Milwaukee Bucks

Bucks Interested In Kevin Martin

11:09pm: Milwaukee and Minnesota had talks about Martin, but the Bucks merely wanted to explore the idea, sources told Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops, adding that one source described the talks merely as due diligence (Twitter links). The Bucks, like other teams interested in Martin, have reservations about his player option, Scotto also tweets.

10:44pm: The Bucks have expressed interest in acquiring shooting guard Kevin Martin from the Timberwolves, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports (Twitter link). The 32-year-old was reportedly made available on the trade market by Minnesota last month. The Wolves had spoken with two unnamed teams about Martin earlier this season but were reluctant to move him after getting off to a promising 8-8 start, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press, who reported Martin’s availability last month, after Minnesota fell off its early-season pace. The team wishes to clear up more playing time for its younger wing players like Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, according to Krawczynski.

Milwaukee’s interest in Martin is curious considering that the Bucks are currently the 13th ranked team in the Eastern Conference and seemingly out of playoff contention, though the team has been looking to add some veteran leadership, which Martin could certainly help provide. The Bucks were reportedly interested in acquiring Caron Butler, but they have since apparently cooled on pursing the swingman, and they have also met with power forward Carlos Boozer multiple times in recent weeks, according to reports. The Kings are also interested in Martin, as Wolfson reported earlier, and the Bulls and Grizzlies have looked into trading for him, too, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. However, Memphis has resisted attempts from Minnesota for a swap of Martin for Courtney Lee, as USA Today’s Sam Amick relayed. The shooting guard was also the subject of trade talk last winter, when a series of reports identified the Mavericks, Wizards, Bulls, Kings and Rockets as interested parties, though late Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders didn’t appear willing to part with Martin at the time.

Martin has appeared in 29 games for the Wolves this season, including 12 starts. He is averaging 11.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists in just 23.8 minutes per game, which is his lowest amount of playing time since his rookie campaign of 2004/05. Through 688 career regular season games, Martin is averaging 17.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists to go along with a shooting line of .438/.385/.870. The veteran is earning $7.085MM on the year and possesses a player option for 2016/17 worth $7,377,500. Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors examined Martin’s trade candidacy earlier this week.

And-Ones: Nets, Mullin, Stoudemire

Current St. John’s coach and former Warriors GM Chris Mullin, who is from Brooklyn, is a name that Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com has heard in regards to the Nets’ new head coaching vacancy (Twitter link). This is the first mention of Mullin in connection to the Nets that we’ve learned of and it is not yet known how serious a candidate he is to consider.

In other news regarding the Nets’ shakeup today, Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com hears reports that claim former GM Billy King will advise in the search for his successor are “totally true” (Twitter link).

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Amar’e Stoudemire considered signing with the Suns, which is one of his former teams, over the summer before he joined the Heat, opting to instead play on a title contender, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports (scroll down). The Suns drafted Stoudemire in 2002. He captured the Rookie of the Year award and made five All-Star teams with the Suns. “That’s why I chose Miami, but Phoenix is still not ruled out,” Stoudemire said. “I have a lot of basketball left in me.” Stoudemire, 33, will be a free agent again this summer.
  • Point guard Jordan Farmar, who last played in the league in 2014/15 for the Clippers and is mostly known for his time with the Lakers, wants to be back in the NBA and would not turn down a 10-day contract, international journalist David Pick reports (on Twitter). Farmer parted ways with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv today after signing overseas in July, according to the team’s Twitter (h/t Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia).
  • Tyson Chandler‘s four-year, $52MM pact with the Suns was one of the summer’s worst free agent deals because the 33-year-old has struggled mightily with his new team, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders opines. Omer Asik‘s contract with the Pelicans and Kyle Singler‘s deal with the Thunder also made Basketball Insiders’ list.
  • After making the playoffs last season and then signing Greg Monroe, the Bucks are a disappointing 15-24, but with young stars on the roster, Milwaukee’s position is still an enviable one going forward, Ian Thomsen of NBA.com writes. There is still a lot of hope that the Bucks can contend beyond this season because Jabari Parker is 20, Giannis Antetokounmpo is 21 and Monroe is 25, Thomsen adds. With another top-10 pick likely coming in June, the Bucks remain in good shape for the long-term, Thomsen contends.

