Eric Bledsoe

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Giannis, McKinnie, Cavs, Bulls

After a report earlier this week suggested the Bucks would be willing to trade starting point guard Eric Bledsoe, Jon Horst told Howard Beck of Bleacher Report in no uncertain terms that’s not the case.

“We have no talked to any teams about trading [Bledsoe], since the day that we traded for him,” the Bucks GM said. “And I think it’s evident, pretty strongly, in the fact that we extended Eric, what he means to us.

“The fact that we currently have the best record in the NBA, had the best record last year in the NBA, he’s an All-NBA First Team defender and a guy that we feel strongly should be an All-Star for the Milwaukee Bucks this year. We have not had those conversations, and we are not going to trade Eric Bledsoe.”

It’s hard to imagine the Bucks doing anything too drastic to shake up their roster at the trade deadline next month, considering the team is on a 71-win pace. Bledsoe did struggle in the postseason last spring, so he’ll be under the microscope in this year’s playoffs. If he underperforms again, perhaps Horst’s stance changes, but the veteran point guard looks safe for now.

Here’s more from around the Central:

Injury Updates: Russell, Bagley, Bledsoe, Smart

The Warriors got a scare tonight involving D’Angelo Russell, who remained on the ground for about five minutes after colliding with the MavericksLuka Doncic while chasing a loose ball, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic (video link).

A stretcher was brought out, but Russell was eventually able to walk off under his own power. After being checked in the locker room, he was diagnosed with a right shoulder contusion, according to Kerith Burke of NBC Sports (Twitter link), and eventually re-entered the game.

There’s more injury news to pass along:

  • Kings forward Marvin Bagley III has a mid-foot sprain and will miss the “next few games,” according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Bagley left Thursday’s game in the third quarter after suffering the injury. He had an MRI on Friday and met with a foot specialist today before details of his condition were announced.
  • Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe continues to recover from a fibula avulsion fracture and is nearing a return to the court, coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters before tonight’s game (video link from the team). Bledsoe may go through contact drills tomorrow in hopes of playing next week. “He’s making progress and getting close,” Budenholzer said.
  • The Celtics got Marcus Smart back tonight after an eight-game absence caused by an infection in both of his eyes, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.
  • Celtics center Robert Williams will undergo another MRI in about a week to monitor the healing of a bone edema in his left hip, Blakely adds (Twitter link). He hasn’t been able to do any basketball-related activities since the injury was discovered nearly two weeks ago.

Eric Bledsoe Out Two Weeks With Fibula Avulsion Fracture

A right fibula avulsion fracture will sideline Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe for at least two weeks, according to Ben Steele of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The team announced the injury after last night’s game.

Bledsoe was hurt during the third quarter Friday in a collision with teammate Wesley Matthews. Bledsoe underwent an MRI Saturday in Milwaukee and was examined by the team doctor.

He is averaging 15.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists for the Bucks, who have begun the season at a sizzling 24-3 pace. He had started all 26 games before last night.

In Bledsoe’s absence, Donte DiVincenzo moved into the starting lineup, just as he did when Khris Middleton missed seven games with a left thigh bruise.

“We got to wish Bled a fast recovery,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “Come back healthy and this team is going to be exactly how it is now when he gets back. “We did it (when) Khris missed a lot of games. We were able to win games without him. We got to to it without Bled. If I ever miss games, they got to do it without me. We built a winning culture around the team and everybody knows what they got to do when we step on the floor.”

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Giannis, Rose, Hutchison

Eric Bledsoe is expected to be ready for the Bucks‘ opener on Thursday, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays.

“I kind of knew what it was, in a sense,” said Bledsoe, who suffered a rib cage injury earlier in the preseason. “I knew it wasn’t nothing serious… I knew I was going to bounce back.”

Bledsoe will join Brook Lopez, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and newcomer Wesley Matthews in the Bucks’ starting lineup, Velazquez adds in the same piece. Matthews will take over for Malcolm Brogdon, who was traded to the Pacers this offseason.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today argues that the Bucks have done everything right to keep Antetokounmpo around long-term. Milwaukee can offer Giannis the super-max next summer.
  • How Derrick Rose performs will go a long way toward whether the Pistons make the postseason, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes. Rose signed a two-year deal with the club this offseason.
  • There are plenty of questions surrounding second-year Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, who notes that it may be hard for the club to find rotation minutes for Hutchison even once he’s recovered from his hamstring injury.

Central Notes: Oladipo, Bledsoe, Brogdon, Bulls

Pacers star Victor Oladipo scrimmaged with teammates Saturday for the first time since suffering a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee last season, Scott Agness of The Athletic writes. 

“I felt good,” Oladipo said, according to Agness. “I ain’t played in nine, nine and a half months, so it felt pretty good. It felt good just being out there and making a pass, shooting a jumper, shooting a floater, layup, something. It feels like I never left at all, honestly, but I’m just taking my time.”

Oladipo, a two-time All-Star, appeared in just 36 games with Indiana last season due to the injury. He was coming off a 2017/18 campaign that saw him average a career-high 23.1 points in 75 games, holding shooting marks of 48% from the floor, 37% from deep and 80% from the charity stripe.

“You can’t really simulate playing,” Oladipo said about finally scrimmaging. “No matter how hard you try, no matter if you imagine it, dream about it, you got to go out there and actually do it — and then your body will adapt. My wind is actually really good. Probably the hardest part is not doing too much. Everything else will come. I’ve been out for nine months, so you’re not going to see any ounce of frustration on my face. S–t, I’m just happy I can play again.”

The Pacers will need a healthy Oladipo to maximize their chances of competing for a playoff berth this season, adding the likes of Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb and T.J. McConnell in free agency to a core that already includes Oladipo, Myles Turner, T.J. Warren and others.

Oladipo plans to travel with the team for most road games, according to Agness, though it’s unclear when he’ll make his official return to the court. Indiana opens its season with a home game against Detroit on Wednesday, followed by a three-game road trip against Cleveland, Detroit and Brooklyn.

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

Eric Bledsoe Expected To Miss 2-3 Weeks With Rib Injury

12:03pm: Bucks GM Jon Horst clarifies that Bledsoe technically fractured the cartilage between two of his ribs, and doesn’t have any broken bones, tweets Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It’s possible that Bledsoe will beat his projected two-to-three-week recovery timeline, since it will come down to pain tolerance, Velazquez adds.

9:23am: Eric Bledsoe may not be available for the Bucks to start the season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the veteran point guard suffered a small fracture of his rib and is expected to miss up to two or three weeks.

Bledsoe, who turns 30 in December, had a strong regular season in 2018/19 for Milwaukee, averaging 15.9 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 4.6 RPG with a career-best .484 FG%. However, he struggled to consistently produce in the playoffs, as his FG% dipped to .411, including .294 in the Bucks’ six-game Eastern Conference Finals loss to Toronto.

Because he signed a four-year extension during the ’18/19 campaign though, Bledsoe is set to enter the season as Milwaukee’s starting point guard for the foreseeable future. He’ll earn about $15.6MM in 2019/20, the first year of that four-year deal.

If Bledsoe has to miss time to start the season, George Hill figures to slide into the starting five in his place. Donte DiVincenzo and/or two-way player Frank Mason could also see a bump in minutes, while Giannis Antetokounmpo might assume increased ball-handling responsibilities.

Central Notes: Rose, Hutchison, Bledsoe, Love

Derrick Rose signed with the Pistons this summer in pursuit a championship, he said in a Sirius XM NBA Radio interview (Twitter link). Rose, who inked a two-year, $15MM contract, feels the Pistons can contend in the Eastern Conference behind the big man duo of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. “While I’m in the game, I want to win a championship,” he said. “That’s what I really want to do. I’ve got all the accolades I wanted.  Now it’s time for me to get the one I really, really want. I’ve won at every level except for this level.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Bulls swingman Chandler Hutchison suffered a left hamstring strain while working out this week, according to a post on the team’s website. While the injury doesn’t appear serious, it’s a reminder of the team’s lack of depth along the wings, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Hutchison is slated as a backup to Otto Porter at small forward while Antonio Blakeney and Denzel Valentine, who was injured all of last season, are the top options behind shooting guard Zach LaVine.
  • Trade restrictions on Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe lifted this week, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. Bledsoe couldn’t be dealt for six months after he signed a four-year, $70M extension on March 4. However, there are no indications Milwaukee, one of the favorites to win the championship, is looking to move Bledsoe.
  • Kevin Love is organizing a minicamp for his Cavaliers teammates in New York next week, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reports. Cedi Osman and Matthew Dellavedova won’t be able to make it, since they are participating in the FIBA World Cup. Most of the other team members are expected to show up, including first-round picks Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr. and Dylan Windler.

NBA Announces 2018/19 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-Defensive teams for the 2018/19 season, with Jazz center Rudy Gobert once again coming in as the leading vote-getter.

Gobert, a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, was listed on 99 of 100 ballots, with 97 of those ballots giving him a First Team vote, for a total of 196 points (two points per First Team vote; one point per Second Team vote). The All-Defensive nod ensures that the big man receives a $500K bonus, which had been considered likely since he was named to an All-Defensive team last season, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Gobert was closely followed by fellow Defensive Player of the Year candidates Paul George (Thunder) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), who received 195 and 193 total points, respectively.

