After failing in the playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks need to stay aggressive this offseason as they look to improve their roster for next season.
One specific player who should be on Milwaukee’s radar is PJ Washington, the former Charlotte Hornets’ No. 12 pick. Washington was widely cited in various trade rumors last season, as Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that the 23-year-old forward was a “trade possibility” for the Hornets ahead of the deadline. Although they ultimately kept him on the roster, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Washington’s name appear in the rumor mill again this offseason, and the Bucks should inquire about his services if he’s potentially on the table. .
Why the Milwaukee Bucks should inquire about a PJ Washington trade in the 2022 NBA offseason
Among the reasons the Milwaukee Bucks finally broke through the barrier and won their first title in 50 years last season was their small-ball lineups. Placing Giannis Antetokounmpo in the center proved to be a winning formula for the Bucks in their title run, as they dominated opposing teams every time Mike Budenholzer rolled with that formation. In addition to Antetokounmpo, one specific player who made this concoction work was ironically another PJ, this one being PJ Tucker. Tucker was the ideal power forward alongside Antetokounmpo in those lineups, and his solid play helped the Bucks win the title.
Unfortunately, the Bucks let Tucker go in free agency after the championship run, and they never really found his replacement. The Semi Ojeleye experience backfired hugely, and while Wesley Matthews made stellar contributions to the Bucks defensively, he was never going to be the muscled forward the Bucks needed. While Tucker’s absence wasn’t the main reason Milwaukee faltered in the 2022 playoffs, his presence wouldn’t have hurt as there was a noticeable lack of roster versatility. time Khris Middleton was injured. Still, the Bucks should aim for a small four-ball this offseason that can give them quality minutes when the Greek Freak is at five. One particular player who could thrive in this role is PJ Washington.
To be clear, Washington is not the defensive force that Tucker is. However, he is 6-foot-7 and can defend multiple positions at a high level, which would make him incredibly valuable in these smaller Milwaukee rosters. Having a player like that would unlock quality versatility for coach Mike Budenholzer to use every night, especially in the playoffs. Besides his defense, he’s also no slouch on the offensive end, averaging 11.8 points per game in his first three NBA seasons. Much of that was due to his solid 3-point shooting, having knocked down 37.5% on his triples on 4.4 attempts per game. Shooting and scoring like that would only make those small-ball lineups more deadly for the Bucks, giving them another reliable perimeter threat.
In addition to what Washington brings to the table on both sides of basketball, he’s 23 years old. Adding youngsters to the roster should be a priority for the team this offseason, and a play like Washington ticks that box. Right now, the Bucks don’t have too many young players on the roster who could be considered long-term staples, but adding a player like Washington could erase that notion completely. The former first-round pick has plenty of room to grow, and he could do so in Milwaukee while helping a team at the forefront of title contention. Some have said the Bucks should do it with their first round in the 2022 NBA Draft, but if they can get a proven player like Washington instead, that might solve some impact issues.
If the Hornets are still looking to trade Washington this offseason, the Bucks should call them. The Kentucky product will be on the books for an incredibly digestible $5.8 million next year, meaning he’ll be among the few targets that are actually financially feasible for the Bucks. While Charlotte’s asking price is unknown, Milwaukee have several strengths, including this first round of the upcoming draft, that could allow them to make a compelling bid for Washington. The Bucks can’t afford to be complacent this offseason, and while Washington is far from the flashiest name, he would be an important addition to this team heading into next season.
Playing short ball is something the Milwaukee Bucks should look to adopt more in the playoffs next year, and adding a play like PJ Washington would make that entirely doable.