Milwaukee Bucks Rumors

Nets Rumors: Kidd, King, Collins

November 20 at 10:35am CST By Chuck Myron

Jason Kidd‘s controversial leap from the Nets to the Bucks this summer is a flashpoint for an issue that new union executive director Michele Roberts would like to resolve, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com details. The union has a rule that bars player agents from representing coaches or executives so that no agent is ever representing people on both sides of the negotiating table, but it’s rarely enforced, as Roberts and agents who spoke with Berger contend. Kidd said that his player agent, Jeff Schwartz, had a role in negotiations for him this summer, as Berger points out. Sources tell Berger that Schwartz kept the Kidd talks separate from discussions surrounding Schwartz clients Shaun Livingston and Paul Pierce, who also left the Nets this summer, but the conflict of interest nonetheless troubles Roberts and others.

“We can’t allow the status quo to remain, i.e. people to act in defiance of the rule because the rule is the rule,” Roberts said. “But I also want to try to do it in a way that makes sense for everyone. If it appears that the rule is not something that we can work around, then it’s time to enforce it.”

There’s more on the Nets and their former coach in the wake of Milwaukee’s three-overtime win Wednesday in Brooklyn:

  • Kidd cited rumors that the Nets thought about firing him during last season as reason for his distrust of the organization, but in reality the Nets were highly supportive of the first-year coach, writes Chris Mannix of SI.com.
  • Mannix, writing in the same piece, hears from a Nets official who’s curious whether Kidd knew he would join the Bucks when the coach suggested during a meeting of Nets brass in June, while he was still working for Brooklyn, that the Nets trade Brook Lopez for Larry Sanders. In any case, Nets GM Billy King rejected the idea of such a swap.
  • Kidd insisted Wednesday that he never tried to convince the Nets to promote him above King, despite reports to the contrary this summer, but the Bucks coach added that he didn’t have much of a relationship with King last year, Newsday’s Roderick Boone observes.
  • Jason Collins admits that he knew this past summer that he wanted to retire but decided to wait to make an announcement until Wednesday’s meeting of Kidd’s Bucks and the Nets because of his respect for Kidd, a former teammate and coach, Boone notes.

Eastern Notes: Rondo, Kidd, Butler, Sixers

November 19 at 7:27pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Executives from around the league tell Howard Beck of Bleacher Report that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has remained resolute with them that he won’t trade Rajon Rondo at this point. Still, many of those execs think the Celtics are in a position in which they simply must trade the point guard to avoid seeing him walk in free agency this coming summer. Ainge nonetheless continues to look for upgrades around Rondo, as he tells Beck. “Philosophically, we know who the players are, we know who the guys are that we would love to get,” Ainge said. “But we also know that certain players don’t make as much of a difference. We can’t sell our stockpile of assets just to appease one player. We’ve got to be smart in rebuilding. And we do have to remain patient. And yet at the same time, be ready to jump into the fray and pay a high price for special players, transcendent players.”

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Bucks’ roster features two starters who are 19 years old, a stark contrast to head coach Jason Kidd‘s Nets team of a year ago, which featured seven players 32 or older, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. Kidd says it’s still just basketball to him, adding, “It’s just the age difference. They’re basketball players. This is a younger team, the team I had last year was vets. They knew how to play, a couple of them won championships so they knew what it took to win. We won a Game 7 on the road, so experience, time and minutes are probably the only thing that’s different.” The other difference for Kidd in Milwaukee is that he’s now coaching a team on the upswing rather than one constructed to contend for a single year like Brooklyn was last season, notes Deveney.
  • Jimmy Butler‘s decision to bypass a contract extension from the Bulls that would have netted him roughly $11MM per season could pay off handsomely if he continues his excellent play, Michael Lee of The Washington Post opines.
  • Former Sixer Evan Turner believes he can speak for those players unfortunate enough to be stuck in the middle of GM Sam Hinkie‘s rebuilding plan, writes Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Turner said of Hinkie’s approach, “It’s different. It goes the right way, or not. That kind of trend can make or break certain situations. Hopefully they don’t get penalized for what they’re doing, but if they do put the right guys on the team they can be really successful thanks to the leadership of coach [BrettBrown. The biggest thing is having the unity. That’s all you have and you have to stay focused on going to battle with who you have.”