[RELATED: NBA Announces 2018/19 All-Rookie Teams]

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday secured a $100K bonus by earning a spot on the All-Defensive Second Team, notes Marks (via Twitter). Like Davis, he was an All-Defensive player last season as well, so that bonus had been considered likely — his cap hits for this year or next won’t be impacted by him earning it.

Here are the full voting results for the All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with each player’s point total noted in parentheses:

First Team:

Second Team:

Raptors guard Danny Green actually totaled 66 points, including 19 First Team votes, while Clippers guard Patrick Beverley had 48 points (14 First Team votes). However, All-Defensive teams are determined by position, so they didn’t make the cut because they ranked fifth and sixth in voting among guards.

Pacers center Myles Turner (39 points), Rockets forward P.J. Tucker (38), Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (24), and Spurs guard Derrick White (15) were the other leading vote-getters.

You can find the full voting results right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Pachulia, Love, Bucks

The final year of Eric Bledsoe’s $70MM contract extension with the Bucks has a $3.9MM partial guarantee in the final season, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The extension became official on Monday.

Bledsoe’s $19.375MM salary that season would be fully guaranteed if he’s on the roster beyond June 30, 2022, Charania adds. The cap hits for the first three years of the extension are $15.62MM, $16.87MM and $18.12MM, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

Bledsoe, who is not eligible to be traded until September 4, will rank 13th in salary next season among point guards around the league, and that doesn’t include impending free agents Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving and D’Angelo Russell, Marks adds.

We have more news from around the Central Division:

  • Pistons reserve center Zaza Pachulia has been fined $25K by the league for confronting and verbally abusing a game official and failing to leave the court in a timely manner upon being ejected, according to an NBA press release. Pachulia was tossed against Toronto in the second quarter on Sunday after arguing a no-call and getting assessed two technicals.
  • Kevin Love has no regrets about signing an extension with the Cavaliers this summer but he wishes he could have been a bigger part of their season, as he explained to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic.  Love missed a chunk of the season after undergoing foot surgery and the Cavaliers soon went in rebuild mode. “There have been some bright spots in terms of younger guys getting better,” he said. “But it’s been tough, especially stepping into a leadership role and then you’re not out there for three months.” Love also weighed in on the Zion Williamson situation, saying the Duke star and likely No. 1 overall pick shouldn’t return this season from his knee sprain, “If I were him, I’d probably say, especially after a scare like this, I’d heavily consider telling the NCAA to pay us or else shutting it down and doing what’s best for his family,” Love said. “That kid is really an exceptional talent … I would lean toward not coming back.”
  • Bucks GM Jon Horst deserves more credit for the team’s success, Matt John of Basketball Insiders argues. Trades and free agent signings that brought in Bledsoe, Ersan Ilyasova, Brook Lopez and Nikola Mirotic greased the skids for Milwaukee’s rise to the top of the Eastern Conference. Horst also made other moves that improve the team’s salary-cap flexibility going forward, John adds.

Bucks Sign Eric Bledsoe To Four-Year Extension

MARCH 4: The Bucks have officially signed Bledsoe to his new extension, according to NBA.com’s transactions log.

MARCH 1: Ahead of an important summer in Milwaukee, the Bucks have gotten a head start on free agency, reaching an agreement with point guard Eric Bledsoe on a four-year, $70MM contract extension, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Bledsoe, 29, is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career in Milwaukee. In 60 games (all starts), he has recorded 15.7 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 4.6 RPG with a career-best .492 FG%, emerging as a key contributor for the Bucks, who hold the best record in the NBA at 47-14.

While Giannis Antetokounmpo is locked up through 2021, many of the Bucks’ other most important players – including Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, and Brook Lopez – are in contract years. As Wojnarowski tweets, Bledsoe could have tested the market in unrestricted free agency this July, but was “determined” to stay in Milwaukee and was in position to get something done early.

Middleton and Brogdon are also technically eligible for in-season veteran extensions, but are unlikely to sign them, given their respective contract situations. In Bledsoe’s case, he was eligible to receive up to a 120% raise on his 2018/19 salary of $15MM for the first year of his new deal.

Although his starting salary could have maxed out at $18MM, it sounds – based on the reported terms – like Bledsoe will get a little less than that in 2019/20, which will help allow the Bucks to maximize their cap flexibility. Meanwhile, Milwaukee remains in good position to secure Middleton and Brogdon in the offseason, with Middleton viewed as the team’s top priority.

The Bledsoe extension is the second noteworthy Bucks move that has been reported today. The club is also set to sign Pau Gasol, who has finalized a buyout with the Spurs.

For teams eyeing the point guard market this summer, one top option is now off the board. Bledsoe probably ranked behind Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, and D’Angelo Russell among FA-to-be point guards, but would have been at the top of the next tier. Clubs that miss out on those top three options now figure to focus on the likes of Terry Rozier, Ricky Rubio, Derrick Rose, and Darren Collison.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.