Milwaukee Bucks Notebook: Should They Trade for Buddy Hield?

Jan 16, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield (24) drives for the basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Grayson Allen (12) in the third quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 16, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield (24) drives for the basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Grayson Allen (12) in the third quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

The basketball world was hit with an unexpected twist when Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Indiana Pacers were exploring potential trades involving Buddy Hield. Contract extension negotiations appeared to hit a roadblock, prompting the Pacers to consider moving the veteran wing. While no concrete trade partners have emerged thus far, it’s a development that piques the interest of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Bucks’ General Manager Jon Horst has a reputation for keeping tabs on available talent, even if the odds of acquisition seem slim. Recent reports suggested the Bucks were in the mix for Bradley Beal, and there have been quiet murmurs in recent weeks about Milwaukee possibly exploring a trade for Damian Lillard despite a lack of assets.

The Bucks are under intensified pressure to secure another NBA Championship after experiencing premature playoff exits in back-to-back seasons. Public statements from Giannis Antetokounmpo further fueled this urgency in recent weeks.

Buddy Hield is reportedly on the trading block for the Indiana Pacers. Should the Milwaukee Bucks try to trade for his services?

The Bucks and Pacers have engaged in trade dealings relatively recently, fostering a sense of familiarity between the two organizations. Just last February, the two teams struck a deal that sent Jordan Nwora and George Hill from Milwaukee to Indiana. The history also includes the sign-and-trade deal involving Malcolm Brogdon, in which Indiana sweetened the pot with a valuable first-round draft pick as part of the package sent to Milwaukee. Could they do it again?

What Does Hield Bring?

Acquiring Hield could be a strategic move for the Bucks, potentially bolstering their offensive firepower and providing much-needed relief for their core trio of Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday. This addition could particularly benefit Holiday, who has faced challenges in the playoffs while juggling defensive responsibilities against opposing star players and shouldering the bulk of ball-handling and secondary scoring duties.

Hield’s primary strength lies in his perimeter shooting, boasting a career three-point shooting average of 40.2 percent. He’s renowned for his confidence and willingness to launch from beyond the arc, attributes that could instantly elevate Milwaukee’s spacing, a critical factor when accommodating Antetokounmpo’s dynamic style of play. Standing at 6-foot-4, Hield could seamlessly fit into the starting backcourt alongside Holiday and Middleton, offering another scoring threat.

However, it’s crucial to temper expectations regarding Hield’s playmaking abilities. While he excels at generating his own shot, he isn’t primarily geared towards setting up teammates. Therefore, he’s unlikely to usurp the ball-handling responsibilities of the Bucks’ prominent trio or fill the void at backup point guard.

Yet, questions linger on the defensive end of the floor. Hield’s defensive capabilities may not align with the Bucks’ needs, as he lacks the agility required to defend point guards effectively and the size to contend with larger wings prevalent in postseason matchups. Acquiring Hield could entail a calculated risk, especially in high-stakes playoff scenarios, where his defensive limitations might necessitate strategic adjustments.

Contract Situation?

The financial landscape in the NBA has undergone a significant transformation with the implementation of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), introducing stringent penalties for teams that breach the second apron. This shift has elevated the importance of financial considerations, particularly for smaller-market teams like the Bucks.

Hield, poised to enter the final year of his contract, currently carries a cap hit of $19.3 million for the 2023-24 season. This figure is part of a four-year, $94 million contract that he inked with the Sacramento Kings, a deal now in its concluding stages. Charania’s report on Hield’s contract situation with the Pacers suggests that the extension offered did not align with his expectations of feeling “desired” by the team.

For the Bucks, contemplating any potential trade involving Hield necessitates deliberate and open discussions with Hield and his representatives. Gaining clarity on the type of contract extension Hield envisions is paramount. Given the financial constraints and the league’s evolving financial landscape, understanding Hield’s contractual aspirations becomes a crucial initial step in evaluating the feasibility of acquiring his services.

Who Would the Bucks Have to Give Up?

In exploring a potential trade for Hield, the Bucks face a challenge in adhering to the NBA’s trade rules, which require a salary match. Given this constraint, the Bucks must structure the trade by sending two players to the Pacers.

The most plausible scenario entails Milwaukee including Bobby Portis, who carries a salary of $11.7 million, in the trade package. Portis, a power forward, could address a positional need for the Pacers, providing a valuable asset to balance their roster.

In addition to Portis, the Bucks must include either Pat Connaughton ($9.4 million salary) or Grayson Allen ($8.9 million). Allen’s expiring contract offers Indiana the flexibility of trading him at a later date or gaining valuable cap relief in the subsequent offseason. On the other hand, Connaughton’s impressive postseason contributions in Milwaukee might make him a less probable candidate for a trade, given his proven ability to excel in the high-stakes playoff environment.

If Milwaukee were to ship Portis and Allen, it would be a bittersweet move, considering all the love Portis has received from the fans. However, in sending him, hopefully, the Bucks wouldn’t have to give up a draft pick from their nearly bare cupboard.

As the Bucks navigate these trade considerations, they must weigh the potential benefits of adding Hield against the cost of parting ways with key contributors like Portis and Allen, all while managing their limited draft assets.