Milwaukee rounds out roster with deals for Bobby Portis, D.J. Augustin, Pat Connaughton
The big questions about the Milwaukee Bucks roster still hang out there: Will Giannis Antetokounmpo sign a super-max extension? How do they replace Wes Matthews, who went to the Lakers? Can the Bucks find another two-guard with a sign-and-trade to replace the Bogdan Bogdanovic deal that fell apart?.
However, Milwaukee has made a series of smaller moves to round out the bench on their roster. The Bucks have agreed to deals for guards D.J. Augustin and Pat Connaughton, and big man Bobby Portis.
Portis steps into the backup center role behind Brook Lopez in Milwaukee after Robin Lopez left for the nation’s capital. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the signing.
Portis most likely got the bi-annual exception, which is $3.8 million this season and $4 million for 2021-22. Portis is an intense competitor — something the Bucks like — and is a stretch five on offense who can score on smaller defenders in the post. He averaged 10.1 points a game last season and shot 35.8% from three — offensively Portis is a fit. Defensively he struggles against everyone, and he’s not a rim protector that fits well in the Milwaukee drop-back system for bigs (where Brook Lopez thrives). The Bucks also need Portis to start rebounding again like he did before New York, that part of his game fell apart last season.
At the guard spot, the Bucks picked up two solid players in point guard Augustin and off-guard and shooter Connaughton.
Free agent G Pat Connaughton has agreed to a two-year, $8.3M deal to return to the Milwaukee Bucks, agents Jeff Schwartz and Jordan Gertler of @excelsm_bball tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 21, 2020
Augustin is a rock-solid signing at backup point guard behind Jrue Holiday, plus he can start a dozen games or so without a problem. Augustin is a very smart pick-and-roll point guard who shot 34.8% from three last season but over 40% the two seasons before that. Augustin is a guard Mike Budenholzer can trust to run the second unit smoothly and knock down shots when asked.
Connaughton is a favorite of Budenholzer’s, so it’s not a shock to see him re-signed. Connaughton is an athletic shooting guard — remember the Dunk Contest? — who can get to the rim and finish, but isn’t that deadly from deep (33.1% from three last season). He’s a solid defender at the two as well. He fits in with what the Bucks want to do.
With the contracts as reported, the Bucks would need to fit both Connaughton and Augustin into the mid-level exception of $9.3 million, which does not work with the reported salaries. The Connaughton may be a straight early Bird-rights deal for two seasons (it can’t be early Bird and 1+1, as was reported in some places). That or the reported numbers are a little high (those could include unlikely bonuses and the like).
However it works out, both of those guards, and Portis, will be part of the Bucks’ bench next season.