Milwaukee Bucks

Central Notes: Lue, Dinwiddie, Bayless

New Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, who is a student of Phil Jackson‘s coaching style, has no qualms about taking LeBron James to task for any mistakes, a practice that has been well-received by James thus far, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com writes. “The thing with Phil is he did all of his coaching in practice,” Lue said. “He always held Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal more accountable than anyone else on the team. It always starts at the top and trickles down to the bottom. If you can get the respect of your best players, everyone else will fall in line. That was the biggest thing with Phil, like, in a game he’d let you figure it out and let you play, but in practice he’s coaching.

As for James’ response to Lue’s methods, the coach told McMenamin, “It’s been good, so far. He understands what we’ve got to do to get to the point we want to get to. It’s not personal. It’s just teaching and correcting. If I can teach and correct him, like I said, other guys will follow in line. We can’t be afraid to do that and hold him accountable.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers coach Frank Vogel expects the team’s roster to remain untouched through the trade deadline, as he said Wednesday, according to Scott Agness of VigiliantSports (Twitter link).
  • Spencer Dinwiddie will be with the Pistons after the All-Star break instead of on D-League assignment, coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter links). Dinwiddie said last month that GM Jeff Bower told him he’d be in the D-League the rest of the season. The Pistons recalled Dinwiddie on Tuesday, but that was so their doctors could look at his sprained ankle.“We’ll weigh what’s best for him and what’s best for us. Initially, we’ll bring him back. I’d like to see him now,” Van Gundy said.
  • Bulls power forward Taj Gibson believes this year’s Chicago squad has more talent than the one that made it to the 2011 Conference Finals but doesn’t play hard for each other the way the 2010/11 team did, K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune tweets.
  • The Bucks coaching staff is pleased with the improvement combo guard Jerryd Bayless has demonstrated shooting the ball from beyond the 3-point line, Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. “He has worked extremely hard at it and put a lot of time into it,” coach Jason Kidd said. “He is not short on confidence, so right now he is shooting the three at a very high level.” Bayless, who is earning $3MM this season, will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Central Notes: Sanders, Hoiberg, Christmas

Former Bucks center Larry Sanders plans to attempt an NBA comeback, but he wants to address other opportunities first, as he tells Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. People close to the 27-year-old who abruptly walked away from the game in the middle of last season tell Charania that he’s serious about a return sooner rather than later, but Sanders said to the Vertical scribe that he has no timetable and first wants to continue growing his management company for artists, designers and photographers.

“Once my art, music and passions off the court feel stable, I will look into coming back,” Sanders said. “I still love basketball. I want stability around me, and part of my mindset to leave was not to put all my eggs in one basket. I feel highly valuable on any team. There aren’t a lot of people who can bring my game to a team. I still play basketball all the time, staying in shape. I will need to make sure the situation is right for me.”

Sanders was reportedly drawing preliminary interest from the Mavericks at the start of this past season. The Bucks are paying Sanders nearly $1.866MM each season through 2021/22 through the terms of the stretch provision and his buyout arrangement. See more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls are a flawed team, not the championship-caliber bunch that the front office thought, which makes it tough to figure why management and the players remain in place from last season instead of coach Tom Thibodeau, contends Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Still, Bulls players are taking the blame for their own inconsistency, and new coach Fred Hoiberg has support from key figures, including Mike Dunleavy, a coach’s son and respected veteran voice, as Tribune scribe K.C. Johnson details.
  • Cavaliers training camp cut Dionte Christmas has been released for a second time this season from an overseas team, international journalism David Pick observes (Twitter link). AEK Athens parted ways with the one-year NBA veteran swingman, the team announced today (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). The Greek club signed him last month shortly after Israel’s Hapoel Holon let him go, and Athens reportedly planned to keep him for the balance of the season as of just a few weeks ago.

