Milwaukee Bucks wing Pat Connaughton is set to hit the open market this offseason and the Cleveland Cavaliers may reportedly have an interest in the 27-year-old.
The Milwaukee Bucks‘ 2019-20 season came to a close earlier this week, but the rumor mill keeps churning ahead of a pivotal offseason.
In recent days, those rumors and reports have centered on big picture items such as the future of superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe and head coach Mike Budenholzer. Now comes word that a central division rival may have their eyes on one of the Bucks’ many impending free agents, that being Pat Connaughton.
That comes courtesy of Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor, who recently wrote that Connaughton is among the many role players who the Cavaliers may target with their mid-level exception once free agency opens up:
“Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Pat Connaughton, who has more skill than Jones and similar hops, is another possibility. The Bucks will likely look to shake up their roster this offseason, targeting steady veteran Chris Paul or any number of trade pieces to help keep 2021 free-agent-to-be Giannis Antetokounmpo from leaving Milwaukee. That could mean letting Connaughton — who averaged 5.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 18.6 regular season minutes while being part of the team’s postseason rotation — walk this fall.”
As Fedor detailed in the piece, the Cavaliers only having one roster spot and potentially nearing on the luxury tax line puts them in quite a thorny spot this offseason, especially in the middle of their rebuilding situation.
Still, the Cavaliers seemingly loom as a suitor for Connaughton’s services as he’s set to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent with his two-year deal nearly completed after coming to Milwaukee two summers ago. With that said, the Bucks do have one mechanism in their back pocket when it comes to potentially extending Connaughton’s stay in Milwaukee.
The Bucks will have Connaughton’s early bird rights, which gives them the ability to sign Connaughton over the salary cap if they so choose. Of course, the Bucks will assuredly be over the cap and nearing on the luxury tax line, even before those figures are officially cemented as a result of the pandemic disrupting the league’s calendar.
Without getting too deep in the nitty gritty just yet, what’s clear is there is a desire on Connaughton’s end to stay in Milwaukee. During the league’s hiatus before the season restart, Connaughton talked about his future in Milwaukee where he has clearly set his roots down both on and off the court:
“Would I like to make a lot of money playing in the NBA? Absolutely. But if the cap gets affected there’s nothing I can do about it.
I want to continue to play in the NBA. I want to continue to be part of the Milwaukee Bucks as a championship contender, and I want to continue to help my team eventually win a championship, two, three, four, whatever it is. What my contract looks like while I’m doing that? If it was more money and more guaranteed years, absolutely, I’d love that. But as long as I’m here, as long as I’m playing, as long as I’m doing my job to continue to be an NBA player, a dream that I wanted to accomplish since I was a kid, it’s quite possible I make more money outside of basketball than I do in basketball when it’s all said and done.”
However, it’s clear that as they get set to embark on this uncertain offseason, Connaughton’s wish to continue on with the Bucks will be out of his hands. What makes matters more uncertain is that Connaughton didn’t exactly paint himself in glory in the Bucks’ series with the Heat. Over his 65 total minutes, Connaughton averaged 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 points on 4-for-14 shooting (1-for-7 from three) and was a -36 over his five appearances.
Whether that will prove to be the lasting images of Connaughton in a Bucks uniform remains to be seen, but his future will be among the many questions the Bucks have to sort out in the coming weeks and months.