Milwaukee Bucks

And-Ones: Williams, Davis, Bucks

The Mavericks have seen encouraging signs from Deron Williams during informal workouts, Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com tweets. Williams, who appears lean and quick, feels he has a lot to prove, MacMahon adds. Williams signed with the Mavs in July to be their starting point guard after he secured his release from the Nets via a buyout agreement. He received a two-year deal worth $10MM that includes a player option.

In other news around the league:

  • Anthony Davis said there was little doubt that he would sign an extension with the Pelicans rather than test the free agent waters, he told SLAM’s Christopher Cason in a Q&A session. “I knew I was going back to New Orleans,” he said. “I love the city, love what the team is doing and I have faith in the coaching staff and my teammates. It was an easy decision for me.”
  • An overflow crowd packed a Milwaukee City Hall meeting as the public was given its first opportunity to formally comment on a funding plan to build a new Bucks arena, Greg Moore of the Associated Press reports. Milwaukee Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux laid out how the city plans to generate its $47MM share of public funding for a new arena and entertainment district, primarily through special tax districts, Moore continues. While a majority of those who spoke favored the plan, a group called Common Ground questioned why the city would help pay for the project rather than invest in the neighborhood or school improvements, Moore adds.
  • The Celtics extended their exclusive affiliation with the D-League’s Maine Red Claws through the 2017/18 season, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reports. The Celtics became Maine’s lone affiliate and took over its basketball operations in 2012. Last season, the Celtics assigned a total of six players to the Red Claws, Himmelsbach adds.

Bucks To Sign Charlie Westbrook

The Bucks have reached an agreement with unrestricted free agent guard Charlie Westbrook, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link). The length and terms of the pact are not yet known, but it is likely a minimum salary training camp deal with little or no guaranteed money included, though that is merely my speculation.

Westbrook, 26, went undrafted back in 2012 out of South Dakota where he averaged 18.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.2 assists as a Senior. His slash line was .464/.389/.766. Westbrook was signed to a training camp deal by the Heat back in 2013, but was waived prior to the commencement of the regular season. He has since played overseas for both the Italian club Tezenis Verona and Hyères-Toulon of France, as well as stateside in the NBA D-League.

The addition of Westbrook will give the Bucks a roster count of 18, including 15 players possessing fully guaranteed deals. It’s highly unlikely that the 6’4″ shooting guard makes Milwaukee’s regular season roster given the team’s current depth chart, and the Bucks don’t have a one to one D-League affiliation currently, so stashing Westbrook there for a season isn’t an option.

Eastern Notes: Bucks, Arena, Nets

With a nucleus of young and mostly established players including Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe and John Henson, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders opines that there’s a strong chance the Bucks emerge this season as one of the top teams out of the Eastern Conference. Hamilton also adds that the young players respect head coach Jason Kidd, perhaps more than a veteran would, given Kidd’s age, and that should make winning come a bit easier for the team.

Here’s more out of the Eastern Conference:

  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who signed a bill that calls for $250MM of public financing for a new arena for the Bucks, called the proposed investment “fiscally responsible,” on NBC’s Meet the Press (h/t SI.com’s Chris Mannix). Walker has long backed the arena project and said when the bill emerged from the state legislature late last month that he’d sign it. The team must still arrange for a land sale with Milwaukee County and receive approval for construction from the Milwaukee Common Council, but Bucks executives have said that can take place between now and the fall.
  • After the worst statistical season since his second year in the league, Joe Johnson, judging from his physique in photos and videos posted on his Instagram feed, appears to be ready for this season, Robert Windrem of NetsDaily writes. Johnson, who was the subject of trade rumors earlier this summer, will likely start at shooting guard, according to Nets head coach Lionel Hollins.

