Ranking every trade deadline deal for the Bucks in the Jon Horst era

Los Angeles Clippers v Milwaukee Bucks
Los Angeles Clippers v Milwaukee Bucks / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

Fans got a bit disappointed last month when the Bucks didn't make a big move at the trade deadline. The team wasn't performing as good as expected and some of them expected general manager Jon Horst to change quite a few pieces of the roster, but it ended up being a relatively quite day. And, taking a look back, we kind of should have expected that.

Horst has been the Milwaukee Bucks' general manager for a while now. He got the position in the year 2017 and has since been a key part of the franchise success, building a championship roster and having the team in ring contention for half a decade. But he has never been a big trade deadline guy. He usually tries to tweak the roster just a bit to fix some of its problems, but tends to wait until the offseason to make the big moves.

However, those little tweaks can often have a significant impact. That's why, just after his seventh trade deadline as general manager, we're going to take a look at his work and ranked every move he's made at that date.

Before starting, it's worth mentioning that we will try to balance how every move felt at the time and how it feels now. It would be unfair to be really critical about a move that seemed to be really good when it was made, but it's nothing but fair to take into account if a trade didn't reach the level of success that was expected.

Two honorable mentions

We need to start with two trades that can barely be described by that word. In 2021, the Bucks sent Torrey Craig to Phoenix for cash considerations and did the same thing this year with Robin Lopez, who ended up being traded to Sacramento, two moves that are actually closer to a waive than to a real trade. Milwaukee just needed to free up a roster spot so they could be active at the buyout market and they did, that's all that needs to be said.

If it had kept the Bucks under the secron apron limit, the Lopez one could have made the cut because it would have made an impact, but that wasn't the case. The team just saved a bit of money, that's all.

Now we can really start with the first real trade

Serge Ibaka
Washington Wizards v Milwaukee Bucks / John Fisher/GettyImages

6. The Serge Ibaka trade

In this trade, the Bucks received Serge Ibaka and two second-round picks, and sent Donte DiVincenzo to the Kings and Semie Oyeleje and Rodney Hood to the Clippers in exchange.

This move is the one that has aged worst. You can see what the Bucks were looking for, but it felt a bit weird even at the time and it looks much worst two years later. With some perspective, we can see how Ibaka wasn't really a big piece for the Bucks during tenure and DiVincenzo has solidify as a solid role player, something that was actually forseeable since he had a good showing in his years in Milwaukee.

The injuries played a big part on this decision, though. Donte only played 17 of 56 games for the Bucks before the trade due to his physical problems, and even when he was able to be on the court he was far from hist best. At the same time, Brook Lopez was also injured and the Bucks defense was showing some flaws, so they needed a rim protector to help. Since the three players included in the deal weren't a big part of the rotation at all, it look on paper like the team could solve one problem without giving that much in exchange.

Goes without saying that it didn't quite work that way. Ibaka was never that helpfull since he was long past his prime, and DiVincenzo has proven than, when healthy, he can have a big impact in both ends of the floor and be a player that could really fit in today's Bucks roster. In shot, Milwaukee not only didn't found what it was looking for, it also lost a valuable piece on the way.

Tyler Zeller, Quincy Acy
Brooklyn Nets v Milwaukee Bucks / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

5. The Tyler Zeller trade

In this trade, the Bucks received Tyler Zeller, and sent Rashad Vaughn and a protected second-round pick to the Nets in exchange.

Yes, this did happened. But I'm not going to blame you for not remembering it because it feels like a fever dream.

This move is a bit weird, because 2018 was the only year since Horst became general manager when the Bucks didn't get to the trade deadline as a contender. In fact, they had just fired Jason Kidd and were in a kind of transition year, fighting for a playoffs spot but with more room for experimentation.

This situation meant non-impacting trades like this one weren't really a big issue. Because, let's be real, this one is a pretty forgetable move. Zeller got some minutes in the playoffs and even started four of the seven games on the first-round series against Boston, but never had a big role and left the franchise that same year.

The only reason this move is above the Ibaka one is because the Bucks didn't lose any big player. Vaughn was barely a part of the rotation and struggled to find a place in the NBA after leaving Milwaukee. I wasn't a win, but it wasn't a lose either.

Nikola Mirotic
Milwaukee Bucks v New Orleans Pelicans / Sean Gardner/GettyImages

4. The Nikola Mirotic trade

In this trade the Buckes received Nikola Mirotic and sent Thon Maker to Detroit and Jason Smith and four second-round picks to New Orleans in exchange.

We're getting to some bigger names now. Because, even if this trade didn't end up working as well as expected, Mirotic had the biggest impact from the players we've discussed so far.

