Milwaukee Bucks

Central Notes: Hill, Mozgov, Parker

Pacers small forward Solomon Hill had his 2016/17 rookie option declined by the team, but it’s not a decision that is weighing on him, writes Scott Agness of “I wasn’t even thinking about that, to tell you the truth,” he told Agness. “That stuff will handle itself. One thing I can control is my effort and my ability to play the game of basketball. I never look at it as being like a crucial time. I just want to win. That’s the biggest thing for me.” Hill, whose option value was approximately $2.306MM, is now set to become an unrestricted free agent this coming summer.

With Hill seeing sparse playing time thus far during the 2015/16 season, securing a lucrative free agent deal will certainly be difficult, Agness notes. “Of course [it’s difficult]. It is what it is. Stuff happens for reasons,” Hill said regarding his lack of minutes. “I can only control what I can control and that’s making sure I’m ready when my name is called. Anything else is out of my hands. I’m not going to stress about stuff that’s out of hands right now.

Here’s more from out of the Central Division:

  • Center Timofey Mozgov, who had surgery on his right knee during the offseason, is still attempting to work himself back into shape, and the Cavaliers are banking on him rounding into form for the latter part of the season, Dave McMenamin of writes. “He’s working real hard, strengthening,” coach David Blatt said of the big Russian. “He’s dropping a little bit of weight, which is good. That takes pressure off the knee. And getting himself in the kind of shape that he’s going to have to be in as we get further and deeper into the season. But I think he’s feeling better and I think it shows in his play.
  • The Bucks are planning on taking it slow with Jabari Parker, who is returning from a torn ACL that cost him the bulk of his rookie campaign in 2014/15, Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports writes. The offseason free agent signing of center  Greg Monroe may have brought heightened expectations to the franchise, but it also bought some extra time for Parker to heal, Lee adds. “The great thing about Jabari’s injury is who we are as an organization; that we’re not a finished product,” Milwaukee GM John Hammond told Lee. “I feel like, hopefully, we’re still a team in the future and I think our aspirations are high and we think we can do special things in the future here. So there is not that pressure where there’s a short window for us and the time is now. So with that being said for Jabari, it’s not about now, it’s about the long-term future.

Central Notes: Parker, Thompson, Jones

Jabari Parker will return Wednesday for his first game since he tore his left ACL in December, as Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported (Twitter links), and as the Bucks confirm. It appeared the team was concerned he’d have to remain out until late this month, but he’s instead a go this week for Milwaukee, which has started the season a disappointing 0-3. Tyler Ennis will also make his season debut for the Bucks in that game after dealing with a shoulder injury. See more from the Central Division:

  • Tristan Thompson hinted to TNT’s David Aldridge that he was on board with sitting out all of this season if it was necessary for him to get a fair deal, as Aldridge writes within his Morning Tip column for The power forward finally re-signed with the Cavs on a five-year, $82MM deal late last month after lengthy negotiations. “I didn’t worry about it,” Thompson said. “Obviously I love playing the game of basketball. That’s what God blessed me to do. At the same time, playing in the NBA, it’s a business side to it. At the end of the day, myself, Rich [Paul], Mark [Termini], we handled it the way we felt best. We weren’t worried. If the deal gets done, it gets done. If not, so be it, sit out the whole season [and] work on my game, and just get better. It was no wondering if it would get done, or nervousness. If I had it to do over again, I’d do it the same way — no regrets.”
  • The Cavs have named former player and Termini client Damon Jones an assistant coach for their D-League team, notes Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor (Twitter link). Cleveland originally planned to have Jones, who served last year as a shooting consultant for both the Cavs and their D-League team, move into that full-time D-League role for last season, but he wasn’t interested, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (on Twitter).
  • The Pacers have assigned Rakeem Christmas and Shayne Whittington to their D-League affiliate, the team announced. Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star first reported the moves would take place (Twitter link). They’re the first players any NBA team has assigned to the D-League this season, and the first that Indiana has ever assigned to its new one-to-one D-League affiliate.

