The Milwaukee Bucks have reportedly agreed to a sign and trade deal that will send Malcolm Brogdon to the Indiana Pacers on a 4-year/$85 million.
With quickfire deals for Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton, it appeared as if everything was going according to script for the Milwaukee Bucks in the opening exchanges of free agency. Then, a major plot twist occurred.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Malcolm Brogdon will be heading to the Indiana Pacers, following an agreed sign and trade deal with the Bucks.
Brogdon has agreed to a four-year, $85 million deal with the Pacers, and for facilitating the deal and not matching the offer, the Bucks will receive one first round pick and two second rounders from Indiana.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the deal that Brogdon will sign with the Pacers is fully guaranteed. Considering the red flags Brogdon is dealing with from a health perspective, that in itself may have been enough to deter the Bucks from matching an offer, if the price tag wasn’t already too exorbitant for their taste.
The draft compensation is helpful considering the Bucks have had to empty their stocks in that department in order to clear cap space this summer, but following a move like this it’s tough to understand what the total intention behind some of those recent moves was in the first place.
The Bucks will acquire a $10 million trade exception as a part of the deal with Indiana, and there’s still a possibility that deal could be put to use. As a purely hypothetical example, if Jimmy Butler wants to sign with the Rockets, could the Bucks find a way to use it in exchange for Eric Gordon as Houston rushes to clear space?
Those kind of scenarios offer a glimmer of hope of this all working out in the aggregate for Milwaukee, but outside of finding a deal for the exception that nets a replacement, working out a trade using the newly acquired picks, or stretching Jon Leuer and creating sufficient room for another meaningful free agent addition, the reality is the Bucks are going to be worse off in terms of talent next season.
Having just entered the historic 50-40-90 club, Brogdon was the Bucks’ best shooter last season, and now they’ll be without him heading into 2019-20. Considering a few more made shots could easily have seen the Bucks advance past the Raptors and make the Finals, a team with lesser shooting ability isn’t all that exciting of a prospect.
Brogdon’s ability as a secondary playmaker, threat in terms of driving off the dribble, and ability to lead the second unit in staggered rotations will also be a major loss. The Bucks will undoubtedly bet on Sterling Brown and Donte DiVincenzo taking major strides forward next season, but that represents a sizable risk for a team that’s set on a legitimate championship challenge in the now.
If the Bucks start the season below the luxury tax having allowed Brogdon to walk, that will not represent the kind of statement of ambition that many, including this writer, expected the organization to make this summer.
The tax may still be an inevitability for the Bucks, but with a roster suddenly stacked with long-term contracts, the path to opening up cap space in the years ahead is close to non-existent for Milwaukee.
With that in mind, it’s hard to see how the Bucks can return to the talent level of last season’s team again, now that Brogdon is set to move on to a new team.
Of course, final judgement will need to be reserved until the rest of the potential happenings play out over the next couple of weeks. Perhaps Jon Horst has a trade up his sleeve. On the evidence of this deal, Bucks fans should probably hope so.