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Kidd, Cavs, Early, Raptors

November 18 at 3:46pm CST By Chuck Myron

Bucks coach Jason Kidd didn’t have interest in heading to Milwaukee until the team came after him, as he makes clear to Michael Lee of The Washington Post. Kidd remains proud of the work he did in his lone season as coach of the Nets, who received a pair of second-rounders as compensation when the Bucks hired him this summer.

“We felt that we helped a lot of people get better. As coaches, that’s all you ask for,” Kidd said. “There was a lot of good stuff. Unfortunately, management, ownership didn’t [think so], so they got two second round picks.”

Kidd returns to Brooklyn on Wednesday, and while we wait to see that, here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The relationship between LeBron James and coach David Blatt isn’t fully functional yet, and though Blatt is technically the boss, James perhaps wields greater leverage over him than he has with any of his previous coaches, as Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group examines.
  • Knicks rookie small forward Cleanthony Early is set to miss about a month or more after undergoing surgery to remove a “loose body” in his knee, the team announced (Twitter link).
  • The size of the role that James Johnson would play for the Raptors wasn’t clear when they signed him this summer, but he’s quickly become a key contributor who’ll be missed while he’s out indefinitely with a severely sprained ankle, as Eric Koreen of the National Post details.

Eastern Notes: Mudiay, Pacers, Kidd, Melo

November 17 at 9:44pm CST By Alex Lee

With the Sixers well on the way to their 10th straight loss to start the 2014/15 season tonight, they’re undoubtedly keeping tabs on top prospect Emmanuel Mudiay, who recently recorded a triple double in China. Mudiay is a consensus top-five pick according to NBA scouts, says Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, who adds that the 18-year-old has displayed the type of skills in his time with the Guangdong Tigers that has some talent evaluators thinking he can play point guard in the NBA right now.

The bad news for Sixers fans, of course, is that they still have 72 games to endure until they can truly salivate over the 2015 draft class. Here are some other notes coming out of the East:

  • The Pacers have received clearance from the NBA to continue with 16 players on their roster, so A.J. Price remains with Indiana, the team announced. The allowance, which the Pacers merited because at least four players were expected to miss significant time, will provide for Price to stay with the club for at least three more games, according to Mark Montieth of Pacers.com.
  • Rumors indicated that Jason Kidd was angling for front office control before he jumped to the Bucks merely to coach this past summer, but Milwaukee GM John Hammond doesn’t feel threatened by Kidd’s presence, as he tells Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. “I wasn’t concerned,” Hammond said. “I am in a position in my life and professionally where I am secure in myself. I feel very fortunate about that, that I have been around the league for so long — this is my 25th year in the NBA. I know who I am and I know my abilities, so it is not about being concerned. You’re not looking over your shoulder, you’re just glad you have the opportunity. Obviously, you’d like to keep the opportunity, but I feel good about the chances I have.”
  • Carmelo Anthony recently had a helpful conversation with Knicks president Phil Jackson regarding his role in the team’s triangle offense, writes Ian Begley of ESPN.com. Begley points out that, with triangle-enthusiasts Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher under contract through 2018/19 — the same season that Anthony’s deal ends — the forward knows the system is here to stay.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Central Notes: Butler, Marion, Harris

November 16 at 8:53am CST By Arthur Hill

With restricted free agency looming next summer, Jimmy Butler has emerged as a solid two-way player for the Bulls, reports Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com. Butler has maintained a reputation as a solid defender since he entered the league, but he has shown a potent offensive game this season, including a career-high 32 points in Saturday’s loss to the Pacers. “Last year was an up-and-down year because of all the injuries,” said Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau. “But he’s healthy, he was in great shape this summer, he got lighter, I think he understands the league really well. He’s strong on both sides of the ball and he’s scoring a lot of different ways. He’s getting to the line, shoot, probably six more times, eight more times.” Butler and the Bulls were unable to reach a deal on an extension before the October 31st deadline, with Chicago reportedly offering about $11MM annually and Butler seeking $13MM a year.

