It was clear leading up to last season’s NBA trade deadline that the Milwaukee Bucks had a plan, mostly because they had a clear-cut target in mind. The Bucks had been linked to P.J. Tucker even before the season began, with their interest carrying over into the regular season. After months of rumors and speculation, general manager Jon Horst negotiated a deal with the Houston Rockets to bring the veteran forward onto the team, and well, you know what happened from there. If the Bucks made a trade, it was always going to be for Tucker. This year, things are more uncertain.
Much uncertainty surrounds the Milwaukee Bucks leading up to the 2022 NBA trade deadline
Unlike last season, there is no Tucker-Esque player being mentioned in connection to the Bucks so far this season. The defending champs have been incredibly quiet in the rumor mill, which has left fans with more questions than answers with the deadline just over a month away.
The biggest question of them all remains what the Bucks plan to do at the center position. Starting center Brook Lopez has been sidelined in every game but the season opener with back issues and will not be returning soon after getting a procedure done. There is reportedly optimism that Lopez could return this season, but that could still be far down the line. Bobby Portis has done a great job filling in as the starter, but there are some burning questions about the backup spot as the team recently waived DeMarcus Cousins in a shocking move. Without Cousins, Milwaukee’s current backup center is rookie big man Sandro Mamukelashvili, and there are concerns about a contender trusting a late second round pick to play pivotal minutes, especially in the postseason.
While waiving Cousins may signal positive things for Lopez’s rehabilitation, the Bucks still need a quality backup that can give them minutes in the meantime. Horst tends to have a plan whenever he makes a move like this, so some have speculated that the team is scouring the market for help at the center position. There are several names that could be interesting targets for them, but the question is whether the team will look to pursue any of them or elect to stand pat. Whatever they decide on could be telling about Lopez’s potential return this season.
Rather than focusing on who the team might trade for, a significant question making the rounds has been who the Bucks could trade away. For obvious reasons, two players that continue to pop up in that conversation are Donte DiVincenzo and Jordan Nwora. DiVincenzo has been shrouded in trade speculation since the team traded him away in a sign-and-trade prior to last season before the deal fell apart and he stayed with the Bucks. With the addition of Grayson Allen through trade this offseason followed by an immediate extension, DiVincenzo is expendable. The guard could be Milwaukee’s best trade asset given his strong two-way play and affordable contract, and it will be interesting to see if they attempt to move him once again.
Nwora finds himself in that same conversation because when the Bucks are fully healthy, there is oftentimes no room for him in the rotation. Yet, when he does play with the Bucks shorthanded, Nwora tends to impress, especially lately. He can flat-out score the basketball, and teams focused on building for the future would certainly like to get their hands on a player of his caliber. If there is a quality rotation piece out there that the Bucks could acquire if they part ways with Nwora, it is reasonable to believe they would consider it. However, just like everything else here, that is pure speculation because the team has been silent in the rumor mill.
Unlike last year’s approach, it seems like the Bucks will take a more open-minded approach into the weeks leading up to the deadline. One thing is for certain: Horst and the front office will take an aggressive approach when improving this roster. Perhaps the uncertainty surrounding what that might entail will add to the excitement.
Only time will tell what the Milwaukee Bucks have up their sleeve, so stay tuned for updates.