Milwaukee Bucks Rumors

And-Ones: Pietrus, Parker, Bjelica

September 24 at 10:53pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

After a one-year break, free agent Mickael Pietrus is healthy and ready to return to the NBA, Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. One league executive told Haynes that Pietrus has looked good in workouts and can help an NBA team immediately. The executive added, “You can tell right away that he can still be a productive player. His movements are crisp and the athleticism is there. It’s all about finding the right fit for him but he definitely belongs in the NBA.” Pietrus has already worked out for the Kings, and has more showcases lined up in the future.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Serbian player Nemanja Bjelica has signed with Wasserman Media Group, Liz Mullen of Sports-Business Journal reports (Twitter link). The Timberwolves hold the NBA rights to the 2010 second-rounder.
  • Free agent guard Charlie Westbrook has signed with Hyeres-Toulon Var Basket in France, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link). Westbrook went undrafted back in 2012 and was in training camp with the Heat last year before spending the rest of the season in the D-League.
  • Bucks rookie Jabari Parker said he was more comfortable playing power forward when asked which position suited him best, Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. In an interview with Nancy Lieberman of Sirius XM NBA Radio, Parker said, “As of right now I’m more comfortable with the 4 position. That’s where I played previously, before getting drafted, at Duke. I played a lot of 4. Even in high school. I know this is a different level. But in coach’s style of play, it’s more a stretch 4. That’s where I like to play my game, even though I like to post up a little. Just being on the perimeter, setting screens and popping, that’s what we’ve been doing so far. That’s what coach Kidd has been anticipating me playing that role.”
    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/09/24/6733686/abdur-rahim-no-longer-with-kings.html#storylink=cpy

Eastern Notes: Ferry, Antetokounmpo, Raptors

September 24 at 7:27pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

With the racism scandal still fresh in Atlanta, Hawks GM Danny Ferry‘s former teammate Tim Duncan came to his defense, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. Duncan acknowledged during a radio interview that Ferry made a mistake in his comments regarding Luol Deng, but denied Ferry had an issue with race. Duncan said, “Knowing Danny, he’s not what everybody’s saying about him. He’s not a racist.”

Here’s more from the east:

  • Bucks second-year player Giannis Antetokounmpo is embracing the team’s experiment of moving him to point guard, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes. On Milwaukee asking him to change positions, Antetokounmpo said, “I’m not going to say I was shocked by it. It’s something that I feel comfortable with and I’ll play wherever Coach wants me to play, especially when it’s Coach Kidd who thinks that I can play point guard. That makes me feel like, ‘I can play it. I can play point guard.’ I’m going to try my best and just listen to Coach. I’ll do whatever Coach says to do and I’ll get more comfortable.”
  • During an interview with Reggie Miller regarding injured Pacers swingman Paul George, team president Larry Bird said that despite his star player’s horrific injury, he would still like George to return to Team USA, Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star relays. I hope so. That’s one of his goals,” Bird said. “He wants to play for Team USA. I think that any kid that gets the opportunity to do that and they want to play for their country, they should have that opportunity. And I think Paul will be there in Brazil (Olympics).”
  • In their season preview the staff at HoopsHype predict that the Raptors will repeat as champs in the Atlantic Division.
  • Despite last season ending with his potential game-winning shot being blocked by Paul Pierce in the playoffs, the RaptorsKyle Lowry showed significant growth on and off the court, writes Jonathan Abrams of Grantland in his profile of the player and his career.

Central Rumors: Turiaf, Blatt, Bucks, Augustin

September 22 at 10:52pm CDT By Charlie Adams

The Cavs are still looking to add a big man to their roster, as we passed along earlier tonightRonny Turiaf might be an appealing trade target for Cleveland, observes Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune (on Twitter). The center is a favorite of new Cavs power forward Kevin Love, according to Zgoda. We’ll round up more on Cleveland and the Central below:

  • David Blatt‘s first season coaching the Cavs will be less stressful with talent like Love and LeBron James on the roster, as Blatt tells Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Things get a lot easier when LeBron James and Kevin Love come walking into your door,” Blatt said. “It makes my job easier, maybe my responsibility greater but the job easier in terms of having to teach (James) what to do and not to do.”
  • There’s optimism within Milwaukee that the city has the political pieces in place to satisfy the Bucks‘ quest for a new arena, as David Aldridge of NBA.com passes along in his Morning Tip column. Acquiring a top flight talent like Eric Bledsoe would only aid the Bucks in their mission, opines Aldridge,
  • NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum was in Milwaukee last week to meet with the Mayor and the Bucks’ new owners, according to Aldridge, who adds that the group spent time identifying potential locations in the city for a new arena.
  • Pistons president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy was pleasantly surprised that his club was able to afford D.J. Augustin this summer, reports Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Detroit inked the guard to a two-year, $6MM contract in July.