Central Notes: Love, Meeks, Monroe, Noah

The Cavaliers re-signed Kevin Love to a five-year max deal this summer, and LeBron James indicated Wednesday that getting the former All-Star involved is the team’s top offensive priority, notes Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Love is so far the team’s second-leading scorer, at 17.5 points per game, a point behind James.

“We’ll use Kevin however he wants to be used,” James said. “I told you Kevin is going to be our main focus. He’s going to have a hell of a season. He’s going to get back to that All-Star status. He’s the focal point of us offensively. I know I can go out and get mine when I need it. But I need Kev to be as aggressive as he was tonight, and when he rebounds at the level he did tonight, the shots will automatically fall for him.”

See more from the Central Division:

  • Jodie Meeks suffered a Jones fracture to his right foot during the Pistons game Wednesday, coach/executive Stan Van Gundy told reporters, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. It’s an injury that some doctors say requires four to six weeks for recovery in some cases, Ellis tweets, though the team hasn’t released a timetable and specifics are scarce, Ellis notes.
  • Caron Butler played a half-season for the Bucks in 2013/14 and was briefly on the roster following this year’s Ersan Ilyasova trade, but Milwaukee can thank the native of nearby Racine for his hand in helping the team successfully recruit Greg Monroe, as Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times details. Butler, now with the Kings, and Monroe were teammates on the Pistons last season. “He grew up around here [Milwaukee] and played here and I listened to what he would say about Milwaukee,’’ Monroe said of Butler. “He had some positive things to say about being here. He also definitely played a role in me coming here.’’
  • Joakim Noah came to Fred Hoiberg with the suggestion that the Bulls start Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic instead of him, the new Bulls coach tells Grantland’s Zach Lowe. Noah was No. 8 in the 2016 Free Agent Power Rankings we compiled before the start of camp, though he figures to drop in the upcoming edition of our rankings now that he’s coming off the bench.

Eastern Notes: Monroe, Mahinmi, Spoelstra

Despite meeting with the Knicks first during the free agent signing period this offseason, Greg Monroe dispelled the notion that New York was ever the frontrunner for his services, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes. “That was just the way it was scheduled,” Monroe said. “There was nothing extra. I wasn’t the only player teams were meeting with and that’s just how it fell in place.” David Falk, Monroe’s agent, regarding why his client chose the Bucks over the Knicks, told Bondy, “It wasn’t about presentation or marketing, It was about what Milwaukee already brought to the table.

The interest was definitely there [with the Knicks],” Monroe told the Daily News scribe. “I took an interest in everybody that was willing to meet with me. I don’t like to take anybody’s time for granted. I definitely didn’t take their time for granted. I made a decision based on the things that I was looking for and I wanted. At this point, I’d rather not [talk about it]. It doesn’t matter anymore. Any questions anybody has, I could honestly not care less. I’m happy with where I’m at. I definitely feel like I made the right decision.

Here’s more from out of the Eastern Conference:

  • Ian Mahinmi, entering the final season of his contract and with the Pacers starting center job now his, worked tirelessly over the summer on his offensive game, particularly his shooting touch, as Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star examines.
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been the exception to the rule for college coaches coming to the NBA, as most of them have struggled, so Billy Donovan of the Thunder and Fred Hoiberg of the Bulls face a challenge to defy history, as Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune examines.
  • Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is the second longest tenured coach in the NBA behind Gregg Popovich, yet he enters this season needing to prove himself all over again now that the team has overhauled its roster and is in need of a new identity, Ethan J. Skolnick of The Miami Herald writes.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Central Notes: Lopez, Pistons, Bulls, Petteway

Bucks coach Jason Kidd confirmed reports that the team had interest in Robin Lopez and Brook Lopez in free agency this summer, notes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Neither ended up in Milwaukee, with Robin going to the Knicks and Brook re-signing with the Nets, though the Bucks did well enough, landing Greg Monroe.

“We liked both of those guys,’’ Kidd said. “They both do something and they’re very productive. I think both teams got maybe the guy they wanted. Looking at the Lopezes, I’ve coached one of them and recruited another. They’ve always played the game the right way. The Knicks ended up with [Robin] Lopez, which is a good pickup for them.”

