Milwaukee Bucks

Central Notes: James, Jackson, Bucks

LeBron James won’t begin contract talks with the Cavaliers until negotiations with Tristan Thompson are completed, tweets Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Cleveland is trying to reach a new deal with the 24-year-old, but talks are currently stalled. Thompson and the Cavaliers discussed a deal this week worth more than $80MM.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Free agent guard Reggie Jackson was part of the crowd for the Pistons‘ summer league opener today in Orlando, writes Terry Foster of The Detroit News. Coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said there is no indication Jackson is negotiating with other teams and the team hopes to meet with him soon to work out a new contract. He took Jackson’s presence today as a positive step. “It is a sign he wants to be here,” Van Gundy said.
  • After they agreed to terms with Greg Monroe earlier this week, Zach Lowe of Grantland believes the Bucks will look to trade away one of their frontcourt players.
  • The agreement between Khris Middleton and the Bucks came together so fast that other teams didn’t even get a real chance to speak with the 23-year-old, Lowe writes in a separate piece.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post

Eastern Notes: Johnson, Watson, Dellavedova

The Nets have been actively shopping veteran forward Joe Johnson over the past few days, Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com relays (on Twitter). Brooklyn hasn’t had much luck in finding a taker, as teams are leery of taking on Johnson’s $24,894,863 salary for the 2015/16 campaign, which is the final year of his deal, as well as gutting their rosters to acquire the 34-year-old, Mazzeo adds.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Wizards refused to compromise their salary cap space for the summer of 2016, when Kevin Durant is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent, in order to re-sign veteran Paul Pierce, J. Michael of CSNWashington.com writes. This was the same stance the franchise took regarding Trevor Ariza, who ended up signing with the Rockets last summer, Michael notes. Pierce agreed to a three-year, approximately $10MM deal with the Clippers this week.
  • The Cavaliers and free agent point guard Matthew Dellavedova are making progress in their discussions to bring the Australian back to Cleveland next season, Shams Charania of RealGM tweets. Dellavedova is seeking a multiyear deal in the $3MM-$5MM range annually, Charania adds.
  • The Wizards have expressed interest in free agent guard C.J. Watson, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post notes (Twitter link). Watson is intent on signing for the mid-level exception, which is not necessarily what Washington is currently offering, Michael tweets.
  • Greg Monroe chose to sign with the Bucks because they were the most playoff ready team of all his suitors, Howard Beck of Bleacher Report tweets.
  • The Wizards could be a potential landing spot for free agent forward Chris Copeland, tweets Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report. Washington is also reportedly in discussions with the Bucks regarding a trade for Jared Dudley.
  • Prior to reaching an agreement on his five-year, $90MM deal with the Heat, Goran Dragic asked team president Pat Riley how he could be flexible to aid the franchise in retaining Dwyane Wade, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com writes (on Twitter). Wade and Miami agreed to a one-year, $20MM arrangement earlier today.

Wizards Close To Acquiring Jared Dudley

The Wizards are closing in on a deal that would net them Jared Dudley of the Bucks, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). Washington is expected to use a trade exception to accommodate Dudley’s contract, and are expected to ship out a protected second round pick in return, Stein adds. The Wizards own a pair of trade exceptions, $2.3MM and $4.6M, and Dudley is set to earn $4.25MM in 2015/16, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (via Twitter).

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Washington has a void at small forward in the wake of Paul Pierce taking his game to the Clippers on a free agent deal. Dudley can certainly help fill that void, as well as provide the Wizards’ young roster with a veteran presence. The 29-year-old appeared in 72 games for Milwaukee last season, averaging 7.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists, with a shooting line of .468/.385/.716. His career stats through 595 games are 8.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 1.5 APG. His career slash line is .468/.396./.736.