Central Notes: Williams, Van Gundy, Dunleavy, Noah

No one in the Cavaliers organization has corroborated Mo Williams‘ claim of a partially torn ligament in his right thumb, writes Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com. Williams announced the injury Friday after visiting with a hand specialist in New York. The team had called it a sprain and didn’t issue a release, which Haynes notes is customary with injuries of this type. Williams, who has undergone two prior surgeries on the thumb, said it should heal on its own within six weeks without another surgery. “It’s just peace of mind, knowing I didn’t rip it off or anything,” he said about the second diagnosis. “It’s just a little partial tear, no different from like when you sprain your ankle real bad.” The injury coincides with Williams’ loss of playing time since Kyrie Irving‘s return. Williams sat out his third straight game Friday in Minnesota.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons have improved by becoming a Stan Van Gundy team, according to Paul Flannery of SB Nation. Van Gundy built his kind of team over the past year, Flannery writes, trading for Reggie Jackson at last season’s deadline, dealing for Ersan Ilyasova and Marcus Morris and adding free agents Aron Baynes, Steve Blake and Anthony Tolliver over the summer and drafting Stanley Johnson. “It’s pretty clear what Stan wanted to do over the last 15, 16 months with spacing the floor with skilled fours,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “When you think about how impactful Ilyasova and Tolliver are, it may not be on the stat sheet, it’s the fact that those rim runs are a little bit more open by those bigs and the guard driving. It just puts you in such a predicament.”
  • Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg says injured forward Mike Dunleavy is still about a month away from returning, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. Dunleavy has yet to play this season because of back problems.
  • Coach Jason Kidd, sidelined with a hip injury, joined the Bucks for a shootaround this morning at Madison Square Garden, tweets Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Kidd will meet with his doctor in New York tonight to have X-rays taken on the hip. The coach has been out of action since having surgery December 21st.

Central Notes: Kidd, Jennings, Ellis

Bucks coach Jason Kidd is doing his best to remain close to the team as he recovers from right hip surgery and will know more about his timetable to return to the sidelines after meeting with his doctor this coming Sunday, Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. “I feel great,” Kidd said. “Everything went well with the surgery. I’ve been around the team of late, for the shootaround and also for the game with San Antonio. I was here today and here yesterday [Wednesday], so making more progress. We’ll find out more or less the game plan once we meet with the doctors on Sunday in New York. We’ll see what they say, what I’m able to do. As much as I would love to get back, we’ve also got to look at travel, which could be tough. It could create a blood clot or something like that. You don’t want to go down that [road]. The doctors will have the answers for us come Sunday, we hope.

Here’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pistons don’t want to compromise their cap flexibility for the summer ahead, and they feel as though Brandon Jennings is more valuable than anyone else on an expiring contract they could get in exchange for him via trade, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (All Twitter links).
  • Monta Ellis is averaging his fewest points and shot attempts per game since his rookie season, but he is pleased with how he is adapting to the Pacers after signing with Indiana this past offseason, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes. “I’ve been around [the NBA] for a long time; with this group of guys, everybody gets along, everybody wants to win and everybody is dialed in so that makes it so much easier [to make the transition to this team],” Ellis told Kennedy. “It’s been easy and I’m very comfortable here.”
  • Newly released city documents show that the Bucks have a March 1st deadline to submit detailed design plans for their new arena, and a June 1st deadline for construction to start, reports Tom Daykin of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The new arena, parking structure and entertainment center is projected to be completed prior to the start of the 2018/19 NBA season, Daykin adds.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Bucks, Carlos Boozer Have Second Meeting

The Bucks and Carlos Boozer met again recently, following up on the visit Boozer reportedly had with GM John Hammond and coach Jason Kidd in mid-December, sources told Sam Amico of Amico Hoops. Milwaukee has apparently backed off its interest in trading for Caron Butler, but it seems as though the team remains in the market for a veteran. Boozer has languished in free agency since the summer, despite reports that a litany of NBA teams were eyeing him over the offseason.

Kidd, who’s calling the shots on player personnel for the Bucks, as Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times told us, took a leave of absence to undergo hip surgery shortly after the first meeting with Boozer. It’s unclear how much input he has on the team’s decision-making while he’s away, though interim coach Joe Prunty said recently that he and his staff were in close contact with Kidd. The Bucks have continued to falter since Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reported the original meeting with Boozer on December 17th, going 4-5 since that date. Milwaukee is 14-22 and five and a half games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks are without much roster flexibility, since they have 15 fully guaranteed contracts, though they have a $1.664MM sliver of the mid-level exception left over if Boozer, a 13-year veteran, demands more than the minimum salary, which for him would be $1,499,187. The ClippersKnicks, Rockets, MavericksSpurs, Raptors, Pelicans, NuggetsNets, Lakers and Heat all reportedly had interest in the offseason.

