Antetokounmpo was pulling levers to help the Bucks help themselves. He had listed several wing players he hoped the Bucks could land in order to fortify his surrounding cast for a better effort at the 2021 championship. Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal was never a realistic option. Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo was discussed in numerous trade scenarios, sources said, but Indiana ultimately declined Milwaukee’s advances. At one point, that included a discussion of Donte DiVincenzo, George Hill and the No. 24 pick in the 2020 draft.
Aside from the obvious spacing Bogdanovic’s shooting would provide Milwaukee’s offense, Giannis admired his fellow European’s toughness and swagger, sources said. He viewed Bogdanovic as someone you could go to war with in the postseason. Antetokounmpo grew increasingly focused on teaming with Bogdanovic. The Sacramento guard quickly presented Milwaukee’s greatest option as the Bucks dealt with a hamstrung cap sheet and limited trade assets.
Sacramento had every reason to engage Milwaukee in trade discussions. Bogdanovic was set to hit restricted free agency this season, and by all accounts, the 28-year-old was searching for an optimum payday the Kings were not entirely prepared to match. The Bucks, sources said, were hoping to agree to a framework of a sign-and-trade that could effectively take Bogdanovic off the market right when free agency was set to open Friday. Early conversations centered on sending Eric Bledsoe and the No. 24 pick to Sacramento, sources said. But the Kings insisted on guard DiVincenzo being included in any deal, just as the Pacers did in the talks regarding Oladipo, according to sources.
So with DiVincenzo made available, sources said, the Bucks and Kings agreed in principle early last week. Along with DiVincenzo, Milwaukee would send Ersan Ilyasova and D.J. Wilson to Sacramento in exchange for Bogdanovic and Justin James. Come that Friday, the Bucks would have been able to negotiate contract terms with Bogdanovic’s representatives once the free-agent market opened at 6 p.m. ET.
Late that Monday evening, just minutes after the agreement was struck, word reached the news media of Milwaukee and Sacramento’s intended sign-and-trade. And during the board of governors’ call on Tuesday, several league sources indicated that Bucks governor Marc Lasry stopped just short of bragging about Milwaukee’s impressive Monday evening of transactions. However, multiple league personnel participating on the call said they did not remember any Bucks official gloating or any noted behavior or conversation out of the ordinary.
Either way, at least one rival team filed a formal complaint to the league office Wednesday, sources said. And by that afternoon, the league informed both Milwaukee and Sacramento that it would open an investigation into an alleged sign-and-trade already being agreed to four days before free agency had begun. The league also sent a memo to all 30 teams that afternoon reminding franchises of the NBA’s anti-tampering policies, encouraging teams not to “jump the gun” in contacting players under contract with other teams and warning punishments of up to $10 million and draft-pick forfeiture.