Milwaukee Bucks: What NBA trade deadline moves say about future

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 20: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 20: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks stayed away from the frenzy that was trade deadline day Thursday,

After all, they had already made their splashy move last week when they acquired P.J. Tucker from the Houston Rockets and they’re currently humming while being on an eight-game winning streak and having won 13 of their last 14 games.

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Having clearly found their stride after some uncharacteristic ups and downs, Milwaukee is standing strong near the top of the Eastern Conference with a rotation that is largely set after the trade season.

There’s no question they will use one of their two remaining roster spots to find a backup point guard on the buyout market, just as ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported earlier this week ($$). Per Lowe, they have already been linked to Austin Rivers, who was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday afternoon, and he may be the best reserve guard that will be available on the buyout market when all is said and done.

The mere act of being able to utilize their vacant roster spots were made possible by the Tucker trade and offloading D.J. Augustin, D.J. Wilson and Torrey Craig and future draft picks helped them fall roughly $1.2 million under the tax. And adding further reinforcements will keep ownership from entering the tax this season as is currently projected.

The question facing the Milwaukee Bucks’ future is contending for a championship.

While the Bucks will inevitably enter the tax next season when Giannis Antetokounmpo’s massive supermax extension kicks in, maintaining their current core is of the highest priority.

Doing so will be made easier by being able to get out of the East this season, though they face stiff competition in the Brooklyn Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat are aspiring to make it out of the East for the second straight year, judging by their deadline day.

With that said, the future of Jrue Holiday still stands on the front of the organization’s mind, especially after having made such a massive deal to acquire him from the New Orleans Pelicans. Although Holiday is currently eligible for a four-year, $134.9 million max contract extension, there has been no movement on that front, especially as he stands as one of the potential premier free agents this summer. That would require Holiday declining his $26 million player option, by the way.

Through the aggressive mindset of Bucks general manager Jon Horst, the Bucks’ long-term future is intrinsically tied to what they can accomplish in the here and now. Milwaukee has only gotten better as the season has gone on and as the pieces have come together after their massive roster overhaul last offseason. And they will be hoping that continues with Tucker acclimating to his new surroundings.

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All in all, the Bucks have set themselves up in a great position to compete for an NBA Finals bid this season. They may have strayed away from the madness that was this year’s deadline, but their shrewd operating by acquiring Tucker comes at a time where the Bucks are rounding into their peak performance.