Milwaukee Bucks

Eastern Notes: Carter-Williams, Heat, Raptors

Michael Carter-Williams, whom the Bucks acquired last season in a trade, has struggled mightily and was therefore not surprised he was benched Sunday, Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel relays.

“The past couple games my play has been down,” Carter-Williams said. “If I’m a coach, I wouldn’t start me, either. Whatever minutes I get, I’m going to come in and try to help the team, cheer from the bench and try to cheer my teammates on. I know it’s hard right now. I think things will get better.”

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Heat‘s commitment to Gerald Green, who signed a one-year deal with Miami during the summer, shows that the next veteran who accepts a minimal free agent deal with the team also has the opportunity for a significant role, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his mailbag feature. Green has played well in nine appearances, averaging 10.4 points per game.
  • The Magic started a rebuilding process when Orlando traded Dwight Howard in 2012, but even now the question remains of who will still be on the team when it is ready to compete for the playoffs, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel details. The Magic, as Robbins points out, have a group of talented young players such as Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Tobias Harris, Mario Hezonja, Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton and Nik Vucevic. Yet, according to Robbins, it remains to be seen if the Magic can successfully dip into the free agent pool to add to their nucleus.
  • The Heat announced they have recalled forward/center Jarnell Stokes from their D-League affiliate. He averaged 23 points and 9.7 rebounds in three games with the the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
  • The Raptors recalled Delon Wright and forward Bruno Caboclo from their D-League affiliate, the team announced via Twitter.

Central Rumors: Jackson, Bucks, Bulls

It’s still too early to declare a winner in the three-way trade that sent Reggie Jackson from the Thunder to the Pistons, but Detroit certainty should not be called the loser in the deal, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press writes. There was a lot of verbal jabbing from some Thunder players (most notably by Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant) regarding Jackson’s return to Oklahoma City for a game Friday. Yet Jackson, as Ellis points out, is averaging 18.2 points, eight assists and 4.5 rebounds per game in the 43 games he has played since joining the Pistons (heading into action Sunday). The Pistons re-signed Jackson to a five-year, $80MM contract in the offseason.

Here’s more from around the Central Division:

  • Jackson heard a lot of boos from the crowd as the visiting Pistons lost to the Thunder, the team Jackson spent his first three seasons with, on Friday, but he anticipated that reaction, David Mayo of relays. “I kind of love to be hated. It’s flattering,” Jackson said. “I think it’s the greatest kind of love. It’s love and spite at the same time. They wouldn’t boo me if I didn’t do anything to build some memories here, so obviously, if they booed me, that means I did something special.”
  • The Bucks‘ slow start can partly be attributed to their drop in defensive efficiency this season compared to last season after Milwaukee signed Greg Monroe and traded center Zaza Pachulia, Keith P. Smith of details. Monroe, as Smith notes, is a talented offensive player, but Pachulia is a rugged defender and is adept at switching on pick-and-rolls — which is something the Bucks appear to be missing, Smith adds.
  • Bulls small forward Mike Dunleavy Jr., who underwent back surgery in September after re-signing with Chicago during the summer, will visit a doctor on Monday after experiencing soreness, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune relays. “We should have a better update after that,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. Dunleavy had been increasing his individual workouts without incident as recently as last week, according to Johnson.

Eastern Notes: Harris, Biyombo, Lamb

Former Bucks coach and current Magic coach Scott Skiles said he was never in favor of trading power forward Tobias Harris to Orlando, according to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Sentinel. Skiles didn’t give Harris a lot of playing time as a rookie and second-year player but liked Harris’ potential and attitude, the story continues. Harris was dealt from the Bucks to the Magic on Feb. 21st, 2013 in a six-player swap. None of the players Milwaukee acquired are still with the team. “At that time, we just felt (Luc) Mbah a Moute was a better defender and (Mike) Dunleavy was a better offensive player, and Tobias didn’t get as many minutes. But we were high on him,” Skiles told Gardner. “Not that anybody would have listened to me, but if I would have still been the coach, I would not have been for moving Tobias.

