Milwaukee Bucks Rumors

Eastern Notes: Nets, Allen, Cavs, Muscala, Wright

October 7 at 6:46pm CDT By Alex Lee

Nets GM Billy King took questions from reporters today, including Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. While King originally refused to comment on the Guggenheim ownership talks, he would eventually say Mikhail Prokhorov “isn’t selling” and described the current ownership’s commitment to winning as “unwavering” (Twitter links here). This further confirms the majority of reports over the last week that Prokhorov intends to remain the majority owner.

Let’s take a look at what else is coming out of the Eastern Conference on Tuesday night:

  • Jim Tanner, the agent for free agent Ray Allen, shot down any speculation that his client has or is about to sign with the Cavaliers. After speaking with Allen today, Tanner, through the Twitter account of Tandem Sports and Entertainment, indicated that Allen has yet to decide whether or not he will play this season (Twitter links here). Allen was linked to several teams this summer, but as of last month Cleveland still believed they will land the veteran sniper.
  • Speaking of the Cavaliers, the team isn’t panicked about their need for rim-protection, writes Grantland’s Zach Lowe, who suggests the Cavs aren’t going to rush to remedy the situation via trade. Instead, they’re more likely to target a wing defender whose salary would fit into their nearly $5.3MM Keith Bogans trade exception, according to Lowe.
  • The Hawks are high on the development of Mike Muscala, writes Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta has 14 guaranteed contracts on the books for the upcoming season and Vivlamore’s report is just the latest evidence that they will award the final spot to Muscala, whose contract is partially guaranteed.
  • Greek’s Panathinaikos took a pass on Chris Wright, who’s decided to leave the Bucks, and the small forward rejected a $200K offer from Besiktas in Turkey, Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi reports. That seemingly leaves Wright in a limbo of sorts, but the Bucks have yet to formally place his non-guaranteed contract on waivers.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Bucks To Release Chris Wright

October 6 at 1:43pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Small forward Chris Wright has left the Bucks to accept an offer to play overseas instead, coach Jason Kidd told reporters, including Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links). Kidd said it was Wright’s choice to leave, so it appears the team will accommodate his request and release him. The coach said he didn’t know which team Wright would join, but Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times indicates (via Twitter) that Wright is headed to Greece, the home of Panathinaikos, a team that’s reportedly been in pursuit of the 26-year-old in recent days.

Milwaukee followed up a pair of 10-day contracts with Wright last season and inked him to a deal that extended into 2014/15 with a non-guaranteed minimum salary. The former Dayton Flyer appeared in eight games last season, his second in the NBA after a stint with the Warriors in 2011/12, and he averaged 6.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per contest for the Bucks. Still, it looked like he had little shot of remaining with the team, since Milwaukee has 14 fully guaranteed contracts plus a non-guaranteed deal with Kendall Marshall, who’s likely to be part of the team’s rotation this year.

The departure of the Octagon Sports client nonetheless seemingly gives Elijah Millsap and Micheal Eric a boost in their longshot bids to make the opening-night roster, since it eliminates competition. Wright is not to be confused with the former Mavs shooting guard by the same name.

And-Ones: Nets, Williams, Bucks, Durant

October 5 at 10:40pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The NBA’s new television deal will help with the Guggenheim-Nets talks, Robert Windrem of NetsDaily notes (Twitter link). Brooklyn could reverse its fiscal issues and become profitable with the new influx of money, which would also serve to increase the overall value of the franchise. The Nets reportedly lost $144MM during the 2013/14 season.

Here’s more from around the league:

    • Another development to watch for in regard to the new television deal will be Kevin Durant‘s pending free agency in the summer of 2016, Tim Bontemps of The New York Post opines (Twitter link). The salary cap is projected to increase significantly by July 1st, 2016, and it could possibly jump from the $63.065MM this season to $80MM for the 2016/17 campaign. The higher cap will not only potentially net Durant a much bigger windfall, it could also increase the number of teams with enough room under the cap to make a play for the “Slim Reaper.”
    • Marvin Williams, one of the newest members of the Hornets, received praise from his new head coach and teammates, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. Bonnell also explains how Williams’ role has changed from a scorer to a smart role player, and that Williams has “made peace” with who he is at the NBA level.
    • Brian Fleurantin of SB Nation previews the Bucks’ upcoming 2014/15 campaign. Jason Kidd managed an aging group in Brooklyn, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does in coaching a significantly younger core in Milwaukee.
    • Alex Tyus, an undrafted center out of Florida, had a chance to display his talents during Tel Aviv’s 107-80 exhibition game loss to the Cavs this evening. Tyus logged 13 points, six rebounds, and five blocks for Tel Aviv. “The NBA is all about opportunity and getting a chance. I never got mine because of the NBA lockout and my pursuit of an Israeli passport,” Tyus told David Pick of Eurobasket. The Heat and a few other teams expressed interest in the 6’8″ 26-year-old this summer, and Miami had considered inviting him to training camp, Pick reports.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Sixers, Bender, Ballmer

