As the NBA season is officially coming back on July 31, situated at the beautiful Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, the Milwaukee Bucks are sitting in prime territory atop the Eastern Conference standings.
In the newly-established format that will end in October with the NBA Finals, there will be eight regular-season games played by 22 teams, 13 from the Western Conference, and 9 of which are from the East. With the Bucks currently holding a six-and-a-half game lead over the Toronto Raptors, they can coast into the postseason with their spot already locked up, just needing to take care of business in this final stretch to lock in their top spot.
The history that the Bucks have been built on to get to this point in their franchise has been filled with many moves, most of which have not worked out. Trading Ray Allen, signing Miles Plumlee, and even trading for Michael Carter-Williams have all be below-average to terrible moves that have set this team back in reaching its peak.
Along with those crazy moves have also come crazy rumors involving potential trades that either fell through or just did not have the kind of steam the media was giving to them.
With that in mind, here are three of the craziest-ever trade rumors involving the Bucks.
3. Stephen Curry – Giannis Antetokounmpo combination
Back in 2012, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Golden State Warriors had agreed upon a trade that would send former no. 1 overall pick, center Andrew Bogut, along with forward Stephen Jackson, to the Warriors in return for guard Monta Ellis, forward Ekpe Udoh, and center Kwame Brown. But in the infancy stages of the trade, another name was put into talks in place of Ellis – guard Stephen Curry.
At that time, ankle issues were plaguing the former Davidson star, and the Warriors seemed a bit bullish on his potential to live up to his draft status as a mid-first round selection. Taking a chance on a small-school product that lit up the NCAA in the tournament can backfire (Jimmer Fredette), but Curry’s body of work proved the Warriors to have enough faith in him to make that selection.
Current Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, who at the time of the deal was not a part of the ownership group, dropped this bombshell of information, also saying that it was the Bucks’ medical staff that ultimately put the stop to any inclusion of Curry in the deal, eventually switching to Ellis.
When Larry Riley, former general manager for GSW, was asked about his, he acknowledged that Curry’s name was indeed brought up in talks, but only for the sole purpose of “[getting] the trade started.” The purpose was to swing to Ellis in the end and hold onto Curry, but the fact remains that the Bucks were the party that ended up turning down a potential deal that would have netted them the outside sniper that would have perfectly complemented Giannis Antetokounpo.
However, with Curry in the fold, it is completely possible that the Bucks would have been too good to have been that high in the lottery that year, meaning that they may have missed out on the Greek Freak entirely – hypotheticals that the Bucks fanbase is surely alright with.
2. Damian Lillard finally joins a title-worthy team
In 2017, New York Daily News writer Frank Isola tweeted out a superbly-interesting rumor that would have flipped the league on its head – sending point guard Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Milwaukee Bucks for a package headlined by 2014 no. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker.
At the time, Parker was coming off of his second surgery to repair a torn ACL, and while the former Duke product was still looked at as a solid player that had lost a little bit of bounce in his step, being able to count him as the main player headlining a package for a small-school player turned NBA superstar was a bit wild.
Sandwiched in between Andrew Wiggins (1st) and Joel Embiid (3rd) in the ‘14 draft, Parker’s arrival in MKE was seen as the next coming of a franchise superstar, overshadowing (at the time) the type of impact that Giannis was going to have on the Bucks. With their frontcourt seemingly addressed, their backcourt was the next area that needed to be amended, and Lillard would have been that great fit.
If, and this is a big if, the package was Parker and first-round selections for 2-3 years, then the Bucks’ lineup would have been Lillard, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, Parker, and Giannis – try stopping that (Jason Kidd was quite effective at ruining this roster).
1. Kyrie Irving could have worn a different shade of green
With the Bucks coming off of a season that saw Brogdon win Rookie of the Year honors as a second-round pick and Giannis start to come out his shell even more, the 2016-17 season ended with high hopes of taking the next step in Brewtown.
Selling high on Brogdon was not a bad idea at the time, and with the inclusion of Middleton in these talks, the Bucks were throwing their hat into the ring for the services of point guard Kyrie Irving after he had asked to be traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Still with the team that drafted him, Irving seemed to have had enough of playing under the shadow of Lebron James and wanted out. While he was eventually traded to the Boston Celtics in a package that was led by PG Isaiah Thomas, the Bucks threw a very competitive package to the Cavs in an attempt to try and improve their roster, even with Irving not being fully committed to signing a long-term extension with wherever he was traded to.
This trade was the one that had the most to stand on on this list, and the landscape of the league would have been changed if the Cavs made the deal with Milwaukee instead of the Celtics. Giannis would have had a new running mate, one that has stirred up controversy every place he has gone, and it may have soured his thoughts about staying in Milwaukee for the long term.
Irving seems to now be happy in Brooklyn playing alongside Kevin Durant, and Giannis is still happy in Milwaukee, having led his team to the top of the East yet again, and with an impending supermax deal on the horizon, Giannis is looking very likely to be staying with the Bucks for the long haul.