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • Bismack Biyombo‘s stint as Jonas Valanciunas’ injury replacement is off to a strong start, Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press reports. Coach Dwane Casey likes what Biyombo brings to the starting unit as the new Raptors starting center after he had 11 points and 12 rebounds against the Cavs this week, Ewing continues. “He set the tone for us defensively,” Casey told the Toronto media. “Protecting the paint, talking, being physical, being a deterrent at the rim and that was big for us.” Valanciunas is out approximately six weeks with a hand injury.
  • Jeremy Lamb could be a serious candidate for the league’s Sixth Man and Most Improved Player awards if he continues to produce at his current level, Steve Aschburner of write. The Hornets shooting guard is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists and field goal percentage. Lamb, who agreed to a three-year, $21MM extension, has surprised coach Steve Clifford with his passing ability, Aschburner continues. “I knew he could shoot — I mean, he can really shoot — but I had no idea how well he could pass the ball,” Clifford told Aschburner. “He can pass off the dribble. He makes good decisions, so he’s a better pick-and-roll player than I thought. And what he’s done for us, he’s given us a lot of drive-and-kick plays that I didn’t know he was capable of doing.”
  • The Celtics have assigned rookie power forward Jordan Mickey to the D-League’s Maine Red Claws, the team tweets. Mickey, an early second-round pick out of LSU, has played a total of just five minutes with Boston.

Central Notes: Parker, Jackson, Bulls

Jabari Parker chose Dr. Charles Tucker as his new agent after leaving the Wasserman Media Group and agent B.J. Armstrong earlier this month for familiarity and trust reasons, Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times details. Parker, according to Woelfel, got to know Tucker and his son, Charles Jr., while playing basketball on the AAU circuit as a kid. Both the younger Tucker and Parker, whom the Bucks chose with the second overall selection in the 2014 draft, have remained friends and religion is a big reason why, Woelfel writes.

Here’s more from around the Central Division:

  • Reggie Jackson does not anticipate a warm reception when he returns to Oklahoma City Friday for the first time since the February trade that brought him to the Pistons, David Mayo of writes. Jackson, as Mayo adds, grew tired of his backup role under Russell Westbrook while with the Thunder. The Pistons acquired Jackson last season after Brandon Jennings was lost to a season-ending injury. The Pistons re-signed Jackson to a five-year, $80MM contract over the summer. “I know what to expect,” Jackson said, per Mayo. “I know how it was. I was booed when I came out there to start there last year. So I expect some of the same treatment. It’s like every other arena. I get booed in other arenas when I come out, so I’m just ready to go out there and play.”
  • With Pau Gasol wanting more touches and Joakim Noah struggling, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has a problem regarding his big men, Nick Friedell of explains. Hoiberg, in his first year with the team, is still trying to figure out what works best, Friedell writes. Noah is a 2016 free agent while Gasol has a player option on the final season of a three-year, $22.3MM contract that brought him to Chicago in 2014.

Central Notes: Copeland, Blatt, Smith, Vogel

The Pacers didn’t try to re-sign Chris Copeland this past offseason, but they still gave him access to their training staff after his contract ended on July 1st, writes Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star. Copeland, who signed a one-year deal with the Bucks on July 29th, is grateful for the help he needed to recover from the injuries that he suffered when he was stabbed outside a New York City nightclub in April, as Buckner details.

“I was just blessed to have guys like [Pacers president of basketball operations] Larry Bird and the training staff who stuck with me way past when they had to,” Copeland said. “Legally by July 1st they’re not obligated to do anything, but those guys took care of me. They did more than they needed to. That’s why I’m forever in their debt. I appreciate the type of people that I was [around] for the last two years.”

See more on the Pacers amid the latest from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers made it a point to improve their depth in the offseason, in spite of the tax implications, and they’ve benefited from the strategy in the season’s first month, notes Dave McMenamin of“I think that we went through a year last year where we put ourselves in a great position and had a tremendous season and a tremendous opportunity, then at the very end we fell prey to the lack of depth,” Cavs coach David Blatt said. “And we addressed it this summer. Obviously up to this point in the season, it’s really paid off for us because the guys that we brought in are major contributors and the guys that stayed obviously are high-level people and high-level basketball players.”
  • J.R. Smith, who re-signed with the Cavs this summer after a midseason trade, credits the team and Cleveland at large for greeting him with a level of acceptance he hasn’t found elsewhere in the NBA, he tells McMenamin for a separate piece, calling it “first place I’ve been where I’ve started off with a clean sheet.”
  • Pacers coach Frank Vogel is pleased with the contribution he’s seeing from the back end of his roster, quipping that Bird “gave me too many good players,” notes Mark Montieth of

