Milwaukee Bucks Rumors

Milwaukee Bucks trade, free agent, and draft rumors, updated constantly by the NBA experts at HoopsRumors.com.

Central Notes: Sloan, Blatt, Ennis

February 28 at 3:26pm CST By Chris Crouse

Donald Sloan has proven to be a valuable find for the Pacers this season, writes Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders. Brigham compares Sloan’s path to the NBA to Hassan Whiteside‘s path. Both players came into the league with Sacramento in 2010, both spent time playing in the D-League and this season, both are playing major roles on their respective teams. Sloan hasn’t quite been as dominant as Whiteside, but the 27-year-old has started 21 games for Indiana this season. The Pacers are 24-34 on the season and currently own the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Sloan will become an unrestricted free agent after this season, in which he is making slightly more than $948K. The Texas A&M product is averaging 13.6 points, 6.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds per 36 minutes this year and with numbers like that, he should expect a raise on his minimum salary arrangement, although that is just my speculation.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Cavs coach David Blatt almost ended up as an assistant on Steve Kerr‘s staff in Golden State, but despite some early season difficulties, Blatt is happy to be in Cleveland, Chris Fedor of The Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. “Once I had the opportunity to come to the Cavaliers I really didn’t feel any regret,” Blatt said. “It’s really through the good graces of Steve Kerr and the Golden State staff that I had the opportunity to interview for the job and they were willing to let me follow this path. I still hold a really good feeling of appreciation for the way they handled that situation. It’s turned out pretty good for both sides.”
  • Blatt heard all of the criticism levied at him when the Cavs began the season slowly, but he never felt the need to validate his coaching credentials, Fedor adds. “I’ve been a head coach for 22 years,” Blatt said. “People overlook that too easily and I think unfairly. I know I’m the new kid on the block in the NBA and I recognize the greatness of this league and the difficulty of this league and the fact that I’ve had to make, and am still going through the adjustment to coach in this league, but I am not now, nor have I been for quite some time, a rookie coach.”
  • New addition Tyler Ennis was excited about coming to Milwaukee and is happy with his increased playing time, writes Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel. Ennis has played 88 minutes in his first five games with the Bucks after seeing only 58 minutes of NBA action during his time with the Suns this season.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post

Central Notes: Sanders, Perkins, Pistons

February 27 at 4:10pm CST By Chuck Myron

Larry Sanders had a clause in his contract that would have allowed him to continue to be paid if he didn’t play for the Bucks as long as he received mental health treatment, according to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com. Sanders this week acknowledged checking into a hospital to take part in a program for anxiety, depression and mood disorders, but Arnovitz indicates that he’s no longer in that facility, having departed shortly before he arranged his buyout from the Bucks. Before that, Sanders had broken off contact with the team, which nearly suspended him before the league did last month, Arnovitz also hears. One source who spoke with Arnovitz backed up a December report that Sanders was considering retirement, one Sanders quickly denied, though the center this week hinted that he might not play again. While we wait to see if Sanders can overcome his troubles and return to the NBA, here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers pursued Kendrick Perkins even after he’d already committed to the Cavs, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com said today in an appearance on ESPN Cleveland radio (audio link at 32:10 mark).
  • It’s doubtful that Brandon Jennings and Reggie Jackson both remain Pistons long-term, tweets Keith Langlois of Pistons.com, who nonetheless believes it’s a distinct possibility that the two of them are still on the team next season.
  • The Pistons lavished more money on Jodie Meeks than they did with any of the team’s other free agent signees last summer in large measure for his outside shooting, but the slumping Meeks is knocking down a career-worst 30.1% of his three-point attempts, MLive’s David Mayo notes. Coach/executive Stan Van Gundy doesn’t regret failing to hire a shooting coach this summer but said he’ll consider it for next season, according to Mayo.

Eastern Notes: Knight, Thibodeau, Antic

February 25 at 6:27pm CST By Dana Gauruder

Brandon Knight‘s price tag as a restricted free agent was a good reason for the Bucks to trade him to the Suns, Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders believes. Knight will likely receive offer sheets in the range of $13MM-$15.9MM annually this summer after he was unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension with the club last fall, Duncan adds. Michael Carter-Williams, who was acquired from Philadelphia to take Knight’s spot, is on a rookie contract through the 2016/17 season and has more upside, Duncan opines.

