Updated look at the Milwaukee Bucks’ rotation with Serge Ibaka

Nov 2, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

Following an eventful 2022 NBA trade deadline, the Milwaukee Bucks made an impactful move to acquire LA Clippers’ forward Serge Ibaka in a four-team deal.

According to reports, the Bucks offloaded Donte DiVincenzo, Rodney Hood, and Semi Ojeleye in exchange for Ibaka, two future second-round picks, and cash on the day of the deadline to begin their push toward defending the title.

DiVincenzo was valued by Milwaukee as a youthful guard that still has two-way upside. However, according to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer (subscription required), DiVincenzo’s camp reportedly wanted to find him a different situation due to his decreased role within the rotation, which was completely understandable. Hood and Ojeleye were each on minimum contracts, and their salaries had to be included in the deal to match the salary of Ibaka’s $9.7 million expiring contract.

It was an effective move by general manager Jon Horst as the defending champs bolster their much-needed frontcourt depth with Serge Ibaka, receive two second-round picks that could potentially be dangled for future assets, and shed the contracts of Hood and Ojeleye. As the Bucks gear up for another title run in the postseason, this trade clearly gives them a greater chance at winning a consecutive NBA Championship.

After the Milwaukee Bucks acquired Serge Ibaka prior to the 2022 NBA trade deadline, let’s take a look at the updated rotation.

With Serge Ibaka added to the mix, the Milwaukee Bucks fill a position of need at backup center. Due to the long-term absence of starting center Brook Lopez, the Bucks have been haunted by a lack of frontcourt depth all season.

Without Lopez, who’s been inactive due to a back injury since opening night in October, Milwaukee’s big man options have consisted of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis, and rookie Sandro Mamukelashvili (two-way contract) for the majority of the campaign. DeMarcus Cousins had a brief stint with the Bucks before being waived prior to his guaranteed contract date and Greg Monroe was recently signed to a 10-day contract to reunite with the organization, but likely won’t stick around for long.

Ibaka gives the Milwaukee Bucks a veteran presence in the frontcourt, championship experience, and efficient capabilities on both ends of the floor. The 32-year-old anchor has ironically had his own back issues but seems to be healthy now. He’s an outstanding interior defender and is averaging 38.7 percent from 3-point territory this season, so should be an ideal fit in Milwaukee.

The addition of Ibaka will surely strengthen the rotation of the Bucks moving forward. His tall, strong, and lengthy presence will provide head coach Mike Budenholzer with lineup flexibility and most importantly, give the defending champs that frontcourt depth with the uncertain timeline of Brook Lopez.

Here’s what the updated rotation should look like with the acquisition of Serge Ibaka:


  • G Jrue Holiday
  • G Grayson Allen
  • F Khris Middleton
  • F Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • F/C Bobby Portis


  • G George Hill
  • G/F Pat Connaughton
  • G/F Wesley Matthews
  • F/C Serge Ibaka


  • F Jordan Nwora
  • F Thanasis Antetokounmpo
  • F Sandro Mamukelashvili (two-way)
  • G Lindell Wigginton (two-way)

Milwaukee’s starters should remain the same with Holiday, Allen, Middleton, Antetokounmpo, and Portis while Hill, Connaughton, Matthews, and Ibaka come off the bench. If Lopez returns, Portis will likely return to the bench, but for now, it should be a nine-man rotation for the Bucks.

It’s also important to note that the Bucks have three open roster spots following the multi-team trade on Thursday, so expect them to be very active in the buyout market. Milwaukee should pursue at least another guard or wing in the open market before the postseason.

Many title-contending teams strengthened their rosters prior to the trade deadline buzzer, and the Milwaukee Bucks were certainly one of them. The Eastern Conference might be the deepest it’s ever been in recent times, making it more challenging for the Bucks’ quest to repeat as champions, but they should still be considered the favorites to come out of the East.

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As the Milwaukee Bucks continue the 2021-22 campaign to defend the title, the addition of Serge Ibaka should be a promising upgrade within the regular rotation moving forward.