Though it’s been clearly trending upward as of late, the Milwaukee Bucks defense has been middle of the pack for most of the year, which has led many Bucks fans to call for a trade to land a better defensive option at the point of attack. Damian Lillard — for all his offensive greatness — is no Jrue Holiday, while Malik Beasley has shown clear defensive deficiencies despite never once lacking for effort.
A few interesting names are circulating the trade market, but none are more compelling for the Bucks than high-profile ball-stoppers Marcus Smart and Alex Caruso.
Affordability aside, they’re names that make sense for a team like the Bucks. Caruso is a versatile and tenacious defender who can guard multiple positions. He is particularly effective at disrupting opponents on the pick-and-roll and in transition. His defensive prowess would be a valuable asset to the Bucks, who have struggled defensively this season. Possibly most importantly, he is also a proven winner who has contributed to winning a championship ring with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. On the other hand, Marcus Smart is a former Defensive Player of the Year who has shown he has the grit and tenacity to lead a team on the defensive end.
But according to The Athletic's Sam Vecenie (subscription required), more resource-rich playoff teams like the Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Los Angeles Lakers are noted around the league as the "best fits" for a player of Caruso's skillset. It’s also yet unclear just how willing the Memphis Grizzlies would be to trade Smart — whom they acquired in a blockbuster deal over the offseason.
That said, there are other names on the trade market who might be able to give the Bucks similar production on the defensive end without breaking the bank. Here are other names the Milwaukee Bucks should consider.