They’re still sweeping the confetti from the Fiserv Forum floor, but the 21st Century pro sports calendar never waits. Key Dates:
July 29: 2021 NBA draft
Aug. 2: Teams can begin negotiating with free agents (3 p.m. PDT)
Aug. 6: Teams can begin signing free agents (9:01 a.m. PDT)
Aug. 8-17: Las Vegas Summer League
Sept. 28: Training camps open
Oct. 19: 2021-22 season opens
Feb. 20: All-Star game (Cleveland)
April 10: End of regular season
April 12-15: Play-in tournament
April 16: Playoffs begin
June 2: NBA Finals start
June 19: NBA Finals Game 7
Whispers of the NBA moving to a Christmas season kick-off annually were unfounded- the 2021 free agency period and draft will be the last late finishes for the NBA, but the 2021-22 season starts up pretty much like the pre-pandemic seasons.
Holiday and Middleton are in Tokyo (Team USA lost to France, with Holiday going 27 min and leading the team with 18 min.). This makes an off-season recovery program problematic for 2 of the 3 major Bucks investments (Middleton played just 7 min). I do not expect these guys to play any preseason action, and I do think they’ll be on minutes restrictions for much of the early season. This gives young players like Jordan Nwora, Donte DiVincenzo, Mamadi Diakite, and Elijah Bryant an opportunity to gain valuable game experience and prepare them for more meaningful action next playoff season. The Bucks desperately need to get these young players capable of playing important minutes because they simply cannot afford to bring Tucker or Teague back. And it’s going to take some massaging to bring Bryn Forbes or fan favorite Bobby Portis back (both have player options).
The Bucks should benefit from continuity if they ultimately are forced to “run it back” considering the roster turnover from a season ago. The only holdovers to see major minutes in the 6/7 man playoff rotation were Giannis, Middleton, Lopez, and Connaughton.
The tax threshold is $140M, and the Bucks have very little they can do to add FAs since they’re already at $143M (https://hoopshype.com/salaries/milwaukee_bucks/). They can offer some $$$ to their guys, but his much do you risk? The Bucks will return the top scoring offense in the NBA in 2021-22, but it still seems like they need better shooting. They were at or near the top in almost every meaningful offensive category in 2020-21, but the playoffs proved that they really need more. Can they get more out of the big 3? Theoretically yes, but with the Olympics, what impact will a shortened off-season have on these guys, who logged more than 40+ min/game most of the playoffs? Will the experience of this Championship prove to be a catalyst for a level-up from both Middleton and Holiday? It could.
Horst has a unique challenge with this roster- they were statistically superior and were able to sidestep a few obstacles to take it all. With no draft assets and limited trade pieces, it may be very difficult to improve this roster with any new blood. The improvements may need to come from within…