I’m not saying these hypotheticals have realistic merit, but I’m also not going to denounce the impossibility of one happening. We’ve seen teams get desperate, especially if there’s a big ego, broken team chemistry, or astronomical aspirations of getting an overhaul (instead of being the Miami Heat, for instance, who waited too long for their big three to fulfill their contracts, and saw Dwyane Wade and LeBron James walk unprecedentedly.
The NBA is far more fluid than other leagues that coexist alongside it, in the grand scheme of things. A reality is, teams trick themselves into loving something, like some sort of franchise-based Stockholm syndrome. Sure, the following trades should be taken with a grain of salt, given the small market of Milwaukee, the top-10 player that is Giannis Antetkounmpo, among other things. Without further ado, let us begin.
Goals: To procure skilled players, positions of need, for the Milwaukee Bucks, in order to compete with the top-tier teams of the Association, all while not forcibly going over the salary cap. To have fun.
If the Bucks want to keep pace with the Warriors, without gutting them of all-stars via trade, they’re going to need someone to play the point. Malcolm Brogdon would be, ideally, coming off the bench once the ensuing transactions are consummated. So, with these things in mind, the Bucks will have to tap a team with a top-tier one, if they pass on free agency.
Bucks get Dame from Portland, give up Moose and Middleton
Yes, it may seem as if the Bucks are already running out of trade bait, given the realistic parting gifts in this hypothetical, but fear naught. Dame, with his assassin intensity, leadership, clutch ability and arrival could singlehandedly propel the Bucks to a title, if Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker keep up with their respective trajectories.
Dame has played in perhaps the most overlooked city in the NBA metropolis, in Portland, and is fresh off of averaging a career-high 27 points, to pair with six assists and five rebounds, per game.
To make the necessary cap for this trade to work, the Milwaukee would also acquire Noah Vonleh, who, as a reserve under $3 million, would be a ridiculous steal given the eventual cap inflation of the NBA.
Though Milwaukee fans may have been too presumptuous in previous outings, by casting Lillard as a SoundCloud rapper, Dame could make peace and bring a ring (and a Grammy, too, maybe?) to MKE.
Lineup, after deal one:
The Deer buck back, snag Gobert and Johnson from Utah
Despite what was said about Parker’s expected ascension, Thon Maker’s ceiling may be high enough to make new Bucks GM Jon Horst comfortable enough to oust Jabari Parker, and his long-winded history of injuries, from southeastern Wisconsin. Subsequently, Maker would be inserted into the everyday lineup as a 4 – his more natural role – leaving a frontcourt role empty, but let’s slow down. Why not try obtaining someone who has exceeded expectations and become the most fear-eliciting rim-protector since Dwight Howard in Orlando? Yes, I’m referring to Rudy Gobert, who signed a relatively minute contract extension with Utah before his monstrous 16-17 campaign. Not feeling the Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic of days past, Milwaukee? Well, those two, along with Spencer Hawes and a 2020 first-round pick, are headed to The Crossroads of the West, in exchange for Gobert and the man whose play ascends with age, guard Joe Johnson.
Parker has yet to be dealt, but he’s on his way out if Gobert squeezes into the Bucks’ frontcourt, leaving the Deer with a valuable trading chip once these first two hypotheticals conclude. Maybe, Parker would’ve already bolted, after the 2017-18 season, if he wasn’t given the money he thought he deserved. But, for this article’s flailing and pleading sake, he’s still a Buck.
Imagine the havoc Gobert, Maker and Giannis could wreak on teams, with preternatural ball determination, tireless length, and…, well…, a weak outside game, but who needs shooting when you’re holding the other team under 75 a night and you’ve got Dame Lillard in the backcourt?
Lineup, after deal two:
Booker gets dealt to Milwaukee for Parker in mini-blockbuster
After unloading Delly, Teletovic and Hawes, the Bucks, sitting with an unhappy Jabari Parker and a suffocating cap space, would like to acquire a guy on the cheap, one who would allow the team to bring back some big-man depth, too.
Remember Devin Booker, or the man who is capable of stroking a three-point shot and scored 70 points in a game? (Sorry, Avery Bradley, the voting is rigged.) Anyway, yes, that’s him, the unsuspecting firecracker who plays suspect defense. Booker’s defense will be masqueraded in Milwaukee, though, by Malcolm Brogdon. If Tyson Chandler’s presence is to satisfy Milwaukee’s frontcourt depth, our final deal will have to be a sign-and-trade, unless the Bucks extend Jabari before the ’17-18 campaign, given the oversupply of money on Chandler’s contract.
It’ll take a lot from Booker’s end to justify the dealing of Jabari Parker and a 2019 first-round pick, without a doubt, but given Parker’s injury history and the slight age difference between him and Booker, the Kentucky product is worth a flyer. Securing Tyson Chandler, whose advanced defensive stats have sharply declined in recent years, will still provide the young Bucks with veteran leadership and a glimpse of a former self, much like Jason Terry and his meaningful playoff minutes this past season. If Chandler could give this team 15 minutes per night, maintain his efficient penchant for scoring, Milwaukee would be satisfied.
C: Rudy Gobert,
PF: Thon Maker
SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo
SG: Devin Booker
PG: Damian Lillard
Gary Payton II
Though the restored lineup might be diminutive when compared to one’s best overhaul on NBA 2K’s Association Mode, the roster changed aren’t all that farfetched, especially when considering what the Chicago Bulls received after dealing Jimmy Butler, what the Indiana Pacers received in exchanged for Paul George, and what the Sacramento Kings swapped for DeMarcus Cousins.
Don’t fret, Milwaukee, your title-grasping days will come, with or without a dense receipt and a lineup of superstars. With that said, it’s still captivating to ponder the “what ifs,” and acutely tap into the psychology of an NBA general manager.