Milwaukee Bucks Rumors

Central Notes: Melo, Amundson, Pistons

October 26 at 3:30pm CST By Zach Links

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony wasn’t surprised to learn that his squad would be opening the season against the Bulls, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.  Meanwhile, he says that his offseason flirtation with Chicago has given him insight into their team.  “I have a lot of insight [into that team],’’ Anthony said. “I can’t express that right now. I have a better understanding what they’re about. The organization, the players, Coach Thibs, the front-office ownership. [Thibodeau’s] knowledge of the game and what he brings to the game, his excitement and enthusiasm. It doesn’t get better than that. … I give them a lot of credit. They were very impressive.”  More from the Central Division..

  • Lou Amundson is likely to secure a regular season roster spot, writes Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. The center position could be the one spot in the Cavs lineup to have minutes available due to Anderson Varejao‘s injury history and a lack of proven options behind him.
  • Turning the Pistons into a playoff caliber team starts with coach and GM Stan Van Gundy, opines David Mayo of MLive.com. Van Gundy understands the process of building a successful team having turned franchises around in Miami and Orlando. “There are habits to change,” he said. “When you’ve lost for a long time, you get into losing habits. Nobody wants to lose and a lot of times guys don’t even realize the habits they’ve fallen into because they’re still NBA players and they’re playing well. I think they want to change. It just has to be more consistent.”
  • Former Bucks forward Chris Wright has joined PGE Turow Zgorzelec of Poland, according to agent Misko Raznatovic (on Twitter, h/t to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando).

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Butler, Wizards, Maxiell, Inglis

October 24 at 3:59pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Bulls and Jimmy Butler are “millions apart” in extension talks, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, and while the precise gap is unclear, it’s not uncommon for sides to be as far apart as the Bulls and Butler are even a week before the extension deadline, Johnson writes. The team and Butler’s representatives at Relativity Sports this week had their first extensive talks in awhile, Johnson adds. Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Wizards recently tried to pry Julyan Stone out of his contract with Reyer Venezia of Italy, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (on Twitter). The point guard has an escape clause in the pact, according to Charania, who suggests that Stone would be disinclined to leave the team since he’s seeing heavy playing time. It’s unclear if the Wizards maintain interest after signing John Lucas III earlier this week.
  • Jason Maxiell will remain with the Hornets on opening night in spite of his non-guaranteed contract, coach Steve Clifford confirmed today to reporters, including Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).
  • Bucks rookie Damien Inglis will miss at least another six weeks because the right foot he broke during a predraft workout for the Thunder has not healed, tweets Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Bucks drafted Inglis 31st overall in June. His deal is guaranteed for this season.

Eastern Notes: Heat, Hawks, Knight, Ware

October 23 at 3:30pm CST By Eddie Scarito

The Heat front office wasn’t deflated when they learned that LeBron James and his talents were returning to the Cavs, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. Miami’s brass looked at the departure as a new opportunity and a fresh chapter, notes Zillgitt. The team wasn’t interested in a long rebuilding process, and Zillgitt points to the team bringing back Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, as well as signing Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng as proof that the team still intends to be contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Here’s more from the east:

  • The Hawks have hired Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports to help facilitate the sale of the franchise, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Twitter link).
  • With 16 players remaining on their preseason roster the Celtics have at least one more personnel move to make prior to the regular season commencing. A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com hands out his preseason grades for the players and notes where each currently fits in Boston’s plans.
  • New Bucks team owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry face their first major franchise decision, Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times writes. The two have to decide the contract future of Brandon Knight, whom they have until October 31st to work out an extension with or else he is eligible to become a restricted free agent next summer, notes Woelfel. Knight’s numbers and age compare favorably with Eric Bledsoe‘s, but many around the league feel that the Suns overpaid when the re-signed Bledsoe to a five year, $70MM deal, so Knight may be hard pressed to duplicate Bledsoe’s near $14MM per season average, the Journal Times scribe relays.
  • The Sixers still have 20 players on their preseason roster and a number of decisions to make before Saturday’s deadline to waive players so that they’re off the team by the time opening-night rosters are set on Monday. Casper Ware is in camp on a non-guaranteed deal, but has a very real shot to stick with the team, Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com writes. “I feel good about it,” Ware said. “I don’t know what they have planned, I just control what I can control and play hard.”

Latest On Draft Lottery Reform

October 21 at 4:06pm CST By Chuck Myron

9:37am: The Heat and Pelicans are thinking about voting “no” or abstaining, though they remain undecided, according to Lowe (Twitter links).

11:01pm: Two new teams are considering joining Philly, Oklahoma City and Milwaukee in an attempt to block the measure, Lowe reports, adding that some last-minute lobbying could take place before tomorrow’s vote (Twitter links).

1:55pm: Proposals that would give all 14 lottery teams equal shots at the top pick or teams with the eighth- through 14th-worst records equivalent chances are also “on the table,” writes Marc Berman of the New York Post, though it’s unclear how seriously the league is considering either idea.

