Up until recently, the 2022 offseason had been a quiet one rumor-wise for the Milwaukee Bucks.
That changed when The Athletic’s Kelly Iko (subscription required) reported that the Bucks made a trade offer for Eric Gordon before the 2022 NBA Draft. Iko adds that there were at least six teams in pursuit of the Houston Rockets guard, but the team turned down all trade offers for Gordon.
On paper, Gordon would be a solid acquisition for the Bucks, given his prolific scoring and outside shooting. However, there are some factors that make him an unlikely target at this moment, most notably his $19.6 million salary for next season. The Bucks may have a difficult time matching that salary in any deal, and that goes without mentioning the draft capital the Rockets are seeking.
With Gordon being an unlikely target, here are three alternatives the Bucks could pursue via trade.
NBA Trades: Jordan Clarkson could be a target for the Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks’ backup point guard position has undoubtedly been a hot topic of discussion this offseason. George Hill just had one of his worst seasons to date, and the team would be wise to try and upgrade before next season begins. Most would point to Jevon Carter being the perfect fit after he agreed to return in free agency, but he is more of a defensive specialist, and the Bucks should look to add a scoring guard off the bench alongside him. In that case, one name they could make a run at is Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz.
Over the past two and a half years with the Jazz, Clarkson has asserted himself as one of the best second unit scorers in the business, having averaged 16.8 points while knocking down 43 percent of his field goal attempts. Scoring like that would give the Bucks another reliable piece offensively that can provide a quality spark off the bench, which is something they largely lacked last season, especially in the playoffs as they fell to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
The two significant concerns with Clarkson are his streaky outside shooting and subpar defensive efforts. The guard has sunk just 33.9 percent of his 3-pointers since joining the Jazz, which may be problematic in a Bucks system that is so reliant on outside shooting. On top of that, Clarkson does not bring much defense into the fold at his position, which is something the Bucks often prioritize. However, considering just how grueling it was watching the Bucks go through the playoffs without reliable shot creators once Khris Middleton went down with an MCL sprain, those concerns could be lessened if Clarkson can help offensively.
Financially, the 2020-21 Sixth Man of the Year will make $13.3 million next year, which is within Milwaukee’s range when it comes to relatively affordable trade targets. According to ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Jazz have made their entire roster available in trade talks, so the Bucks could make a legitimate run at the guard. They could piece together a package of Grayson Allen, George Hill, and two second round picks to try and acquire him, hypothetically. It remains to be seen what the Jazz would want for him, but after dealing two key starters in Royce O’Neale and Rudy Gobert, it would not be surprising to see them move on from Clarkson as well.