Dudley, who turns 30 on July 10th, came to the Bucks in a deal last August with the Clippers. At the time, he wasn’t happy with the move, but he said back in March that he eventually became comfortable in Milwaukee, thanks in part to Jason Kidd‘s coaching style. The forward opted in for next season, and he and the Bucks were expected to work out a long-term arrangement. The veteran appreciated that the Bucks provided him an opportunity to showcase his abilities when healthy. “The trade [to Milwaukee] was the best thing for my career, where I got with a training staff that got me healthy and when I’m healthy, I’m the player you see now and the player you saw in Phoenix,” said Dudley, who claimed that he played the entire 2013/14 season with a fracture in his right knee at the request of Doc Rivers.

Bucks To Sign Greg Monroe To Max

11:40am: Falk strongly denies to Marc Berman of the New York Post that the Knicks didn’t offer the max (Twitter links), and confirms to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that the Lakers and Blazers did, too, with Milwaukee’s playoff-readiness at the heart of Monroe’s decision (Twitter link).

10:37am: The Knicks, Lakers and Blazers also offered the max, as Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck hears, so that’s conflicting information on New York’s offer (Twitter link). The max for three years will be an estimated $50MM, as Wojnarowski pegs it in his full story.

9:20am: It’ll be a three-year contract with a player option on the final season, Wojnarowski tweets. Monroe will be eligible for a higher max bracket in two years, just as the salary cap is projected to reach its peak.

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

9:02am: Greg Monroe will sign a maximum-salary contract with the Bucks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The David Falk client was to meet with the Knicks, who long appeared the front-runners for him, as well as the Lakers and Blazers. The Knicks didn’t offer the max to Monroe, as USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt hears, perhaps explaining why he didn’t end up in New York (Twitter link). He’ll make about $16MM this coming season on a max deal, though it’s not immediately clear how long the contract, which can’t become official until the July Moratorium ends next week, will run.

Milwaukee has reportedly been keen on signing a marquee center, having eyed Tyson Chandler and Brook Lopez, among others, and Monroe, No. 7 on our Free Agent Power Rankings from last month, fits the bill. The Bucks will have to sign him using cap room, meaning his deal will almost certainly become official before Khris Middleton’s reported five-year, $70MM pact does, since Middleton’s cap hold will balloon from $2.725MM to eight figures once he signs.

It’s no surprise that Monroe is leaving the Pistons, as even though Falk and Monroe insisted that Detroit had a shot to keep him, with Monroe going so far as to say the Pistons had the “upper hand” at one point, it seemed a strong bet that he’d leave ever since he signed his qualifying offer from the Pistons last year. The Pistons reportedly offered less than the max when Monroe was a restricted free agent in 2014, so it appears his gamble paid off. I thought he’d at least come close to the max when I examined his free agent stock this past spring.

Grizzlies, Marc Gasol Progress Toward Deal

Marc Gasol‘s preference is to sign a five-year deal for the max with the Grizzlies, and as the Arn Tellem client and the Grizzlies continue to hammer out the structure of a would-be deal, other teams have given up pursuit, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The Spurs, who appeared to have the best shot to lure him from the Grizzlies, as well as the Lakers, Knicks and Bucks all scuttled plans to chase him before free agency began, convinced he would stay in Memphis, as Stein details.

It’s likely that Gasol will re-sign with the Grizzlies today, as TNT’s David Aldridge reported Wednesday, and Stein wrote earlier this week that the 30-year-old center didn’t plan to meet with other teams. Grizzlies owner Robert Pera was among a contingent of Grizzlies higher-ups who traveled to Spain to ensure Gasol is formally on board with staying.

The seven-year veteran is No. 4 in our Free Agent Power Rankings. He’s eligible for a starting salary worth about 30% of the salary cap, or roughly $19MM, with 7.5% raises from the Grizzlies.

Latest On Enes Kanter

10:45am: The Knicks have been in contact with Kanter, though not today, TNT’s David Aldridge tweets, pointing to Robin Lopez as a more likely target for New York.