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • The acquisition of Carter-Williams could hurt the Bucks in the short run but improves their flexibility this summer, Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. The move gives them a young core of Carter-Williams, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, and they have approximately $15MM in salary cap space to make another major move, Gardiner adds.
  • Four-year NBA veteran Daniel Orton has turned down offers from overseas after returning from his stint in the Philippines and is holding out for an NBA deal, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Orton was with the Wizards during preseason.
  • Derrick Rose‘s latest knee injury could lead to Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s departure, according to Nancy Armour of USA Today. Thibodeau’s relationship with Bulls management was already strained, Armour reveals, and Rose is one of his most fervent supporters. Losing Rose for perhaps the rest of the season could lead to Thibodeau, who has two years left on his contract, and the team cutting ties, Armour opines.
  • The Hawks will try to re-sign  Pero Antic when he becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Antic has struggled with his shooting in a reserve role this season, averaging 28.7% on three-point attempts, but that hasn’t changed the Hawks’ thinking, Vivlamore adds.
  • Magic COO Alex Martins says the team will not interview head coaching candidates until after season, Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. James Borrego is the interim coach for the remainder of the season after Jacque Vaughn was fired earlier this month.
  • Forest City Enterprises, the Ratner parent company,  confirms it’s looking to sell its shares in Nets and Barclays Center, NetsDaily tweets. Bruce Ratner is a minority owner of the Nets after selling 80% of the club to Mikhail Prokhorov in 2010.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Knight, Perkins, Kerr

February 25 at 4:31pm CST By Eddie Scarito

The Suns were already planning to a hard push for Brandon Knight in free agency before they traded for him at last week’s deadline, according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, who writes amid a chat with readers. Phoenix was willing to trade the rights to the Lakers’ top-five protected first-round pick to Milwaukee for Knight, but the Bucks decided instead to take a package that included Michael Carter-Williams from the Sixers in what ended up a three-way deal, Ford adds.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • It was tough for Kendrick Perkins to turn down former coach Doc Rivers and the Clippers, but a pitch from LeBron James was too tempting to pass up, notes Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “He was real honest with me,” Perkins said of Rivers. “He told me, ‘I think your best two situations right now is either us or Cleveland.’ So I was like, ‘Doc? Or I have a chance to go play with The King [LeBron James]. Doc? The King? Uh, I choose The King.”
  • New Kings assistant coach Vance Walberg is being counted on to bring creativity to Sacramento’s offense, which is something the team was looking for when it fired former coach Mike Malone, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes.
  • The hiring of Steve Kerr as coach was the final ingredient needed to change the Warriors from a one-and-done playoff team into a title contender, Chris Ballard of SI.com writes. Ballard also runs down how GM Bob Myers constructed the rest of the team’s roster, which is currently an NBA best 44-10.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Financial Impact Of Deadline Trades: Central

February 25 at 10:58am CST By Chuck Myron

Last week’s trade deadline was a dizzying affair, with 39 players and 17 teams involved in adozen trades, including a trio of three-team transactions. The day had wide-ranging effects on the salary structures of those 17 teams, and we’ll examine the aftermath for each of them in this multipart series.

Today we’ll look at the Central Division, where a pair of teams made fairly significant moves. The salary figures listed here denote this season’s salaries, though we’ll also discuss salary for future seasons.

Detroit Pistons

In: ($9,912,234)

Out: ($10,340,000)

The Pistons pulled the rare trifecta of lowering their payroll for this season and clearing $3MM from their books for next season while adding a player who’s more well-regarded than any they gave up. Detroit accomplished much of this in its side of the three-team swap with the Thunder and Jazz, relinquishing D.J. Augustin and his $3MM guaranteed salary for next season along with Kyle Singler‘s expiring contract for soon-to-be restricted free agent Reggie Jackson. Of course, the team will have to pay to keep Jackson this summer. However, the way president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy and GM Jeff Bower structured the trade left the team with only about $27.9MM in commitments for this summer’s efforts to re-sign Jackson and Greg Monroe.

It also allowed the Pistons to create a trade exception worth the equivalent of Singler’s $1,090,000 salary, since the salaries for Jackson and Augustin are a close match. It also appears as though the Pistons could have created a smaller exception worth $795,631 for the difference between Augustin’s and Jackson’s salaries. Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders shows the Singler exception but no Augustin exception on his Pistons salary page, so it’s possible Detroit wound up without that one. Still, such an asset, which comes to less than the two-year veteran’s minimum salary, would be unlikely to come into play.

