The Milwaukee Bucks are currently the second seed in the Eastern Conference with a 33-17 record. They are not necessarily in a bad position as the NBA enters the trade deadline followed by the All-Star break. Yet, they are also not where they thought they would be at the beginning of the season.
They already had to part ways with their first-time head coach Adrian Griffin and hired veteran coach Doc Rivers. The defense has been disappointing all season.
With the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks breathing down their necks in the standings, Milwaukee needs to bolster its roster ahead of the February 8 trade deadline to ensure they secure at least the No. 2 seed for the playoffs.
To do that, they will need to add more size, physicality, and defense, without giving up too much shooting. Their most likely trade candidates are Pat Connaughton, Cam Payne, and Bobby Portis because of their salaries and demands around the league.
It would hurt losing fan favorites like Portis and Connaughton, but the Bucks have a narrow championship window because of their aging stars like Damian Lillard, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez. They need to maximize their chances this season as much as possible.
Due to their lack of valuable draft assets, the Bucks likely can't get a high-level starter at the deadline. A name like Dejounte Murray is more of a pipe dream. Yet, there are still plenty of candidates available on the trade market who are not only acquirable for the Bucks, but can also help them immensely in their title chase. Let's take a look at the most likely players to be a Milwaukee Buck after the deadline.
1. PJ Tucker
Tucker, who was an integral part of the Bucks 2021 championship team, would be a solid addition to make another postseason run this season.
Back in 2021, Tucker was acquired mid-season from the Houston Rockets before being a key figure for the Bucks with his toughness and defense. Milwaukee never really replaced him and still needs his physical presence in the frontcourt.
Tucker was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers as part of the James Harden deal this season. However, he hasn't been a part of the rotation there, only appearing in 12 games, averaging 14.4 minutes in them. Even though this could point to a decline, it could also mean that he will have fresh legs for the final stretch of the season.
The 38-year-old forward can't play too many minutes at this stage of his career and his already-limited offensive game has gotten even worse in the last few years. But, he is still an excellent defender who can guard multiple positions. In potential matchups against the likes of Jayson Tatum or even Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic, he could still be a valuable depth option.