Central Notes: Jennings, Tolliver, Prunty, Gibson

Brandon Jennings isn’t sure whether the Pistons will trade him, but he said Monday that he hopes he’ll finish the season in Detroit, MLive’s David Mayo notes. Coach/executive Stan Van Gundy will listen to offers but has consistently attempted to tamp down trade rumors involving the point guard who’s successfully returned from injury, Mayo writes.

“Our plan, right now, is that Brandon can help us make a playoff push, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Van Gundy said. “That’s our plan right now. If something happens in the next five weeks, we’ll look at it. But right now, he’s a very good player who can help us, and that’s the only way we’re looking at him.”

Jennings called his one-game D-League rehab stint critical to his comeback, as Mayo also relays, and Reggie Jackson continued his praise of Jennings, calling him “the ultimate teammate,” as Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press details. See more on the Pistons and the rest of the Central Division:

  • Soon-to-be free agent Anthony Tolliver wants to re-sign with the Pistons in the offseason, as he wrote recently on his personal blog and as Aaron McCann of MLive points out.  “I want to have a good, solid season and help my team win as much as possible,” Tolliver wrote. “And then when I’m a free agent this summer, I hope to sign back with Detroit and try to make this a long-term home for my family and me.”
  • Bucks interim coach Joe Prunty got his start in the NBA with the Spurs, and he’s using Gregg Popovich as a model for success, as Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel details. Still, head coach Jason Kidd remains influential, and Prunty said he and the rest of the coaching staff keep in close contact with Kidd, who’s on a leave of absence as he recovers from hip surgery.
  • The offseason surgery that uncovered and repaired a torn ligament in Taj Gibson‘s formerly troublesome left ankle has the trade candidate feeling much better, notes K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. “I’m completely stronger as far as my lateral movement and being able to switch more to guards,” the Bulls power forward said. “I feel a lot faster.”

Central Notes: Hill, Jackson, Martin, Prunty

The PacersSolomon Hill, who was the subject of trade rumors earlier this season, replaced Chase Budinger in the rotation during Saturday’s win over the Pistons, writes Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports. In November, Indiana decided not to pick up the option on Hill’s contract for 2016/17, but he has been steadily making an impression on coach Frank Vogel“Solomon Hill’s been giving us something in the last couple of games when he’s been called upon,” Vogel said. “I just wanted to get Solomon in there somehow. Chase was the guy that we had to pull out. It wasn’t anything that Chase had done.” It was the first DNP of the season for Budinger, who was acquired in an offseason deal with the Wolves.

There’s more from the NBA’s Central Division:

  • Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy continues to defend Reggie Jackson‘s decision to request a trade from the Thunder last season, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Stuck behind Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, Jackson was dealt to Detroit in a three-team trade at last year’s deadline. “You look at Reggie’s situation,” Van Gundy said, “[and] there was really nothing bad there. He was a guy that was looking for an opportunity to play more, and was sort of vilified for that, I guess — for wanting to play more. I guess people wanted him to be happy being a backup his entire career.”
  • There’s probably little substance behind rumors that the Bulls are interested in Kevin Martin, according to Sam Smith of Bulls.com. He notes that Martin is nearing age 33 and has another year on his contract worth nearly $7.4MM. In addition, his scoring average and shooting percentage are near career lows.
  • Bucks interim coach Joe Prunty switched up Jason Kidd’s rotation in a win last week over the Pacers, writes Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Prunty used Greg Monroe and Giannis Antetokounmpo, along with three reserves, as Milwaukee built a lead late in the first half. “The intent was trying to find out the right mix of players to be on the floor at the right time,” Prunty said. “I thought it worked well and it’s something we’ll keep looking at.”

Eastern Notes: Middleton, Gooden, Grant

Khris Middleton has enjoyed a good season so far, but his shooting of late has been especially impressive, Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel writes.

“Khris has played well for a stretch here and he is feeling comfortable within the offense,” Bucks interim coach Joe Prunty said. “The guys are finding him in his sweet spots and he’s getting clean looks. Guys are setting good screens. In his case, it’s not always catch-and-shoot situations. Sometimes it’s plays off the dribble.”

Middleton, who re-signed with Milwaukee for five years and $70MM last July, is averaging 16.3 points and 1.2 steals per game this season, while shooting 42.0% from behind the arc and 88.8% from the foul line. The Bucks own a record of 13-21, but Middleton believes the team can turn the season around if they start playing like a cohesive unit.

