, and his general awareness and intelligence off the ball means the possibility of major strides in that department are still very much in play.

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor highlighted Connaughton among a group of players who were showing signs of improvement at the beginning of last season.

"“Connaughton is a joy to watch off the ball. He does an excellent job of making himself available with cuts, misdirections, and screens. Most importantly, he makes the shots, whether he’s off balance or shooting from a standstill. Sometimes, Connaughton looks like he has been watching and learning from J.J. Redick footage.”"

The ability to knock down shots at a high level has obvious value, but on a team with drive-first stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe, a player with Connaughton’s high IQ and willingness to create space without the ball can be incredibly useful too.

Connaughton is a natural athlete, as demonstrated by the fact he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB Draft. A pitcher, Connaughton even played for an Orioles’ affiliate, the Aberdeen IronBirds, back in 2014, and his MLB rights will remain with Baltimore through to 2020.

A ceremonial first pitch at Miller Park would cause no problems for Connaughton, but the Bucks will be hoping that his shooting, feel for the game, and underrated athleticism will keep him in the NBA as a valued contributor in Milwaukee for years to come.

Connaughton’s signing will likely spell the end for one of Brandon Jennings or Tyler Zeller, as both men are currently on non-guaranteed contracts for next season. With Jennings’ guarantee date set for August 1, he would seem like the most likely victim of Connaughton’s arrival.

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As for Connaughton, the chance to join a rising Eastern Conference team led by Giannis Antetokounmpo is a good one, and he could become one of the latest role-playing wings to benefit from the tutelage of Mike Budenholzer and his staff.