3 Milwaukee Bucks who could earn a pay raise in NBA free agency down the stretch

Detroit Pistons v Milwaukee Bucks
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The Milwaukee Bucks are officially back after the NBA All-Star break, which gave them a chance to get some much-needed rest after a hectic couple of months.

Once they come out of the break, all hands will need to be on deck if this team plans on reaching its full potential as championship contenders. No one will pity the Bucks for their mid-season coaching change or anything else occurring. The bottom line is if this team fails to win it all, they will be viewed as a failure in the eyes of everyone.

Of course, everything starts with Milwaukee's stars in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard. The Bucks are still waiting for Lillard to kick it into another gear. However, the role players will also have key roles for Milwaukee, and there are several in particular who could be difference makers down the stretch, a few of which are playing for their next contracts at the same time.

That said, let us look at three Bucks who could earn a payday in free agency if they finish the season out strong.

Jae Crowder

Many were surprised that Jae Crowder not only returned to the Bucks this past off-season but that he also did so on a minimum deal. It seems like after a disappointing close to the 2022-23 season, he clearly wanted to prove he could still play at a high level for a contender and potentially cash out during 2024 NBA free agency.

Thus far, it's been another tough year for Crowder, but that's largely due to an injury that forced him to undergo surgery mid-season, limiting him to 25 games. Crowder had been playing tremendous ball in the early stages of the season prior to the injury, but upon returning to the court, he's been looking to find a groove, and it's been a slow climb.

Crowder will likely be a key piece for Milwaukee down the stretch. They need someone to take on the tough assignments defensively, and he's likely going to receive that task often. If Crowder can be this team's version of 2021 P.J. Tucker, he could undeniably earn himself a quality raise in free agency just like Tucker did, especially if the forward helps Milwaukee raise the trophy at the end of the season.