As we get closer to the start of the NBA regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks are slowly whittling down their roster. Needing to get down to 15 standard roster spots and two two-way contracts, the Bucks have released a familiar name to get closer to those numbers.
For the second time this preseason, the Bucks have waived guard Elijah Bryant. The 26-year-old was initially waived prior to training camp but was re-signed on a training camp/Exhibit 10 deal. It was expected that Bryant was going to be competing for the remaining two-way contract spot on the Bucks with guards Justin Robinson and Tremont Waters.
Bryant played in a total of 12 games last season (one regular season, 11 playoffs) and a combined 82 minutes in those games. This preseason, Bryant played in four games and averaged nearly 20 minutes, 10.8 points, and 3.3 rebounds. He shot a staggering 58.3 percent from 3-point range which led to a 66.9 true shooting percentage.
The Bucks have one preseason game remaining against the Dallas Mavericks before they begin their regular season campaign and Bryant won’t be a part of it.
Implications of the Milwaukee Bucks waiving guard Elijah Bryant
It’s somewhat surprising that the Bucks waived Elijah Bryant after he was having a relatively strong preseason campaign as he fought for the remaining two-way contract spot. As was noted with his strong stats, Bryant was very much making his case to be on the roster to begin the season.
As I noted earlier in the preseason, there were a few differences in keeping Bryant or Justin Robinson, who were the primary contenders for that last spot. Primarily, Bryant would be able to make an immediate impact on the roster whereas Robinson is slightly more inexperienced due to Bryant’s pro experience overseas.
Bryant initially had the inside track for the last roster spot due to his standard contract but was eventually waived and brought back on a more flexible deal. Thus he was in competition with the other two guards and has apparently lost that race to Robinson.
I did think that because Bryant had the previous pro experience and even got some non-garbage time minutes in the playoffs as that “break-glass-in-case-of-emergency” guard when Holiday got into foul trouble, Jeff Teague was ineffective, and they need ball handling.
Bryant’s best game of the preseason came against the Brooklyn Nets where he dropped 21 points, eight rebounds, an assist, two steals, and a block. He played against a lot of the Nets’ regular rotation players (including their starters) and I thought that had put him ahead of Robinson for that last spot.
Although Waters is still on the roster, it appears clear that it is Robinson who has earned the final two-way contract spot and will make the Bucks’ final roster after the last few cuts are made in the next couple of days.
Robinson has also played in all four preseason contests, averaging nearly 19 minutes along with 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists. He hasn’t shot the ball as well as Bryant but has done enough to beat him out for that last spot. It doesn’t seem likely that Robinson will do much during the season as he stands to be a “break-glass-in-case-of-emergency” guard option should Jrue Holiday or George Hill miss any significant time.
Bryant could very well end up with the Wisconsin Herd if he clears waivers but perhaps his strong preseason showing will entice a team to take a flier on him as a deep rotation guard. Bryant has shown flashes of potential as a rotation player in the NBA but it likely won’t come with the Bucks. He also could very well make a return to Europe after a strong showing with Maccabi Tel Aviv, but the G League is also an option should he want to stay in North America.
These are the problems you worry about when you are the defending NBA champions, however. You start to worry about who is on the end of the roster instead of worrying about the top end which the Bucks have certainly figured out now.
We wish Bryant well with his future endeavors should that be with the Herd, another NBA organization, or back overseas. He proved he can play at the NBA level in some way but just didn’t fit with the Milwaukee Bucks.