Why the Milwaukee Bucks should inquire about a P.J. Washington trade

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 10 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 10 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

After falling short in the playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks must remain aggressive this offseason as they look to improve their roster for next season.

One specific player that should be on Milwaukee’s radar is P.J. Washington, the former No. 12 pick of the Charlotte Hornets. Washington was featured heavily in various trade rumors last season, as Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that the 23-year-old forward was a “trade possibility” for the Hornets before the deadline. Although they ultimately kept him on the roster, it would not be a surprise to see Washington’s name show up in the rumor mill again this offseason, and the Bucks should inquire about his services if he is potentially on the table.

Why the Milwaukee Bucks should inquire about a P.J. Washington trade during the 2022 NBA offseason

Among the reasons why the Milwaukee Bucks finally broke through the barrier and won their first title in 50 years last season was their small-ball lineups. Putting Giannis Antetokounmpo at center proved to be a winning formula for the Bucks during their title run as they dominated the opposing teams whenever Mike Budenholzer rode with that lineup. In addition to Antetokounmpo, a specific player that made this concoction work was ironically another P.J., this one being P.J. Tucker. Tucker served as the ideal power forward alongside Antetokounmpo in these lineups, and his strong play helped the Bucks secure the title.

Unfortunately, the Bucks let Tucker leave in free agency following the championship run, and they never quite found his replacement. The Semi Ojeleye experiment backfired immensely, and though Wesley Matthews gave the Bucks some stellar contributions defensively, he was never going to be the brawny power forward that the Bucks needed. While Tucker’s absence was not the top reason that Milwaukee came up short in the 2022 postseason, his presence would not have hurt as there was a notable lack of lineup versatility once Khris Middleton went down with injury. Nevertheless, the Bucks should target a small-ball four this offseason that can give them quality minutes when the Greek Freak is at the five. One particular player that could thrive in this role is P.J. Washington.

To be clear, Washington is not the defensive force that Tucker is. However, he is 6-foot-7 and can defend multiple positions at a high level, which would make him incredibly valuable in these small Milwaukee lineups. Having a player like that would unlock some quality lineup versatility for coach Mike Budenholzer to utilize nightly, particularly in the postseason. In addition to his defense, he is no slouch on the offensive side of things either, having averaged 11.8 points per game throughout his first three NBA seasons. A large part of that was due to his solid 3-point shot, having knocked down 37.5 percent on his triples on 4.4 attempts per game. Shooting and scoring like that would only make these small-ball lineups more lethal for the Bucks, giving them another reliable threat out on the perimeter.

On top of what Washington brings to the table on both sides of the basketball, he is 23-years-old. Adding some youth to the roster should be among the team’s priorities this offseason, and a piece like Washington checks off that box. Right now, the Bucks do not have too many young players on the roster that could be viewed as long-term building blocks, but adding a player like Washington could erase that notion entirely. The former first round pick has plenty of room to develop, and he could do it in Milwaukee while helping a team at the forefront of title contention. Some have said that the Bucks should do this with their first rounder in the 2022 NBA Draft, but if they could get a proven player like Washington instead, that could solve some problems on impact.

If the Hornets are still possibly looking to trade Washington this offseason, the Bucks should give them a call. The Kentucky product will be on the books for an incredibly digestible $5.8 million next year, meaning he will be among the rare targets that are actually financially feasible for the Bucks. While Charlotte’s asking price is unknown, Milwaukee does have several assets, including that first rounder in the upcoming draft, that could allow them to make a captivating offer for Washington. The Bucks cannot afford to be complacent this offseason, and though Washington is far from the flashiest name, he would be a significant addition to this team before next season.

5 trade targets for the Milwaukee Bucks during 2022 NBA offseason. dark. Next

Playing small ball is something the Milwaukee Bucks should look to embrace more in the playoffs next year, and adding a piece like P.J. Washington would make that quite doable.