Pass or pursue on Milwaukee Bucks’ rumored 2022 trade deadline targets

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 26 (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 26 (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Phoenix Suns: Jalen Smith
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 10 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Should the Milwaukee Bucks pass or pursue rumored trade target Jalen Smith?

Sticking with the center position, Fischer also noted that Jalen Smith had been mentioned as a potential target for the Bucks. Smith is interesting because, unlike Theis, who is an established veteran, he is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum as he is only in his second season. Smith may be viewed as a project player rather than someone that could help the Bucks in the quest to repeat as champions this season, but perhaps both could be true.

Smith has not been given much of an opportunity since being drafted with the 10th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. The big man appeared in just 27 games for an average of 5.8 minutes per game during his rookie season last year. He has seen more time this season by playing 14.1 minutes in 23 appearances, and he has shown some glimpses of potential. Smith is averaging 6.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in his limited minutes this season, which is a sizeable jump compared to last season, but it might not be enough for the Suns to keep him around.

If last year’s Western Conference Champions are potentially looking to deal the big man, he would fit well with the Bucks. Smith could immediately slide into that backup center role behind big man Bobby Portis, giving the Bucks a reliable option off the bench with his interior scoring, rebounding, and simply his overall height at 6-foot-10. He would be a solid fill-in until Lopez comes back if he does indeed return this season.

To acquire the former lottery pick before the trade deadline, the Bucks would have to absorb what remains of his $4.5 million salary, which is incredibly doable. It is unclear what the Suns may want in exchange for the center, but the Bucks could likely work something out with what little assets they have left. These two teams made a deal before meeting in the NBA Finals last season, and perhaps another could be in store before the deadline this season.

Maybe a fresh start elsewhere, particularly in a contending environment, could be the perfect recipe to help Smith unlock his true potential at the professional level. If not, the Bucks would not be tied into him for the long haul as Smith is set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season. This is the definition of low-risk, high-reward for Milwaukee.

The Verdict: Pursue