Milwaukee Bucks Rumors

Bucks, Micheal Eric Agree To Deal

September 16 at 3:43pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Bucks have agreed to a minimum-salary deal with free agent big man Micheal Eric, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (on Twitter). The level of guarantee and the length of the arrangement aren’t immediately clear, but it’ll be the second trip to an NBA training camp in three years for the former Temple mainstay, who was with the Cavs for preseason in 2012.

Eric spent time in the D-League the past two seasons, his most extensive experience coming with Cleveland’s affiliate in 2012/13, when he averaged 8.1 points and 7.6 rebounds in 22.1 minutes per game. The 6’10″ 26-year-old has consistently displayed a mastery of the boards, grabbing 8.8 RPG in 25.1 MPG in his final season in college with the Owls.

It’ll be tough for Eric to make the opening-night roster in Milwaukee, where the Bucks have 14 fully guaranteed deals plus a non-guaranteed contract with Kendall Marshall, who figures to play a prominent role. The client of agent Pedro Power will join Elijah Millsap and Chris Wright among those hoping to show enough in training camp to force Milwaukee to think about cutting ties with one of its guaranteed pacts.

Eastern Rumors: James, Chalmers, Nets, Bosh

September 15 at 8:46pm CDT By Cray Allred

The Wizards struck a deal with one wing player for training camp, as Xavier Silas has agreed to spend the preseason with Washington for the second year in a row, and the team is nearing a deal with Damion James, another wingman, as Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post confirms, echoing the report we passed along earlier today from J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. Here’s more from the East:

  • Heat GM Andy Elisburg called Mario Chalmers before he re-signed with the team this summer to assure him that he was still in their plans and that they just needed to see what LeBron James would decide before circling back to them, as Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick writes. Before that, Chalmers had been full of doubt about his free agency, as he tells Skolnick. “I didn’t think I’d be back,” Chalmers said. “I didn’t think that at all. I didn’t even think the Heat would want me back, to be honest. That’s how I felt like my playoff performance was, that they didn’t want me back, they wanted to go another direction. So that was in my mind, too, but I was, like, if it happens, it happens.”
  • Deron Williams told reporters including Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that he hasn’t spoken with Jason Kidd since the former Nets coach left Brooklyn for Milwaukee. “I think it surprised everybody,” Williams said. “I don’t think anybody saw that coming. It was out of nowhere. I don’t even know enough about the situation. I’ve heard a lot of things, as you guys probably have, so I don’t know exactly what happened, but we’re excited about Lionel Hollins being our next coach and we wish J-Kidd the best of luck in Milwaukee, but we’re excited about Lionel.”
  • Hollins told reporters including Tim Bontemps of the New York Post that Kevin Garnett will be the Nets‘ starting power forward this season (Twitter link). All indications have been that the veteran big will play this season, and this should put to bed rumblings of an early retirement for good. The coach said that retirement hasn’t even been a point of discussion with Garnett, tweets Bondy.
  • In a mailbag answer, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel suggests that the Heat will have overpaid for Chris Bosh if he doesn’t return to the player he was in Toronto. Miami inked Bosh to the second-biggest contract of the summer once LeBron decided to head back to Cleveland.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Q&A With Bucks Guard Elijah Millsap

September 14 at 7:31pm CDT By Zach Links

After signing a non-guaranteed deal with the Bucks last week, well-traveled guard/forward Elijah Millsap is hopeful that he’s finally found an NBA home.  Millsap has put up star numbers in the D-League and has shown serious scoring ability from Israel to the Philippines.  Now, he wants to fulfill his lifelong dream by playing on the world’s biggest stage.  Hoops Rumors caught up with the Hazan Sports Management client late last week to discuss his journey and what he hopes to bring to Milwaukee this season.

Zach Links: What do you feel like you can bring to an NBA team and, specifically, the Bucks?

Elijah Millsap: I think what I bring is maturity, I’ve been a professional for over four years so I’m not really a rookie, I’m a professional and I think that’ll be an asset for any NBA team.  I’ve been around the system for a while and that’s one thing I can bring to a team.  My versatility is also a major asset.  I can play the 1, the 2, or the 3 and I can guard multiple positions.  Elijah Millsap (featured)

ZL: What’s your best position?

