Even after winning their first NBA championship in 50 years, the Milwaukee Bucks may be in for a hectic offseason, especially as they aim to resolve the futures of Mike Budenholzer, Bobby Portis and P.J. Tucker.
Overall, the Bucks will not have to make any long-term, franchise-altering decisions over the offseason. The Bucks front office resolved its most notable dilemma last year when it came to terms with star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo on a $228 million supermax extension. However, it will have to soon find solutions to several matters that could end up being the deciding factors in whether the team can pull off another NBA Finals-winning run next season.
In the big picture, these three matters are ones that the Bucks will have to find resolutions to once the upcoming free agency period kicks off.
Keep Bobby Portis and PJ Tucker
Over the last offseason, the Bucks front office elected to take an aggressive approach with its roster planning as it parted ways with multiple role players, from George Hill to Eric Bledsoe. As a result, the team went out and signed key talents such as Bryn Forbes to fill out the bench, which paid off in the end.
Now, the Bucks could be in for yet another major roster overhaul. Overall, the team could end up parting ways with both Bobby Portis (player option) and PJ Tucker (free agent) over the free agency period. Portis joined the Bucks over the last offseason via the team’s bi-annual exception while Tucker was a trade deadline acquisition.
It would be difficult to envision a Bucks team next season without Portis and Tucker, especially following their key performances over the 2021 NBA Finals. Portis became an instant fan favorite due to his sheer aggressiveness against the Suns while Tucker exerted a key impact on the defensive side of the ball.
However, the Bucks will be over the luxury tax line this upcoming season, especially as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday will all be earning over $30 million.
More so, Portis may end up declining his $3.8 million player option, while Tucker could be on the lookout for a possible two-year deal.
If both players are adamant about staying with Milwaukee, they would need to sign off on team-friendly deals to remain with the team.
Resolve the long-term future of Mike Budenholzer
It was only a month ago that Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer’s future with the team was up in the air. Rumors swirled during the Bucks’ Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Brooklyn Nets that the front office was pondering whether to fire Budenholzer if the team failed to pull off a deep playoff run.
Budenholzer has now quieted such rumors after leading the Bucks to their first NBA championship win in 50 years. Barring any major surprise, he is expected to be back with the team next season. But from there, it is not yet known whether the front office plans to keep him in the long term.
For the moment, Budenholzer will coach next season on the final year of his contract with the team. Bucks principal owner Marc Lasry did recently touch on this matter before the NBA Finals, where he noted that the front office will “deal with it at the end of the year.”
Nonetheless, it would be a notable surprise if the Bucks and Budenholzer do not reach an agreement for at least a short-term extension deal over the offseason.
Find a hidden gem in the 2021 NBA draft
As mentioned, the Bucks will be over the luxury tax line next season. Thus, the Bucks front office will have to look towards bargain free agent deals and the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft as a way to bolster the backend of their depth chart.
While the Bucks will only have one selection in the upcoming draft with the 31st overall pick, it has been proven before that championship-winning teams can still find hidden gems with their low-level draft picks. For one, the Golden State Warriors notably wound up picking key players from their low first-round picks over their recent dynasty run, including Kevon Looney.
Now, the Bucks will have to do the same and make the most of their upcoming lone pick in the draft.
The Bucks could be in need of an impact guard off the bench, especially as Bryn Forbes may leave the team as a free agent. Thus, a talent like former Houston Cougars star Quentin Grimes could be one formidable fit in Milwaukee due to his speed coupled with his growing potential as a 3-point shooter.
It certainly will be a busy offseason for the Bucks as they sure aim to surround their core players with standout talents at all positions.