9 Bucks free agent signings that crashed and burned during Giannis era

The Bucks must learn from these regrettable free-agent signings.
Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
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The Milwaukee Bucks keep trying to build a winner around Giannis Antetokounmpo. They won the title in 2021 and have made eight straight playoff appearances, but two straight first-round exits has the team searching for upgrades. Things will get more difficult as the new spending restrictions set in. Milwaukee wants to add, but doing so won’t be easy.

Giannis put pressure on the organization last summer. It resulted in the Bucks trading for Damian Lillard and remaking their roster. The Greek Freak wants to win. It starts with staying healthy, but Antetokounmpo won’t be happy long without being on a yearly title challenger.

Milwaukee needs to make every move count, which includes finding undervalued players in free agency. The Bucks have had plenty of misses since drafting Giannis in 2013, and these regrettable moves never worked. The list is in chronological order and not a ranking of the worst moves.

9. O.J. Mayo

The Bucks signed Mayo to a three-year $24 million contract just days after drafting Giannis in 2013. He was Milwaukee’s highest-paid player in year one, but he certainly did not live up to the hype.

Mayo was the third overall pick in 2008 and a proven scorer before arriving in Milwaukee. There were always questions about his work ethic and off-court issues, but the Bucks took a shot. It was clear quickly that they overpaid. He never averaged more than 26.6 minutes per game and his efficiency plummeted.

After the 2015-16 season, Mayo was banned for a drug violation and never returned. He was just 28 when he played his final NBA game. His game was slipping and no team gave him another opportunity.

The Bucks overpaid for a bucket-getter. O.J. Mayo was best as a sixth man and not one of the team’s highest-paid players. It was a massive mistake that hampered their ability to build out their roster during Antetokounmpo’s first three years in Milwaukee, but far from their only blunder.