Late Monday night and into the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the Milwaukee Bucks made some noise in the NBA—and strongly improved the team’s chances of re-signing Giannis Antetokounmpo—by making two major transactions. The first trade found Milwaukee landing Pelicans star Jrue Holiday in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and THREE first round picks (and pick swap options for New Orleans in two other drafts).
About an hour later, the Bucks reportedly landed Serbian sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic in a sign-and-trade deal with the Sacramento Kings that sent Ersan Ilyasova, D.J. Wilson, and Dante DiVincenzo to the California capital. Emphasis on “reportedly.” Yesterday, Bucks fans learned Bogdanovic reportedly had never agreed to a trade with Milwaukee. Some sources are now indicating he will, instead, enter free agency tomorrow.
Whether those reports are accurate or the Kings and Bucks are simply adjusting the narrative in an effort to avoid punishment for tampering before the league free agency period officially starts, we can all agree that no matter where Bogdanovic winds up (including Milwaukee, which is still very much in play), the situation is a mess. Weird as it is, circumstances like these aren’t exactly unprecedented in Wisconsin sports. Between vetoed trades, failed physicals, inaccurate reports, and players opting to retire rather than go to a new team, here are a few other instances of Bucks, Brewers, and Packers trades falling apart after they were thought to be done deals.
Jonathan Lucroy vetoes trade to Cleveland
Just before Major League Baseball’s trade deadline in 2016, the Brewers (who were in the midst of a 73-89 season) tried to clear some salary and invest in the team’s future by dealing catcher and fan favorite Jonathan Lucroy to Cleveland for four minor leaguers, including three players in the team’s top-30 prospects. A deal was done and ready to roll once Lucroy signed off on it. He didn’t.
Despite being a contender, Cleveland was one of the eight teams on the catcher’s no-trade list. Instead of winding up in Ohio, Milwaukee was forced to package Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress in a deal for Rangers farmhands Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and Ryan Cordell. Though the Brewers missed out on a haul from the deal they’d brokered with Cleveland, Brinson was eventually the main piece the Brewers sent to the Marlins in the Christian Yelich deal, Jeffress made his way back to Milwaukee in free agency, and Ortiz was part of a subsequent trade to Baltimore to land Jonathan Schoop. So it wasn’t all bad! Meanwhile, Lucroy has bounced around the league and failed to match his All-Star-caliber play he managed in Milwaukee.
Mets nix already-publicized trade for Carlos Gomez
The year before the Lucroy debacle, the Brewers had another near-miss in the trade department. Everything seemed in place for the Crew to send speedy center fielder Carlos Gomez back to the New York Mets in exchange for infielder Wilmer Flores and pitcher Zack Wheeler. It was so close to happening, in fact, that news of the trade had circulated and even reached Flores while he was on the field during a Mets game. He had an emotional reaction upon learning the news.
Strangely, the deal imploded due to “health concerns” New York had with Gomez. Undeterred, the Brewers quickly put together another trade centered around their Gold Glove-winning outfielder. This time around, Go-Go and Mike Fiers were sent to Houston in exchange for a treasure trove of young talent including Josh Hader, Brett Phillips, Domingo Santana, and Adrian Houser. Fiers would go on to blow the whistle on the Astros’ sign-stealing exploits. Phillips would later be traded to the Royals for Mike Moustakas and Santana would net Ben Gamel in a deal with Seattle. Hader would earn two All-Star selections. Gomez would bounce around the league for a few more seasons before eventually ending his career with, yep, the New York Mets in 2019.
Bruce Bowen retires after Spurs trade him to Milwaukee
After winning three titles and earning NBA All-Defensive Team honors an astonishing eight times in his first 13 seasons in the league, Spurs mainstay Bruce Bowen had nothing more to prove when San Antonio included him, Kurt Thomas, and Amir Johnson in a package deal for Richard Jefferson in 2009. With Bowen not particularly jazzed on being in Milwaukee, the Bucks were forced to try to trade the vet. After all offseason trade efforts failed, Milwaukee cut their losses and waived Bowen before his $4M salary kicked in.
Unfortunately, the Bucks were still on the hook for his $2M buyout. With no suitors in free agency, Bowen ultimately retired. It was an ironically offensive way for one of the NBA’s best modern defenders to call it quits. Though this trade technically still went through, it’s safe to say it wasn’t at all what Milwaukee had in mind when making the deal.
Eric Dickerson fails Packers physical
That’s right! For a few days during the 1993 season, the Green Bay Packers looked as if they had the great Eric Dickerson on the roster when they traded running back John Stephens to the Falcons to get the veteran rusher. That never came to fruition because the eventual Hall Of Fame running back, who was 33 years old at the time, failed his team physical due to a bulging disc. Since the trade was unconditional, Atlanta kept the rights to Stephens (who wound up in Kansas City weeks later, without playing a single down as a Falcon). Now without a team, Dickerson retired shortly after the Packers nixed the trade, thus ending his amazing career on a strange, sour, and semi-Packers-related note.