Central Notes: Williams, Irving, Hilliard, Vaughn

The Cavaliers mostly stood pat this summer, but they spent the majority of their taxpayer’s mid-level exception on Mo Williams, and with Kyrie Irving‘s broken kneecap a threat to keep him out as late as January, that move looks wise, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders in his NBA AM piece. The Cavs, with Williams in place, aren’t rushing Irving back, and that’s wise, considering a growing history of injuries for the former No. 1 overall pick, Greene adds. See more from around the Central Division:

2015/16 Salary Cap: Milwaukee Bucks

The NBA’s salary cap for 2015/16 has been set at $70MM, which is an 11% increase from this past season, and the luxury tax line will be $84.74MM. The last cap projection from the league had been $67.1MM, and the projection for the tax line had been $81.6MM. We at Hoops Rumors are in the process of breaking down the cap commitments for each NBA franchise for the coming season. Next up on the list is the Milwaukee Bucks, who currently have a roster count totaling 17 players:

  • 2015/16 Salary Cap= $70,000,000
  • 2015/16 Luxury Tax Line= $84,740,000
  • Fully Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $71,376,460*
  • Partially Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $0
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $1,792,335
  • Total Salary Cap Commitments= $73,168,795
  • Remaining Cap Room= -$3,168,795
  • Amount Below Luxury Tax Line= $11,571,205

*Note: This amount includes the $1,865,546 owed to Larry Sanders, who was waived via the stretch provision.

Cap Exceptions Available:

  • Room Exception= $1,664,000

Cash Available to Send Out In Trades= $3,400,000

Cash Available to Receive Via Trade= $3,400,000

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Central Notes: Kaun, Henson, Landry, Dinwiddie

Former Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry knew patience would be necessary when he traded $300K in cash for the draft rights to Sasha Kaun in 2008, as he tells Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer. Still, Ferry had watched similar draft-and-stash prospects pay off when he was with the Spurs, and he sees Kaun, who’s finally coming to the Cavs, as a strong defender whose professional experience overseas has made him ready for the NBA.

“He will really help the Cavs,” Ferry said to Pluto. “He was a three-time Academic All-American at Kansas. He’s like a sponge. He soaks up everything the coaches tell him. The best thing he did was go and play for CSKA Moscow. It’s the elite level in Europe.”

Cleveland’s deal with Kaun reunites the center with Timofey Mozgov and coach David Blatt from the 2012 Russian Olympic team, Pluto notes. See more from around the Central Division:

  • The Bucks are ready to do a deal on a rookie scale extension for John Henson, but the sense from Henson’s camp is that they want to see what the market yields for other extension-eligible players, sources tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders for his NBA AM piece. We looked at Henson’s extension candidacy in depth earlier this month.
  • Recent Bucks signee Marcus Landry, a Milwaukee native, has long been a fan of the team, as he explains to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We still have so many things from Ray Allen and guys before Ray Allen,” Landry said. “We have a sign that my mom held onto. I have a pair of shoes I got from Ray Allen personally. We have a lot of memorabilia from coming to a Bucks game at a young age. It’s an overwhelming moment for me at times when I really sit back and think about it. It’s definitely going to be a great experience.”
  • The Pistons traded for Steve Blake after watching Spencer Dinwiddie struggle with turnovers in the summer league, but while a healthy Brandon Jennings would threaten to knock Dinwiddie further down the depth chart, last year’s 38th overall pick remains confident, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Dinwiddie is entering the final guaranteed season of his contract, one of 17 on the Pistons that includes a full guarantee for this year.

Hawks, Pelicans To Work Out Sean Kilpatrick

Former Timberwolves shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick will be a participant in workouts that the Hawks and Pelicans are set to conduct soon, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). The Lakers and Spurs previously worked him out, as Wolfson notes. The 25-year-old averaged 5.5 points in 17.9 minutes per game across four appearances while on a 10-day contract with Minnesota this past season.

Geography had a significant influence in on Minnesota’s decision to sign the former University of Cincinnati standout, since he was close to New York, where the Wolves were set to play the Knicks without the minimum eight healthy players. Still, he saw plenty of playing time during the 10-day stint and seems to be attracting no shortage of attention from other NBA clubs now. He was on the Bucks summer league squad last month and spent time with the D-League affiliates of the Warriors and Sixers this past season.

The Lakers and Hawks have the $2.814MM room exception to spend, while the Pelicans have their $2.139MM biannual exception and the Spurs are limited to paying no more than the minimum. An all-out bidding war for Kilpatrick seems unlikely, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the interest from multiple teams results in a guaranteed deal of some kind, though that’s just my speculation.