1:22pm: The Sixers and Thunder continue to advocate caution as the Board of Governors is poised to vote Wednesday to approve a measure that would reduce the chance that the worst team in the league will win the lottery, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Still, executives from both teams have abandoned hope of gathering enough support to block the reforms, according to Wojnarowski, though the Bucks have joined their side, tweets Chris Mannix of SI.com. Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and Milwaukee would still need to gather five more “no” votes to block the proposal, which would pass with the approval of 23 of the league’s 30 teams.

The new system would likely take hold in time for the 2015 lottery, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported earlier. It would give the teams with the four worst records in the league each a 12% chance to win the lottery, longer odds than the ones currently in place for the three losingest teams. Clubs with the fifth and sixth worst records would have 11.5% and 10% chances, respectively, Wojnarowski reports, filling in gaps in the outline of the structure that Lowe described earlier this month.

At least one GM whose owner has already decided to vote “yes” expressed trepidation about the proposal to Wojnarowski, and the pitch that Thunder GM Sam Presti is making centers on the effect the changes will have on small markets. Presti argues that small-market teams have a disadvantage in free agency and trades, helping large-market teams win more often, as Wojnarowski details. Allowing teams with superior records greater chances at leapfrogging to the top spot in the draft would cause further imbalance, Presti argues. Supporters of lottery reform prioritize the discouragement of tanking, Wojnarowski notes. Still, the Oklahoma City GM isn’t campaigning as much for “no” votes as he is simply trying to express his concerns about what would happen in small markets if the measure passes, execs tell Wojnarowski.

The Board of Governors are also discussing revenue sharing, with small-market franchises eyeing a share of the league’s increasing income, Wojnarowski notes. Blazers owner Paul Allen, a small-market advocate, and large-market stalwart Mark Cuban verbally clashed during meetings this week, Wojnarowski hears.

Still, the matter of lottery reform isn’t a question of market size for every team, as some will vote based on short-term concerns involving the protected picks they either owe or have coming to them, Lowe tweets. The focus is on the short term because of a feeling that the league will change the rules again before too long, Lowe adds (on Twitter).

Central Notes: Bulls, Kidd, Cavs

October 19 at 9:24pm CST By Zach Links

Mary Stevens of Basketball Insiders looked at three under-the-radar rookies to watch, including Doug McDermott of the Bulls.  The former Creighton standout will have to adjust to pace of the NBA quickly as Chicago has high hopes for this season, but he is widely regarded as one of the most NBA-ready players out of the 2014 class.  More from the Central Division..

  • Bucks coach Jason Kidd told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com he now believes the rumors that the Nets wanted to fire him as their coach last December. Later, the offseason trade that sent him to Milwaukee in exchange for two second-round draft picks convinced him of that, though many would say that it was Kidd who forced that situation. Kidd also questioned the Nets’ decision not to retain free agent forward Paul Pierce, who signed a two-year, $11MM deal with the Wizards. “I believe it,” Kidd said regarding Pierce’s claim about not being offered a contract. “I mean, if they don’t offer [Pierce] a contract worth what a first-round pick is, then why did we do the deal [last year for Pierce and Kevin Garnett]?”
  • After dropping Stephen Holt and Chris Crawford today, the Cavs need to make at least one more cut before the regular season begins.  However, it’s more likely that they will make two cuts to leave a roster spot open for a free agent, writes Chris Haynes of The Plain Dealer.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie sees an opportunity for increased playing time with the Pistons, between his improving knee and this week’s trade that sent Will Bynum to the Celtics.  The point guard, who suffered a torn ACL last winter, told Keith Langlois of Pistons.com that his knee is feeling better and that he is ready to compete for minutes. Detroit traded Bynum away within days of Dinwiddie taking part in his first simulated game action, which may or may not be coincidental.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Extension Rumors: Leonard, Thompson, Cole

October 17 at 11:24am CST By Chuck Myron

The deadline for teams to sign rookie scale extensions with their eligible players is two weeks from today, and while only six players came to deals last time around, that number has the potential to be much larger this year, notes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein has more on many of those extension hopefuls that adds to the storylines we’ve been following throughout the offseason:

  • Kawhi Leonard, Tristan Thompson, and Norris Cole are among the players who are in active negotiations with their respective teams about rookie scale extensions, Stein reports. Klay Thompson, Ricky Rubio, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Reggie Jackson, Brandon Knight, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks are also in active extension talks, according to Stein, who advances earlier reports that all of them had engaged in talks.
  • Iman Shumpert and the Knicks are also discussing an extension, Stein writes, countering a report from a few weeks ago that indicated that the sides hadn’t engaged in talks and that New York was content to let the swingman hit restricted free agency next summer.
  • Klay Thompson’s camp is considering the idea of going after an offer sheet similar to the one the Mavs gave Chandler Parsons if Thompson and the Warriors don’t come to an extension this month, Stein hears. Parsons’ near-max deal runs three years and includes a player option and a 15% trade kicker. Rival GMs have expressed admiration for its structure and Rockets GM Daryl Morey pointed to the difficulty that trading such a contract would entail shortly after he decided against matching it. The player option would allow Thompson to hit unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2017, which is when Stephen Curry‘s deal is set to end, as Stein points out.
  • The Lakers have attempted to trade for Thompson in the past, Stein notes, though he doesn’t make any suggestion that they’re planning an aggressive push for the shooting guard if he becomes a restricted free agent next summer.

