Despite a rough playoff showing, Bucks are likely to bring back Crowder


It was a steep investment.

When the Milwaukee Bucks acquired Jae Crowder in a multi-team trade in February, they sent three, second-round picks to the Indiana Pacers and two, second-round draft picks to the Brooklyn Nets.

But there was more to the deal.

The Bucks also traded George Hill, a solid backup who was well-respected and liked by his teammates, and Jordan Nwora, arguably the Bucks best young prospect.

And what kind of return did the Bucks get on their investment?

Very little.

Crowder, who was expected to be what P.J. Tucker was in helping the Bucks win the title in 2021 – a relentless, in-your-face, shutdown defender – was a major disappointment.

In the Bucks’ stunning opening-round playoff loss to Miami, then Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer had so little confidence in Crowder that the latter played in four games, averaging just 10 minutes a game.

Crowder shot a dismal .231 from the field in that series and averaged 1.8 points and 1.0 rebound. His defense was equally poor.

After the Bucks’ final game of the season, Crowder made it abundantly clear he wasn’t a happy camper.

“I’m very confused as to why I was brought here,’’ Crowder said.

Well, it’s becoming increasingly apparent the Bucks brass, including general manager Jon Horst who engineered the trade for Crowder, apparently believes Crowder had good reason for being miffed. That’s because there are strong signals the Bucks are focused on bringing Crowder back for at least another season, if not more.

Crowder, who turns 33 on July 6, is an unrestricted free agent. He is free to sign with any team, with the Bucks not receiving any compensation. He will undoubtedly draw interest from several teams during the free agency period, which begins July 1.

But sources said Crowder is leaning heavily toward signing with the Bucks, who fired Budenholzer shortly after the season and hired Adrian Griffin as his replacement,

Two NBA officials, when asked what it would take for the Bucks to retain Crowder, said they expected him to sign deal that would pay him between $5-to-$8 million annually..

  • Sources contend Khris Middleton, who opted out of his contract for $40 million next season, will also remain in Milwaukee and sign a four-year, $140 million deal. However, there are some NBA officials who aren’t dismissing the possibility of a Middleton sign-and-trade. The only teams that are positioned to accommodate Middleton’s large salary are Houston, Indiana and San Antonio.
  • While several teams, including the Spurs, Rockets and Kings, figure to pursue UFA Brook Lope, the prevailing opinion among many NBA officials is the veteran center will likely return to the Bucks.

Lopez, who is coming off a strong season, one in which he averaged 15.9 points and 6.7 rebounds while being a stellar rim-protector, earned $13.9M during the 2022-2023 season. Several NBA officials expect the Bucks to up his salary to around $17M per season.

  • Johnny Davis, the former University of Wisconsin standout, and Patrick Baldwin, who played one season at Milwaukee, are both expected to play for the Washington Wizards in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas next month.
  • As I’ve been hearing for weeks, Miami figures to be the big winner in the Damian Lillard Sweepstakes. It’s virtually a given the Trail Blazers will move the talented guard soon.
  • The Bucks paid the Magic $2.5M to acquire the 36th overall pick in last Thursday’s draft. The Bucks then selected guard Andre Jackson Jr. of Connecticut.