Bucks’ Offseason to Occur in Dominoes


The Milwaukee Bucks weren’t anticipating being sent to the offseason early.

That’s exactly what happened, though. The Bucks were thoroughly outplayed something you rarely see for a top-seed in the NBA Playoffs. But the Bucks were sent whimpering home as the 8-seeded Miami Heat ousted Milwaukee in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs.

Now a somewhat murky offseason became fully clouded with uncertainty. A disappointing postseason highlights the questions even brighter. The first domino fell when coach Mike Budenholzer was dismissed. GM Jon Horst’s first job will be finding a head coach on the laundry list of offseason questions.

There are plenty of roster decisions ahead, too. The Bucks currently have six players on guaranteed contracts for next season: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, Grayson Allen and MarJon Beauchamp. The six players’ salaries total $114.78 million. The Bucks have to sign eight more players to guaranteed deals with limited money especially if Khris Middleton opts out.

There are significant questions facing Horst and the Bucks this offseason. Here are the top ones heading into the offseason:

Do the Bucks have a new head coach in mind?

The Bucks did win a championship two years ago under Budenholzer, but they have had their share of disappointments with Bud at the helm. The Bucks dismissed Budenholzer days after the conclusion of the first-round playoff exit.

Milwaukee had the best record in the NBA three seasons under Budenholzer. They went to the NBA Finals in none of them. Bud also saw many strong regular seasons in Atlanta go without an NBA Finals appearance.

Who would the Bucks look to? Nick Nurse? Associate head coach Charles Lee? Could the Bucks’ top potential target be the current head coach of a team? Ty Lue? Monty Williams? Kenny Atkinson? Mark Jackson? The Bucks job is sure to be one of the top destination jobs this offseason.

Middleton potential opt-out

Middleton may exercise his $40.3 million player option. Or he may decline it and force the Bucks’ hand.

  • If Middleton declines, the Bucks can still sign him to an extension until June 30.
  • If Middleton exercises his 2023-24 option, the Bucks can also sign him to an extension before the start of the fiscal year.
  • If Middleton declines and decides against signing an extension with the Bucks, he can become an unrestricted free agent.

What the Bucks do with Middleton is a fascinating one. Middleton has been injured a few times the last two years. He missed the Boston Celtics series in 2022, which the Bucks lost in seven games. He played just 33 regular-season games and never got into a rhythm this year it seemed. Will the Bucks decide to find Giannis a new wing man next year? Or take a chance Middleton stays healthy while making big bucks again.

A sign-and-trade is also possible if Middleton opts out. A trade is always possible if he opts in, too. Or the Bucks bring him back for taking another chance at a title run. Middleton when on the court is still formidable, but he has had some difficult injuries the last couple years and is entering his age-32 season.

Lopez is a free agent

Brook Lopez was outstanding this season, taking second place in Defensive Player of the Year voting.

The Bucks are in a monetary pickle. The are in the repeater tax this season. Lopez, coming off a resurgent year on both ends of the floor, likely commands a nice deal.

But he is 34 years old and can the Bucks afford him? Perhaps. It feels like a last-hurrah season from Lopez. It’s tough to justify a $20 million-per-year deal. It may be better to move on a year sooner than a year later. However, if Lopez wants to give a bit of a discount to the Bucks, it may be a no-brainer.

Crowder Disappointed in Short Tenure

The Bucks sent five second-round picks to Phoenix for Jae Crowder this past deadline. Budenholzer didn’t play him much after disappointing showings in Games 1 and 2 against Miami.

He didn’t look great in his limited playing time, but Crowder likely should have gotten a chance to be in the rotation more, particularly by giving up so much for him. Will the Bucks give him an opportunity to get acclimated and see what he can do with a full year in Milwaukee? Will Crowder entertain another year in Milwaukee after this season? With a new coach, perhaps, and if he takes a low-cost deal.

Other veteran free agents

Wesley Matthews and Joe Ingles are among the Bucks’ other veteran free agents. Neither of them really move the needle. Jevon Carter had a solid season with the Bucks but has a player option that he will likely decline to elect free agency. If Wes doesn’t retire, he is a vet-minimum guy who could come back.

Ingles, though, had the Bucks’ $6.5 million taxpayer midlevel exception. The Bucks may be wise to use that money and spot for other purposes because…

Bucks need to get younger, more athletic

Marjon Beauchamp had his moments as a rookie. He is exactly the skillset and kind of player the Bucks should look to replicate. The Bucks need long, young, athletic wing defenders as no one could stop Jimmy Butler.

Bucks Fans Worried About the Wrong Numbers

Milwaukee looked old and slow, which isn’t going to cut it in the new NBA. How will the Bucks get younger, though, with no first-round draft picks and little cap space? It may need to come via trade including some young cheap talent in perhaps the aforementioned trade of Middleton.

A busy, intriguing offseason awaits

The upcoming offseason will determine a lot regarding the future of the Bucks. Will they run it back for the most part? Or it could be an offseason of significant change? Either way, it will involve some change out of pure necessity.

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This Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks Retro Bighead Bobblehead features the Bucks’ iconic retro logo to take you back to the early days of Giannis’ incredible career.

About Mitchell Skurzewski

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