Which team do you think would make the most sense for Kilpatrick? Leave a comment to tell us.

And-Ones: Ross, Bucks, Max Salaries

The Raptors, who on Thursday signed Jonas Valanciunas to a four-year, $64MM extension, have had talks with representatives for Terrence Ross about an extension of his own, GM Masai Ujiri said, according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link). Wolstat reported last month that the team would seek extensions for both, though it’s clear that Valanciunas was the first priority. Still, the Raptors and the Aaron Mintz client have plenty of time in advance of the deadline, which would be November 2nd this year instead of the traditional October 31st, since Halloween falls on a Saturday. See more from around the NBA:

  • The Bucks see a half-dozen of their players as long-term building blocks, and while that’s a broader view of a nucleus than many teams take, it’s one that can give all six the feeling that the team values them, as Frank Madden of SB Nation’s Brew Hoop examines. “We’re trying to build around some kind of consistency with the nucleus of Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe and John Henson,” GM John Hammond said on The Baseline with Warren Shaw and Cal Lee (audio link), as Madden transcribes. “Those six guys are the young core that we look and say that’s kind of the future of this organization, and that’s not discounting anyone else. Other players have to step [up] and become a part of that group with us. But those guys are the group we hope we can build some kind of continuity with.”
  • John Wall pointed earlier this summer to Reggie Jackson‘s new five-year, $80MM contract with the Pistons as proof that the Wizards didn’t pay too much when they inked Wall to a deal for a similar amount in 2013, and Wall said recently to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that some signings are out of line. “But I know when I got my $80MM, they said I didn’t deserve it. Now guys are getting it and they’re not saying anything about it,” Wall said in part. “I’m never knocking those guys because they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to get that money and take care of your family and get better. I just [criticized max deals] because they made a big deal about me getting $80MM, and now people are getting $80MM, $95MM and they don’t deserve it.”
  • Blake Griffin was the only one of the five stars Berger spoke to for his piece who lent much support to the idea of shortening the regular season. “Money is an object, though,” said Griffin’s teammate Chris Paul, who serves as president of the players association. “When we were kids playing AAU, we’d play five games in a day and wouldn’t think twice about it. I don’t know what the right number is. We’ve been playing 82 for a while though, huh? As far as I can remember. That’d be tough [to change].”

Central Notes: Thompson, Landry, Kukoc

Negotiations between the Cavaliers and Tristan Thompson aren’t as contentious as they may seem, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes in his NBA AM piece. It simply comes down to Thompson’s desire for a deal approaching the max and the Cavs’ desire to curb their tax bill, as Kyler explains. Indeed, the sides aren’t as far apart financially as it seems, a league source said to Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops last week, as Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops relays. Thompson doesn’t appear eager to take the team’s qualifying offer and push the possibility of a larger payday back to next year, but insurance policies are available that Thompson could buy if he fears he wouldn’t get the kind of deal he’d be seeking in 2016, Kyler points out. See more from around the Central Division:

  • Marcus Landry‘s new contract with the Bucks is for one year at the minimum salary and is non-guaranteed, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). It has limited injury protection, Pincus adds, so that would indicate that it’s an Exhibit 9 contract that would hold Milwaukee responsible for no more than $6K should Landry get hurt while playing for the team. “It’s not impossible to make [the regular season roster],’’ Landry told Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. “Guys get traded, teams make moves. I just have to hold up my end of the deal. I’m what they like to call a gym rat and I’m going to try to be in their gym as much as I can though training camp. I’m excited for this opportunity, very excited.’’
  • Playing for the Bucks is a “dream come true” for Landry, as the Milwaukee native also told Woelfel for the same piece. Landry made it clear to agent Keith Kreiter that he he wanted to play for his hometown team, and Kreiter worked with the Bucks over several weeks to engineer a deal, Woelfel writes.
  • The Bulls have hired Toni Kukoc as a special adviser to president and COO Michael Reinsdorf, the team announced. Kukoc’s duties will be wide-ranging and include “relating to the international players on our team.” The native of Croatia joins former teammate Scottie Pippen, who holds the same title for the organization.