More from around the Central Division:

  • An early-season lineup change is paying dividends for Shawn Marion and the Cavaliers, writes Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Cleveland is 4-1 since Marion replaced Dion Waiters as a starter, and the 15-year veteran’s contributions are extending far beyond the box score. “Shawn has taken to it and the team has taken to it,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said after Saturday’s win over the Hawks. “I really thought Shawn did a fabulous job tonight. He held maybe the best three-point shooter in the NBA [Kyle Korver] to no shots. He didn’t get any shots. That had a big effect on the game.” Marion joined the Cavs during the offseason as a free agent, signing a one-year veteran’s minimum deal.
  • Marion’s time as a starter could be short-lived, as rookie guard Joe Harris may soon force another change to the lineup, writes Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. The rookie second-round pick should be starting games in a couple of weeks, or possibly sooner, a source tells Lloyd. Harris has impressed the team with his energy, defense and ball movement, and has an important supporter in teammate LeBron James“Joe Harris is going to be a big piece for our team,” James said. “He’s going to have his rookie mistakes, we know that, but mistakes can be covered when you play hard. That’s one thing that kid is doing.”
  • The Pistons‘ offense will continue to run through Andre Drummond, Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy insisted to David Mayo of MLive. Drummond and Van Gundy had a meeting Friday morning, after which the third-year center expressed frustration over his role in the offense and said he plans to focus more on defense and rebounding.  “We’re not going to go away from him,” Van Gundy said. “I think what he’s got to do, he can’t get frustrated when he’s not getting the ball. Nothing should take away from his rebounding.” Drummond is still on his rookie contract and under the Pistons’ control through the 2016/17 season.
  • With all the offseason turnover in Milwaukee, the biggest change in the Bucks has been an improved dedication to defense, coach Jason Kidd tells Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel“You can look at the individual but you take it as a team, the pride defensively,” said Kidd, the first-year Bucks coach whose rights were dealt from Brooklyn to Milwaukee during the summer in exchange for two second-round picks. “When someone gets beat, your teammate trusts there is someone there to help. And we’re starting to end plays by getting the rebound.” Entering Saturday, the Bucks were third in the NBA in defensive efficiency and points allowed.

And-Ones: Spurs, Nowitzki, Thunder, Mudiay

November 15 at 10:44pm CST By Chris Crouse

Stability has been the key to the success of the Spurs, writes Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. The core of last year’s championship team remains the same with the only addition being rookie Kyle Anderson. Turner admits that while continuity is a huge part of their success, having Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker certainly has helped. Last week, they became the second trio in NBA history to win 500 games together, joining Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish of the Celtics, who won 540 games together.

Here’s more from around the Association:

  • By assembling the right talent around Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs have ensured that the future Hall of Famer will sustain success, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Nowitzki is shooting 55% from the field this season, up from his career average of 47.7%. He attributes this success to his confidence in the team around him. “I don’t feel like I have to take any bad shots, you know,” Nowitzki said. “I’m happy to be on a good team again.” Dallas leads the league in scoring with 107.1 points per game.
  • Injuries have gutted the Thunder’s roster but the team should benefit from its adverse experience, writes Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman. Slater argues that the rare stretch of games without its top stars has created a learning opportunity for the rest of the team’s roster. If the team is able to make the playoffs after its 3-7 start to the season, the experience afforded to the team’s depth may pay real dividends.
  • Emmanuel Mudiay has made China a destination on the scouting trail for the first time in years, writes Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. Howard-Cooper points out that there hasn’t been such an important scouting trip to Asia since the 2007 draft in which Yi Jianlian went sixth overall to the Bucks. Mudiay is the second-best 2015 draft prospect in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings, and he’s No. 3 with Chad Ford of ESPN.com.