“Once we move the ball from side to side, we’ve got so many guys who can score and make plays that we’re a dangerous team,” he said. “We just have to play together after we get stops.”

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Drew Gooden aggravated his calf injury against the Magic on Friday night and his MRI reveals a strain and a slight tear in his calf, Marc. J Spears of Yahoo Sports tweets. The former No. 4 overall pick has only played seven games with the Wizards this season, totaling just 16 points and 28 rebounds.
  • Jerami Grant‘s ability to play either forward spot is proving to be valuable for the Sixers, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Grant has been tasked with guarding the opponent’s best forward this season, something the 21-year-old views as benefit to his development. “I definitely like it,” Grant said. “I’m versatile. So it kind of helps my game out.”

Eastern Notes: Crowder, D-League, Parker

Celtics small forward Jae Crowder has earned Kobe Bryant‘s respect, with the Lakers shooting guard noting how impressed he is with Crowder’s development since arriving in Boston via a trade last season, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com writes. “I’ve seen him develop from his days in Dallas,” Bryant said. “There was one night where we got in late to Dallas, and I went straight to the practice facility to get some shots up and workout,” Bryant recalled. “And he [Crowder] was there. He was in there working out. He was in there working on his game. And when I see that, I have nothing but respect for him. And watching how he’s developed.

Crowder continues to work hard, even after inking a five-year, $35MM deal with Boston this past offseason, Blakely adds. “I just try to bring it every night, do what I do well each and every night. Do my part, do my job,” Crowder said. “It’s not about the contract. Contract makes you feel comfortable, helps your game. I don’t think I should relax. I don’t think I should do anything differently.

Here’s more from out of the Eastern Conference:

  • Bucks combo forward Jabari Parker is still experiencing growing pains, though, as interim coach Joe Prunty points out, Parker hasn’t even played a full season’s worth of games yet, Charles F. Gardner of The Journal Sentinel writes. “What you could argue is until a guy plays 82 games, is he still in his rookie season?” Prunty said. “He hasn’t even played in every arena. There are things that seem like little details to other people, but the reality is it’s a different environment. There’s a lot he’s going to be learning for quite a while.” There has been some measure of debate regarding what Parker’s NBA position should be, but the player feels that power forward is indeed a good fit for his skillset, Gardner adds.
  • The Celtics have recalled guards Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter from the Maine Red Claws, their D-League affiliate, the team announced.
  • The Pacers have re-assigned Rakeem Christmas and Shayne Whittington to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This will be Christmas’ second stint in the D-League on the season and Whittington’s third.

Central Notes: Pachulia, Jackson, Butler

Zaza Pachulia had mixed feelings when the Bucks dealt him to the Mavericks during the offseason but he wound up in a better situation, Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. Pachulia has thrived with his new club, while Milwaukee has floundered without his leadership on and off the court, Gardner continues. “I really was sad to leave all that we were doing last year,” Pachulia told Gardner. “I had such a great relationship with these guys and the coaching staff. … I remember how sad they [Bucks players] were when they heard I got traded. I was making the game easier for them. So I was thinking I was doing something right.” Pachulia would have backed up the Bucks’ prized free agent, Greg Monroe, at center but has emerged as a starter with Dallas, averaging a double-double, Gardner adds.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • Point guard Reggie Jackson came to the Pistons during the trade deadline last season with questions about his character after complaining about his role with the Thunder. That didn’t give Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy any concerns when he made the deal. “You look at Reggie’s situation, there was really nothing bad there,” Van Gundy told the assembled media last week, including Hoops Rumors. “He was a guy that was looking for an opportunity to play more and he was sort of villifed for that. I guess people wanted him to be happy being a backup his entire career.”
  • Jimmy Butler has put himself in a sticky situation by trying to become the Bulls’ leader with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah still in the locker room, Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com opines. Butler’s power play shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a problem but it remains to be seen how he handles being the team’s best player, Feldman adds. Feldman was commenting on an assertion by ESPN.com’s Nick Friedell during a podcast with Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post that Butler has “really rubbed some people the wrong way ” with his recent actions and that Butler has not earned the trust of his teammates to be their leader.
  • The Bucks’ interest in veteran small forward Caron Butler is now “on hold,” Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets.  The Kings had promised to try and trade Butler, who played 78 games for the Pistons last season but has appeared in just nine with Sacramento.

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