Jackson goes to a team willing to give him the starting point guard job he’s coveted, at least until Brandon Jennings comes back healthy next season, and that role carries a side benefit for Jackson, too. The trade makes it highly likely that he’ll trigger the starter criteria to lift the value of his qualifying offer from nearly $3.223MM to almost $4.434MM. He was reportedly willing to sign that qualifying offer while he was a member of the Thunder, but it nonetheless appears as though it won’t come to that for him in Detroit, which just watched Monroe ink his qualifying offer last year.

Detroit’s other trade was a shuffling of expiring deals, with Tayshaun Prince coming in and Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome going out. Any long-lasting financial effect depends on whether the Pistons want to bring Prince back for next season, which his outsized cap hold would complicate.

Milwaukee Bucks

In: ($5,060,640)

Out: ($4,469,160)

The Bucks take a collaborative approach to player personnel, with coach Jason Kidd having as much say as GM John Hammond, but it seems clear that they both understand the value of the rookie scale contract. Yes, Milwaukee gave up a productive player on one of those bargain deals, but they gained three other promising young players, and unlike Brandon Knight, all three new Bucks have at least one season left after this one on their contracts. Knight is headed for restricted free agency this summer, and Grantland’s Zach Lowe estimated in December that he’d wind up with a deal that gives him $10-12MM per year. Michael Carter-Williams, Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis combine to make $6,170,694 next season. Carter-Williams is under contract through 2016/17, and Ennis, a rookie, can’t elect free agency until 2018, meaning there’s long-term cost-certainty at discount prices.

The flip side is that all three represent guaranteed salary on the books while Knight’s restricted free agency would have given the Bucks flexibility if they wanted to pivot in another direction. Yet that’s offset by the team’s buyout with Larry Sanders. It looks like they reduced his salary to $9MM this season and will owe him only $4.4MM next season and each year through 2017/18, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). That’s instead of the yearly $11MM payout he was to receive. Sanders gave up enough in the buyout deal that it appears as though the team eschewed the stretch provision, which would have allowed Milwaukee to take seven years instead of three to pay off his contract.

So, the team entered the deadline with roughly $46.6MM in commitments for next season and emerged from this weekend, when Sanders’ buyout became official, with about $46.4MM in money on the books for 2015/16, essentially a wash. The Bucks, who appear poised to do more than just sneak into the playoffs this spring, have a chance to be a significant player this summer, with near-max money to burn against a projected $68MM cap.

The team felt a twinge of pain in parting with Kendall Marshall, a move it was reluctant to make, since that cost Milwaukee the Early Bird rights to a 23-year-old former lottery pick who’s only a year removed from having averaged 8.8 assists per game. However, his value presumably took a hit in January when a torn ACL knocked him out for the season, and so long as another team doesn’t sign him to a multiyear deal before the Bucks become eligible to sign him again in July, Milwaukee can just use its cap space if it wants to bring him back.

The Bucks don’t receive any trade exceptions since they’re still under this season’s cap. The team’s amnesty payout to Drew Gooden of more than $6.687MM, which counts toward the minimum team salary, helps ensure Milwaukee will exceed the $56.759MM threshold.

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

Larry Sanders Casts Doubt On Return To NBA

February 25 at 9:42am CST By Chuck Myron

Larry Sanders revealed in a self-authored piece on The Players’ Tribune that he recently checked himself into a hospital where he took part in a program for anxiety, depression and mood disorders, and he used “if” and not “when” in reference to a return to basketball. The former Bucks center is a free agent after clearing waivers Monday from a buyout deal with Milwaukee.

“I love basketball, and if I get to a point where I feel I’m capable of playing basketball again, I will,” Sanders wrote. “I’ve had to make the difficult decision to follow my intuition, and allow myself the space and time to explore my true purpose in life.”

In January, Sanders denied a report from Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times that he was thinking about retirement amid an absence that began following his last appearance in a game on December 23rd.  The center indicated in the video portion of his Players’ Tribune piece that the Bucks organization wasn’t the impetus behind his desire to depart. The 26-year-old reportedly has no intention to sign with an NBA team this season, though the Mavericks and Clippers were among the teams with at least some level of interest in signing him.

The center signed a four-year, $44MM rookie scale extension with the Bucks in 2013, but it didn’t kick in until this season. He forfeited all but $22,064,705 of it in the buyout deal, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Sanders downplayed the importance of money in his essay and suggested in the video that he has numerous priorities other than basketball.

