Milwaukee Bucks Rumors: Interested in Austin Rivers if bought out?

Jan 9, 2019; Houston, TX, USA (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 9, 2019; Houston, TX, USA (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports) /

The trade deadline inches closer and the Milwaukee Bucks are reportedly active in bolstering their roster, even after making their deal for P.J. Tucker last week.

In his trade deadline preview for ESPN+ ($$), ESPN’s Zach Lowe relays that the Bucks are keeping an eye on veteran New York Knicks guard Austin Rivers, who is currently out of the team’s rotation.

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On that larger point, though, Lowe makes a note of the Bucks looking to solidify their point guard depth after dealing way D.J. Augustin as part of the Tucker trade and they will do so by either trade or buyout.

As they continue to work their trade front with the limited options and assets they have, the Bucks’ $4.8 million trade exception generated as part of the Tucker deal will come in handy, which would work in absorbing Rivers’ $3.5 million salary this year in particular.

Of course, a buyout situation looms for the nine-year veteran who has been excised out of the Knicks’ rotation under head coach Tom Thibodeau. In his 21 appearances, Rivers is averaging 7.3 points on .430/.364/.714 shooting, 2.2 rebounds and 2 assists across 21 minutes per contest.

Austin Rivers would fill the Milwaukee Bucks’ vacant point guard depth.

At this moment, the Bucks are incredibly short on point guard depth behind Jrue Holiday. Augustin was sent to Houston last week and the Bucks waived two-way player Jaylen Adams earlier this month and have yet filled what is a big hole in their roster.

Even so, Milwaukee still has a number of shot creators, between Giannis Antetokounmpo, Holiday and Khris Middleton, to hold down the fort. The same goes for a secondary playmaker such as Donte DiVincenzo.

While more of a score-first guard, Rivers would give the Bucks another lead ball handler to work with and he’s very capable of catching a scoring spark. Tucker should know as both he and Rivers played together with the Rockets for the 2019-20 season and the latter half of 2018-19.

The biggest question the Bucks have to explore with Rivers regards the structure of his contract as the second and third years of his $9.97 million deal are fully non-guaranteed. Per Spotrac, his salaries for both years don’t fully guarantee until seven days after the free agency moratorium lifts.

It’s from that lens where Rivers’ contract would be incredibly valuable for a Bucks team whose roster is about to get very expensive. Through their maneuverings to land Tucker as well as trade Torrey Craig to the Phoenix Suns, the Bucks are $1.2 million under the luxury tax at the moment and unless they send some salary back in a Rivers deal (Rodions Kurucs anyone?), they would go back up into the tax to acquire Rivers.

Ultimately, the Bucks have to decide whether the value of Rivers’ deal is alluring enough to re-enter the tax and do so for a journeyman point guard who isn’t playing for a Knicks team that is in playoff contention.

Next. Getting to know veteran forward P.J. Tucker. dark

At this point, bringing in Rivers would simply be simply eat minutes that the Bucks need to fill in order not to overextended Holiday and their thin backcourt at the moment. How they go about it, though, is a fascinating question and we’ll stay tuned to the Bucks’ links to Rivers and their standing in the trade market as a whole.