11:13am: Both Kanter and the Thunder are eager to complete a deal, as Royce Young of ESPN.com hears (Twitter link).

WEDNESDAY, 12:55am: The Blazers are keeping an eye on Kanter’s situation and might want to talk to him, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.

TUESDAY, 1:49pm: The Thunder will meet with Enes Kanter Wednesday in Chicago to discuss a potential deal running three or four years in length with salaries that could reach the max if he triggers incentives, reports Shams Charania of RealGM. Kanter will give Oklahoma City the first crack at the restricted free agent before he seeks offer sheets from other teams, as Charania details. The Mavericks may be one of several teams with interest in luring him away, sources tell Charania.

However, the Bucks have yet to express interest, Charania writes, which contradicts an earlier report from Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Kennedy clarifies that the Bucks, as well as the Celtics, have Kanter down their list of priorities, though there is still some interest from those teams (Twitter link).

Kanter put up impressive numbers with the Thunder following the trade that brought him in from Utah, and Oklahoma City is committed to re-signing him, as GM Sam Presti recently told Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman.

Latest On Tyson Chandler

WEDNESDAY, 1:14pm: The Bucks look like a decreasingly likely destination for Chandler, reports Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com (Twitter link), as do the Mavs, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (on Twitter), leaving the Clippers and Lakers in better position, Stein says.

TUESDAY, 10:37pm: The Lakers are the latest team with interest in Tyson Chandler, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck heard chatter earlier today about Chandler and Kevin Love joining the Lakers in tandem. Love is meeting with the Lakers this week, as Broussard also reports.

The other Los Angeles team has interest in a sign-and-trade for Chandler if DeAndre Jordan bolts, as Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com wrote this evening, advancing an earlier report from Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com that the Mavs were pondering such a move. The Mavs would like to re-sign Chandler if they miss out on Jordan, as MacMahon has detailed, but Milwaukee and Chandler have mutual interest, according to Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times.

Chandler is finishing up a contract that paid him nearly $14.847MM with Dallas this past season. He’s a client of Jeff Schwartz, who’s represented Bucks coach Jason Kidd. The Lakers are dreaming of signing both LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan, so Chandler would presumably be down their list of priorities.

Bucks To Re-Sign Khris Middleton

9:46am: Milwaukee and the Mike Lindeman client indeed have an agreement, reports Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press.

2:28am: The Bucks and restricted free agent Khris Middleton are close to signing a new deal, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports. The proposed arrangement will be for five years, and $70MM, Stein notes. The deal will include a player option for the fifth year, adds Stein. Milwaukee had tendered Middleton a qualifying offer worth $2.275MM, and would have had the right to match any offer sheet the forward were to sign with another franchise.

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

It doesn’t come as a shock that Middleton will return to Milwaukee, as the Bucks were set to match any offer sheets for the restricted free agent, according to a previous report by Stein. The ESPN scribe had pegged the degree of certainty that Middleton would be back with the Bucks in 2015/16 as a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. Retaining Middleton and signing a big man in free agency are Milwaukee’s top two offseason priorities, Stein adds (via Twitter).

Middleton’s proposed deal would be for less then the league maximum, but not by much. A league executive had told Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that the young forward would draw an offer of around $15MM annually, with the max being an estimated $15.8MM for a player with his experience level, while another executive told Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times that he doubted Middleton would command that amount, and estimated the 23-year-old would only receive $9MM per year on his next deal. Deveney’s estimation was closer, with Middleton’s average annual salary on the pact coming in at approximately $14MM per season.

In 79 appearances this past campaign, including 58 as a starter, Middleton averaged 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 30.1 minutes per night. His career numbers are 11.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 2.0 APG, with a shooting line of .453/.403/.858.

Raptors, Lakers, Mavs, Bucks Eye Iman Shumpert

1:03am: The Suns have liked Shumpert for a while and might get in the mix for him, too, Kennedy adds on Twitter.