Eastern Notes: Bucks, Heat, Knicks

November 15 at 8:48pm CST By Chris Crouse

After finishing last season with the worst record in the NBA, the Bucks are benefiting from a change in culture, writes Mary Stevens of Basketball Insiders. New coach Jason Kidd has received praise from many players, including center Larry Sanders. “He’s a great coach. As good as a player he was, I think he’s a better coach,” Sanders said. “He really knows how to run a team. He’s putting all of us in a position to be successful.”  Sanders, who last year signed an extension to remain in Milwaukee through the 2017/18 season, has helped the Bucks rank third in scoring defense (93.6 points per game allowed) through nine games.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Heat’s new additions have yet to gel and the lack of defensive cohesion is upsetting the team, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “This defensive system is built on trust, and we’re not there yet,” center Chris Bosh said. “I think that’s obvious. But guys have to take their positions, guys have to know their rotations. They have to know exactly what they’re doing when the ball goes to a certain place.” Despite their decline, the Heat are only giving up 97.8 PPG, which is the 12th-best mark in the league.
  • Knicks coach Derek Fisher believes the team’s current hardship will help the club down the road, writes Barbara Barker of Newsday.com“Oftentimes it takes humbling experiences and adversity to soften the environment enough for guys to really grow. I think we have a lot of that going on in our group right now and it’ll pay off in the long run. Right now, we’re not getting the wins that we would like, but it’s gonna pay off,” said Fisher. The Knicks have started the season with a 2-8 record.
  • Even though the Knicks are struggling, finger-pointing within the locker room is no longer an issue, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Guard Iman Shumpert believes the team’s chemistry is better this season. “I know it was a problem last year. This year, [there’s] a confidence in the system and confidence in one another,” Shumpert said. “I think everybody trusted [each other] once we came to training camp; we could see that everybody worked their [butts] off this summer.”

And-Ones: Draft, LeBron, Roberts

November 14 at 10:15pm CST By Eddie Scarito

LeBron James continued his march up the NBA’s All-Time scoring list tonight, passing Celtics great Robert Parish who had 23,334 career points, to take over possession of the 24th spot. The next target on the list for James is Charles Barkley, who sits at No. 23 with 23,757 career points. So congratulations to LeBron on his achievement, but he still has quite a ways to go to claim the top slot from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Using James’ career 27.5 point average as a guide, it would take him roughly 6.6 more seasons at that pace to eclipse Abdul-Jabbar, though with LeBron’s propensity for sharing the ball it would likely take a bit longer, as well as requiring continued good health on his part.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Despite all the hype that the draft class of 2014 received, the top three selections are off to slow starts to their careers, Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel writes. There’s no telling if the SixersJoel Embiid will play this season, Andrew Wiggins is averaging 10 points for the Wolves, and Jabari Parker is logging 10.9 PPG for the Bucks. While all three are likely to develop into excellent players, this should serve as a cautionary tale for franchises looking to improve themselves through “tanking,” Schmitz opines.
  • The 2015 NBA Draft class isn’t being as highly-touted as 2014’s group, though there are a number of players with star potential. Sean Deveney of The Sporting News runs down 10 players who NBA scouts are keeping a close eye on, including Jahlil Okafor, Kelly Oubre, and Myles Turner.
  • NBPA head Michele Roberts’ recent salvo fired against the concept of the salary cap may needlessly antagonize the owners and make the 2017 CBA negotiations more difficult than they need to be, opines Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. The salary cap isn’t going away anytime soon, something Roberts is aware of, notes Beck, and her statements were more likely intended to gain trust with the players and their agents who have long distrusted the union.

Offseason In Review: Milwaukee Bucks

November 14 at 6:52pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team’s offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.

Signings

Extensions

  • None

Trades

  • Acquired a 2015 second-round pick from the Hawks in exchange for 2014 pick No. 48.
  • Acquired Jared Dudley and the Clippers’ 2017 first-round pick (top-14 protected) from the Clippers in exchange for Carlos Delfino, Miroslav Raduljica and the Clippers’ 2015 second-round pick that they’d given up in a previous trade (as long as it falls between picks 31-50).

Waiver Claims

Draft Picks

  • Jabari Parker (Round 1, 2nd overall). Signed via rookie scale exception to rookie scale contract.
  • Damien Inglis (Round 2, 31th overall). Signed via cap room for three years, $2.65MM. Third year is non-guaranteed.
  • Johnny O’Bryant (Round 2, 36th overall). Signed via cap room for three years, $2.425MM. Third year is non-guaranteed.

Camp Invitees

  • Micheal Eric
  • Elijah Millsap

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

When your NBA franchise has only had one winning season out of the last 10 and your city isn’t quite the draw for free agents that a warm weather locale is, nor is seen as a major mecca such as New York or Chicago, turning your fortunes around isn’t quite so simple. This is the position that Bucks GM John Hammond finds himself in while attempting to bring winning basketball to Milwaukee.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Milwaukee BucksThe Bucks had a rather quiet offseason for a team that only won 15 games a season ago. Only one free agent was inked, and while I’m a fan of Jerryd Bayless‘ game, he’s not a transformative sort of player for the franchise. He also plays the same position as the team’s only other veteran addition, Kendall Marshall, who was claimed off waivers after being let go by the Lakers, who could sure use his services this season, and the Bucks’ current leading scorer, Brandon Knight.

