Despite the Milwaukee Bucks sitting second in the Eastern Conference with a 25-11 record, things haven't been smooth sailing and today's roster moves suggest that GM Jon Horst is up to something.
The Athletic's Eric Nehm today reported that the Bucks have waived two-way players Marques Bolden and Lindell Wigginton. It had been announced at the turn of the New Year that there would be a veteran workout held by the Bucks, and clearly, a couple of players caught the eye of Horst and head coach Adrian Griffin.
Bolden, Wigginton and fellow two-way player TyTy Washignton haven't featured much in the rotation for the Bucks this season so it is maybe not too big of a surprise to see two of them depart. It is interesting that the Bucks signed Bolden at the start of the season and clearly weren't happy with him. Wigginton feels more of a shock as he has shown glimpses, particularly last season, of having the ability to feature in the NBA.
Wigginton only featured in three games this season and only for an average of 2.7 minutes. Last season he played in seven games and averaged 7.1 points, thanks to a 25-point performance against the Grizzlies and 17 against the Raptors to end the season.
Bolden last played in the NBA for the Cavaliers back in 2021. He didn't light up the G-League so it was a shock to the see the Bucks offer him a two-way deal and he only managed two games in his tenure this season.
Offensively, the Bucks have been fine. Defensively, it has been a struggle since game one of the season, and huge 40+ point games have been required from Giannis Antetokounmpo to keep the team in the upper echelons of the East. Right now, they are the 21st-ranked defense with a defensive rating of 115.8. To put that into perspective, the Celtics, Thunder, 76ers, Nuggets, and Clippers are top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating.
With fellow contenders being able to outscore but also hold off opposition, this puts them at a much bigger advantage than the Bucks, who feel like they need to score at least 130 every night just to even have a chance of winning.
All this considered, the Bucks are likely to look towards players who can impact the game defensively. Two-way players cannot have more than four years of experience in the NBA, so it does limit some suggestions of players that come in.
Guys like Duncan Robinson, Lu Dort, and Bucks targets Torrey Craig and Alex Caruso are all proof that there is talent that can be found in two-way contracted players, and the Bucks may strike gold and end up with a player that can progress moving forward.
Bucks fans have been calling for moves with the defensive struggles, and the waiving of Wigginton and Bolden suggests that Jon Horst has a plan to freshen up the roster. Further down the line he may look into moves at the trade deadline and during the buyout market, but this shows early signs of him knowing something needs to change at least.
More details are likely to follow in the next week, with the Bucks deciding who takes those spots, so stay tuned for more Bucks analysis.