What each move the Milwaukee Bucks made this offseason means for a 2022-23 title run

·9 min read

The 2022-23 NBA league year began at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 30, and Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst wasted no time in filling out his roster with seasoned players as the team looks to keep its championship window open.

More moves may yet be forthcoming, but it has been an active two weeks for the Bucks. Let’s take a look at all of the transactions that have taken place listed in chronological order of their deals and what they mean for the team :

Both Pat Connaughton, left, and Bobby Portis will be back with the Milwaukee Bucks this season.
Both Pat Connaughton, left, and Bobby Portis will be back with the Milwaukee Bucks this season.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo

Age on opening day: 30

Height: 6-6

Weight: 219

How acquired: Exercised player option

Contract: 1 year, $1.8 million

Analysis: Antetokounmpo opted in to return to the Bucks for a fourth season, and he will once again be counted on to provide intensity on both ends of the court along with the ability to fill in when needed (11 starts the past three years) across several positions.

Pat Connaughton

Age on opening day: 29

Height: 6-5

Weight: 209

How acquired: Exercised player option

Contract: 1 year, $5.7 million

Analysis: Connaughton surprised some by picking up his option, and a league source with knowledge of the free agent market projected the wing to earn around $7 million annually if he opted out – either from the Bucks or elsewhere. But by opting in, Connaughton did his team a solid regarding the 2022-23 luxury tax while also keeping open the possibility of signing a long-term extension with the club.

Connaughton made a career-high 39.5% of his three-point attempts last season but was making 40.7% before breaking a finger in his shooting hand. One of head coach Mike Budenholzer’s most-trusted players, Connaughton was a must-retain player for the Bucks as they will remain constrained by the cap and tax for the next several seasons and they know what he can bring to a championship team.

MarJon Beauchamp

Age on opening day: 22

Height: 6-6

Weight: 199

How acquired: No. 24 draft pick

Contract: 2 years, $4.2 million**

Analysis: Horst said the team was ready to move up in the draft to select Beauchamp, who brings youth, athleticism and a 7-foot wingspan to a team with title hopes. Beauchamp knows he’ll have to knock down open shots, but his quickest way to actual rotational playing time is on the defensive end. He potentially gives the Bucks another switchable perimeter defender who can help them match up better against teams that go smaller and force center Brook Lopez off the floor.

**Contract value is based on two years of rookie scale, but picks can sign for 80% less or 120% more than the scale. There are also third- and fourth-year options for first-round picks not included in the projection.

Bobby Portis

Age on opening day: 27

Height: 6-10

Weight: 250

How acquired: Opted out of his contract, unrestricted free agent

Contract: 4 years, $49 million***

Analysis: After two years of saying he took less money to sign with the Bucks, the organization repaid Portis by offering him the maximum allowable years and dollars. Portis was arguably the No. 1 offseason priority for the team as they would not have $49 million to spend anywhere else – and they likely weren’t going to find a player his age who hit 41.8% of his three-pointers and accrued 36 double-doubles over the past two seasons.

It’s a win-win for each party, as Portis is rewarded for helping lead the team to a championship in 2020-21 and becoming a player who fits around the Big Three very well and is ostensibly hitting his prime seasons (he is two months younger than Giannis Antetokounmpo). For the Bucks, they were able to retain a core piece of a championship roster on a deal that will look better as the salary cap rises each year.

***No free agent deals can be made official until July 6.

Joe Ingles

Age on opening day: 35

Height: 6-8

Weight: 220

How acquired: Unrestricted free agent

Contract: 1 year, $6.5 million***

Analysis: As the Bucks offense – and season – ground to a halt in the Eastern Conference semifinals against Boston, it became clear they needed another playmaker outside of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. And not just any playmaker, but one who could fit with the Big Three with an ability to make open three-pointers and adroitly handle a two-man game with sound decision making and range to force defenses to respect his shot.

Ingles can be that guy. Per the NBA’s advanced tracking stats, he has improved his play in the pick-and-roll year after year. Last year in 45 games with Utah, he rated in the 86.6 percentile of the league as a pick-and-roll ball handler, which was a career best (for reference, Holiday was in the 83.9 and Middleton the 71.7 percentile last season). Ingles also shot 48.6% from the field and the Jazz scored 1.02 points per possession when he was the ball handler last season.

Ingles also is familiar coming off the bench, having been used in that role for the better part of his eight-year career.

Ingles is a career 40.8% three-point shooter, but he was shooting 34.7% from distance when he suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament in January. Though he won’t be ready to play at the start of the season, he was signed to be in top form for the playoffs – and the Bucks feel good enough about not just his rehab from the injury but his skill level to use their entire taxpayer midlevel exception on him.

***No free agent deals can be made official until July 6.

Wesley Matthews

Age on opening day: 36

Height: 6-4

Weight: 220

How acquired: Unrestricted free agent

Contract: 1 year***

Analysis: Matthews began last season working out in his Madison home and ended it starting for the Bucks as they made their title defense in the playoffs. He made it clear he wanted to play an entire season in Milwaukee and the Bucks agreed with him in bringing back the defensive stalwart.

Matthews made an immediate impact on both ends of the court in his first 16 games, shooting 44% from behind the three-point line while playing his typically ferocious defense. But over the final 33 games of the regular season, he shot just 27.6% from behind the three-point line and 33% from the field overall – though those percentages increased to 35.7% and 44.2% in the final nine games he started. In 12 postseason starts, he shot 40% from behind the three-point line. Whether he starts or not, Matthews won’t be tasked with carrying a huge offensive load, but a more consistent output from deep would be welcome in 2022-23.

***No free agent deals can be made official until July 6.

Jevon Carter

Age on opening day: 27

Height: 6-1

Weight: 200

How acquired: Unrestricted free agent

Contract: 2 years, $4.6 million (with a player option)***

Analysis: There wasn’t much not to like about Carter’s performance when he signed as a free agent in late February. He provided strong perimeter defense with an ability to harass ball handlers the length of the court. He shot a remarkable 55.8% from behind the three-point line in his 20 games, too. His career high from deep in a full season is 42.5% in Phoenix in 2019-20 and he is a career 38.3% shooter from beyond the arc. Plus, he was on the Suns’ NBA Finals team in 2020-21, so he knows what a marathon a deep postseason run is like.

The interesting thing about Carter is that he earned the bulk of his playing time due to injuries to George Hill. If Hill has fully recovered from back and oblique injuries and is on the team for next season, it will be interesting to see where Carter fits into the guard rotation.

***No free agent deals can be made official until July 6.

Serge Ibaka

Age on opening day: 33

Height: 6-10

Weight: 235

How acquired: Unrestricted free agent

Contract: 1 year***

Analysis: The Bucks originally acquired Ibaka in a February trade to help the team get through Brook Lopez's recovery from back surgery — and provide some insurance if the starting center couldn't return at full capacity. But once Lopez returned, Ibaka was the odd man out in the big man rotation and did not play any significant minutes in the postseason.

Ibaka's return may signal a few things. The team entered last season with just Lopez, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis in the front court and Lopez's injury after the first game of the season handcuffed the team for most of the year, leading to several signings (DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe) before finally acquiring Ibaka. So, his return provides needed depth. But assuming health, perhaps the move can help keep Lopez (34 years old with two back surgeries) a bit fresher throughout. Finally, veterans such as Ibaka on short deals can be valuable trade pieces later in the season if needed to complete a deal.

***No free agent deals can be made official until July 6.

Jordan Nwora

Age on opening day: 24

Height: 6-8

Weight: 225

Contract: Qualifying offer of 1 year, $2.1 million submitted

Analysis: The Bucks extended the qualifying offer to their 2020 second-round pick to continue to provide depth at the wing position and offer another year to show overall development. Nwora’s second season had its ups and downs, from an opening night block of Kevin Durant at the rim to a string of “did not plays,” but he is familiar with what the coaching staff requires and was part of the championship team.

It is important to know Nwora may elect to not sign the offer, and he can receive contract offers for more years and money from either the Bucks or another team (which the Bucks have the right to match). The Bucks could also rescind the offer. It may take a little time yet for a return to be made official.

Before the draft and free agency, the following players are under contract for the Bucks for the 2022-23 season:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo ($42,492,492)

  • Khris Middleton ($37,948,276)

  • Jrue Holiday ($32,544,00 base salary, with a chance to earn an additional $5,873,040 in bonuses)

  • Brook Lopez ($13,906,976)

  • Grayson Allen ($8,500,000 base salary, with a chance to earn an additional $1,275,000 in bonuses)

  • George Hill ($4,000,000)

  • Rayjon Tucker ($1,815,677 non-guaranteed)

  • Luca Vildoza ($1,752,638 non-guaranteed)

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bucks make roster moves with Bobby Portis, Marjon Beauchamp, Ibaka