5 Milwaukee Bucks Whom NBA Teams Should Be Poaching This Offseason
The Milwaukee Bucks are the worst team in the league, but that doesn't mean the roster has no valuable players.
With Milwaukee seemingly ready to rebuild around a young core that features John Henson, Giannis Antetokounmpo and this year's draft pick, perhaps some of the veterans on the roster will be poach material for other teams.
While just about every team would love to get its hands on "The Greek Freak," Henson or even a shooter with size like Khris Middleton, the Bucks will almost certainly hang onto those players, given their production, age and salaries.
On the flip side, opposing teams probably aren't going to be interested in O.J. Mayo, since he's fallen apart completely and still has $16 million and two years left on his deal.
With that in mind, here are five Milwaukee Bucks players whom other NBA teams should look to poach this offseason.
Brandon Knight will be one of the toughest players to pluck from the Bucks, as he's just 22 years old and has improved every year.
With only one more season on his rookie deal, however, perhaps the Bucks might look to get peak value for him before he hits restricted free agency and earns a big payday.
It's also possible that they don't view Knight as the point guard of the future and may look to replace him in the draft with someone like Dante Exum.
If that's true, opposing teams in need of a sixth man and capable combo guard should give Knight a long look. While his shooting percentages leave something to be desired, he can create his own shot and carry a second unit, which is basically what he's done in Milwaukee all year long.
Although the price would likely be high (a future first-round pick, perhaps), he is one of the few available players on the roster who isn't trending downward.
General managers are always on the prowl for buy-low candidates, and that's exactly what Bucks center Larry Sanders is.
After signing a four-year deal worth $44 million this offseason, he has played in just 23 games because of a bar fight and an eye injury. It's hard to remember a player ever taking such a big dive after signing a contract extension, and his recent five-game drug suspension doesn't help matters by any means.
His response to the suspension may scare off teams a bit as well. Here's what he told Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel about his marijuana use:
'It's something I feel strongly about, just to let you know something personal about me,' Sanders said in an interview with the Journal Sentinel and nba.com. 'I will deal with the consequences from it. It's a banned substance in my league. But I believe in marijuana and the medical side of it. I know what it is if I'm going to use it.'
All that combined with the emergence of John Henson may make Sanders expendable. If a team is ready to take the chance that he will bounce back and become one of the league's best rim protectors, the asking price now is likely as low as it will ever be.
Players with his defensive abilities and athleticism are always in high demand, so it wouldn't be a shock to see him poached from the Milwaukee Bucks this offseason.
As is the case with many other members of the Bucks, it's troubling how much Ersan Ilyasova has declined this season.
Once considered to be one of the best stretch big men in the league, he has had his jumper abandon him completely this season. He's only shooting 28.2 percent from behind the arc during another injury-ravaged campaign.
He has never been a good defensive player, but his play on that end of the floor has been worse alongside his usually solid rebounding. This, for all intents and purposes, has been a complete nightmare of a season for the 26-year-old forward.
Perhaps most troubling is that he is owed $22 million over the next three years, which seems like an awful lot for a player who would ideally be a third big man on a good team, as Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball explains here:
Ilyasova theoretically has hurt his value this season with one poor performance after the next and an absence of his typical post January improvements. But he has enough of a history as a shooter and passable to good rebounder that it’s hard to believe he has no value elsewhere. He certainly has next to no value on the Bucks, because he’s ideally a role player and will never be a crucially important part of a highly successful basketball team.
On the right team though, he could use his strengths as a shooter and charge taker to swing quarters and fill minutes until very good players take over.
A few teams should inquire about him, given his unique set of skills, but it's hard to imagine the Bucks can get much more than an expiring contract in return. We'll see if Milwaukee is ready to embrace that sort of move.
The signing of Zaza Pachulia this past offseason was a curious one, but a few teams in need of frontcourt help might be willing to give Bucks GM John Hammond a mulligan.
The simply don't have much need for a 30-year-old backup big man with no upside at this point, and getting rid of the two years and $10.4 million remaining on his deal should be a priority.
That's not because he is a bad player by any means. He's just a bad fit with the direction that Milwaukee should embrace.
While Pachulia's offensive numbers have dipped a bit, ideally he'd be a backup center who plays fewer minutes and shoulders less responsibility on a good team. He's a solid defender and rebounder, and there's something comforting about knowing exactly what you're going to get from a trade acquisition.
He is another player who probably won't bring back anything in return except an expiring deal, but that's not the worst thing for a Bucks team that needs plenty of assets to fix things.
If you forgot about Carlos Delfino being a member of the Bucks, don't feel bad. He hasn't played a single game in a Milwaukee uniform, as he's missed this season with foot surgery.
Since he's 31 years old and coming off major surgery, there are questions as to whether he will ever be a valuable role player again. With one guaranteed year left at $3.2 million, perhaps Delfino's biggest value will be as an expiring contract at next year's trade deadline.
With that in mind, it might be difficult to acquire Delfino, unless the Bucks would be content with something like a conditional second-round pick. The veteran swingman is a big risk, but he was a prolific three-point shooter last year with the Houston Rockets.
It's hard to know much without seeing how healthy Delfino is, so it's more likely that he'll get dealt during the year as opposed to this offseason.
With that being said, it's hard to rule anyone out in Milwaukee from getting traded this offseason.