October 3 at 9:16pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Sixers managing owner Josh Harris believes the franchise has made remarkable strides in the 17 months since Sam Hinkie was hired as GM, Max Rappaport of reports. “I think people see the early returns,” said Harris. “Certainly, we have a lot of cap room, we have two first-round picks next year, we have a slew of seconds, we have a number of players that we have the rights to in Europe, we have possibly two big men between Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel that will be franchise players for us over a long, long time, and we have the Rookie of the Year.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • 16-year-old Croatian forward Dragan Bender is turning heads over in the Israeli league, writes David Pick of Eurobasket. Pro scouts watching Bender play say his best-case NBA scenario would be to equal Andrei Kirilenko‘s numbers, while the worst-case would place him in Jan Vesely territory. Bender is currently projected by DraftExpress to be selected thirteenth in the 2016 NBA draft.
  • Steve Ballmer acknowledged a passing interest in buying the Bucks earlier this year and wonders if the NBA would have allowed him and Chris Hansen to purchase the Kings and move them to Seattle if they had put up more money in a one-on-one with USA Today’s Sam Amick. The new Clippers owner also said that a long-term extension for Doc Rivers “seemed absolutely right to me” based on Rivers’ track record and recommendations from others. Ballmer had more to say to Amick for another piece that we passed along earlier.
  • Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders shares his predictions on which players will have breakout seasons during the 2014/15 campaign. Topping the list are Jonas Valanciunas, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Steven Adams.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Extension Candidate: Brandon Knight

October 3 at 4:00pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Bucks never seemed to have much of a chance to sign an extension the last time they were eligible to negotiate one with a point guard named Brandon who went in the top 10 picks in the draft, so perhaps it’s only logical that they’re reportedly anxious to reach a deal this time. Milwaukee appears motivated to come to terms with Brandon Knight rather than let him hit restricted free agency, as Brandon Jennings did in 2013, but there aren’t so many similarities beyond their names, pedigree and the position they play on the floor. There’s been no suggestion that Knight is eager to leave Milwaukee, as there was with Jennings. Even though Knight, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2011 draft, went two picks higher in the order than Jennings, the No. 10 choice from 2009, Knight doesn’t seem to have quite as much upside.

Knight’s agent, Arn Tellem, would probably dispute that last point, noting that Knight’s 17.9 points per game in his third NBA season this past year were more than Jennings has posted in all but one of his five seasons in the league. Knight has also proven a more effective three-point shooter over the course of his career, if only slightly so, and his 16.5 PER last season was better than Jennings’ mark of 15.6 for the Pistons. Still, even when Jennings put up the worst assists-to-turnovers ratio of his career, it was better than the one that Knight produced last year, when he recorded career bests in assists (4.9) and turnovers (2.6) per game.

Knight seems sensitive to criticism that he’s not cut out to play point guard, recently insisting to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that it’s his best position. New coach Jason Kidd expressed confidence in Knight’s abilities but cautioned that he may still see time at shooting guard, as Gardner also noted. The Bucks have alternatives at the point, having claimed Kendall Marshall, who’s little more than two years removed from having been a lottery pick and who averaged 8.8 assists per game last season in 54 appearances with the Lakers. That number for Marshall reflects Mike D’Antoni‘s up-tempo scheme as well as the point guard’s own ability, but Marshall’s presence on the roster should serve to motivate Knight to either sign an extension, take command of the point guard position this season, or both. Marshall’s minimum-salary contract is up at the end of the season, and if he proves he can be a better point guard than Knight this year, it’s quite possible the Bucks would choose Marshall instead if they don’t already have Knight on a long-term deal. That threat is tempered somewhat because Milwaukee would have full Bird rights on Knight and only Early Bird rights on Marshall, but it still exists.

Moving to shooting guard would put Knight in a crowded mix on the wings that includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, O.J. Mayo, Khris Middleton, Jerryd Bayless, Jared Dudley and Damien Inglis, all of whom are either building blocks or have guaranteed salary on the books for 2015/16. It’s hard to see Knight beating out either Antetokounmpo or Parker for a starting spot long-term. The team’s desire to strike an extension clearly signals belief that Knight can handle the point, but the ability to negotiate from a position of strength no doubt fuels GM John Hammond‘s push for a deal. Fourth-year players who pass on extensions routinely bet on themselves, but in Knight’s case, there’s a lot to lose, particularly considering what happened on the restricted free agency market this summer.

Phoenix’s willingness to come up significantly on its four-year, $48MM offer to Eric Bledsoe, finally striking a five-year, $70MM arrangement, was a positive coda to a tense standoff that cast the market for point guards in a team-friendly light. There weren’t many front offices clamoring for free agents at the position Knight wants to prove he can play, in large measure because the league is flooded with quality point guards. Rajon Rondo is set to hit free agency next summer, and Ricky Rubio, Kemba Walker and Reggie Jackson are in line compete with Knight on the restricted market, contingent on whether they sign extensions.