Central Notes: Hibbert, Whittington, Tolliver, Bucks

A sprained left ankle will keep Lakers center Roy Hibbert out of tonight’s game, which would have been his first back in Indiana since last summer’s trade, according to Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star. Before his status was announced, his former Pacers teammates were concerned about the reception he might get from fans. “It was a situation where Roy didn’t want to leave, but it was about that time, I guess,” Paul George said. “So it wasn’t on bad terms for his sake, so I hope the fans don’t knock him or overlook that. Roy’s been great for this organization.” With the Lakers floundering, Hibbert is a candidate to be moved again before next week’s deadline, as Chuck Myron examined earlier today.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers have assigned forward/center Shayne Whittington to their D-League affiliate in Fort Wayne, the team announced today. A second-year player, Whttington has appeared in just four games with the Pacers this season, but 24 for Fort Wayne, where he is averaging 12.0 points and 8.1 rebounds.
  • Anthony Tolliver has become a dependable reserve power forward for the Pistons, but it may not be enough to keep the 30-year-old on the team next season, writes Aaron McMann of MLive. Tolliver will be a free agent this summer, and coach/executive Stan Van Gundy has said he plans to exercise the team option on starting power forward Ersan Ilyasova. Detroit has also been rumored to have interest in Pelicans free agent Ryan Anderson“I definitely would love to figure out a way to come back here and make this a long-term situation,” Tolliver said. “Obviously, it would have to be a mutual decision, mutually beneficial for both parties.”
  • The Bucks shouldn’t be entertaining offers for forward/center Greg Monroe, argues Bobby Marks of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. Monroe was Milwaukee’s prize free agent addition last season, but the organization reportedly let other teams know last week that it would consider moving him or point guard Michael Carter-Williams if the right offer came along. Marks advises the Bucks to hang on to their core of young talent and draft picks, but to consider dealing away shooting guard O.J. Mayo and center Miles Plumlee.

Central Notes: Pistons, Bucks, Bulls

The Pistons seem less likely to make any sort of move before this year’s trade deadline for a variety of reasons that Keith Langlois of Pistons.com runs down. One of the main reasons why Langlois expects the Pistons to be quiet is because of the amount of moves executive/coach Stan Van Gundy made last year that have seemingly positioned the franchise to compete for the foreseeable future. What’s more, as Langlois writes, Van Gundy is fond of this team and there is not even  an injury at this time that warrants Detroit making a move.

“I think we’re at the point that it would have to be anything that we would view as almost a no-brainer, a major upgrade,” Van Gundy said. “We’re not going to make any moves that would be lateral and we’re not going to move things we consider assets for guys on expiring contracts to just try to chase it for one year and then lose a guy. We’re still in the building phase and we’re going to protect our assets going forward.”

Here is more out of the Central Division:

  • The Bucks have not had enough time to evaluate their current starting five, so it is unclear if they will add to their bench or make a bolder move as the trade deadline draws near, Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel details. The Bucks employed a new starting group this season of Greg Monroe, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Michael Carter-Williams. The Bucks are an interesting team because they made moves in the summer with the hopes of making it to the playoffs, but are 20-32. Milwaukee, as a midmarket team, must use the draft and trades wisely to build a consistent winner, Gardner writes.
  • Mike Dunleavy Jr., 35, made his season debut Saturday for the Bulls and scored five points in 14 minutes. Dunleavy signed a three-year, $14.5MM contract last summer with the final year non-guaranteed. “A little late to the party, but good to be back,” Dunleavy said, per Nick Friedell of ESPN.com (ESPN Now link). “I felt quite honestly like I hadn’t played in eight months, but got a little better rhythm in the second half. And just testing out my hops again with that dunk.”

Eastern Notes: Caldwell-Pope, Anthony, Mayo

Pistons shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is expected to be out of action until after the All-Star break due to a strained core muscle, David Mayo of MLive relays (Twitter links). The team is still awaiting the results of an MRI, but Detroit coach/executive Stan Van Gundy didn’t rule out making a deal before the trade deadline as a result of Caldwell-Pope’s injury woes, Mayo adds. If the young swingman’s injury is deemed to be a long-term one, it would significantly increase the chances that the Pistons will make a move, though it is doubtful that any deal will net a significant player in return, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press relays (on Twitter).

Here are the latest happenings in the East:

  • has left the team to accept a position with the
  • The Bucks would likely find suitors willing to acquire shooting guard O.J. Mayo prior to the trade deadline if the team is willing to take back a player-friendly contract in return, Bobby Marks of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports writes in his deadline primer for the franchise. Mayo, who is earning $8MM this season, will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Also having trade value is Miles Plumlee, who could fit the bill for a team seeking bench depth, Marks adds.
  • Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony has been dealing with knee issues, but a recent MRI revealed no structural damage and the team says the knee is merely sore and not a new injury, Ian Begley of ESPN.com writes. “There’s no injury or new injury in terms of a traumatic or acute situation,” coach Derek Fisher told reporters. “I think he’ll be fine long term. We just have to get into these next set of days into the [All-Star] break and hopefully we can kind of re-evaluate him from there in terms of it not being something that’s reoccurring.

Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 2/5/16

The Bucks surprised many this past offseason when they landed center Greg Monroe in free agency, signing the big man to a three-year, maximum salary contract. Milwaukee, fresh off a 41-41 campaign in 2014/15 that included an Eastern Conference playoff berth, felt the addition of Monroe was the next step toward the upper-echelon of the conference. But plans often have a tendency not to work the way they are laid out and the Bucks have stumbled to a 20-31 record this season. Disappointment can bring about sweeping changes and a report by Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times relayed that the franchise is open to trading Monroe and point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who has failed to impress since coming over in a controversial deadline trade a year ago.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is reportedly the only Bucks player completely off-limits for a deal, though it would take a “crazy” offer to pry Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton from Milwaukee, a league executive told Woelfel. Several people around the league have said they’d be surprised if the Bucks don’t make a significant trade, with the deadline looming two weeks from today, Woelfel added.

This brings me to today’s topics. I say topics because there are two related questions I will be posing to all of you this evening. The first is: Should the Bucks look to trade Greg Monroe prior to the trade deadline? While this is a relatively straightforward question, it does raise another extremely important one regarding the franchise’s future dealings, which is: If the Bucks do in fact deal away Monroe, will it negatively impact their future free agent pursuits?

I will readily acknowledge that money trumps quite a bit in the free agent market, but players do have concerns outside the basketball court. When a player changes teams in the league, he also changes homes and cities, sometimes moving across the U.S., or in the case of players signing with the Raptors, outside of the country. The last thing most players want is to have to have to worry about the logistics of moving so soon after making such an important life choice, not just for themselves, but in many cases for their families as well. So, would dealing away Monroe so quickly after signing him count against the Bucks with future free agents? Milwaukee isn’t a destination city among NBA players, so the franchise already has its work cut out. Flipping a recently signed big-name player may not be the best advertisement to send out to other future free agents.

But that’s merely my take and we’re looking for yours. Take to the comments section to share your thoughts regarding a potential Monroe deal, and whether you think it would hurt the team in the eyes of future free agents. We look forward to what you have to say.

Eastern Notes: Van Gundy, Kidd, Smith

Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy vehemently shot down a report that stated Detroit was engaged in trade talks with the Nets regarding a potential Brandon Jennings for Thaddeus Young swap, Van Gundy told members of the media, including Hoops Rumors. “I got my email from [GM] Jeff [Bower] with all the discussions that have gone on and there was no mention of Brooklyn and no mention of Brandon,” Van Gundy said. “But the way you guys make [things] up at this time of year, it’s always interesting to me to find out stuff that you guys know we’re talking about that we don’t know we’re talking about. I find it interesting and amusing. 99.9% of the stuff that’s out there will never happen, mostly because 98% of it is just made up.

Here’s more news and rumors regarding the East:

  • Bucks coach Jason Kidd places much of the blame for his team’s struggles this season on Milwaukee’s youthful roster, Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. When asked about the difference between this season’s Bucks squad and 2014/15’s version, Kidd said, “One had age with it and being in the right spot. The longer you’re in this league, you understand what positioning and being in the right spot means. When you say it in those terms, younger players don’t quite understand that, of being at the elbow to get out, and not being out to get in. It takes time and that’s what we’re going through right now.
  • Despite the strong early returns from the acquisition of Ish Smith, Sixers team executive Jerry Colangelo is non-committal about Smith being the long-term answer at the one spot, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer relays. “Where he was picked [an undrafted free agent], because he’s bounced around quite a bit, and it’s a great story that finally maybe he’s landed somewhere where he could do a lot more than fit that description or that role,” Colangelo said. “And I think you always have to keep your options open on everything. I would say this. A month ago, we really had a big need. That need is a lot less today because of what he’s shown he’s capable of doing.

Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

Bucks Open To Trading Monroe, Carter-Williams

The Bucks have let other teams know that Greg Monroe is available for the right price, and the team is also receptive to trading Michael Carter-Williams, reports Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the only Bucks player completely off-limits for a deal, though it would take a “crazy” offer to pry Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton from Milwaukee, a league executive said to Woelfel. Several people around the league have said they’d be surprised if the Bucks don’t make a significant trade, with the deadline looming two weeks from today, Woelfel adds.

Bucks GM John Hammond said recently that he “can’t imagine life without” Monroe, whom the team surprisingly landed in free agency on a three-year max deal, though coach Jason Kidd controls player personnel, as Woelfel has heard. It’s unclear what Milwaukee would demand in return for the former Piston. Monroe reportedly met with the Knicks, Lakers and Trail Blazers, all of whom apparently made max offers, before he signed with Milwaukee this past July. He can opt out after next season.