EM: I don’t really have one, I can do it all.  I’ve been working at the 2 and 3 this summer though. 

ZL: How many other teams were you getting interest from before you signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Bucks?

EM: I don’t deal with that stuff directly so I think I’ll let my agent answer that.

Daniel Hazan (agent): We were talking with numerous teams, even before the summer league got started and I think what was most appealing to us, was the idea of being a part of a young team and being able to add a maturity to that group of guys.  I think the Bucks are a team that could benefit from Elijah, not just because of his ability to play D and get to the rim, but they can benefit from his leadership skills. 

ZL: Is there another player currently in the NBA that you would compare your skillset to?

EM: Not really.  There are a lot of guys that I look up to on the defensive end that have been in my situation though.  Guys like P.J. Tucker, guys like Wesley Matthews.   Tucker was a second round guy, Matthews went undrafted, and they were able to find a niche with their team.  I continue to try and keep hope alive for myself and I want to do what they were able to do in the NBA. 

ZL: You played some tremendous basketball for the Lakers’ D-League affiliate during your time there, how close were you to getting called up and do you know why you weren’t?

EM: I was very close but I dont’ know if you can really say how close I was.  It’s always a numbers game and all I can do is do all I can and have fun playing basketball.

ZL: You’ve had stints in China, Israel, and the Philippines. How does the international game differ from basketball here?

EM: Overseas, I would have to compare it to more like a college environment.  The crowd is a little more rowdy but it’s fun. I think the game is a lot more physical over there, they let their guys get away with a lot more than Americans. It’s a great experience and it’s fun to experience different cultures though.

ZL: Did it make you more of a physical player?

EM: I’ve always been a physical player but it made me a better all-around player because I wasn’t able to get in the lane as much as I do over here in the states.  Because of that it forced me to work even harder on my jump shot and that made me a complete player offensively.  I appreciate the experience I got [overseas].

ZL: Did you eat the local food when you were playing overseas?  Is there one dish you crave from time to time that you wish you could get in the states?

EM: In Israel they made really, really good home fries, actually.  In the Philippines the way they cook their food is a lot different that what I was used to but it was all really good food out there.

ZL: There are a ton of agents out there to choose from.  What made Hazan Sports Management the right agency for you?

EM: Daniel and Andrew [Hoenig] and all of them, they’re hard workers. They’re young and they’re ready to work. Going with these guys, I knew I was going to get specific attention from them.  They’ve been to all of my summer league games and that’s what I was really looking for, somebody that would give me the attention that I needed.  I work hard every day and so do they.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Notes: Sanders, Bucks, Marion, Billups

September 11 at 9:07am CDT By Chuck Myron

Murphy’s Law governed Larry Sanders last season after the Bucks signed him to a four-year, $44MM extension, and a report this summer indicated that the team was making him available in trade talk. Still, the Bucks maintain their faith in the 25-year-old, as Milwaukee assistant GM David Morway tells HoopsHype’s David Alarcon.

“Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. Larry is in our future plans,” Morway said. “We are hopeful that this year Larry gets back to being the basketball player that he was two years ago. He is a defensive presence and a game-changer on the court. So when you have his length along with Giannis [Antetokounmpo], Jabari Parker, John Henson and then Zaza Pachulia, Damien Inglis, who is very long, and if you play Khris Middleton at the two … We are a fairly long team. We’ve got good experience with O.J. Mayo, Jerryd Bayless … And we like Kendall Marshall. So we are excited for next year.”

The executive had more to say about his club, as we’ll note amid the latest from around the Central Division:

  • Morway says the Bucks are “pretty much done” with their offseason moves, as he also tells Alarcon. Morway mentions the presence of 15 guaranteed contracts on the roster, though it appears as though Milwaukee only has 14. It’s likely he’s counting Marshall’s non-guaranteed deal in the guaranteed category, given the prominent role that Marshall is set to play, though that’s just my speculation.
  • The Bucks had a desire to let Caron Butler play for a winner when they let him out of his contract at midseason last year, as Morway mentions in his interview with Alarcon. Butler joined the Thunder for the stretch run, and while the Pistons are far from contention, the idea that they’ll start winning sometime soon was apparently key to Butler’s decision to sign with Detroit this summer.
  • Shawn Marion‘s pact with the Cavs is fully guaranteed, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), who confirms that he’s getting the minimum salary, which is all Cleveland could give him. It’s a one-year deal, as Pincus shows on the Basketball Insiders salary pages.
  • The leadership of Chauncey Billups is what led the Pistons to sign him a year ago for what turned out to be his final season, but for most of his career he was the rare player who combined professionalism and All-Star talent, writes Shawn Windsor of the Detroit Free Press.

