As the person who actually first reported this, I obviously see the benefit of a provided configuration. But I think everyone who complains about how this forces them back to Maven utterly misses the point and power of Gradle especially compared to Maven. Configurations in Gradle are meant to be expanded (add new ones). I do it all the time. Maven forces you into a small subset of predefined and non-expandable configurations (scopes). Gradle is inherently not limiting in this manner. Again, I initially reported the issue. I completely agree that there is enough of a well-known semantic that provided should in fact be a standard Configuration provided by the Java plugin. However, it is completely absurd to go back to Maven because of this. Personally I think too many Java developers (sadly) just do not understand ClassLoaders enough to understand the purpose and power of Configurations.
As for polygot-maven, as I said 5 years ago (yep that's right, that feature has been in planning/development for over 5 years at least, not 2). It's just window dressing man; lipstick on a pig. The same major underlying limitations still exist. You can't wish that away with a new shiny way to configure it.
Gradle devs... Its obviously hard to tell because y'all decided to limit access to Jira, but I'd have to believe this is one of the all-time top vote getters for Gradle. I'd highly suggest you either added this support or reject this issue ("get busy living or get busy dying, as my friend Andy would say"). Leaving this open, not responding and just letting it drag out is, imo, not good marketing.