Thing is it wasn't such a big of an impact. He had a decent regular season, averaging 11.6 points a game while shooting a 35.6% from three, but those numbers really fell of in playoffs, where he just shot 28.9% from behind the arc. That was made more painfull by the fact that he had an amazing playoffs run the year prior, torching the Portland Trail Blazers with a 46.2% from three in the first round and ending with a 43.1% after the two rounds the Pelicans played that year. A level he didn't even got close to while wearing the Bucks jersey.

Some could argue this trade is ranked too high because of that disappointment, and there could be some truth to that. In terms of expectations versus reality this move is quite a bummer, but it still got the Bucks a decent player who had some good games. Even if those weren't the games where he was needed the most.

Jae Crowder
Milwaukee Bucks v Memphis Grizzlies / Justin Ford/GettyImages

3. The Jae Crowder trade

In this trade, the Bucks received Jae Crowder and sent George Hill, Serge Ibaka, Jordan Nwora and three second-round picks to the Pacers and two second-round picks to the Nets in exchange.

This move can be really hard to talk about, because it could seem similar to the Mirotic one if we only focus on the 22-23 season. Crowder hadn't played a game before landing in Milwaukee, and you could really tell by his performance. He was far from the great 3&D player he had been in Phoenix and struggle to be a consistant part of Mike Bundenholzer's rotatiton, so Bucks fans couldn't feel anything but disappointment. But, on the other hand, him being on the roster allowed to franchise to sign him again on free agency, and the difference from one season to the other has been quite noticable.

Crowder started the season hitting 51.6% from three before getting injured, and even if his shooting has drop off after his return, he's still making an impact on the defensive end. More important so, he has already shown how lethal he could be as a shooter this very season, so we can expect him to get there again an provide some key shots from now on.

However, getting him to Milwaukee was a little more expensive than it problably should, since five second-round picks were a bit too much. For comparison, the Phoenix Suns sent only three secound-round picks to Brooklyn in exchange for Royce O'Neal, a player whose role is pretty similar to Crowder's. This trade was one of the reasons the Bucks had such few draft capital in this last trade deadline, meaning they weren't able to pull a move as big as most fans wanted.

They still made quite a good move, though. Because...

Patrick Beverley
Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

2. The Patrick Beverley trade

In this trade, the Bucks received Patrick Beverley and sent Cameron Payen and a second-round pick to the 76ers in return.

It's not really that fair to compare this trade to the other ones since, for best or worst, Beverley hasn't had much time to show how impactfull he can be. But, even in this short stretch, he's already a very beloved player. And he is for a reason.

Saying that the Bucks defense got fixed after his trade would be quite a stretch, but there's no doubt he's helped. His fighting is so energy-shifting that you can really notice when he jumps in the court, it really feels like a breath of fresh air after a few months where the second unit wasn't able to stop anybody. The Clippers game was a perfect example of what he could mean for the team in big games, he was super disruptive and wasn't even afraid of taking some big shots on the offensive end, becoming one of the protagonist of that huge win.

The same aspects that made him so big against the Clippers could however end up hurting the Bucks some nights. He can be fault-prone at times and get the other team to free-throw line too soon, he's not afraid of taking a shot if the opponent doesn't close him but he's probably not the player you want to rely on... But, for now, he seems like a good addition.

If his flaws started to show up, this trade could get ranked a bit lower. But, on the other hand, if he proves to be this valuable in the playoffs, it could even dethrone the number one trade on the list. Although that would be really hard.

P.J. Tucker
Milwaukee Bucks Victory Parade & Rally / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

1. The P.J. Tucker trade

In this trade, the Bucks received P.J. Tucker and Rodions Kurucks and sent D.J. Augustin, D.J. Wilson, a first-round pick and a second-round pick to the Rockets in exchange.

I'd love to have saved a big shot for last, but there wasn't really any chance of this trade to be ranked any lower than first. Tucker was an instrumental part of the roster that got Milwaukee his second championship in 2021, getting him quite a few steps over the other players in the list.

Tucker numbers in Milwaukee look anything but impressive, but if you saw him, you know. After DiVincenzo got injured, he took his spot on the starting lineup and made every one of his minutes on the court count. While his teammates played basketball, he just went to war, took the toughest asingment and tried to slow down red-hot players like Kevind Durant and Devin Booker. And he delivered.

Tucker will ever be remembered as a key member of the championship roster. Not the most talented and not the one who appeares in the pictures making the big shot, but the one that made all the dirty work that needed to be done. And, because of that, it would insane not to consider this one the best move Jon Horst has made at the trade deadine since becoming the Bucks general manager.