The Milwaukee Bucks made some noise on Monday night as they put their plan to keep two-time defending NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo into action.
First, the Bucks agreed in principle to a trade that will net them Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans, one of the best two-way guards in the game today. A couple hours later Milwaukee was announcing another acquisition, this time that of Serbian three-point marksman Bogdan Bogdanovic from the Sacramento Kings in a sign-and-trade, sources told ESPN.
The Bucks didn’t acquire Holiday and Bogdanovic for free, though. Far from it, in fact: the hefty price MIlwaukee had to pay included the sending the Pelicans quality guards Eric Bledsoe and George Hill, three first round picks, and two more first round pick swaps while the Kings landed Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson, and Ersan Ilyasova in their deal.
It doesn’t get much more ‘win-now’ than that pair of moves, so Milwaukee better hope that Antetokounmpo signs the five-year supermax deal that the Bucks will soon be offering him, because if he doesn’t, the future in Wisconsin is looking quite bleak. If he does sign the deal, however, Milwaukee’s +500 odds to win the championship this season on 888sport start to look very, very tasty.
To land Holiday, one of the most well-respected defenders and overall players in the game, the Bucks had to give the Pelicans an arm and leg and a kidney and the deed to their house, much like the Lakers did to get Anthony Davis out of New Orleans last year. But while Davis is an MVP-caliber player, Holiday, while excellent, would never be involved in those conversations. But hey, if the deal brings the Larry O’Brien trophy to Wisconsin next June, I don’t think anyone will be complaining.
Holiday is a huge get for the Bucks as they attempt to convince Antetokounmpo to stay put, and you’d have to think with what they gave up for the guard, he was on the Greek Freak’s short list. Holiday has been earning more and more respect around the league in recent years. After earning All-Star honors in 2013 in Philly, the L.A. native spent a few injury-laden years in New Orleans before people began noticing his play again.
He earned NBA All-Defensive team honors in 2018-2019, not to mention superstars like Damian Lillard and Kevin Durant were openly calling him the best defender in the league at the guard position. Holiday is also a great shooter, which is a huge plus in terms of improving the spacing around Antetokounmpo.
Holiday put up 19.1 points, 6.7 dimes, 4.8 boards, and 1.6 steals per game on 46 from the field and 35 from deep last season. The UCLA product is set to make $25.4 million this season, with a $26.3 million option for next season.
Joining him in Milwaukee is the Serbian national, Bogdanovic. The 28-year-old had been a menace in the Serbian, Turkish, and Euroleagues for seven years before making the move to the NBA in 2017. He made the All-NBA Rookie Second Team during his freshman campaign and over the past two seasons in Sacramento has continued to be a reliable scorer and budding playmaker, averaging 15.1 points and 2.7 threes per game on 44 percent shooting from the field and 37 from beyond the arc last year.
While the Kings got some interesting young players in DiVincenzo and Wilson in exchange for Bogdanovic, it’s the Pelicans that really made out like gangbusters on Monday night. Pels general manager Trajan Langdon has now turned Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday into: six first-round picks, four pick swaps, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and Josh Hart.
The most recent additions for Trajan and the Pelicans were a pair of quality, veteran guards. Bledsoe still plays with a lot of fire on the defensive end and can be explosive heading to the rim. The 31-year-old put up 14.9 points, 5.4 assists, and 4.6 rebounds for the Bucks last season and is under contract for another three seasons.
Hill has two years left on his contract, albeit at a much more reasonable price than Bledsoe. The 34-year-old Indianapolis native averaged 9.4 points off the bench on a league-leading 46.0 percent shooting clip from deep last year.
Whether Hill and Bledsoe remain for New Orleans’ rebuilding project, which will most likely focus on Ingram and Zion Williamson, remains to be seen. But there’s no doubt that the Pelicans have a very bright future ahead of them with tons of draft capital and young talent.