12:05pm: The Raptors also have interest, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter).

11:35am: The Lakers, Mavericks and Bucks are interested in Iman Shumpert, sources tell Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The shooting guard will become a restricted free agent Wednesday after the Cavaliers tendered a qualifying offer to him on Monday. Six teams have already expressed interest in Shumpert and league executives believe he’ll command a deal that will pay him better than $8MM a year, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported, and as we passed along in our Offseason Outlook for the Cavs.

Cleveland GM David Griffin has expressed interest in keeping his team together, and LeBron James would reportedly like the team to re-sign Shumpert. Inking him to a new deal or matching an offer sheet from another team would add to the projected tax bill for the Cavs, who’ve already had internal discussions about a $100-110MM payroll, with tax payments perhaps exceeding $75MM, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported.

Eastern Rumors: Pierce, Bass, Chandler

The Wizards‘ wish list in free agency will hinge heavily on what happens with Paul Pierce, Jorge Castillo off The Washington Post writes.   Pierce can re-sign with Washington for 120% of what he earned during last season, about $6.6MM.  It’s not clear how long the Wizards will wait for Pierce to make a call, however.  It’s conceivable that Pierce could be drawn to a Celtics return or a reunion with Doc Rivers in Los Angeles. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference..

  • The agent for Celtics forward Brandon Bass’s agent tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe there have been indications that numerous teams will have interest in his client.  However, Tony Dutt also says there’s mutual interest in a return.  “I think Brad [Stevens] and Danny [Ainge] understand the value of what Brandon brings,” Dutt said. “He loves Boston, and if it works out for him to stay there, we’d be more than happy.”  Bass averaged 10.6 PPG and 4.9 RPG per game last season.
  • Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter) notes that Tyson Chandler and coach Jason Kidd are both represented by Excel Sports.  In addition to Kidd, many Bucks players are also represented by Excel, as shown in the Hoops Rumors Agency Database.  Earlier today it was reported that there is mutual interest between Chandler and the Bucks.
  • Hawks free agent shooting guard John Jenkins has left BDA Sports Management, according to Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders.  Jenkins appeared in just 37 games the past two seasons after playing in 61 contests as a rookie in 2012/13.  The former first-round pick has posted averages of 5.6 PPG and 1.6 RPG while connecting on 38 percent of his shots from three-point range.
  • The Hawks announced that guard Kyle Korver is expected to be ready for training camp after having right elbow surgery to remove loose bodies today, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter).
  • Rumors about Rodney Stuckey‘s perceived bad attitude hurt his stock during last summer’s free agency, league sources tell Candace Buckner of the Indy Star. “Moody, can’t be coached, bad guy, can’t win with him,” said an Eastern Conference insider, repeating the circulated gossip. “Anybody that really knows him, would know … he’s one of the most misunderstood guys in the league.”  Buckner hears that at least five teams have expressed interest in speaking with Stuckey, who flourished this past season with the Pacers.
  • With Greg Monroe headed elsewhere, the Pistons will need to add two backup centers this summer, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press writes.  The Pistons won’t be spending big on backup fives, but they could be looking at guys like Brandan Wright, Kosta Koufos, or maybe even Omer Asik, Ellis writes.  GM Jeff Bower confirmed that he wants to have six bigs and not five next season.
  • The Raptors didn’t send back any salary to the Thunder in the trade that brought in Luke Ridnour, so they had to use one of their trade exceptions. Their $2.358MM exception for John Salmons, which expires tonight, wasn’t quite large enough for Ridnour’s $2.75MM salary, so they either used part of their $3,445,947 Steve Novak trade exception, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders surmises (on Twitter), or, in a less likely scenario, part of the $6.4MM trade exception they created just last week in the Greivis Vasquez deal.
  • Travis Wear will play on the Knicks‘ summer league team and probably will be invited to training camp unless he gets a guaranteed offer elsewhere, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.