“I’m a person, I’m a father, I’m an artist, I’m a writer, I’m a painter, I’m a musician, and sometimes I play basketball,” Sanders said.

Once a standout defender, Sanders has encountered a multitude of problems since he signed the extension. He broke his hand in a nightclub fight early last season, and the league has twice given him drug-related suspensions. The latest stretched over 12 games and cost him $1.2MM.

And-Ones: Embiid, Johnson, Spurs, Thomas

February 24 at 12:16am CST By Zach Links

The Sixers were willing to trade rookie center Joel Embiid for a high draft pick, according to Mark Heisler of Forbes.com. Philadelphia drafted Embiid third overall last June, but he had offseason surgery to repair a broken bone in his right foot and has yet to take the court for the Sixers. Philadelphia was unable to work out a deal for Embiid, but did send reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams to the Bucks in a three-team deal that brought back the Lakers‘ top-five protected first round pick for this year.

There’s more news from around the league:

    • The Rockets announced that they have recalled Nick Johnson from the D-League, according to Mark Berman of FOX 26 (via Twitter).  Johnson’s assignment was his fourth trip down this season, as our assignments/recalls log shows.  The 22-year-old guard has seen time in 18 games for the Rockets this season, averaging 3.1 PPG and 1.3 RPG in 10.3 minutes per contest.
    • Some people, like Charles Barkley, aren’t so wild about analytics.  However, Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express News writes that the Spurs are undeniable proof that analytics can help to build a tremendous roster.
    • New Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas did his best to squash rumors that he was unhappy with his role while with the Suns, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe tweets.  “The guy that complained, you seen it in the media. I didn’t say anything,” Thomas said.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Canaan, Sixers, Wizards, Sanders

February 21 at 11:09pm CST By Arthur Hill

It didn’t take Sixers coach Brett Brown long to name his new starting point guard, according to Mark Macyk of The InquirerIsaiah Canaan, who came from Houston to Philadelphia along with a second-round draft pick on Thursday in exchange for K.J. McDaniels, has been chosen to replace the traded Michael Carter-Williams. “I’m excited to coach him,” Brown said of Canaan. “I think that there’s a youthful spirit and a competitiveness, along with what he’s really known for, which is his shot.”

There’s much more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The parting of Carter-Williams and the Sixers was best for both parties, writes Keith Pompey of The Inquirer. Pompey charges that Carter-Williams is a poor shooter, often holds the ball too long, commits too many turnovers and is injury prone. He also cited two public disagreements with the coaching staff during lopsided Sixers’ losses.
  • The Wizards followed Friday’s embarrassing loss to the Cavaliers with a “spirited” film session on Saturday, reports J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. The team discussed defensive breakdowns, post-game squabbles and the generally awful effort that led to a 38-point loss on national television. When you got good guys like we got on the team, guys speak up and let guys know what need to be done,” said newly acquired guard Ramon Sessions. “As a pro you don’t look at that and take that in the wrong way. You take that in a way to make the team better. We’re going to be fine.”
  • Larry Sanders gave up a lot of money Saturday in accepting a buyout from the Bucks, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Amick wrote that Sanders received about $15.2MM of the $38MM left on his contract, in addition to what he already earned this season.
  • Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that he “wasn’t the right fit” for the Knicks‘ triangle offense. Smith and Iman Shumpert were traded from New York to Cleveland on January 5th. “It was tough from a mental standpoint,” Smith said. “You start second-guessing yourself and your talent to a certain point. So many guys thrived in that triangle, and you want to put yourself in that class. Not living up to it is kind of disappointing.’’

Bucks Waive Larry Sanders In Buyout Deal

February 21 at 9:38pm CST By Chuck Myron

9:38pm: Sanders was cleared to play by the NBA and is in full compliance with the league’s anti-drug policy, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (Twitter link).

6:47pm: The Bucks have waived Sanders, the team announced (Twitter link). “We believe this decision is in the best interest of our team,” GM John Hammond said. “We wish Larry well and remain excited about the future of the Bucks organization.” Not surprisingly, the team didn’t release any details about the terms of the buyout, but presumably Sanders is indeed giving up a significant chunk of salary in the arrangement.

SATURDAY, 6:33pm: The buyout deal is done, Wojnarowski reports, adding that the center is giving up approximately half of the original value of his $44MM deal (Twitter links). It’ll be a while before he plays again as he continues to deal with personal issues, Wojnarowski adds.