Eastern Notes: Bucks, Brown, Pressey

October 17 at 10:33am CST By Chuck Myron

The Pistons have an agreement on a trade with the Celtics, while they join the Pacers and Rockets with interest in taking Chase Budinger off Minnesota’s hands. The trade market is heating up as the start of the regular season draws near, and here’s more on Detroit’s rivals from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Bucks quietly added hedge fund manager Jamie Dinan to their ownership team in July, reports Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Dinan is a “substantial investor” in the franchise, though it’s not clear if his stake is equal to that of controlling owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry. Seven additional new owners have bought shares of the Bucks, the team announced, and one of them is Jon Hammes, who was rumored to be in the running for a minority share this spring. Just how much of the team Hammes and the other new owners purchased is unknown.
  • Shannon Brown is indeed a favorite to make the Heat‘s opening-night roster in spite of his non-guaranteed deal, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Brown says team president Pat Riley has praised his athleticism, toughness and defense, as Jackson notes.
  • Phil Pressey is among a logjam of point guards in Boston with Will Bynum on the way, but Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge calls Pressey one of the team’s best perimeter defenders, as Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald relays.

Bucks Opt In With Antetokounmpo, Henson

October 16 at 2:38pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Bucks have exercised their options to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo and John Henson on their respective rookie scale contracts for 2015/16, the team announced. Antetokounmpo will make nearly $2MM that year, the third season of his deal, while Henson is due about $2.9MM for what will be year No. 4 in his pact, as our Rookie Scale Team Option Tracker shows.

Neither move is surprising, and that’s especially so for Antetokounmpo, as I suggested in August. The phenom from Greece entered the NBA with many question marks surrounding his game after the Bucks took him 15th overall, but he dazzled with his athleticism even though his numbers, with 6.8 points in 24.6 minutes per game, weren’t nearly as eye-popping. Henson is part of a crowded frontcourt in Milwaukee and found his name in trade rumors this past year, but he’s been efficient when he’s hit the floor, having racked up a career 18.0 PER.

The decisions give the Bucks close to $47MM in guaranteed money on the books for 2015/16, though that doesn’t take into account a $4.25MM early termination option for Jared Dudley. Milwaukee would also reportedly like to reach an extension with Brandon Knight before the October 31st deadline to do so, and if they come to terms, there won’t be much room beneath a projected $66.5MM salary cap for next summer.

Bucks Waive Elijah Millsap, Chris Wright

October 16 at 12:28pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Bucks have waived Elijah Millsap and Chris Wright, the team announced. Both were on non-guaranteed deals. The move had been expected for Wright after coach Jason Kidd told reporters last week that the 26-year-old small forward was headed to play in Europe.

Panathinaikos of Greece had interest in Wright but reportedly decided against signing him, so it’s unclear just where he’ll end up. He was with Milwaukee last season on a pair of 10-day contracts before he signed a deal that carried through the rest of 2013/14 and included a non-guaranteed salary for this coming season. Millsap joined Milwaukee this fall for his first taste of NBA preseason action since he was in camp with the Thunder in 2010. The 27-year-old swingman shared his thoughts with Zach Links of Hoops Rumors last month as he readied for his shot with the Bucks.

The cuts leave the Bucks with 16 players, one more than they can have come opening night. Micheal Eric and Kendall Marshall remain as the team’s only non-guaranteed contracts, and with 14 fully guaranteed deals on the books, Marshall will almost certainly be the team’s choice for the final regular season spot.

Eastern Notes: Allen, Stevens, Celtics, Magic

October 14 at 8:25pm CST By Charlie Adams

Here’s tonight’s look at the latest from the Eastern Conference, where we’ve rounded up a bit from each division out east:

  • Jason Kidd indicated that the team had sincere interest in bringing free agent Ray Allen to the Bucks, writes Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel. “We did contact Ray,” Kidd admitted. “He’s weighing his options to see where he wants to go. But we did have interest.” Allen started his career in Milwaukee before getting traded for Gary Payton during his seventh season as a Buck.
  • Brad Stevens is making a conscious effort to more closely align the playbooks of the Celtics and their the D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, as the second-year coach explains to ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg. “We’re trying to make [the playbook synergy] even more of a priority this year,” Stevens said. “I didn’t do a great job of that as I was balancing everything [last season]. [Red Claws coach Morrison Scott] has been here now for, really, the better part of [two months]. He’s been able to learn what we’re doing and they’ll play very similar to us.”
  • The Magic‘s decision to trade away a pair of first-rounders just to move up two spots in June’s draft looked questionable at the time, but early returns from Elfrid Payton, the player Orlando selected with that pick, are making GM Rob Hennigan look brilliant, opines Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.