Following a disappointing loss in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Milwaukee Bucks headed into free agency on a slippery slope.
As they are progressing into the Giannis Antetokounmpo era, it was important for the team to keep their core intact, as Antetokounmpo’s contract expires next season. While the Bucks go into next season with a different lineup, they managed to make free agency moves that keep them high in championship contention.
Milwaukee Bucks Free Agency Recap
Middleton was a crucial piece to the Bucks powerhouse season, as they won an NBA-high 60 games. Middleton averaged 18.3 points and six rebounds last season for the Bucks; he also was an All-Star for the first time in his career. Starting in all 15 of Milwaukee’s playoff games, Middleton averaged 17 points while shooting 43.5 percent from three.
Similarly, Brook Lopez was a huge part of the Bucks’ success. In the first eight seasons of his career, Lopez only had three three-point shot attempts. In just one season with the Bucks, Lopez had 512 three-point attempts, shooting 36.5 percent from beyond the arc. Adjusting his game by playing from the perimeter has helped the Bucks, as it opened up more space for Antetokounmpo to go to work.
In addition to the key re-signings, the Bucks signed a few free agents that would help fill up the bench. Brook Lopez will reunite with twin brother Robin Lopez, as he signed a two-year deal with the team. In the second half of the 2019 season with the Chicago Bulls, Lopez averaged 14.5 points on 60 percent shooting, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game.
Due to the re-signing of Middleton and Lopez that resulted in large contracts to keep them, the Bucks had to let a few players go to make up the signings. One of those players was Malcolm Brogdon, as the Bucks weren’t willing to give him a four-year deal. Instead, Brogdon signed a four-year, $85 million deal with the Indiana Pacers. Brogdon was the Bucks’ second best-player for stretches in the playoffs, averaging 15.6 points on 50 percent shooting. The Bucks also let go of big man Pau Gasol, as he signed a one-year deal with the Portland Trailblazers.
Nikola Mirotic decided to walk away from the Bucks to play in the EuroLeague. He was a big part of Milwaukee’s offense, shooting 35.6 percent from three.
Milwaukee’s lineup for the 2019-20 season will be Eric Bledsoe and Matthews in the backcourt and Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Lopez in the frontcourt. Losing Brogdon, Mirotic and Gasol did make Milwaukee a lot smaller in size. Before, the team was lethal on size and shooting. Still, adding Korver and Matthews maximizes the Bucks’ hot shooting. With Antetotkoumpo as the leader, as well as keeping big men Middleton and Lopez and adding shooters, Milwaukee is still in a great position to become a championship team.
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