WEDNESDAY, 5:13pm: Sanders has no plans to pursue a deal with another team to play in the NBA this season, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports.

12:12pm: The buyout deal still isn’t final, according to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times (Twitter links).

10:58am: Sanders will be getting $14.5MM of the $33MM originally owed him after this season, a source tells Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops, who reiterates that the Bucks will spread that amount via the stretch provision (Twitter link)

10:51am: The Bucks still haven’t received signed paperwork on the buyout from Sanders, as USA Today’s Sam Amick cautions (on Twitter).

10:38am: Sanders didn’t want to report to the Bucks following the end of his suspension, thus giving the Bucks leverage to extract as much as they did in the buyout, a source tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). It’s unlikely Sanders will sign with another team this season, Kennedy’s source adds and as Kyler also tweets, which makes sense, given that it appears he won’t return to the court in 2014/15.

10:32am: Sanders will receive $15MM more from the Bucks on top of the team’s nearly $8MM payout to him so far this season, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders hears (Twitter links). Milwaukee will use the stretch provision to spread that $15MM over seven years instead of the three remaining on Sanders’ contract, Kyler also hears.

10:05am: The Bucks and Larry Sanders already have a deal on a buyout, reports Shams Charania of RealGM, who says the agreement has been in place for days. He’ll only receive $13MM of the money left on his four-year, $44MM contract, Charania adds. Sanders is in the first year of that pact. Charania seconds a report minutes earlier from Marc Stein of ESPN.com that Sanders will hit waivers no later than March 1st, so he’ll be eligible to play in the postseason for another team. However, it’s unlikely that he returns to the court this season as he continues to deal with personal issues, as Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher wrote overnight.

A drug-related suspension already cost Sanders $1.2MM of his $11MM salary for this season. That suspension ended for the final game before the All-Star break, but he didn’t appear in that contest, and he hasn’t played for the Bucks since December 23rd, long before the NBA handed down the ban. The 26-year-old denied a report amid his absence that he was contemplating retirement, but at this point it seems his career has taken a serious downturn following a breakout season in 2012/13.

Milwaukee rewarded him the following summer with the $44MM deal, which came in the form of a rookie scale extension. He broke his hand in a nightclub fight early last season, which touched off his woes, and he missed time again later in the 2013/14 campaign because of a fractured orbital bone. The league hit him with his first drug-related suspension in April. His production fell off amid the injuries, and trade rumors surfaced. There appeared to be serious interest from other teams as of draft time, but later in the summer, assistant GM David Morway affirmed that Sanders was a part of the club’s future. However, the level of his performance failed to bounce back this season, and it appears the relationship between the club and Sanders has soured.

Clippers, Mavs Cautiously Interested In Sanders

February 21 at 7:25pm CST By Chuck Myron

THURSDAY, 7:25pm: The Clippers have also shown interest, and the Cavs did as well prior to garnering a commitment from Kendrick Perkins, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Still, sources tell Stein that Sanders has no plan to play again this year, echoing earlier reports. Presumably the Clippers would tread carefully with Sanders, just as the Mavs would, though that’s just my speculation.

WEDNESDAY, 11:58am: The Mavs have “cautious and complicated interest” in Larry Sanders, who’s reportedly poised to hit waivers as part of a buyout deal with the Bucks, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. It would take a convincing case from Happy Walters, the agent for Sanders, and Monta Ellis, who clashed with Sanders when they were teammates in Milwaukee, would have to give his blessing for a deal between Sanders and the Mavs to come to fruition, MacMahon cautions. MacMahon indicates that the interest would be for a deal this season, but Sanders is reportedly unlikely to return to the court or seek a deal this season.

Dallas only has the minimum salary to offer for any deal this season, as MacMahon points out. Marc Stein of ESPN.com identified the Mavs as a potential suitor for Sanders this past spring, but it seems his value has only declined since then. The center appears set to give up the majority of the $33MM he was set to make in the final three seasons of his deal with the Bucks.

The Mavs have a strong relationship with Walters, according to MacMahon, and Jermaine O’Neal‘s decision this week to abandon his efforts to play this season left the Mavs without one of their big man targets. Dallas had been prepared to sign both O’Neal and Amar’e Stoudemire, as Stein and MacMahon wrote earlier. Stoudemire has committed to joining the Mavs after clearing waivers today.