Column: Do Bucks Stop Here? Doesn’t Seem Like It

Sam Amico, the founder and editor of AmicoHoops.net and a broadcast journalist for Fox Sports Ohio, will write a weekly feature for Hoops Rumors with news, rumors and insight from around the NBA. If you missed last week’s edition, click here.
When the Milwaukee Bucks take the floor this season, they’ll be a different team. Yes, Jason Kidd returns as coach.
Yes, the roster largely remains the same.
And yes, the Bucks will still be a mostly young group that is trying to find its way.
But the vibe will be different.
Kidd is entering his second season with the team, his third as a coach. The main players have gotten a taste of the playoffs — and anyone in any NBA capacity will tell you that alone counts for a lot. And the Bucks are no longer just athletic. Experience has made them smarter.
Last season, the Bucks were the surprise of the league. They jumped from 15 wins in 2013/14 to finish a respectable 41-41. They moved the ball on offense, bent their knees and shuffled their feet on defense, and much to the highlight shows’ delight, occasionally glided through the air with the greatest of ease.
Now, they get Jabari Parker back.
The second-year forward and No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft averaged 12.3 points on 49% shooting in just 25 games — before tearing his ACL and being stuck on the sidelines for the rest of the season.
Now, they’ve added Greg Monroe — and the free-agent signee from Detroit is likely to start and bring sturdiness to the center position right away.
The Bucks will also have starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams from the beginning. That’s something they couldn’t say last season — as Carter-Williams wasn’t part of the team until a deadline-day trade at the end of February.
Along with Carter-Williams, Monroe and Parker, the Bucks boast the forever-energetic Giannis Antetokounmpo and forever-underrated Khris Middleton on the wings.
It’s true that this is a lineup devoid of true-blue superstars, or the type of players that will make the media circus long to set up camp in Milwaukee.
But suddenly, this is a team worthy of everyone’s attention.
“They’re not a secret anymore,” Kidd said of his team.
Of course, he said that following a disaster of a 120-66 defeat to the Chicago Bulls — a game that eliminated the Bucks from the first round of the playoffs and sent them into the offseason with a whimper.
But that, of course, followed the Bucks winning two straight and staying alive after a 3-0 series hole.
Basically, the Bucks behaved like the young, talented and fairly inconsistent team they were.
Still, as mentioned previously, merely tasting the postseason tends to make guys feel better, and more confident, when training camp gets going.
“We got better,” Kidd said. “The whole experience of being in the playoffs, you can’t take that away from those guys, no matter if you lose by 40 or you lose by one.”
Off the bench come the likes of big men John Henson, Johnny O’Bryant and Miles Plumlee, along with veteran guards O.J. Mayo and Greivis Vasquez (obtained in a June trade with the Raptors), as well as free agent signee Chris Copeland at forward.
The Bucks are also excited about the potential of first-round pick Rashad Vaughn — a fairly athletic shooting guard and former McDonald’s All-American who spent one season at UNLV.
Do the Bucks having the makings of a champion? Not yet. Not in this league, where veteran teams with playoff savvy are always the ones playing at the end.
But these Bucks are climbing, they’re exciting, and they will enter the season with a better idea of how to get to where they need to go.
They will be different, for sure. But that’s OK. It will most likely be in a good way.
More Bucks stuff
1. ESPN began its summer forecast and projected the Bucks to win 44 games and finish seventh in the Eastern Conference. That’s three more victories than last season, but one less spot – as the Bucks were the East’s No. 6 seed this past spring.
2. With new owners promising a new arena, as long as public funding is finalized, it appears the Bucks are in Milwaukee for the long haul. That said, here’s an interesting story from Michael Powell in The New York Times that uses Milwaukee as an example of “all that is wrong with our arena-shakedown age.”
3. Finally, the Bucks signed hometown guy Marcus Landry, a 29-year old forward. Landry has spent most of his career overseas or in the D-League. He played his high school ball in Milwaukee and his college ball at the University of Wisconsin. He is also the brother of NBA forward Carl Landry, a member of the Sixers who has spent eight years in the league. It would seem Marcus will have a difficult time sticking on a roster that’s deep and basically set. But if there’s one thing this team could use, it’s an older guy.

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