The Milwaukee Bucks have finally secured a first-round pick in the 2022 NBA draft — a rarity since general manager Jon Horst took over as front office. However, all signs seem to point to the team trading it for a veteran.
It’s been four years since Milwaukee kept a player they drafted in the first round. Overall, Horst has been the general manager for five years, and since then has only picked two players in the first round — DJ Wilson in 2017 and Donte DiVincenzo in 2018. This continuity is likely to continue for at least another year.
Thanks to the Jrue Holiday trade (their first-rounders in 2025 and 2027, and pick swaps in 2024 and 2026), Milwaukee has many first-rounder wins for Houston in 2023, but Teams can’t trade consecutive first-round picks early because of the Stephen rule, and they can only control their own picks every other year until 2028. That makes this year weird.
The Milwaukee Bucks took the 24th overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft, but all signs point to them trading him for a veteran.
However, there is a way to get around the rules and Milwaukee could agree in advance to a trade with another team to draft the players they want. 24 then trade him right away. That seems to be the way Horst and company are leaning toward, as they try to use limited assets to get the Bucks back into the NBA Finals after a second-round loss this year.
In a pre-draft interview last week, Horst asked questions on a number of topics, including the draft. He’s already talking about the pick as if it’s an asset for veterans rather than rookies. “I think you want to maximize the value of an asset…” Horst said, “I think you can maximize the value of that asset versus your team’s needs in different ways. It could be a direct exchange of it that can help you something, attach it in exchange for something that can help you, or draft a player who is now ready and can grow with you. That doesn’t mean we don’t pick players who can’t really contribute right now, and really There’s a lot of vision and a lot of upside. That’s something we’ll keep looking at. But I think those other options have been more attractive to us in the past, and I think we’ve benefited enormously from that, and I think we’ll continue to focus These.”
It seems to me that Horst is on the phone and he’ll do his best to make a deal for a veteran who has their number involved. 24 choices. At the same time, if the right player falls into their hands, they will highly consider retaining the draft pick and adding a young player who can contribute immediately on a very cheap contract. Clear as mud.
Horst clearly didn’t want to reach out in that interview, and it seemed like he was doing his due diligence in every situation. He stayed true to that mantra throughout his tenure, as Milwaukee always seemed to be testing when a player came on the court.
The Bucks have a meager $1.5 million trade exception, so any earnings they get will have to match the outgoing contract. That’s probably the trickiest part of getting new players because Milwaukee is a top team. Book Lopez ($13.9 million) and Grayson Allen ($8.5 million) are the only two players currently making less than $32 million but more than $4 million (assuming Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton decline their player options).
Horst should be able to solve that conundrum, but it would severely limit the players he can get in any trade.
With the NBA draft just a few days away, keep an eye on the rumor mill as Milwaukee will definitely be working on the phone.