If the Bucks are looking to make a splash in free agency for the second straight summer, Dwight Howard could be the player to target, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. The Rockets’ center has expressed his intention to turn down a player option for next season worth $23.282MM and seek a maximum contract starting at about $30MM. Milwaukee was among the teams that expressed interest in acquiring him before last month’s trade deadline, and Howard said he was intrigued by the possibility. Bontemps believes Howard would be the kind of defensive anchor that Greg Monroe failed to become after he signed with the Bucks last offseason. Depending where the salary cap is set, Milwaukee could have more than $20MM to spend if it doesn’t re-sign Jerryd Bayless, Greivis Vasquez and O.J. Mayo.
There’s more news out of Milwaukee:
- Giannis Antetokounmpo could be in line for a maximum contract extension over the summer, Bontemps writes in the same piece. Coach Jason Kidd recently anointed Antetokounmpo as the Bucks’ starting point guard for next season, and the franchise could reward him with a max deal. At age 21, the third-year pro has blossomed in Milwaukee, averaging 18.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.9 blocks per game since the All-Star break.
- The Bucks had to make a choice last season between giving a long-term contract to Khris Middleton or Brandon Knight, according to Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee shipped Knight to Phoenix in a three-team trade in February of 2015 and re-signed Middleton at $70MM over five years. “We had a good time while we played,” said Knight, who on Wednesday returned to Milwaukee for his first game there since the deal. “I think we [the Bucks] were just scratching the surface. Who knows where we could have went to?”
- Wednesday marked the first game for Vasquez since November 27th, Gardner notes in a separate story. The backup point guard had surgery on his right ankle in December and was sidelined for 58 games. “You miss that many games, and the coach gives you an opportunity to play the game that you love, it means a lot to me,” Vasquez said. “It also shows what a class act this franchise is, because they’ve been with me the whole time.” Vasquez is headed toward free agency after earning $6.6MM this season.