It’s no secret the Milwaukee Bucks have a lot of work to do before they become a certifiable Eastern Conference title contender.
That’s especially true after the devastating loss of star-in-the-making forward Jabari Parker, who recently tore his left anterior cruciate ligament for the second time in his young pro career and won’t return to action until late next season, at the earliest.
Whether the Bucks can help their cause via a trade before Thursday afternoon’s deadline appears highly doubtful. With All-Star Giannis Antetokoumpo off limits, and with Khris Middleton coming back from a serious hamstring injury, the Bucks don’t possess any other highly-coveted players.
“I don’t know if they have any assets to make a significant move, a move that could really help them,’’ an NBA executive said Tuesday morning of the Bucks.
Indeed, the Bucks have a cast of good players but not impactful players to make a blockbuster trade. On the surface, Greg Monroe would seemingly be the most sought-after Buck in a trade.
Monroe, the Bucks’ ballyhooed free-agent signee two summers ago, has played well and has posted impressive numbers — 11.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 22 minutes — while exclusively coming off the bench this season.
But Monroe is making $17.14 million this season and has an opt-out clause in his contract after this season, one which would pay him $17.88M next season.
The uncertainty surrounding his contact, compounded by the fact he is no longer a starter, has clearly impacted his trade value.
Asked whether the Bucks could re-coup a first-round pick for Monroe, another executive said, “No. Not a first-round pick. Not in this year’s draft, which is good and deep.’’
David Falk, Monroe’s highly-respected agent, said Tuesday he expects his client to remain with the Bucks the rest of the season. Furthermore, Falk said Monroe doesn’t have any strong desires to be dealt.
“Anything is possible in the NBA, but I don’t expect him to be traded,’’ Falk said. “He’s having a great season and wants to help the Bucks make the playoffs. He wants to be in the playoffs in the worst way. He’s never been in the playoffs. That’s his goal right now.’’
Falk also revealed that he hasn’t been contacted by any other team about Monroe.
After Monroe, several league sources said the Bucks with the most trade value are forward-center John Henson, combo guard Matthew Dellavedova and swingman Tony Snell. Henson and Dellavedova, an NBA executive said, could each possibly bring back a protected, late-first round pick. There have been whispers the aforementioned players could be part of a package deal for Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio, whom the Bucks looked into acquiring at last year’s trading deadline. Rubio is expected to be dealt to open a starting spot for highly-regarded rookie Kris Dunn
So, unless the Bucks do something totally radical like deciding to trade Middleton or its first-round pick in next June’s draft, one that could be in the lottery, the Bucks’ chances of significantly upgrading their roster at the trading deadline seem slim.