Bucks To Sign Elijah Millsap

September 8 at 5:25pm CDT By Zach Links

Free agent forward Elijah Millsap has signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Bucks, agent Daniel Hazan tells Shams Charania of RealGM (on Twitter).  Millsap was in summer league this offseason with the Sixers.

The shooting guard/small forward has spent parts of the last four seasons in the D-League and the last three with the Los Angeles D-Fenders.  In January, Millsap signed with Maccabi Ashdod for the rest of the season but returned to the states in March to hook up with the D-Fenders once more.

In 114 D-League games, Millsap has averaged 17.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, and 3.1 APG in 31.7 minutes per contest.  The 27-year-old was also named to the D-League All-Star team in 2011/12 in his first campaign with Los Angeles.

Eastern Notes: Hawks, Knicks, Pistons, Stiemsma

September 8 at 1:10pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Hawks lost an estimated $23.9MM on their basketball operations last season, a figure partially offset by $11MM in combined proceeds from luxury tax payouts and the league’s revenue-sharing plan, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports. The Bucks, who went for $550MM this spring, lost an estimated $6.5MM, but revenue sharing lifted them to a profit, Lowe also reveals. Still, the NBA and its television partners are expected to strike a deal that would give the league an average of more than $2 billion a year, up from $930MM in the current agreement, as John Lombardo and John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal report. The NBA is a hot property, but while outgoing owner Bruce Levenson has the controlling stake in the Hawks, he doesn’t have the majority share, Lowe notes. It remains to be seen whether the Hawks sale will reap a figure close to the $2 billion Steve Ballmer paid for the Clippers, the Bucks sale price, or an entirely different number, but as we wait to see, here’s more from the East:

  • Knicks owner James Dolan and team president Phil Jackson have agreed to keep the existing front office staff in place for a year, a source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post. The club hasn’t let go of any front office personnel since Jackson’s hiring, and the only addition has been Clarence Gaines Jr., who serves as an adviser to Jackson, Berman points out. Rick Fox said Sunday that he’d be interested in joining the organization, though there’s been no movement toward that end, as Berman chronicles.
  • Otis Smith confirms that he and Pistons president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy discussed making Smith the team’s GM, a job that instead went to Jeff Bower, but Smith told Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel that the timing wasn’t right (Twitter links).I don’t think I’m ready to go back to NBA,” said Smith, the former Magic GM who joined the Pistons as the coach of their D-League team.
  • Greg Stiemsma‘s one-year deal for the minimum salary with the Raptors is indeed partially guaranteed, according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link).

Poll: Which Coach Will Be On The Hot Seat?

September 6 at 7:44pm CDT By Cray Allred

The summer is the season of optimism for NBA fans, with draft picks and signings set to fit perfectly and improve teams all over the league–hypothetically. Once the season begins, however, the goodwill can dry up fast. Last year, blockbuster acquisitions in Detroit and Brooklyn had set expectations high for newly hired coaches Maurice Cheeks and Jason Kidd, but both teams struggled out of the gate, placing both coaches on the hot seat. Kidd survived the season and guided the Nets to the playoffs, but the root of conflict survived as well, and Kidd bolted for Milwaukee in a bizarre power struggle. Cheeks was fired in-season, and remains without a coaching job.

Mike Woodson faced constant speculation about his own job, and lasted through the season only to be let go by incoming team president Phil Jackson. Larry Drew bore the brunt of the Kidd move, and Tyrone Corbin was let go by the Jazz, despite his baby-faced roster performing about as well as expected. Mark Jackson led the Warriors to improvement for a second consecutive season, but pushing the Clippers to a Game 7 in the opening round of the playoffs wasn’t enough to salvage his position in Golden State after some turbulence between Jackson, the rest of the coaching staff, and the front office.