Teams would probably be less anxious to pursue Knight if they instead see him more as an undersized shooting guard than as a point guard, even though smaller backcourts are more common than they used to be around the league. Knight’s wingspan of nearly 6’7″ helps him defensively against larger players, but it’s unclear if his defense is an asset. The Pistons were 7.3 points per 100 possessions better with Knight on the floor in 2012/13 compared to when he wasn’t, as shows, but the Bucks were 4.0 points per 100 possessions worse with Knight in the lineup this past year.

The last point guard to sign an extension with an average annual value of less than $10MM was Mike Conley, and that deal has worked out remarkably well for the Grizzlies. Tellem surely doesn’t want a repeat of that situation, and so it only seems logical that he’d respond to the Bucks’ enthusiasm for an extension with proposals involving more than $10MM a year. It’s conceivable that the Bucks envision compromising with a deal similar to the four-year, $41MM arrangement the Sixers gave Jrue Holiday two years ago, an extension that proved tradeable even before it kicked in. Still, I think the Bucks would like to see whether doubts about his place on the roster and the market for point guards around the league lurk in the back of Knight’s mind and motivate him to sign a bargain deal for less than what Holiday received. I don’t think Tellem will let that happen, so it’s tough to see a path to a deal.

Eastern Notes: Wright, Bass, Sixers

October 2 at 6:18pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Greek League team Panathinaikos is considering signing Bucks forward Chris Wright to a deal, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports (Twitter link). Wright is currently in training camp with Milwaukee on a non-guaranteed deal after averaging 6.0 PPG and 2.5 RPG in eight appearances last season for the franchise. The Bucks would have to release Wright before he could sign any arrangement.

Here’s more from the east:

  • Brandon Bass is one of the senior members of the Celtics, but this doesn’t guarantee him a spot in Boston’s rotation, Brian Robb of writes. “Every year I come into the season, I’m always in some kind of a situation,” Bass said. “I can’t really focus on those situations or I wouldn’t be motivated. For me, I kind of just simplify things for myself and I hope the other guys do the same.”
  • Robb also points out that in light of the way Boston’s roster is constructed, GM Danny Ainge exploring trade possibilities for Bass makes sense. The forward is in the final season of his deal and isn’t likely to be re-signed next summer, so it would be wise for Ainge to try and flip Bass for an asset instead of allowing him to leave and receiving nothing in return, Robb opines.
  • The Sixers are looking at the long term when it comes to rebuilding the franchise and this season looks to be another campaign in futility that the front office hopes will pay dividends in the seasons to come. Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio predicts another dead last finish and lottery appearance for Philadelphia in his season preview of the team.

Bucks Eye Extension With Brandon Knight

October 2 at 10:27am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Bucks have opened rookie scale extension talks with point guard Brandon Knight, GM John Hammond says, and there’s little doubt that the team would like to come to a long-term deal, writes Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Still, it’s unclear just how much the Bucks would be willing to pay the former eighth overall pick who led the team in scoring last season. Milwaukee has until October 31st to sign the Arn Tellem client to an extension, or he’ll be set for restricted free agency next summer.

Knight saw his scoring average jump to 17.9 points per game this past season after notching just 13.3 PPG in his final year with Detroit, which sent him to Milwaukee in the 2013 trade involving Brandon Jennings. Still, that surge in points was in part because Knight bore a heavier load on offense, attempting 15.2 shots a night, 4.3 more than any other Buck. The 6’3″ former University of Kentucky Wildcat was nonetheless significantly more efficient, with a 16.5 PER, and he set a career high with 4.9 assists per game while his turnovers decreased slightly. The 22-year-old picked up an endorsement from new coach Jason Kidd.

“He’s a piece we want here,” Kidd said, as Gardner notes. “You talk about his work ethic, the way he approaches the game, he’s a professional, on and off the court.”

Milwaukee already has about $42MM in commitments for next season, not counting close to $5MM in team options for Giannis Antetokounmpo and John Henson that the team will almost assuredly pick up, and a $4.25MM player option that Jared Dudley seems likely to exercise, too. Even a reasonably discounted extension for Knight would probably knock the Bucks out of any sort of max-level cap room, and I listed him among those I believed unlikely to receive an extension when I examined the market in late July. Still, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris are also on that list of longshots, and the Suns signed both to extensions this week.

Bucks Sign Elijah Millsap For Camp

October 1 at 10:29am CDT By Zach Links

OCTOBER 1ST: Milwaukee still has yet to make an official annoucement, but it’s a one-year deal, for the minimum salary, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).

SEPTEMBER 25TH: The signing has taken place, according to the RealGM transactions log. Millsap spoke with Zach Links of Hoops Rumors about his expectations for Bucks camp.

SEPTEMBER 8TH 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.

Bucks Sign Micheal Eric For Camp

October 1 at 10:27am CDT By Chuck Myron

OCTOBER 1ST: Milwaukee still has yet to make an official annoucement, but it’s a one-year deal, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).

SEPTEMBER 25TH, 10:52pm: The signing has taken place, as is shown in the RealGM transactions log.

SEPTEMBER 23RD, 6:07pm: Eric’s deal with the Bucks is non-guaranteed, reports Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Twitter).

SEPTEMBER 16TH: 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.

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: