One Question: NBA Finalists

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The 2020-21 NBA season has finally come to an end and, with that, comes the final installment in the "One Question" series. While the champion Bucks have their three cornerstones locked in for the foreseeable future, they'll have some issues to address deeper into the rotation. As for the Suns, there's one big question for the franchise to address as it looks to maintain its place among the West's elite.

Milwaukee (46-26, 3rd East): How will the Bucks supplement their "big three?"

As noted above, the Bucks' three stars are locked in contract-wise. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday both have next deals that will go into effect next season, and Khris Middleton has two more guaranteed years on his contract (player option for 2023-24). Milwaukee is well-positioned to remain -- at minimum -- an NBA title contender for the next few years. Whether or not they manage to add to the trophy case will depend upon how the front office fills out the roster.

P.J. Tucker, who moved into the starting lineup during the postseason, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. While he may not offer a great deal offensively, the defense and toughness make him a valuable rotation player for the Bucks. Tucker had a cap number just under $8 million this season and the Bucks hold his Bird rights, which means that they can go over the cap in order to retain him. But what will the price tag look like?

Another key contributor in the Finals, Bobby Portis, has a player option worth a little over $3.7 million. While he would likely make more on the open market, Portis did pass up money in order to sign with Milwaukee, and the move paid off. Portis averaged 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.1 3-pointers per game this season, shooting 52.3% from the field and 74.0% from the foul line. While there were times in the postseason when Mike Budenholzer excluded him from the rotation, by the end there was no ignoring Portis' value to the Bucks. But if he were to not opt into the final year of his contract, how much would Milwaukee be willing to pay in order to keep Portis? That's a question that the front office may be forced to answer.

Beyond those two, Bryn Forbes has a player option worth close to $2.4 million. He certainly had his moments throughout the course of the season, but Forbes found himself on the outside looking in for much of the Finals. Jeff Teague and Justin Jackson will be unrestricted free agents, while Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Axel Toupane will be free agents of the restricted variety. Of those four, it's likely safe to assume that Thanasis is the one most likely to return to Milwuakee next season.

Phoenix (51-21, 2nd West): What happens with CP3?

That's the $44.2 million question facing the Suns this offseason, and the ball is in the point guard's court. That approximate dollar amount is how much Paul's player option for next season is worth, and at first glance, it may be difficult to understand why he would opt out. As a leader within a franchise with a promising future, many of the key figures on this year's team will be back for another run in 2021-22. And with Paul already 36 years old, that $44.2 million could look quite attractive.

That being said, this may also be the last time in his career when Paul could potentially fetch a multi-year deal, be it with the Suns or another franchise. It's been reported that the Lakers would be very interested in signing Paul should he hit free agency, and with that would come the opportunity to team up with close friend LeBron James.

Going back to the Suns, they'll also have to take into consideration the future of Cameron Payne, who likely earned himself some money this season. Payne, who was a more than capable backup to CP3, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Suns hold his Early Bird rights, but Payne stands to command a contract worth much more than the nearly $1.1 million that he received this season. Also on the list of free agents for the Suns are Torrey Craig, Langston Galloway, Frank Kaminsky and E'Twaun Moore.

Kaminsky's future with the team could be impacted by the fact that Phoenix stands to be without Dario Saric for much of next season, as he suffered a torn ACL during the postseason. That being said, the Suns will also hope that Jalen Smith makes considerable strides after failing to crack the rotation as a rookie. One last thing to note regarding Phoenix's offseason plans is that Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges will both be extension eligible.

Ayton will likely be the priority and with good reason, as he was the top overall pick in a draft that included Luka Doncic and Trae Young. Bridges is also a key piece for Phoenix, and continues to improve by the year. Will GM James Jones want to extend both players this summer? One would assume "yes," and it has been reported that the Suns will look to get something done with Ayton as soon as possible. So while that is a key question for Phoenix to address, it ranks below CP3 on the "importance" scale.

Past Articles

East Non-Playoff Teams
West Non-Playoff Teams
First-Round Exits
Conference Semifinalists
Conference Finalists

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