- The Bucks also need to add depth to their roster over the summer, opines Bobby Marks of The Vertical in his offseason primer for the team. Milwaukee needs to find athletic wings to complement its starters and a reliable power forward to back up Jabari Parker, Marks writes. The scribe adds that the team is on solid footing with its young core despite missing the playoffs this season, but finding a workable role for big man Greg Monroe is paramount if the Bucks hope to improve in 2016/17.
The Magic, Bucks, Trail Blazers and Hornets are the favorites for Dwight Howard in free agency this summer, as Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com writes within a broader piece on the Rockets, Howard’s current team. Houston has long expected Howard to turn down his $23.282MM player option for next season in search of a max deal that would pay him about $30MM next season, and Howard and fellow Rockets star James Harden have a chemistry that one team source described to Watkins as “cordially bad.”
Howard would prefer to re-sign with the Rockets but would entertain the idea of returning to the Magic, his first NBA team, as Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher heard. Howard told Bucks play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson he wanted the Rockets to trade him to Milwaukee at the February deadline this year, Johnson said. The Hornets and Rockets had exploratory trade talks about Howard before the deadline, and Howard played under Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford when he was an assistant. This is the first reported link between Howard and Portland this year.
The 30-year-old former All-Star is known for indecisiveness regarding contract matters in the past, so it would be no shock if this list of front-runners undergoes drastic changes between now and July, when he can sign a contract with a new team. Howard was a client of agent Dan Fegan during his split with the Magic and one-year Lakers tenure, but earlier this year he dropped Fegan in favor of Perry Rogers, Shaquille O’Neal’s rep.
Chandler Parsons publicly campaigned Tuesday for Howard to join him on the Mavericks, but the Mavericks don’t want to give Howard a deal approaching the max, and Dirk Nowitzki, who’s spoken openly about potential free agents in the past, declined comment when asked about the possibility of Howard in Dallas, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com.
The Magic are in line to have no shortage of cap room this summer, with enough flexibility to sign two max free agents. Portland doesn’t have quite that much but still has more than enough flexibility to afford a max contract for Howard, even with Damian Lillard‘s max extension kicking in. The Bucks would likely have to perform some cap gymnastics to accommodate Howard, since they already have close to $62MM in guaranteed salary committed against a projected $92MM cap. Charlotte only has about $46MM on the books, but that doesn’t include any money for soon-to-be free agents Al Jefferson, whom Howard would likely replace if he were to sign with the Hornets, or Nicolas Batum.
Regardless, it appears Howard would face a difficult atmosphere if he were to return to Houston next season. One source close to the Rockets told Watkins that Howard lost the respect of his teammates, though a Rockets player who spoke with Watkins offered a dissenting view. Harden and Howard have spoken about their on-court issues and Harden paid for Howard’s birthday dinner earlier this season, but the high-scoring guard feels Howard is too distracted and doesn’t demand the ball enough, according to Watkins. Howard doesn’t feel Harden respects him and solicits the opinions of former teammates about what he can do to fix that, as Watkins details.
What’s your best guess as to where Howard ends up? Leave a comment to share your idea.
- The biggest need for the Bucks heading into the offseason is 3-point shooting, writes Genaro C. Armas of The Associated Press. “Unfortunately in today’s game, two is not going to beat three. In today’s game, the 3 is so important,” coach Jason Kidd said.
- Steve Novak wants to re-sign with the Bucks after a brief, injury-shortened time in Milwaukee this season, and coach Jason Kidd indicated that the feeling is mutual as the team seeks to improve its shooting, notes Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Novak is a guy we thought was going to help in that [shooting] department,” Kidd said. “Hopefully we can re-sign him. We liked what he did briefly on the floor, but we also enjoyed what he did for us off the floor, even being hurt. That’s what a vet does. We would all love to have him back. That kind of threat is what we need as a team to have any kind of success.”
- Gardner suggests in the same piece that the Bucks want to move on from O.J. Mayo and Greivis Vasquez but have better regard for Jerryd Bayless. All three will hit free agency in July.
of the Journal Sentinel details. Center is a high priority for the Bucks this summer, Gardner writes, despite the franchise signing Greg Monroe to a three-year maximum contract last summer. There were high hopes for the Bucks this season after Monroe signed for $50MM, but Milwaukee largely disappointed with a 33-49 record. Plumlee is a solid fit for the Bucks, Gardner adds, because he is athletic and can run the floor, and the Bucks want to push the pace with their young roster.
Here’s more out of Milwaukee:
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will be in the final year of his rookie-scale deal next season, is poised to be an All-Star for several years, especially if he can improve his 3-point shooting, Gary D’Amato of the Journal Sentinel opines. Antetokounmpo, who starred at the point guard position during the second half of the season, will be eligible for a contract extension before October 31st and the Bucks plan on locking him up, D’Amato writes.
- Speaking of Antetokounmpo, Michael Carter-Williams, who started 37 games at point guard before suffering a torn labrum in his left hip and missing the season’s final 23 games, believes the two players can coexist on the court, relays Journal Sentinel. Carter-Williams is also poised to enter the final year of his rookie contract. of the
- Groundbreaking is set for June on the Bucks’ new downtown arena that is scheduled to open by the 2018/19 season, as Genaro C. Armas of The Associated Press details.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd said the franchise’s biggest need this offseason was to acquire outside shooters who can stretch the floor for the team’s big men, writes Charles F. Gardner of The Journal Sentinel. “In today’s game, two is not going to beat three,” Kidd said. “The three is so important. We didn’t have enough guys that could make the three. There’s no tricks. I’m not going to sit here and make up something that we’re going to have to shoot a higher percentage of twos. You’ve got to be able to shoot the three. Everybody is shooting them. You’ve got to have guys on the floor who can stretch the floor and are threats to make a three.”
- Center Miles Plumlee is looking forward to next year after the late-season surge that made him a key part of the Bucks‘ rotation, writes Charles F. Gardner of The Journal Sentinel. “I’m just really thankful for the opportunity to get out there and play,” Plumlee said. “I love the game. I love the team here. I think we’re building something really special and I hope to continue to be a part of it.” Plumlee completed his four-year rookie scale contract and will enter restricted free agency this summer.
- Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry publicly backed coach Jason Kidd on Wednesday in the wake of rumors that Kidd is on shaky ground with the team, as Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays. Lasry said it’s reasonable to assume the team will give Kidd an extension on the three-year, $15MM contract that expires after next season, Gardner notes. Lasry has long been close to Kidd, and it’s the other owners to whom Kidd hasn’t endeared himself, as Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times wrote this week, but Gardner indicates that fellow primary owners Wesley Edens and Jamie Dinan made it clear Wednesday that they also want Kidd to stay. “At the end of the day, Jason is our coach,” Lasry said. “I know there’s been a bunch of articles. We think he’s done a great job. He’s our guy. Everybody who keeps talking about it, it’s a non-issue. I never understand why in this league you have these issues.”
- Bucks coach Jason Kidd dismissed the rumors that say his job may be in jeopardy and said he wanted to remain in Milwaukee for the long-term, Matt Velazquez of The Journal Sentinel tweets. The coach, who still has one season remaining on his deal, said he doesn’t plan on broaching the subject of a contract extension this summer, Charles F. Gardner of The Journal Sentinel relays (via Twitter).
- The Bucks have reached a 30-year lease agreement with the Wisconsin Center District, the agency that will own the basketball team’s future arena, Tom Daykin of The Journal Sentinel relays. The new facility is set to open in time for the start of the 2018/19 season.