See more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons have no shortage of players with contractual motivation to prove their worth this season, making “the disease of more” and the potential for selfishness a concern in Detroit, as Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press details.
  • Other Eastern Conference teams improved their rosters in the offseason, but short of adding Bobby Portis and Cristiano Felicio, the Bulls stood pat, making it fair to wonder about Chicago’s apparent determination that the most pressing need for change was at head coach, opines David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
  • The contract that Terran Petteway was briefly on with the Pacers was non-guaranteed for the minimum salary and covered one season, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Indiana absorbed a small cap hit for signing him after Saturday’s deadline to remove non-guaranteed salary without it counting against the cap. The Pacers inked Petteway on Sunday and waived him on Monday to secure his D-League rights.

Eastern Notes: Fournier, Cunningham, Hardaway Jr.

Swingman Evan Fournier wants to remain with the Magic for the long-term, but he is not stressing the November 2nd deadline for an extension to be worked out between himself and Orlando, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel writes. “I don’t even think about it, because in my mind I know we have a game tomorrow, and that’s all that matters,” Fournier said. “A contract, if it happens, that’s great, man. If it doesn’t, it’s going to be next summer. It’s that simple.” If the Magic and Fournier don’t reach an agreement prior to the deadline, then the 22-year-old would be eligible to hit restricted free agency next summer, provided the team tenders him a qualifying offer worth $3,278,998. The two sides are still engaged in discussions, Robbins notes.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Jared Cunningham fought hard to secure the Cavaliers‘ final regular season roster spot on a non-guaranteed deal, and now the team is looking for him to add defense and energy to the second unit, Spencer Davies of writes. “He was aggressive from day number one,” said coach David Blatt. “He played the game with a lot of passion on both ends. He did not shy away from responsibility, and obviously, he performed really well. He earned that spot without question, and he should help us this year.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.  is excited to be a member of the Hawks, a franchise that has enjoyed much more recent success than the Knicks, the swingman’s former team, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “It’s a different vibe; everybody is about their business and moves at their pace. It’s not too fast and everybody is serious about their work,” Hardaway said. “I’m coming to a team that made it to the playoffs last year and got deep into the playoffs; they have high expectations of themselves and it’s great to come into an environment like that.” Atlanta announced that it had picked up Hardaway’s fourth-year option earlier this evening.
  • The unveiling of the Bucks‘ new arena will be delayed by a year, and it is now scheduled to open in time for the 2018/19 season, the Associated Press reports. The team had hoped to have the arena ready by the start of the 2017/18 campaign, but team spokesman Jake Suski said that the earlier date “simply isn’t realistic,” according to the report.

Central Notes: Hoiberg, Parker, Jefferson, Boatright

Fred Hoiberg chose the Bulls in part because of their ability not just to win now but to have sustained success for the future, Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard tells K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Indeed, long-term thinking is a key for Hoiberg’s Bulls, as the coach has taken a decidedly less-aggressive approach than Tom Thibodeau, his predecessor, leading Jimmy Butler to remark that Hoiberg “really cares about how our body feels,” as Johnson relays. In all, Hoiberg has brought more calm and collaboration to the Bulls, Johnson writes.

“There are days where he just talks and relates to us. That’s big,” Taj Gibson said. “Sometimes, guys come in a little down. It’s good to have a coach that comes to you and says, ‘It’s all right. Things are going to happen. I’ve been there.'”

Another change for the Bulls this season is an opening night roster with 15 players, breaking a longstanding tradition of starting with less than the maximum number of players allowed. See more from around the Central Division:

Bucks Pick Up 2016/17 Options On Four

The Bucks have exercised their rookie scale options for 2016/17 on Tyler Ennis, Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Michael Carter-Williams, the team announced, assuring them of their salaries for that season. The moves add more than $13.287MM to Milwaukee’s books, giving the Bucks close to $62MM in guaranteed salary against a projected $89MM cap for 2016/17.

Ennis has a salary of $1,733,880 for next season, while Parker will get $5,374,320. Antetokounmpo will receive $2,995,421, while Carter-Williams’ option will cost the Bucks $3,183,526. Milwaukee is already on the hook for three contracts above $12MM next season, as the salaries of Greg Monroe, Khris Middleton and John Henson add up to approximately $44.6MM.