In the NBA, very few jobs are ever truly “safe,” unless your last name is Popovich. Let’s look at some of the coaches who could encounter early traces of job insecurity.

1. Winning Enough? Scott BrooksKevin McHale, and Frank Vogel. In parts of 13 seasons combined with their current teams, these coaches have only two losing seasons between them. Brooks receives plenty of flack for his in-game strategy and roster management, despite having coached a young Thunder team to a surprise appearance in the 2012 Finals, and regularly orchestrating dominant regular season performances that have been undercut by postseason injuries to Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. After Oklahoma City’s disappointing series loss to the eventual champions in 2013/14, GM Sam Presti voiced his support for the coach moving forward.

Vogel built a defensive juggernaut that gave the Heat one of its stiffest annual challenges in the playoffs, but Indiana struggled mightily for much of the second half of last season, and the team will suffer this year from the losses of Lance Stephenson and Paul George. The Pacers squelched rumors that the coach could be let go after the team lost in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive year, but Vogel will be coaching on an expiring contract unless the team grants him an extension in the coming months.

McHale has failed to take the Rockets beyond the first round in his tenure, and expectations are that the team is due to build on its success around James Harden and Dwight Howard. The front office in Houston didn’t do McHale any favors this offseason, allowing mainstays Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin, and Omer Asik to depart while striking out on free agent Chris Bosh.

2. First-Year Coaches: David Blatt, Steve Kerr, Derek Fisher, and Quin Snyder. Blatt was signed to coach a team that failed to reach the playoffs last season, but Cleveland has since become a championship contender with the additions of LeBron James and Kevin Love. It’s rare for a first-time head coach to cut his teeth with such enormous expectations. Kerr takes over for a team that envisions a higher ceiling than they had attained with Jackson. Kerr’s involvement in the decision to withhold Klay Thompson from a potential Love trade could come back to haunt him, especially if the star power forward thrives in Cleveland while the shooting guard’s game doesn’t take off under Kerr’s tutelage.

Fisher and Snyder figure to operate with more patient front offices and fan bases, as both were hired to develop players within their systems with an eye toward the future. Of course, “low-pressure” isn’t typical of any coaching job in the New York market, and Fisher has insisted that his team should make the playoffs this season.

3. The Clock Is Ticking: Jacque Vaughn and Brian Shaw. Vaughn has been at the helm for a rebuilding Magic team the last two years, racking up an understandably poor .262 winning percentage. While Orlando is still far from contending, the team has shored up the rotation with veteran additions and has a number of young players on schedule to provide a bigger impact. A season spent at the very bottom of league standings might be unacceptable to Magic brass, especially if the young pieces fail to pop. Shaw took the reigns for one of the Western Conference’s best teams in 2012/13, but injuries and the departure of Andre Iguodala prevented them from reaching the postseason altogether this spring. The West should be no less fierce this season, but the Nuggets have high hopes that Shaw will be working to meet in just his second year on the sidelines.

4. Anything Can Happen: Jason Kidd and Dave Joerger. Both coaches are entering their sophomore seasons as NBA head coaches after having reached the playoffs on the first try. Aside from their teams’ performances, there are strange off-the-court similarities between the two. Kidd exited Brooklyn in the aforementioned stunner, and Joerger appeared destined to leave Memphis amid a series of puzzling revelations about his relationship with Grizzlies owner Robert Pera, before the two eventually hashed out their differences and agreed on a contract extension. Both would appear to have a long leash for the coming season, but the combustible personalities in play have undermined peaceful coaching situations before.

Who do you think will find himself on rocky footing soonest in 2014/15? As we have routinely seen, ongoing success is no guarantee that a coach is in the clear. If you think I’ve failed to mention the most likely name, vote “Other” and leave your choice in the comments.

Eastern Notes: Turner, Sullinger, Bucks

September 6 at 4:42pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Derrick Rose was held scoreless in Team USA’s 86-63 victory over Mexico, but Bulls head coach and Team USA assistant Tom Thibodeau wasn’t the least bit concerned, Sam Amick of USA Today reports. Of Rose’s progress, Thibodeau said, “There’s nothing negative about this. This is all positive. As I said, the more he practices, the more he plays, the better he’ll get. He’ll be fine. Just take it day by day, keep doing the things that he’s doing and get ready for training camp when we get there. The important thing is to concentrate on what he’s doing right now, which is here, and do the things that we’re asking him to do here.”