And-Ones: Sixers, Bucks, Stoudemire

One reason why the Sixers are the worst team in the league right now is because almost half the team’s salary (which is close to $60MM) is going to players no longer on the roster, Michael Schwartz of details. Perhaps even more startling, 17 players make more this season than the combined salaries of the Sixers players who have taken the court this season, according to Schwartz. While the present is dreadful, the future seems bright, Schwartz writes, because the Sixers could own up to four first-round draft picks in the 2016 draft and already have five draft picks from the past three drafts under team control.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The Bucks have assigned Damien Inglis to the Canton Charge of the D-League, Milwaukee announced in a press release. Inglis is headed to the Cavs affiliate as part of the flexible assignment rule since the Bucks are without a one-to-one partnership with a D-League team. Inglis has appeared in five games for the Bucks this season and averaged 1.6 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire believes his lack of playing time is part of a bigger plan to preserve his body, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. Stoudemire has played in only two games with the Heat despite saying he is healthy, Berman notes. “We’ve got a big picture in mind,” Stoudemire said. “We know we want to be there in the postseason. We want guys to stay healthy. Now, it’s not about wearing somebody down during the regular season. It’s about really just keeping the maintenance program and making sure we’re at 100% strength by the playoffs.” The veteran power forward inked a one-year, $1.5MM deal with Miami this past summer.
  • David West, who signed with the Spurs for $1.5MM as a backup instead of staying with the Pacers for $12MM, is playing well while filling in for LaMarcus Aldridge, who remains sidelined, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes.

Central Notes: Noah, Varejao, D-League

Joakim Noah, who will be a free agent after the season, is struggling to find his rhythm and the center believes it’s because of a lack of scoring chances, Nick Friedell of writes.

“I just got to be more aggressive. I got to be more aggressive offensively and look for my opportunities. Right now, I’m just not really sure where I can get them, but when they come I have to be ready and I have to be ready to score,” Noah said.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Anderson Varejao hasn’t received the playing time that he is accustomed to seeing and the big man admits that it’s not an ideal situation, Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. “It’s tough. It’s not easy,” Varejao said. “You never know how much you can do in practice because you never know if you’re going to play or not, but the main thing is stay ready.”
  • The Cavs have recalled Joe Harris from the Canton Charge, the team’s D-League affiliate, according to a team press release. Harris averaged 26.0 points and 9.0 rebounds during two games for the Charge.
  • The Bulls have sent Cameron Bairstow to the D-League and the Bucks will do the same with Damien Inglis, according to Adam Johnson of D-League Digest (Twitter link). Neither franchise has its own D-League affiliate and the affiliates to which they’ve been assigned have yet to be announced.

Western Notes: Harden, Knight, Dekker

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony believes that Kevin Durant will re-sign with the Thunder next summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, citing Durant’s ties to the Oklahoma Cty community, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “C’mon, man, he just got into the [Oklahoma] Hall of Fame,’’ Anthony said. “He brought this team here [from Seattle]. He didn’t bring this team here, but he’s a big part of Oklahoma as a whole, not just from a basketball standpoint but from an economic and business standpoint. He’s a major part of what goes on here.’’

Anthony also noted that Durant doesn’t need to play in a larger city  in order to maximize his earning potential, Berman adds. “Nowadays with the way social media is, I don’t think you have to be in a major market to get those opportunities,’’ Anthony said. “The way our TV deal is, you’re seen all the over the world now. Not just in big markets.’’

