Milwaukee Bucks: This was their biggest loss of the 2021 NBA offseason

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 20 (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 20 (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

By all accounts, the Milwaukee Bucks had a widely successful offseason after their triumphant title-winning campaign.

General manager Jon Horst spent the offseason retooling through free agency and trade, making several interesting moves to help patch up some of the team’s biggest needs. He added depth to the wing rotation by bringing in Grayson Allen and Rodney Hood, signed a new backup point guard in George Hill, and re-signed fan-favorite Bobby Portis to yet another team-friendly deal. It was a solid effort from the former Executive of the Year and co.

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However, just as there were victories, the team suffered a few losses along the way. The Bucks would lose two key pieces from their title run to other competitors in NBA free agency, with P.J. Tucker signing with the Miami Heat and Bryn Forbes returning to the San Antonio Spurs.

Both Tucker and Forbes played integral roles for the Bucks this past season, and their departures could have an immediate impact on the team. Which of the two is the bigger loss?

Losing P.J. Tucker was the biggest loss for the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2021 NBA offseason

Forbes was fantastic in his lone year with the Bucks, providing the team with some much-needed shooting, which most notably helped them throttle the Heat in the first round of the NBA playoffs. He outscored Miami’s Jimmy Butler 60-58 over four games, which was certainly an eye-catching statistic after the series. However, after that matchup, Forbes would find himself in and out of the rotation during the rest of Milwaukee’s title run, spending several games glued to the bench.

On the contrary, Tucker was a key piece in each series on a nightly basis. After all, he stepped into a starting role after Donte DiVincenzo went down with an injury. His defense proved crucial in the team’s second round series with the Brooklyn Nets as he gave an exhausting effort night in and night out to try and slow down Kevin Durant. Ultimately, he gave just enough as the Bucks won a wild Game 7 on the road. Tucker would continue to play his part in the final two rounds against the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns, giving the team some defensive excellence to throw at the other team’s best players.

After the title run, it seemed certain that Tucker would be returning to the Bucks, but in a shocking twist, he signed with the Heat. While the behind the scenes drama will never come to light, all signs point to this being a cost-cutting move from the Bucks to avoid a hefty luxury tax bill, which makes it a tougher pill to swallow, especially considering he went to one of their biggest rivals in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks and Heat have squared off in each of the last two trips to the postseason, and Tucker may have just added another layer to that rivalry.

Some have tried to justify the move to let Tucker walk by reiterating that he is 36-years-old and looked incredibly subpar on the offensive end in the postseason. Both claims are valid, but Tucker proved himself to be a key piece for the Bucks from the moment he touched down in Milwaukee after being traded in March. He set the tone in the locker room with a “dog mentality” and held others accountable when necessary. He was a culture setter for a team that needed a big jolt of toughness after being punched in the mouth in back-to-back trips to the postseason.

Losing Tucker will be a big loss for the Bucks on and off the floor. They tried to replace him on the floor by signing a reputable defender in Semi Ojeleye in free agency. Although signing Ojelye was a solid move, and he has the potential to succeed with the Bucks, he is nowhere near the same tier defensively as Tucker. The Bucks will also miss Tucker’s leadership as he was among the more vocal players in the locker room and out on the floor.

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Time will tell just how big of a loss this proves to be for the Bucks, but losing the top dog will hurt the team in some capacity in 2021-22.