The Bucks heard Giannis Antetokounmpo loud and clear. They responded Monday night with two moves that are designed to improve the two-time defending MVP’s supporting cast.
Exhibit A is the reported trade that will bring guard Jrue Holiday from New Orleans to Milwaukee. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Stadium’s Shams Charania reported that the Bucks will acquire Holiday for guards Eric Bledsoe and George Hill and multiple first-round draft picks. Wojnarowski reported that three 1s will head to the Pelicans and two pick swaps will also be included.
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Exhibit B is the reported sign-and-trade for Kings free-agent guard Bogdan Bogdanovic. Wojnarowski reported that Donte DiVincenzo, Ersan Ilyasova and D.J. Wilson will head to Sacramento and Justin James will come with Bogdanovic to Milwaukee.
The moves, which won’t become official until next week when the NBA lifts its moratorium on transactions, should meet with Antetokounmpo’s approval. Antetokounmpo said last week that his impending free-agent decision will depend in large part on the decisions the Bucks make this offseason. Milwaukee is making it clear that it’s committed to having a better roster in 2020-21 and taking another shot at a title.
Based on the information as of publication, here are early grades for the deals:
Milwaukee will fill a need at the point with the 30-year-old Holiday, who also figures to be a better third option behind Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton than Bledsoe was. Holiday averaged 19.1 points and 6.7 assists for New Orleans last season and shot 35.3 percent from 3-point range. He has one year plus a player option remaining on his contract, so the East’s best team could also get some longer-term value from the move.
The picks and swaps look excessive, but Milwaukee has to be thinking that if it keeps Giannis, then the picks will all be at the bottom of the round. The Bucks have the Pacers’ first-rounder this year (No. 24 overall) and their own next year. They owe the Cavaliers a pick in 2022, 2023 or 2024.
Bogdanovic, 28, will make it two new guards in Milwaukee’s backcourt. He shot 37.2 percent from deep in averaging 15.1 points in 61 games (28 starts).
The Bucks are is giving up big-time depth with Bledsoe, Hill, DiVincenzo, Ilysaova and Wilson, but this team needs to win now to satisfy its superstar and bolstering the top of the rotation is a must.
The exact years of the picks and picks swaps weren’t immediately known, but whenever they are, that’s a lot of draft capital in exchange for a player who could have left as a free agent after next season. The Pelicans could end up with five picks (two firsts, three seconds) in this year’s draft if they get that Pacers first-rounder from Milwaukee. The Athletic’s David Aldridge reported that the Bucks will send the pick to New Orleans.
Bledsoe, 30, and Hill, 34, will join a guard group that already has Lonzo Ball, JJ Redick, Josh Hart and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Both players have multiple years remaining on their contracts: Bledsoe three, Hill two.
Sacramento acquires three of Milwaukee’s role players from last season for a free agent. It also adds youth in DiVincenzo, 23, and Wilson, 24. Ilyasova brings an expiring contract.