New rumors foreshadow Bucks potentially following last off-season's blueprint

This big man's days in Milwaukee could be numbered.
Miami Heat v Milwaukee Bucks
Miami Heat v Milwaukee Bucks / John Fisher/GettyImages

Brook Lopez's future with the Milwaukee Bucks appears to be very much in question heading into the NBA off-season.

The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor stirred the pot when he revealed the Bucks want a more versatile style of defense moving forward, suggesting that the team could move on from Brook Lopez, who has mostly forced them to use the drop defense. Yahoo Sports' Jake Fischer took it a step further by reporting the Bucks are open to reshaping their roster and are gauging value of Brook Lopez.

This could be a similar path as the Bucks followed last off-season, trading a key cog who won a title in Milwaukee in pursuit of an upgrade. Of course, the Bucks traded Jrue Holiday, who ended up with the Boston Celtics, in their move for Damian Lillard. If this report comes to fruition, the Bucks could once again move on from an NBA champion and shake up the core of their roster mightily in the process.

What would it take for the Milwaukee Bucks to move Brook Lopez?

Right off the bat, the Bucks likely aren't trying to move Lopez unless they're getting a guaranteed piece that can help them. They aren't trading him to get him off the books. If they could land a real defensive ace to help fix this team's woes on that side of the ball, they should certainly consider it. Lopez's big contract - $23 million next season - allows them to go after bigger names.

Marcus Smart, who makes a similar amount, would have been an excellent fit, but Fischer reports that the Memphis Grizzlies are not making the guard available right now. O'Connor floated the thought of a Lopez and Bruce Brown swap to give Milwaukee more versatility defensively, but as a one-for-one, the Milwaukee Bucks might hesitate.

It all may depend on what Doc Rivers may want to do. Lopez thrived in the drop defense in the days of Mike Budenholzer at the helm, but he's obviously gone. If O'Connor's reporting aligns with what is on Doc Rivers' mind, Lopez may be the odd man out.

Even with this rumor, it still feels more likely that Pat Connaughton and Bobby Portis are the Bucks most likely to be traded. Connaughton has a very digestible contract at just under $10 million, and Portis is still among the best reserve big men in the league, so he'd command plenty of interest.

At the end of the day, it's great to see that general manager Jon Horst is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to improve the roster. With draft picks and several quality contracts, he will be armed with a solid amount of assets that could be put to good use in upgrading this roster. It should be a thrilling off-season in Milwaukee. This team could look quite different in the coming months.

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