The Milwaukee Bucks, who had the best record in the NBA this season, are left to pick up the pieces after an early playoff exit. The Bucks, despite some bad injury luck for their superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo, still lost to the eighth-seeded Miami Heat, who outplayed them. That would send any team back to the drawing board, particularly the Bucks, who have arguably the best player in the NBA.
Unfortunately, they don’t have much in the way of assets, making it harder for them to retool in the off-season. That is unless they look to move key players, which they may very well do. With so many question marks regarding the roster, it’s hard to say who will be back next season.
Which Milwaukee Bucks players could be on the move?
A new report suggests that three-time All-Star Khris Middleton could be one player who may not return next season.
Middleton has been a Buck for the past 10 seasons and has been the team’s second-best player for most of that span. However, he has struggled with injuries dating back to last year’s playoffs and has had a down season.
At 31, he has a player option for the final year of his contract. Assuming he opts in, Milwaukee could decide to trade Middleton rather than extend him or have him leave for nothing after next season. They may not be able to trade him for another All-Star, but the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets are expected to have interest, giving Milwaukee options should they look to move him.
If Milwaukee is considering moving Middleton, then they could also move All-Star Jrue Holiday, especially since they know that he will soon retire.
Despite being just 32 years old, Holiday has already played 14 years in the NBA. Holiday is still a terrific defensive player, but his offense in the postseason tends to leave a lot to be desired.
At this point in his career, he could take a step back next season, particularly on defense, which would dramatically lower his value. With two seasons remaining on his contract and his value still fairly high, this summer might be the right time to move him. The Bucks also have seven free agents, allowing them to reshuffle the rest of the roster around Antetokounmpo
The Bucks will likely look different next season.
Jae Crowder was acquired from the Brooklyn Nets’ for an eye-popping five second-round picks but played a limited role, something that he clearly took issue with. He was even quoted as saying “I’ve never been in a situation like that. Eleven years. Check my résumé.”
While Crowder had minimal impact, the Bucks would have the ability to bring him back, but it seems unlikely that he will return next season at the moment. Then there is starting center Brook Lopez. Lopez had a terrific season, and it would be difficult to replace him. Fortunately, Milwaukee can use bird rights to bring back Lopez, and he appears likely to return.
The same can’t be said for Coach Mike Budenholzer. After leading the Bucks to a championship in 2021 and the best record in the NBA this season, he may have coached his final game for the team. That said, while he was outcoached by Heat coach Eric Spoelstra, it may be hard to upgrade from him. Not to mention he was dealing with personal issues during the series.
Still, Budenholzer’s teams have a history of excelling in the regular season and underperforming in the postseason. The Bucks becoming just the fifth number one seed to lose to a number eight seed certainly doesn’t look good, and Milwaukee’s GM may decide to go in a different direction.
All in all, there are likely to be some significant changes for the Bucks next season. However, they may be better served by essentially running it back and hoping for better luck.