Bucks Lead

Bucks Face Training Camp Roster Dilemma

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After Yahoo’s Shams Charania broke that the Bucks had reached agreements with free agents Shabazz Muhammad and Christian Wood a few days ago, they now have some tough decisions ahead of them.

Last season, the NBA debuted “two-way deals”, permitting teams to sign young players (<4 years of NBA experience) that can seamlessly travel from their G-League affiliate to the NBA squad without the need for a new contract.

This new flexibility allows teams to add two players to their roster without counting towards the 15-man roster. Based on this, one could assume that they would also not be apart of the 20-man training camp roster.

This, however, is not the case, as they actually do count towards the 20-man roster.

If you’ve been keeping track, this puts Milwaukee at 22 players– two over the training camp limit. Milwaukee had both two-way deals vacant during training camp last season, allowing them to have more roster flexibility before inking what ended up being Gary Payton II and Joel Bolomboy to the vacant slots.

Officially, the Bucks have 14 guaranteed contracts, one non-guaranteed contract, 2 two-way and three training camp deals to fill out their 20-man roster.

Training Camp Roster Breakdown

Core

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Brook Lopez, Thon Maker.

Role Players

Tony Snell, Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova, Sterling Brown, Pat Connaughton, Donte DiVincenzo, DJ Wilson.

Non-Guaranteed/Two-Way/Training Camp Deals

Tyler Zeller (NG), Trevon Duval (2W), Jaylen Morris (2W), Travis Trice (TC), Brandon McCoy (TC), Jordan Barnett (TC).

This breakdown does not include Christian Wood or Shabazz Muhammad, because that would put them over the limit. As Matt Velazquez noted above, the Bucks would have to waive two players in order to sign both Muhammad and Wood. If they also plan on bringing fan-favorite Jason Terry back, they would need to free up a third spot.

The Dilemma

The dilemma is easy yet hard to resolve at the same time. With the reported agreement between the Bucks and Wood, Tyler Zeller will likely be one of the players cut. His contract is non-guaranteed, meaning the Bucks won’t take a cap hit by waiving him. Milwaukee also has Brook Lopez, John Henson and Thon Maker in addition to Wood, so there really isn’t room for him.

The second cut is a tough one to make in this situation. The Bucks have already officially agreed to two-way deals with Trevon Duval and Jaylen Morris and training camp deals with Travis Trice, Brandon McCoy and Jordan Barnett. These two-way and training camp deals aren’t significant cap hits at all, but there are some repercussions to waiving one of these guys after their rights have been held down.

Wisconsin basketball icon Bronson Koenig inked a two-way deal with the Bucks in the first week of July last year, only to be waived prior to training camp. This tweet from Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony was one of several that expressed dissatisfaction with the move.

Last year, it also appeared that Gerald Green had been awarded Milwaukee’s 15th and final roster spot after the Bucks waived fellow competitors Gary Payton II, Xavier Munford, Joel Anthony, Kendall Marshall and Brandon Rush. Green however, was also blindsided.

The Bucks opted to sign DeAndre Liggins with their final roster spot instead of Green, whom they waived hours after waiving the other roster hopefuls. Green would later join the Houston Rockets and became a vital part in their playoff run.

This is never a good look, and with the agreements between the Muhammad and Wood, Bucks General Manager Jon Horst has a tough decision ahead of him. The NBA is a business, but there are certain moves that could hurt the organization’s reputation down the road.

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About Eric Peterson

CEO and Content Manager at TLSM and Bucks Lead branch. Currently studying Sport Management at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Twitter: @EricTLSM

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