Eastern Notes: Heat, Thornton, Plumlee

September 21 at 9:00am CDT By Eddie Scarito

Despite the loss of LeBron James and the failure to bring in a superstar to replace him, the Heat did extremely well in free agency, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Winderman believes that the signing of Luol Deng was the best possible consolation prize, and the veteran small forward will be especially motivated to perform this season after the Danny Ferry controversy in Atlanta.

Here’s more from the east:

  • With the Celtics in rebuilding mode and the franchise focusing on developing their younger backcourt players including first round pick Marcus Smart, some have called for Boston to trade the recently acquired Marcus Thornton. But despite the presence of Smart, Avery Bradley, and Evan Turner, after his deal is finalized, Kevin O’Connor of SB Nation thinks the team should consider holding onto the 27 year-old, and provides five reasons why.
  • Mason Plumlee is poised for a breakout season according to SB Nation, who believe the departure of Andray Blatche and the advancing age of Kevin Garnett will open the door for the second year player to shine this season for the Nets.
  • Former Bucks second-rounder Darington Hobson has signed with Brasilia of the Brazilian League, David Pick of Eurobasket reports (Twitter link). The contract includes outs for both the NBA and the Euroleague, according to Pick. Hobson played one season for Milwaukee, appearing in five games and averaging 0.8 PPG.

And-Ones: Blazers, Payton, Amundson

September 20 at 4:27pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Blazers made it to the second round of the playoffs last season, which was the first time in the last 14 years that the franchise has accomplished that feat. In their season preview, the crew over at Basketball Insiders predicts that Portland will finish second in the Northwest Division, and the Blazers stronger bench may help them advance deeper in the playoffs this season.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Gary Payton is joining the Bucks coaching staff as a special advisor with the express purpose of helping Giannis Antetokounmpo make the transition to point guard, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes. Antetokounmpo played the point during the Las Vegas Summer League, and the intent is for him and Milwaukee to continue with the experiment during the regular season, notes Kenendy.
  • The Cavs impending signing of Lou Amundson brings to Cleveland a player who isn’t interested in scoring, and who understands the value of a rebound, taking a charge and overall defense, all things the suddenly talent-laden Cavs need, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes.
  • Recent Knicks camp invitee Orlando Sanchez could play a big role for the team this season, Keith Schlosser of SB Nation writes in his profile of the player. With the injury history of New York’s current big men, Sanchez could prove valuable as a mid-season D-League call up, notes Schlosser.

Central Notes: Bynum, Alexander, Gibson

September 18 at 7:24pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Will Bynum, who is now the longest-tenured member of the Pistons, couldn’t be happier with the arrival of Stan Van Gundy, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com.  “Stan is straightforward with me and in return I’m the same way,” he said. “I’m all business, all work when we’re here. I’m trying to be the first one in everything that we do, every single day, I’m the one challenging, talking, keeping the guys motivated and I’m trying to take on the leadership role. I’ve been here the longest. My character fits a leader because I’m always going to be the one that works the hardest. That’s what Stan is. Stan’s a worker. He’s a basketball guy, he’s on the court, and I’ve learned a lot just in the short amount of time being here.”

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • E’Twaun Moore is expected to provide the Bulls with backcourt depth, Adam Fluck of NBA.com writes. “E’Twaun is a young guard who we really like and he’s got a lot of potential,” said Chicago GM Gar Forman. “He’s shown that he’s got some versatility given he can play at both the one and two. He can also shoot the ball. We feel he’s absolutely our kind of guy—he’s a worker and we are confident he’ll be a good fit with our roster.” Moore also considered the Cavs and the Grizzlies before choosing the Bulls, Fluck notes.
  • With the signings of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic the power forward position is getting crowded in Chicago. Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders believes the Bulls should consider dealing Taj Gibson since he might be more valuable as a trade asset since his minutes and production are likely to decline this season.
  • Former Bucks lottery pick Joe Alexander has auditioned for a number of NBA teams, David Pick of Eurobasket reports (Twitter link). Alexander has been out of the NBA since the 2009/10 season when he appeared in eight games for the Bulls.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

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.

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).