Milwaukee Bucks: Jon Horst shows trademark aggressiveness in P.J. Tucker move

Jun 19, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports)
Jun 19, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports) /

There may still be work for the Milwaukee Bucks to do over the weeks and months, but they have essentially made their all-in move one week out from the trade deadline.

Before they earned their fifth straight victory Wednesday night by beating the Philadelphia 76ers in a 109-105 overtime win, the Bucks made their high-profile acquisition for veteran forward P.J. Tucker from the Houston Rockets. In comes Tucker as well as Rodions Kurucs, full ownership of the Bucks’ 2022 first round pick and Houston’s 2021 second rounder for D.J. Augustin, D.J. Wilson and Milwaukee’s 2022 and 2023 first round picks.

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And in a separate but important transaction, the Bucks dished off Torrey Craig to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for cash considerations.

In one fell swoop, the Bucks got the defensive specialist they wanted, especially after having long pined for Tucker’s services, and managed to get out of their financial squeeze and out of the luxury tax for the time being. All of it was just was the latest instance of Bucks general manager Jon Horst doing what he has done around the trade deadline and as the Bucks have grown into a contender in the East.

The Milwaukee Bucks’ addition of P.J. Tucker was Jon Horst’s latest masterstroke.

Over his tenure as Bucks GM, Horst has developed a reputation as being aggressive when it comes to bolstering the Bucks’ roster, all starting with adding Eric Bledsoe not long into the 2017-18 season. Many moves have followed since then as the Bucks have developed into a team making noise in the East and it’s only reinforced Horst’s shrewd, adept approach with how he’s shaped the Bucks’ roster for the better.

When in a similar position in their breakthrough 2018-19 season, Horst pulled off the deadline day addition of Nikola Mirotic in what ended up being a three-team deal that saw the Bucks parting with four second round picks and Thon Maker. Make what you want of how Mirotic’s time in Milwaukee ended, but the Bucks put themselves in the best position to compete in that year’s arms race that exploded in the East.

It’s hard to predict whether we’ll ultimately see another arms race develop ahead of the deadline this season, but the Bucks’ acquisition of Tucker was the latest signal of things starting to heat up on the trade front. The Miami Heat made a similar deal Wednesday by adding veteran wing Trevor Ariza from the Oklahoma City Thunder, which eventually took themselves out of the Tucker sweepstakes.

Whether that develops or not, Horst went out and got ahead to make such a key acquisition that also kept Tucker from landing with a direct rival of the Bucks. Before it all happened, Horst may have tipped his hand at how the Bucks would approach the deadline in his recent interview with Gale Klappa on WTMJ’s ‘Courtside with the Milwaukee Bucks’ podcast:

"“So the trade deadline is one of those opportunities for us to evaluate our roster and look at potential options and make decisions on those options if you generate them. That’s the work we’re doing. We’re very specific, narrowly-focused on the goals that we think we need to accomplish if possible during this time.But at the same time, here we are at the back half of the season, a couple games out of first place in the Eastern Conference. We have five remaining games against Philly and Brooklyn and four of those are going to come at home, so we’ll have a chance to improve our position in the standings and we’re good. We’ve got the back-to-back MVP, Defensive Player of the Year. We’ve got a great starting five that has All-Stars all throughout it and at previous times in their careers. We got young talent in Donte, got a great bench with D.J. (Augustin) Bryn (Forbes) and Bobby (Portis) and Pat Connaughton.So it’s our job to be active, it’s our job to be aggressive, but at the same time, never overreact because we have a really good team and this is a team that we believed in from the beginning and we’re going to continue to believe and see what they can do.”"

Horst acquired the very player that can fortify the ongoing experimentation that the Bucks have shown this year. And while there’s always risk involved, especially when acquiring a player of Tucker’s age and minutes workload, the valuable experience and versatile defending can fill what was an outstanding hole in the Bucks’ rotation.

Milwaukee did so by not having to part ways with their best prospect in Donte DiVincenzo and further mortgaging their future, which had been a significant point of contention in trade talks.

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In the end, the Bucks’ addition of Tucker reinforces what Horst has done throughout his tenure as Bucks GM, that being putting them in the best position to contend in the Eastern Conference with a shot at making the NBA Finals. That’s only what all Bucks fans want to see during this prosperous era of Bucks basketball.