Generally speaking, teams that lose 67 games have much greater issues than filling up the bottom tiers of their point guard depth chart, though both Bayless and Marshall were solid, inexpensive additions. Still, if an NBA title is going to come to Wisconsin, it’s going to take quite a bit more to make that happen.

But just because the team didn’t throw money at a number of veterans this year, it doesn’t mean the Bucks aren’t headed in the right direction. This is a franchise that will need to build itself up through player development and the NBA draft, and that plan, while not likely to fully pay off this season despite the team’s 4-4 start, is well underway.

The biggest addition this summer arrived in the form of No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker, one of the most intriguing talents in the draft. While Parker may not have the above-the-rim athleticism of Andrew Wiggins, nor the sky-high potential of Dante Exum or a healthy Joel Embiid, Parker is arguably the most NBA-ready of the entire 2014 draft class.

Parker’s NBA position isn’t quite defined yet, and he’ll rotate between both forward positions for the time being. He’s a bit of a tweener and may not be athletic enough to guard some of the league’s more dynamic small forwards, and he isn’t strong enough yet to play with the big boys down in the paint. But Parker is a talent, and talent will always find a place in this league. I can see Parker being used eventually like Carmelo Anthony is in New York when the Knicks go to their smaller lineups and ‘Melo mans the four spot. Parker isn’t in Anthony’s class as a scorer, nor do I think he’ll ever be, but he has the potential to be a multidimensional stat-sheet filler for the Bucks, and was a great addition to the franchise.

The most important cog in the Bucks’ future already resided on their roster heading into the offseason in the 6’11” form of Giannis Antetokounmpo, bane of arena announcers and basketball writers across the league. The “Greek Freak” is a major work in progress whose physical ability and highlight-reel plays far outdo his current level of production. Antetokounmpo has all the tools to be a major star in the league for years to come, but will need more than the 23.8 minutes per game he currently receives to get there.

One obstacle that worries me in regard to the Bucks’ handling of Antetokounmpo is the team’s preseason experiment with him at point guard. While he may have the physical tools to play the position, and while it would be amazing to watch a near seven-footer man the one-spot on a nightly basis, this could derail his development. Point guard is by far the most difficult position to learn, and doing so at the NBA level against the ridiculous talent that exists in the league at that position is no easy task. There are enough fundamental holes in Antetokounmpo’s current game that he doesn’t need the added level of difficulty that a position switch would bring about.

Milwaukee wisely exercised exercised both Antetokounmpo’s and John Henson‘s rookie options this offseason, but the team passed on working out an extension with Brandon Knight. Knight isn’t a pure point guard and is much more comfortable as a scorer than as a ball-distributor. His turnover rate is extremely high this season at 4.0 per game, up from his career average of 2.7, but he’s only 22 years old, and is a dynamic offensive player. If Knight keeps up his averages of 17.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 6.9 APG, he’ll definitely garner interest when he becomes a restricted free agent next summer and could be costly for the Bucks to retain.

Thanks to their young, exciting core of players, the Bucks’ outlook is quite positive. A number of player-friendly contracts on the books will nonetheless hamper the franchise’s ability to improve over the next few seasons. Milwaukee has $46,849,680 in guaranteed salaries already committed for the 2015/16 season, and this doesn’t include a new deal for Knight, nor the $4.25MM salary for Jared Dudley, who has an early termination option for next season.

The Bucks agreed to tether themselves to Dudley’s 2015/16 salary in a trade that sent out Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica, both of whom had non-guaranteed salary for that season. It signaled a willingness to take some pains in the near future for the rare opportunity to net a first-round pick, the price the Clippers paid to facilitate the deal. The lottery-protected selection won’t come until 2017 at the earliest, and it will probably fall in the 20s barring an unlikely decline in Clipper fortunes over the next few years. It’s still quite a valuable asset to receive for some short-term cap burden, a future second-round pick and two players who weren’t contributing much. It’s a signal that new Bucks majority owners Wesley Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan are much more willing to focus on the future than longtime former owner Herb Kohl, who always seemed committed to competing in the near term, even if it mired the franchise in mediocrity.

