The Milwaukee Bucks’ recent roster decisions have faltered this season

Jun 19, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports)
Jun 19, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports) /

Jon Horst, the general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks, was an integral part in constructing the Milwaukee Bucks roster that won the 2020-2021 NBA Championship.

With the trade for Jrue Holiday, the signing of free agent Bobby Portis and the contract extension of Giannis of Antetokounmpo in the offseason, to pair with the in-season acquisition of P.J. Tucker, Horst put together the players for Mike Budenholzer to coach and lead last season. It was the crowning achievement for Horst and the organization as these players (and others) led the team to the aforementioned championship, their first in 50 years.

With the 2022 trade deadline fast approaching, it is evident that Horst will need to make some moves so this team can compete for a championship again. Not that the current roster cannot compete, but there have been signs that this roster will struggle to replicate last season’s success.

This fact is even more belabored because of the 2021 offseason. Let’s just say Jon Horst did not have a good offseason.

Revisiting the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2021 offseason and mid-season decisions

We could start with the P.J. Tucker non-signing, which if you have been on Bucks Twitter lately, is still a sore spot for Bucks fans. Yet, since Horst may not have had much of a choice in letting Tucker go (directions from ownership), I will leave that low-hanging fruit for Twitter and the bar stools of Milwaukee.

However, there are plenty of other missteps to analyze and criticize.

Horst signed Semi Ojeleye as a poor man’s replacement for Tucker, yet Ojeleye sits at the end of the bench every night. Even when the Bucks were short-handed with injury and Covid protocols, Ojeleye could not see the court. When he had the chance to secure a spot in the rotation earlier in the season, his jump shot failed him. When he had the chance to secure a spot as a defensive stopper (which was the hope, I imagine), he once again failed to stop anybody. This is Horst’s fault.

Ojeleye never showed in his years with the Boston Celtics to be anything more than a serviceable far end of the bench player that sometimes can come in and guard Giannis. He had plenty of DNPs in Boston, which have followed him to Milwaukee.

Another move that has not panned out is the signing of Rodney Hood. The hope for a Hood redemption season did not come to pass (mildly surprising to me; I was on the Hood bandwagon in the preseason).  The hope was the Hood could rediscover his pre-injury self: a high-scoring player who once was a coveted player in the league. The signing was a gamble that has not paid off. Although Hood has seen the court more than Ojeleye, he still has not carved out a niche in the rotation. Usually, Hood plays when other players are not available. He usually is good for one bad shot a game; otherwise, he is an irrelevant fifth player on the court that brings nothing to the team. Too harsh?

During the season, Horst attempted to make amends by adding two significant players to the roster: DeMarcus Cousins and Wesley Matthews. The Cousins signing was because of the unfortunate back injury that waylaid Brook Lopez. Cousins was an epiphany. He was a big off the bench to give rest to Portis or Giannis, he rebounded, and he filled his role beautifully. Fitting in with the stars and playing his role.

But alas, as we all know, Cousins was released before his contract would become guaranteed (he has signed a non-guaranteed contract). Now, was this Horst? Or ownership not wanting to spend more money on taxes? This is up for debate, but the Bucks have missed his presence dearly in the frontcourt since letting him walk.

However, the Bucks have kept Matthews. He has filled the roles that Hood and/or Ojeleye were supposed to fill as a wing defender and 3-point shooter. For a while, this acquisition, bringing Matthews home again, looked like a superb signing. He was even starting while other players were out and played well. But alas, Matthews is 35 years old, and he is not what he once was as a player. However, though he was struggling a bit before he got hurt, he is still better than Hood and Ojeleye.

There are two other moves that Horst made that range from average to amazing.

Bringing back George Hill as the backup point guard in the offseason has been a good move, despite the division in Bucks fandom. Some say he is a serviceable backup who plays his role well, while others want more playmaking from this position. However, with Hill playing better lately, and, in my opinion, an upgrade over last season’s playoff backup point guard, Jeff Teague, I will give Horst credit here. In reality, we will not know until the postseason how the reacquisition of Hill works out.

Finally, I will give kudos where kudos is due, and Horst did make the fantastic trade for Grayson Allen (recent criticism notwithstanding). Horst knew that Donte Divincenzo would struggle to be the player he was before his injury, and he was right. Although showing signs lately, Divincenzo has struggled to make an impact in most of the games he has played.

Because of a subpar offseason of deals, along with the release of Cousins, the Milwaukee Bucks organization has to make an impact at the trade deadline in order to fortify the roster.

Next. 3 more trade packages to help the Milwaukee Bucks land a backup center. dark

The pressure is on Horst; otherwise, last season may be a one-hit-wonder and the Bucks will most likely struggle to reach the pinnacle of the sport in 2022. Leaving fans to ruminate: if only they had signed Tucker!