Milwaukee Bucks: The unlikeliness of extension talks for D.J. Wilson

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 20: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 20: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

D.J.  Wilson will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason with the Milwaukee Bucks, but just because he’s eligible doesn’t mean there will be motivation to get a deal done.

This offseason, a Milwaukee Bucks forward is eligible for an extension. No, not that one.

The 17th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, D.J. Wilson is set to be eligible for a rookie-scale extension whenever the reconfigured offseason and NBA calendar is set with the current season suspended due to the coronavrius pandemic.

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To say the timing of such eligibility is unfortunate would be an understatement.

Wilson, as well as the entire 2017 draft class and this upcoming crop of free agents, will get a first-hand and uncomfortable experience of the new financial realities facing the league and all its 30 teams.

With so much uncertainty, the biggest, most pivotal point in Wilson’s NBA career to date is only made murkier by his body of work as well as the Bucks’ very own financial realities.

Of the entire 2017 NBA Draft class, Wilson has registered 1,233 NBA minutes to this point, which is the 38th-most for players, per Whittle it down even further and those are the sixth-fewest minutes a first-round pick taken in his class has recorded.

The five players that have played fewer NBA minutes than Wilson aren’t particularly noteworthy, only making Wilson’s case that much more worrisome.

Justin Patton, the 16th overall pick and selected ahead of Wilson, has undergone major injuries as well as bounced around and out of the league and was last with the Bucks’ G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd. The player selected right after Wilson, T.J. Leaf has seldom seen minutes during his three years with the Indiana Pacers and they were even looking a potential new home for Leaf at the trade deadline earlier this year, as The Athletic’s John Hollinger reported.

Tyler Lydon, the 24th overall pick, has already flamed out of the NBA after being a part of a draft night trade to the Denver Nuggets from the Utah Jazz that netted them Donovan Mitchell (ouch, Nuggets).

Caleb Swanigan, who was selected 26th overall, has gone from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Sacramento Kings back to Portland again over his three years in the league. He has played more minutes on assignment in the G League (849) than in the NBA (655) and had his fourth-year option declined by Sacramento last October.

And lastly, Tony Bradley, the 28th overall pick, has finally caught on with the Utah Jazz in his third season playing limited minutes off the bench to back up All-Star big man Rudy Gobert.

Needless to say, that’s not exactly an illustrious company that Wilson is a part of, though some of Wilson’s biggest believers would argue that his development and playing time has been stifled with a crowded, established frontcourt ahead of him. On the other hand, Wilson’s defensive upside has outweighed his shaky shooting and struggles within the interior throughout his three seasons to this point.

Whatever the case may be, Wilson’s on-and-off run in Milwaukee has been made difficult by the fact that the Bucks have spent the last couple of seasons bringing in midseason acquisitions such as Nikola Mirotic and Marvin Williams at his position. And being behind superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo only limits his time on the floor, naturally.

With a limited pathway for minutes and reps to refine his game, Wilson’s future in Milwaukee will be one to follow over between now and the following 12 months.

Milwaukee was all but certain to enter the luxury tax this offseason before the new harsh financial realities come down to teams like the Bucks that have money committed to players long-term, even without the certainty of Antetokounmpo staying beyond 2021 as well.

As the Bucks will look to find any flexibility they can to maintain this current contending window, floating out Wilson as a trade chip, or more specifically the prospect of his bird rights ahead of his restricted free agency, may entice an opposing team as my co-site expert Adam McGee suggested a month ago.

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Bucks general manager Jon Horst has yet to offer up a rookie scale extension to a Bucks first-round pick in his nearly three years at the position. And it’s hard to envision, based on the trajectory of Wilson’s Bucks stint so far, that he will be the first player to receive one.