Center Larry Sanders‘ $11MM annual salary is the most significant blight on the team’s balance sheet, and he is in no way worth that amount of money. The best hope the franchise has is if he can return to form and build up his trade value, though with Sanders averaging 5.9 points on 38.2% shooting, a horrid number for a 6’11” inside player, it will be extremely difficult to obtain anything of value for him.

The $16MM that the Bucks owe to O.J. Mayo between now and the end of 2015/16 isn’t helping the team, either. Mayo’s 12.1 PPG average isn’t setting the league on fire, and at 27 he’s not likely to break out anytime soon. The less-than-stellar contracts of Ersan Ilyasova ($7.9MM per year) and Zaza Pachulia ($5.2MM per year) are additional albatrosses the team will have to deal with through next season. Neither of those two big men are worth that chunk of cap space on a young rebuilding squad like the Bucks.

Another change worth noting for the Bucks this past offseason was the hiring of Jason Kidd as the new head coach after a courtship that took place while Larry Drew was still employed in the position. Bringing in Kidd cost Milwaukee 2015 and 2019 second-round draft picks, which were sent to Brooklyn as compensation. Kidd’s lone season in Brooklyn was anything but smooth, with the Nets organization seemingly all for parting ways despite the team making it to to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Kidd was reportedly pushing for more front office control in Brooklyn, something the team apparently wasn’t too keen on granting. Add that to the reports of locker room strife and it remains to be seen how Kidd will fare switching from a veteran-dominated team to a much younger squad. It is a much different task to develop players while losing than to step in and take over a team that was built with the intent to challenge for an NBA title.

Fortunes in Milwaukee aren’t likely to turn around this season, but the groundwork has been laid for incremental gains, and if the team continues to draft well and the young talent reaches its potential, Bucks fans will have more to cheer about in the coming years. It will nonetheless continue to be difficult to lure upper-tier free agent talent to the city, and the Bucks will need to rid themselves of a number of bloated contracts to make themselves more competitive for the second-level free agents that hit the market. But for now, Milwaukee can enjoy watching the development of Antetokounmpo and Parker. The team must pin its hopes on being able to sign them for the long term when their rookie deals are up, and that years of losing basketball don’t take a toll on their pair of gems in the meantime.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post. Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: LeBron, Waiters, Jennings, Knicks

November 8 at 6:42pm CST By Chris Crouse

LeBron James endorses Dion Waiters‘ new sixth man role for the Cavs, writes Chris Haynes of The Plain Dealer. “For the best of the team, that should be Dion’s role,” James said. “Dion comes off the bench and brings us that scoring mentality but more than that, he brings us another defender off the bench, which we need. Someone that’s tough, someone that can guard one through three. It’s a new role, but it’s a good role for him.” Waiters is beginning to embrace his role as well. “I got to do whatever I got to do for the better of the team,” Waiters said. “If it’s starting, if it’s coming off the bench, if it’s the water boy, I got to do it. Whatever is best for the team.” Some have suggested that Waiters was not ready to sacrifice for the betterment of the team; perhaps this is a step in the right direction for the Cavs.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • LeBron’s pleas for patience regarding the Cavs early season struggles go against a number of moves the organization has made this past offseason, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. If Cleveland was truly taking the long-view approach, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett  would still be on the roster instead of in Minnesota, and the team wouldn’t have added so many aging veterans, Winderman opines.
  • Brandon Jennings doesn’t dwell on his past with the Bucks, writes Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Gardner notes that Jennings could have had more success in Milwaukee if Andrew Bogut hadn’t gotten seriously injured during Jennings’ rookie year or if Monta Ellis hadn’t left the team in free agency. Both players are arguably in better situations than Jennings is after leaving the Bucks, but the point guard is being patient with the Pistons this season.  “I’m just staying positive,” Jennings said. “It’s a long season. We’re still trying to find our identity with a new coach, a new system. It’s definitely going to take time.”
  • The Knicks‘ early-season struggles are more about team chemistry than learning the triangle offense, opines Harvey Araton of The New York Times. Araton points out that missing Jose Calderon, who was set to be the team’s starting point guard, as well as the team’s lack of long-term options in the frontcourt hinders New York’s ability to implement the offense that Phil Jackson has won 11 titles with. The Knicks have no players at the center or power forward positions signed past this season with Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, Jason Smith, Quincy Acy, Travis Wear and Samuel Dalembert all set to become free agents at the end of the season.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.