Bucks Notes: Tucker, Lopez, Cousins

P.J. Tucker didn’t spend much time in Milwaukee, but he became a fan favorite while helping the Bucks capture their first NBA title in 50 years, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Acquired at the trade deadline, Tucker played a vital role on defense during the team’s playoff run. Even though he signed with the Heat during the offseason, Tucker can expect an enthusiastic reception when he returns to the city Saturday night.

“I’ll always love Milwaukee,” he said. “I’ll love the people of Milwaukee forever. They embraced me so much from day one when I first got there to the day I left; they were always there, they always had my back. That’s not something you get right away. You don’t normally get the trust and the love of the city so fast. It was an amazing experience and journey.”

There’s more Bucks news to pass along:

  • The organization is optimistic that Brook Lopez will be able to return sometime this season after undergoing back surgery Thursday, a source tells Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Coach Mike Budenholzer declined to speculate about a possible timeline, but said Lopez will start rehab soon and remains in the team’s plans for later in the season. “The feedback, the conversations, the follow-up after this morning was very, very positive, including expecting him to be able to play and be productive,” Budenholzer said on Thursday. “I think the surgery today has been done on multiple basketball players, multiple athletes, multiple sports. Return to play is very, very often successful.”
  • Veteran center DeMarcus Cousins, who was signed to help fill the void left by Lopez, had a strong debut with seven points and four rebounds in 15 minutes in Wednesday’s win over the Hornets, Nehm adds. Because Thursday’s game was a back-to-back, Cousins was held out for “return to competition reconditioning.” “The guy has been dominant for so many years,” Khris Middleton said. “He’s been on a bad path with the injuries so far, but I’m glad to see him back on the court healthy. I’m definitely excited and I know the rest of the guys are excited to have him on the court with us.”
  • Cousins is grateful to the Bucks for giving him an opportunity after being out of the league since the end of last season. “It’s always a great feeling to be wanted or appreciated, so when my name is called, I’ll be ready to play,” he said in an interview with Zora Stephenson of NBC Sports (Twitter link).
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