Free Agency Grades: Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks finished last season with the best record in the Eastern Conference. They faced a bit of a predicament in the offseason as they needed to build a new bench using exceptions and minimum deals. It’s fair to say that they were up for the challenge.
Here are the signings the Bucks made in free agency, and how each player fits in Milwaukee:
Pat Connaughton signs 3 year, $16 million deal
Pat brings good positional size, athleticism and defensive versatility. If he can improve that 3-point shot and make it consistent, he could see even more minutes for the Bucks than he has so far. His character and intangibles only make him that much better of a fit.
The Bucks had their backs against the wall after the whole Bogdan Bogdanovic saga. Milwaukee pretty much bid against themselves to keep Connaughton’s services. There’s no doubt that he’s a talented player but they could have retained him on a better deal.
He brings a different dimension than the other guards on the roster when he’s on his A game. Connaughton can play a role with decent defense, rebounding and surprise athleticism when needed and if he ever solidifies that jumper he can be that much better. However, he could also just be a third wing.
D.J. Augustin signs 3 year, $21 million deal
George Hill is gone and Augustin essentially fills his shoes as a veteran point off the bench to lead the second unit. He brings instant offense and reliability as well as a near 38 percent clip from deep through his career. D.J. is a crafty playmaker to boot with a career 2.65 assist-to-turnover ratio. The glaring weakness is his slight size, which is a marked difference from the point guards the Bucks usually bring in.
The amount is fair for his production but the length of the contract is extremely questionable. He is 33 years old and has logged a LOT of minutes in this league. The third year does have a non-guarantee so there is the option for flexibility at least.
He’s a hot shooter, savvy playmaker and intelligent vet. Shot creation and decision making were two areas where the Bucks needed to improve and he checks both of those boxes for them. Now, cover him in bubble wrap and keep him healthy.
Bryn Forbes signs 2 year, $4.8 million deal
The Bucks drastically needed more shooting and bringing in someone of his caliber in that area was a solid move. Per NBA.com/stats, Forbes made 39.5 percent of his catch-and-shoot treys last season. However, like Augustin, his limitations on the other end don’t match the team’s defensive identity so it will be interesting to see how they do against opposing guards with him on the floor.
They brought him at the Non-Taxpayer MLE? Really? S-T-E-A-L. Seriously, this is so little money for so much potential offense. Can you say value?
Bryn is a quality shooter and can create rhythm without the ball in his hands which will bring a spark to any lineup the Bucks roll out. Now, having Augustin next to him off the bench to set him up? That’s a very solid bench backcourt. Well done.
Torrey Craig signs for one year at vet minimum
He’s 6-foot-7, so he has decent size to guard multiple positions and he’s a hard worker that puts forth a lot of effort. Craig is the type of player the Bucks like adding to their roster and he provides good depth.
I’ve said this many times through these pieces and I’ll say it again. It’s hard to give a bad grade to a minimum deal. He fits the Bucks system and that’s what matters.
If he can improve his shooting to add to the defense and effort he always brings to the court, this could be a really good move. With Wes Matthews gone, he could definitely crack the rotation.
Bobby Portis signs for 2 years, $7.4 million
He essentially replaces Ersan Ilyasova (not as good of a shooter) and Robin Lopez (not as strong, lacks veteran leadership, isn’t Brook’s brother). The Bucks needed another big and he already checks that box. Portis has a chance to play a key role on a title contender.
Compared to what he was making, this is a steal. $3.7 million per year is VALUE.
He scores the ball at will off the bench. No one can deny that. However, he hasn’t ever had even an average true shooting percentage and his shoot-first mentality at times has
hindered his team. If the Bucks can get him to try harder on defense and focus on being a three-point shooter, he could have his most efficient season yet.