Here’s more from around the east:

  • The Celticssigning of Evan Turner hasn’t been made official yet, but Jared Sullinger is excited that Turner will be playing for Boston next season, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com writes. “Everybody is down on (Turner) because of how the ‘trade’ happened and what happened in the trade and how Indiana played,” Sullinger said. “People misunderstand Evan. He’s a great basketball player, a great teammate. I’ve known him for years. He’s all about winning. That’s his main goal.”
  • Sullinger has lost weight and is primed for a big season, writes Blakely in a separate article. Sullinger is free of the post-surgical limitations he faced heading into last season, and he said, “I couldn’t play until September, full-go with contact playing one-on-one, things like that. I was kind of behind the eight-ball and stayed behind the eight-ball. My biggest thing was health last year. I think I was a little afraid at the beginning of training camp due to my back, contact and all that good stuff. I was afraid of what was going to happen…but now I know what I can do. I know how my back is going to hold up. The beautiful thing about it is I have another year to show who Jared Sullinger can be.”
  • The crew over at Basketball Insiders preview the upcoming season for the Bucks, and the consensus is that Milwaukee will finish fifth in the Central Division, and miss the playoffs yet again.

Eastern Notes: Dudley, Cavs, Granger

September 6 at 8:58am CDT By Eddie Scarito

Bucks coach Jason Kidd believes that the newly acquired Jared Dudley will have a big impact on the team’s younger players, Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel writes. “When you look at a veteran coming from winning programs – Phoenix, the Clippers – that’s important,” Kidd said. “When I talked to him, he talked about learning from Grant Hill and what it means to be a professional. We need that in the locker room as much as we need him to be himself on the court by defending and knocking down threes and being part of the team.”

Here’s more from the east:

  • Mike Miller told reporters including Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he chose to sign with the Cavs for a chance to win another championship alongside LeBron James, and that the addition of Kevin Love reinforced those expectations. “Before [Love], we still had the same expectations,” said Miller. With him it makes those expectations a little more exciting. Now it’s on us as players and the coaching staff and organization to do our job and come together and show our commitment by making sacrifices within the locker room.”
  • Miller added that Cleveland’s influx of veterans with championship experience will help instill commitment across the roster. “Every team is different and it’s a matter of commitment level,” Miller said. The best thing is we have a handful of guys that have done it before. You add pieces like Shawn Marion, James Jones, LeBron, Brendan Haywood and that makes it a lot easier when you’re saying stuff to other players.”
  • Danny Granger is the Heat newcomer that has the potential to be the wild card this season and provide an unexpected boost, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel opines. Winderman also believes that a number of Miami players who hold opt-outs after the season will be especially motivated to produce this season.

Cray Allred contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Williams, Heat, Bucks

September 4 at 6:37pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Lou Williams has a renewed sense of purpose this season after being traded to the Raptors, Holly MacKenzie of NBA.com writes. On joining Toronto, Williams said, “I think one of the best benefits of it is being in a position where you feel wanted. When they traded for me and had the conversation, they want me here. It wasn’t a money thing. It wasn’t just something to do. They felt they had a void they needed to fill coming off the bench and I’m excited to help. I feel wanted. I feel like I have a responsibility with this basketball team and that’s the best way I can operate.”

Here’s more from around the east:

  • The Heat announced that former head coach and longtime assistant coach Ron Rothstein has retired from coaching. Miami also announced that assistant coach Bob McAdoo will become a scout for the team as well as a community liaison. “Both Ron and Bob were instrumental in the success of the Heat and their contributions to our three championships cannot be overstated,” said team President Pat Riley. “They are Heat lifers and I’m happy that they will continue to be an important part of the organization as they evolve into their new roles within the Heat family.”
  • Howard Eisley will be joining coach Randy Wittman‘s staff with the Wizards, the team announced. Eisley has spent the last four seasons as an assistant for the Clippers.
  • Marc Lasry, the co-owner of the Bucks, thinks that it will take three to five years to turn around the franchise’s fortunes, Don Walker of the Journal-Sentinel writes.