The Bucks made numerous moves when NBA free agency started last Thursday. Nearly all of them were centered on keeping key role players, which was the major concern during the post-draft depth chart, while also adding swingman Joe Ingles. In fact, with new contracts for Bobby Portis, Jevon Carter, and Wesley Matthews, the front office took care of its own inside the first hour of free agency.
Maybe the biggest splash so far, however, was retaining Serge Ibaka. He agreed to a one-year deal to stay in Milwaukee Bucks. That is massive because the veteran center averaged 7.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 19 games with the Bucks last season after being acquired in a four-team trade. His presence for an entire season should make the 2021 NBA champions even stronger, especially on the defensive end.
Looking ahead, even though the Bucks don't have much financial wiggle room right now, they can still sign additional free agents to relatively manageable agreements. Milwaukee certainly has the flexibility to create room on the roster if the opportunity presents itself. This can help fill out any potential gaps in the depth chart and round out the roster even more. With that considered, the Bucks should target the following five unsigned free agents.
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Bucks: Four Moves Milwaukee Must Make
4. DeMarcus Cousins
Yes, the Bucks already have Brook Lopez and Ibaka at center, but adding a veteran presence like DeMarcus Cousins would still be desirable. He averaged 9.1 points and 5.8 rebounds in 17 games for Milwaukee last season, and he would not be a bad pick-up to shore up their third unit.
GET BOOGIE WIT' IT 😎
DeMarcus Cousins gets his first bucket as a Buck 💯pic.twitter.com/wCstY9JT24
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) December 2, 2021
We all know Cousins has endured a string of unlucky injuries over the previous several seasons, but he showed last season that he is still capable of becoming a valuable player. His aforementioned numbers with the Bucks were solid, and his stats with the Denver Nuggets were not bad as well. He might still be a justified addition to this Milwaukee club despite his defensive shortcomings, offering them added size, extra toughness, and veteran experience for a reasonable rate.
Cousins also won't be looking for a raise in free agency. After Denver just signed DeAndre Jordan as a new backup center, it looks that Cousins is on his way out. If so, the Bucks would be a pretty good landing spot for the former Team USA big man.
3. Ben Mclemore
The Milwaukee Bucks have done a good job of improving their wing depth so far this summer by keeping Wesley Matthews, selecting MarJon Beauchamp, and adding Joe Ingles. In this era of pace and space, though, one cannot have too many quality wingmen. Adding to their depth at either wing spot would be desirable, and Ben McLemore is a free agent who might be a viable target.
McLemore would benefit the Bucks by bringing more 3-point shooting into the mix. He's a career 36.3% three-point shooter across his nine-year career. This is perfect since the Bucks struggled mightily to make their triples during the 2022 playoffs.
He and Ingles may serve as dual kick-out threats for Giannis Antetokounmpo out on the perimeter, assuming Ingles returns earlier than expected. That's exactly the same way the Bucks used Bryn Forbes before and Grayson Allen last season. The Greek Freak would give McLemore and Ingles a lot of open looks, and their shooting could make it easier for Giannis to drive strong downhill.
The 29-year-old McLemore proved this past season that he still has a lot to offer. He scored a career-high 10.2 points per game. He would be an excellent addition for the Bucks on a minimum contract at a position the club urgently needs to strengthen.
Milwaukee GM Jon Horst addressed some flaws via the draft and free agency, but there is still room to bring on another back-up combo forward. Eric Paschall would be a candidate worth looking into.
Paschall's three-year career arc has been peculiar. With the Golden State Warriors, Paschall excelled as a rookie, playing around 28 minutes per game. He even received All-Rookie accolades in 2019–20. He averaged 14.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game then. His playing time, however, has drastically diminished over the course of the next two seasons. That buried any promise he may have once had.
Throwback to when I thought Eric Paschall was gonna be the next Warriors Superstar pic.twitter.com/ULhXNk8jxk
— WarriorsMuse (@WarriorsMuse) June 28, 2022
Still, the 25-year-old could address one of the team's major need for a small-ball power forward. As a burly 6'6 combo forward, Paschall may be a good option to roll with alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo at the 5. Paschall offers considerable scoring, defense, and rebounding to small-ball lineups. This gives head coach Mike Budenholzer more varied options to play around with.
Paschall is also hungry to prove himself, especially after the Utah Jazz decided not to present a qualifying offer to him. If he rediscovers his fine rookie form, Paschall could be a really terrific pick-up this offseason.
1. T.J. Warren
As interesting as Eric Paschall is, though, the golden ticket will be T.J. Warren, who could really strengthen the Bucks' bench. He may even be good enough to start alongside Giannis, especially if the injury bug bites into their starting lineup anew.
If Warren were to be signed, the Bucks would surely benefit from his explosive scoring potential. Keep in mind that Milwaukee's bench scoring ranked 27th last season. That was underscored in the playoffs when an injury to Khris Middleton really hampered the Bucks' offense. The 6'8 Warren brings in good size, respectable shooting, and overall scoring efficiency. That would be a great insurance policy in case injuries happen once again.
Warren appears to be a perfect match for the Bucks on paper. There are, however, some concerns about his health and the potential market value of his services. Stress fractures on his foot have limited the veteran to four games over the previous two seasons. Now, because the Bucks already added Joe Ingles, who will miss most of next season with a torn ACL, they might not want to add another player with injury worries.
Given the length of time since Warren last played on an NBA floor, it's uncertain what kind of money he may want in free agency. The Bucks should go all-in on Warren if the forward is ready to accept a “prove it deal.” That would be a relatively low-risk, high-reward move. Signing him could be worth the risk even though it is currently unknown how much money he wants and whether or not he is healthy.
UPDATE: Just as this post went up, Warren has just been signed by the Brooklyn Nets according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 5, 2022