It was a foregone conclusion the Bucks would pick up the options on three starters with only the Ennis move counting as somewhat of a surprise. The 21-year-old point guard appeared in 33 games last season as a rookie — eight with the Suns and 25 with the Bucks after he was acquired in the Brandon Knight deal. He had shoulder surgery during the offseason and isn’t expected back until sometime next month.

Central Notes: Drummond, Jackson, Vaughn

It’s a credit to the relationship formed between Pistons owner Tom Gores, coach/executive Stan Van Gundy, and center Andre Drummond that all parties would agree to hold off on signing an extension to allow the team to retain more cap space heading into next offseason, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press writes. “I will tell you I’ve learned from conversations that we had we’re really giving ourselves the flexibility to build this team up and do the right things to get us where we need to be,” Drummond told reporters. “I’m just ready to prepare for the season, and whenever that time comes again, I’ll be prepared for it.

Drummond’s willingness to put his future payday on hold impressed Van Gundy, Ellis notes. “As much as Andre wants to be here, he desperately wants to win and wants to be part of a contender and wants us to have the flexibility to continue to add people to this team,” Van Gundy said. “He has a great relationship with Tom — a very open, honest, trusting relationship. They spend a lot of time talking about this. I think it shows Andre’s maturity and leadership that he would step forward and put the team ahead of himself.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Reggie Jackson, who re-signed with the Pistons this summer for five years and $80MM, has a stake in whether or not Drummond remains in Detroit, Aaron McMann of writes. “He’s a big reason, reason 1A-1B, I went solely into staying here,” Jackson said. “He was always on me about making sure I signed. So I’m just trying to make sure everything’s going in the right direction to still be here and try and make a lot of memories.
  • Jackson also relayed that he and Drummond spoke privately about the center’s decision, and the point guard called it a big one for the big man’s future, McMann adds in the same piece. “It’s a mature move either way,” Jackson said. “Whatever he decides is what he decides. I just would love to know that I have this guy with me during my tenure being here, wearing this red and blue. I just want what’s best for Andre. I want what’s best for his career. I definitely want him to be here and I want to make a lot of memories and a lot of highlights in the Palace and bring back this city.
  • Bucks rookie shooting guard Rashad Vaughn has been turning heads with his stellar preseason play, and he may turn out to be the steal of the 2015 NBA Draft, writes Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. “He plays with a great demeanor,” coach Jason Kidd said. “He doesn’t get up too high and doesn’t get too down in the things that he’s done. He is showing that he deserves time to play and he’ll get it. … At 19 years old, he’s very mature. He acts a lot older on the court and off the court.”
  • The Cavs finally struck a deal with Tristan Thompson today, as we passed along earlier. See the details here.

Bucks Waive Gutierrez, Landry, Powell

The Bucks have waived Jorge Gutierrez, Marcus Landry and Josh Powell, the team announced, taking the roster down to the 15-man regular season maximum. The trio had non-guaranteed contracts while the other 15 Bucks are on fully guaranteed deals, so today’s moves come as no surprise. Damien Inglis and Johnny O’Bryant, both high second-round picks from 2014, were the Bucks players with the smallest guarantees, each promised less than $1MM, but their places on the roster appear safe for now.

Gutierrez was a holdover from last season, having joined the team on a pair of 10-day contracts that led to a multiyear deal. The 26-year-old former Nets point guard dished out 11 assists against only three turnovers in about 47 minutes of preseason action, totaling 12 points along the way, but it wasn’t enough for him to stick.

Landry, 29, was attempting an NBA comeback after last having seen regular season action during 2009/10 with the Knicks and Celtics. A native of Milwaukee, the combo forward averaged 2.5 points in 10.5 minutes per game during his four preseason appearances and looked sharp in practice, according to Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times (Twitter link).

Powell was also trying to revive his NBA playing career after spending last season as a player development coach with the Rockets. The 32-year-old former Lakers power forward has appeared in only one regular season game since the 2010/11 season. He went scoreless in about 23 minutes total over four preseason games with the Bucks.

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