Giannis Antetokounmpo held aloft the 2021 Larry O'Brien trophy after leading the Milwaukee Bucks to their first championship in 50 years. It was a great achievement for a player who has committed most of his prime to the franchise after agreeing to a supermax extension with the franchise last year.
With Antetokounmpo's supermax deal set to kick in, along with Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday's contracts, the Bucks are going to find it tough to add players to their squad to attempt a repeat of their success next season. The franchise are already in luxury tax territory for next season, so they';; look to utilize their taxpayer mid-level exception of $5.89 million in the free agency market.
Although their season only just came to an end, the Milwaukee Bucks front office will be preparing their offers for free agents, with whom they can start negotiating next week.
It's hard to contemplate the fact that a championship-winning team should need to add any more talent to their roster. However, there are always improvements that can be made. Also, considering the fact that the Bucks could be losing both Bryn Forbes and Bobby Portis this summer, they need to act decisively in the market.
Ideally, they need another backup at point guard and could utilize more scoring options from the bench. If their MLE extends as far as bringing in two veterans. that would be the perfect scenario; however, it is more likely they will only be able to bring in one big name.
On that note, here's a look at five free agents the Milwaukee Bucks could target this off-season:
#5 Reggie Jackson
A player who could be out of the Milwaukee Bucks' price range but who they could certainly approach with their MLE is LA Clippers guard Reggie Jackson.
The 31-year-old revived his career in LA and proved he still has what it takes to be a formidable force in the postseason. Jackson made countless big-time plays in the Clips' run to the Conference Finals and stepped up when Kawhi Leonard was sidelined.
Jackson shot at 40% from downtown in the postseason and averaged an impressive 17.8 points per game. All of this will amount to a pay rise for the former 1st-round pick. While the guard market is saturated this summer with experienced and young options, Jackson offers tremendous value.
Moreover, considering his performances in the playoffs, Jackson may have priced himself out with the Clippers, with regards to their salary parameters.
Although there will still be a reasonable market for Jackson, the Milwaukee Bucks should at least throw their name in the hat for his services. Jackson could be a brilliant backup option to have and could also feature in their starting lineup, as Donte DiVincenzo's return is unknown.
#4 Bobby Portis
Bobby Portis quickly became a fan favorite with the Milwaukee Bucks faithful, so the franchise will be keen to keep him around.
Portis was an impressive performer in the playoffs and was a valuable small-ball option off the bench. He averaged 8.8 points and five rebounds throughout the postseason, and particularly impressed in the NBA Finals, where he had two double-digit point tallies, including 16 in the decisive sixth game.
Retaining Portis may be easier said than done, though, for the Bucks. That's because he is most certainly due a pay rise, and there will be a number of suitors for him, considering what he can provide off the bench at both ends of the court.
Considering that he is only set to earn $3.8 million next season, it is highly likely that Portis will decline his player option. Earning a bigger contract was not his intention in signing with the champions this season. However, now that he has established himself on the biggest stage, he may force the Milwaukee Bucks into offering him a bigger deal in free agency.