Here’s more from out West:

  • Durant and Russell Westbrook “weren’t big fans” of James Harden during their time together with the Thunder, writes Sam Smith of Smith, writing in his mailbag column, takes Harden to task for what he sees as an individualistic playing style. The Rockets will presumably be one of the many suitors for Durant when he hits free agency this summer, and Harden is under contract with Houston through the 2017/18 season.
  • Brandon Knight understands the business side of the game, but that didn’t prevent him from being deeply disappointed when the Bucks dealt him to the Suns last season, Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports writes. “I wouldn’t say it hurt,” Knight told Lee. “It was more about the brotherhood we had built. Being on the worst team in the league and being able to turn that around. And for them to try to step on that, based on whatever the case may be – money or whatever it is – what’s the point in that?” Knight also noted that he doesn’t harbor any bad feelings toward the Bucks or Pistons, who also traded him, Lee relays. “In the long run, I know the type of player I am, can be, or that I will be,” Knight said. “I’m not out to prove this guy wrong, or that guy wrong, because then, you get caught up in failure. I’m just focused on myself, making sure I’m not cheating myself. In turn, I know that I’ll prove the people wrong that doubt me.
  • Rockets rookie combo forward Sam Dekker underwent successful surgery today to repair damage to his back, the team announced. Houston did not provide a timetable for Dekker’s return, though Jeff Goodman of reported that the rookie would miss approximately three months of action.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Central Notes: Drummond, Thompson, Monroe

Andre Drummond‘s game has taken another leap this season, and while the challenge for him is to become more consistent, the soon-to-be restricted free agent is impressing many, including Pistons owner Tom Gores, as Rod Beard of the Detroit News examines.

“He’s developing incredibly and I’m not surprised. We knew it from the first time he got on the floor,” Gores said. “He worked so hard this summer to develop some other skills and right now it’s showing on the floor and his character is reflecting on the team. You can talk about it, but then you have to do it. Andre’s doing it and he’s also developing great chemistry among all the players. You can say it or you can do it.”

Gores already referred to Drummond as a “max player” this spring, and with the Pistons and Drummond working in concert when they tabled extension discussions with the idea of allowing the team more cap flexibility in the summer, it doesn’t appear as though the big man’s free agency will carry much suspense. See more from the Central:

Eastern Notes: Knight, Porter, Jackson

Bucks coach Jason Kidd discussed why the team dealt Brandon Knight to the Suns last season, and noted that the reasoning was purely financial, with Milwaukee not wanting to have two max salary players in its backcourt, Charles F. Gardner of The Journal-Sentinel writes. “I wouldn’t say we gave up a lot,” Kidd said. “He [Knight] was having a great season, and he’s having a great season this year. But it wasn’t we gave up Brandon. We had a decision to make between our backcourt. It wasn’t Klay Thompson or Stephen Curry. We weren’t going to max out our backcourt. As an organization, we had a decision to make, and we made it.” The Bucks re-signed Khris Middleton this summer to a five-year, $70MM deal, while Knight re-signed with Phoenix for the same terms.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Wizards are gaining trust in young small forward Otto Porter, and his playing time has increased as a result, J. Michael of writes. It’s Porter’s ability to do the little things as well as make his teammates around him better that has impressed the team, Michael adds. “He does a great job of pushing the pace. He’s comfortable putting the ball on the floor and making plays for other people,John Wall said of Porter. “Always going to be averaging around nine or 10 rebounds because he’s always in the right position at the right time. He’s always in helpside defense. He’s does the little things on the basketball court that people don’t get noticed for.
  • Knicks president Phil Jackson has not been more involved with the team this campaign despite his offseason statement indicating that he intended to take a more active role, notes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. “Maybe a couple times earlier in training camp, we had some kind of sat down and talked about some things visually at the same time. So far, it’s our typical mornings-after-the-game conversations or email exchanges,” coach Derek Fisher told Bondy. “Sometimes before practice we’ll visit for a few minutes. But not really any hardcore film sessions together. Although when those opportunities do present themselves, I’ll definitely be happy to participate.
  • Joe Johnson is struggling to find other ways to help the Nets as he deals with the cumulative effects of age and injuries, and the veteran has gone from a scoring threat to more of a facilitator in the team’s offense, Mike Mazzeo of writes. “People make such a big thing about him being such a dominant scorer, but being his teammate these past two years, he’s such a willing passer.” Jarrett Jack said of Johnson. “Joe being selfless enough to make those plays and take advantage of those opportunities speaks volumes about him as a person and a player.

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