Toronto Raptors free agency 2019: Who in East got better, who got worse

Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet and Milwaukee Bucks – Malcolm Brogdon (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

Milwaukee Bucks

If you’re a fan who believes the Toronto Raptors are gearing up for Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021, today was a good day. The Milwaukee Bucks objectively have gotten worse from where they were last year.

The offseason started when the Bucks sent Tony Snell and a first-round pick for John Leuer. The deal saved Milwaukee some cash for this season and next, but at a reasonable cost. Tony Snell was a fringe rotation piece, and while the 30th pick is no guarantee, it is a reasonably decent asset.

In the end, that deal helped clear cap-space to re-sign Brook Lopez. It was a deal they needed to make, but it does hurt them nonetheless.

The Bucks entered free-agency with three big-name players available: Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Malcolm Brogdon. At the end of the day, they managed to keep two out of three. Malcolm Brogdon was the odd-man out.

Losing Brogdon is a killer. He was the best guard during the postseason — as Eric Bledsoe vomited all over himself for the second postseason in a row — and is a perfect point guard fit next to Giannis. He’s not as good as Middleton and probably isn’t as important as Brook Lopez, but it was close. Milwaukee did get a couple of picks from Indiana in the exchange, picks worth approximately what they gave up in the Snell deal.

The Bucks will say they moved on from Brogdon because the price was too high. He’s already 26 and likely won’t be much more than a solid starter. However, as a team who will be over the cap for the foreseeable future, the Bucks essentially gave Brogdon up for nothing.

Connecting the tea-leaves, this almost certainly had to do with luxury-tax concerns. The Bucks are in a small market, and by not signing him, the Bucks can stay out of the tax.

What an embarrassment. The Bucks won 60-games last season and were minutes away from going up 3-0 on the eventual NBA Champions. If you’re not willing to pay the tax now, then when are you? The Bucks took public money to build their new arena. That ownership group should be ashamed.

It’s almost certainly not the reason, but if they’re worried about future years, that’s a mistake as well. You don’t give up your 3rd/4th best player when you’re a contender. You make a slight overpay and figure out the rest later.

The Bucks did also bring back George Hill and are rumored to be close to signing Robin Lopez. They’re still a contender, but letting Brogdon go was an indefensible decision.

Sentence long review: Still title contenders, but weaker due to ownership’s pathetic cheapness