Malcolm Brogdon is thriving with the Pacers.
The Bucks are doing just fine without him.
But with Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s super-max decision rapidly approaching, Milwaukee’s controversial decision to sign-and-trade Brogdon during restricted free agency last summer looms over the entire NBA.
The Bucks visit Indiana tomorrow. So, it’s an opportunity to take Antetokounmpo’s temperature on the move.
Jack Maloney of CBS Sports:
“Wish he was still here” because that’s a nice thing to say about a friend? Or “wish he was still here” because Antetokounmpo wanted the Bucks to handle last offseason differently?
The difference means everything to Milwaukee.
Antetokounmpo has consistently said he wants to stay with the Bucks as long as they prioritize winning. Though there were also basketball reasons to move Brogdon, losing him also kept Milwaukee out of the luxury tax. That financial motivation is impossible to overlook.
If the Bucks wanted to keep Brogdon, they could have. They wouldn’t have a first-rounder and two second-rounders incoming from Indiana. They might not have lured Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver in free agency. They’d likely be in the luxury tax. But they would have had Brogdon.
As Antetokounmpo pointed out, Brogdon was complicit in his own exit. Brogdon wanted to play point guard, wanted to have a bigger role. That wasn’t happening in Milwaukee with Eric Bledsoe at point guard and Antetokounmpo as focal point. So, one some level, Antetokounmpo might appreciate the Bucks helping Brogdon get to a more desirable situation rather than leveraging restricted rights over him.
But, at the end of the playoffs, how will Antetokounmpo feel about Brogdon not being at his side for the postseason run? That’s the big question that will determine everything. For now, we’re getting only clues.