Would Maker have been traded if not for his own slightly bizarre eagerness to push for a bigger role elsewhere? I’d guess not.
The Bucks may have explored deals as he was one of the less essential players on the roster at this point in the season, but the organization’s investment in and hopes for Maker always rang out as being as genuine as any team really can be in these situations.
Maker’s trade request officially marked the end of his playing time in a Milwaukee jersey, though, and with the move the Bucks now have some new opportunities opened up for them.
Ahead of a tough and undoubtedly expensive free agency period this summer, any cap saving is a victory for the Bucks. On that front, the chance to shed another $3.5 million, if they so choose, could prove significant in negotiations with their incumbent starters.
Beyond that, Johnson does still have upside. If a trade for Maker couldn’t offer an obvious contributor who was perfectly equipped to transform the Bucks right away, the next best thing was always going to be to seek out a similar prospect in a tough situation elsewhere.
This is a change of scenery deal on both sides, with the Pistons and Bucks both essentially hoping that the other just wasn’t the right team to develop their respective players.
If nothing else, Johnson offers the Bucks another strong wing capable of picking up brutal assignments in crucial games. Sign me up for a Johnson-Sterling Brown defensive bench tandem.