[Click here to see more on the Bucks]

Carter-Williams, like Monroe, was part of a six-man core that Hammond alluded to this past offseason. He’s nonetheless failed to impress since coming over in a controversial deadline trade a year ago, and Kidd benched him for a stretch of 10 games earlier this season. He’s returned to the starting lineup, but his points and minutes per game are down for a second season in a row since he won the Rookie of the Year award in 2013/14. His 31.7% 3-point shooting is a career best, but he’s taking fewer 3-pointers than in the past, attempting only 41 so far this season.

Milwaukee is 20-31 and in 13th place in the Eastern Conference after making the playoffs a year ago. The Bucks have lost six of their last seven games.

Central Rumors: Cavs, Meeks, Vasquez

All-Star small forward LeBron James, point guard Kyrie Irving and power forward Kevin Love admitted fault of their own even as they laid out expectations for their teammates during a sometimes contentious players-only meeting the Cavs had in the immediate wake of David Blatt’s firing, as reported by Dave McMenamin, Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Accountability and double standards were key issues in the meeting that GM David Griffin asked reserve shooting guard James Jones to organize, as McMenamin, Windhorst and Lowe detail. The net effect appears to have been positive, based on the team’s 4-1 record since and the input a pair of sources gave the ESPN scribes.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • Pistons shooting guard Jodie Meeks has suffered a setback during his rehab from a broken right foot, David Mayo of MLive.com tweets. Meeks met Monday with surgeon Martin O’Malley, who determined that the foot had not fully healed, Mayo continues. Meeks must stop practicing, which he began doing last week, and he also has to cut his rehab activity, Mayo adds. Meeks was expected to miss 12-16 weeks after he was injured during the team’s home opener but the club was hopeful of getting him back by the All-Star break.
  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, who is also the team’s president of basketball operations, doubts he would trade for a player that becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season, Rod Beard of the Detroit News reports. Detroit has been linked to Pelicans power forward Ryan Anderson, who is in his walk year, but Van Gundy doesn’t want to mortgage the future for a player who might depart after this season. “I’m not willing to yield an asset right now — even for a guy I really like — if he’s unrestricted and we could lose him in the summer for nothing,” Van Gundy told the team’s beat reporters. “That would be a step back in our building, even if it’s a minor one. We’re not going to give up a pick for a guy. If we were going to make a trade, it would be a for a guy who’s still got contract time left after next year, that we know we’d have.”
  • Bucks point guard Greivis Vasquez expects to play again this season, Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. Vasquez, who underwent right ankle injury in mid-December, is not close to returning but Vasquez remains optimistic, as he told Gardner. “I didn’t play the way I wanted to, but I needed to get healthy,” he said. “I know I’m going to come back before the season is over. Hopefully, we rack up a few wins and I can help.”

And-Ones: Raptors, Holiday, Middleton, Asik, Draft

Attracting a major free agent to Toronto comes down to the team’s success on the court, Raptors GM Masai Ujiri believes, and Toronto is holding up its end of the bargain so far this year, as Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com examines. The Raptors are in second place in the Eastern Conference, thanks in part to a lineup of Kyle Lowry, Patrick Patterson, offseason signees Cory Joseph and Bismack Biyombo, and the recently extended Terrence Ross that outscores opponents by a whopping 32.6 points per 100 possessions, Arnovitz notes.

“It’s simple: Win,” Ujiri said. “If you have a good culture, you can attract free agents. We have a very unique opportunity here.”

See more on the Raptors amid the latest from around the NBA:

  • Jrue Holiday has shown flashes of his peak form, and that’s perhaps partly because the Pelicans restricted his minutes earlier in the season as he recovered from a stress reaction in his right leg, writes Brett Dawson of The New Orleans Advocate. Would-be trade suitors have been “petrified” about Holiday’s leg issues, though the Pelicans are reluctant to deal him, as Zach Lowe of ESPN.com wrote this week. “I think it helped me mentally, for one, preparing mentally to feel good,” Holiday said of the minutes restriction, since lifted. “Not to second-guess myself if I’m making a cut or doing a move, especially when it comes to the point where I’m playing back-to-back and playing a lot of minutes. And physically, I do feel really good right now.”
  • The five-year, $70MM deal that Bucks leading scorer Khris Middleton signed this past offseason is the NBA’s most trade-able contract, opines Keith Smith of RealGM, while Pelicans center Omer Asik‘s five-year pact worth nearly $53MM, also signed this past summer, is the league’s least trade-able deal, Smith writes in a follow-up piece.
  • LSU combo forward Ben Simmons unsurprisingly tops the latest draft rankings from Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, with Duke small forward Brandon Ingram second and Providence point guard Kris Dunn third.
  • Raptors D-League power forward Ronald Roberts, who’s averaging 18.4 points in 34.4 minutes per game, tops the latest D-League prospect rankings.

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