We’re a little over a month out from the 2022 NBA trade deadline and, as expected, rumors and whispers are growing louder and louder as we approach the final day for teams to make trades that will allow players to be eligible for the playoffs. The Milwaukee Bucks are no stranger to moves at or around the deadline, so fans are always on high alert.
One of the more popular names that have been tossed around for who the Bucks could trade to acquire a player to help shore up their rotation is sophomore wing Jordan Nwora. That includes Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale, who selected Nwora as the Bucks’ nominee in his “one player every team needs to trade in 2022” article.
I’m not going to say Favale is wrong or that it’s a dumb idea for the Bucks to trade Nwora, but I disagree and believe the Bucks should keep Nwora, at least through this season and into free agency.
The case for the Milwaukee Bucks to not trade Jordan Nwora
I did like Favale’s explanation for why he believes they should trade Nwora for the simple fact that they can’t (or shouldn’t) move any of their more critical pieces, namely Donte DiVincenzo or Brook Lopez. He argues that, because of this, the Bucks are going to be limited to smaller-time moves and that Nwora would garner more interest than Semi Ojeleye and Rodney Hood to free up a roster spot (likely for a buyout market move).
I agree that the Bucks shouldn’t move players like DiVincenzo and Lopez as well as the idea that Nwora would have more value than the two other names listed. However, he goes on to say that the Bucks could likely grab a second-round pick for Nwora in a trade for that extra roster spot.
I don’t disagree that they could get a second-rounder for him, but if that’s all they could get in return? Then I’d rather the Bucks hold onto him.
Although a roster spot would be valuable, having Nwora going forward is more valuable. As he notes, Nwora is a restricted free agent at the end of this season. The Bucks would be able to bring him back (likely for a low number) and that’s more valuable than whatever potential player they would bring on with that free roster spot from the buyout market.
Wesley Matthews has proven to be a stable option in the Bucks’ rotation since being signed and will likely get his contract guaranteed in a few days. The hole on the wing off the bench has been their biggest weakness (due, in part, to Nwora’s struggles to begin the season) and it seems as though Matthews has filled that.
The next option would be to add a big man, but we’ve already seen how limited DeMarcus Cousins is. There likely aren’t any better options readily available for next to nothing that will drastically change their fortunes. To be honest, if the Bucks don’t get Lopez back at close to what he was pre-injury, the point is moot entirely.
Anyway, back to Nwora. He has been on a bit of a roll as of late and although his flashes have been inconsistent this season, there’s obvious growth being shown. We’ve seen him expand his game in areas other than scoring this season, primarily rebounding and rim protection.
Sure, his game can be a bit out of control at times, but that’s par for the course from a young player who has the confidence in himself that Nwora does. You’d rather have to rein him in than have to build him up and tell him to shoot more.
He may not have an impact on a title chase this season, but the Bucks could use a cheaper, younger player going forward to help them extend their window. As Favale notes, the Bucks’ tax bill is high and surely the owners would appreciate saving a little bit here and there. Being able to have a younger player that will likely be cheaper or as expensive as another player from the buyout market (who they’d have to replace next season anyway) would be the better use of their financial resources.
He also notes they could simply cut one of Hood or Ojeleye, which would make more sense than flipping a controllable asset for a second-round pick and restarting the process of trying to find a player like Nwora who could help in a couple of years.
Bucks ownership has shown a willingness to go deep into the tax for a championship roster, as evidenced by the smaller moves they made that has seen them go further into the tax than they would have if they retained P.J. Tucker (which was initially as a penny-pinching move).
Although it wouldn’t surprise me if Nwora was moved this season, I’d rather the Bucks hold onto him and see what they have with him. The self-creation flashes are there and the other areas of his game are coming along as well.
The Bucks have added a player every year around the deadline in the Mike Budenholzer era, so there’s likely going to be activity from the defending champs in the coming month or so.