Before they clash to open the 2023-24 NBA season, the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers currently find themselves navigating very different situations.
The Bucks have been out of the news entirely lately, having flown under the radar for most of the off-season after making a few moves. Meanwhile, the 76ers have been heavily reported on, as the team is currently dealing with a trade demand from James Harden, who has publicly bashed team president of basketball operations Daryl Morey for allegedly lying to him.
Harden might not be the only star to ask out of Philadelphia eventually, as Yahoo! Sport’s insider Vincent Goodwill has reported that many around the league believe that Joel Embiid will ask out “sooner rather than later.” An interesting nugget in there from Goodwill was that Daryl Morey is “covertly hoping” for a full rebuild, allegedly. That should interest the Milwaukee Bucks.
2 76ers not named James Harden the Milwaukee Bucks should monitor
In all likelihood, the Milwaukee Bucks do not have the assets to land Harden or Embiid if the latter does ask out at some point. Some fans wouldn’t even want Harden. However, there are several other Philadelphia 76ers players on the roster who should be of interest to the Bucks if the team does indeed enter a full rebuild in the near future.
The first is De’Anthony Melton. Over the last three seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies and 76ers, Melton has been a solid guard, having averaged 10.1 points, four rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game while shooting 38.8 percent from 3-point land. On top of that, he’s still a very young player at just 25 years old.
Melton would be an ideal target for the Bucks due to their need for a backup point guard, as they currently don’t have one. He’d bring more scoring, defense, shooting, and facilitating to a second unit that could use all of those things. He’d also help form a lethal defensive-minded backcourt alongside Jrue Holiday when the team would go to their two point guard lineups.
Melton is on the books for an expiring $8 million next season, so he’s well within the team’s range when it comes to hypothetical trade targets.
The other 76er target is a familiar face in the form of P.J. Tucker. The Bucks are quite familiar with how impactful Tucker can be, as he was a key cog on their 2021 title team. In a decision that has been highly debated among the fanbase since it happened, the Bucks let P.J. Tucker walk in free agency following the title. This would allow the Milwaukee Bucks to right that wrong.
Tucker would immediately give the Bucks another strong wing defender. Ironically, they’ve been trying to replace P.J. Tucker since he left, adding players like Semi Ojeleye, Wesley Matthews, and Jae Crowder. None of them have been able to replicate what Tucker provided, so the team could go back to the original source in this particular scenario.
Adding the forward would immediately make the Bucks more formidable defensively and give Head Coach Adrian Griffin another weapon on that side of things. Versatility will be huge for the Bucks this coming season, and it’s no secret that Tucker could help them in that regard – it was his versatility that helped them win it all in 2021.
To be clear, there is a valid argument for those asking the Bucks not to trade for Tucker, as the team has added young players like MarJon Beauchamp, Andre Jackson Jr., and Chris Livingston, who they hope can be the next generation of wing defenders. A 38-year-old Tucker would take away minutes from them, hindering their long-term development.
However, as a 16-game player once the playoffs start, there are few teams who would not take Tucker on their roster. That should be the case here.
Neither played has been mentioned in trade rumors, but the Milwaukee Bucks should keep tabs on them as the 76ers’ situation continues to unfold.
Stay tuned for more Milwaukee Bucks analysis.