Eric Bledsoe

Bucks Rumors: CP3, Giannis, Bledsoe, More

While a potential Bucks trade for Chris Paul has been the subject of much speculation since Milwaukee was eliminated from the postseason last week, it’s not a foregone conclusion that the club will pursue such a deal. According to Sam Amick and Eric Nehm of The Athletic, sources with knowledge of Bucks ownership’s thinking say it’s “highly unlikely” that the team will seriously go after the Thunder point guard.

As Amick and Nehm explain, the exorbitant cost of Paul’s contract ($41.4MM in 2020/21, with a $44.2MM player option for ’21/22) is one factor working against a trade. There also may be concerns about bringing a strong personality like CP3’s onto a roster that already has a superstar leader in Giannis Antetokounmpo, according to The Athletic’s duo. All indications are that Milwaukee would prefer to look elsewhere for upgrades, per Amick and Nehm.

Here’s more on the Bucks from The Athletic’s latest report:

  • The reported three-hour lunch meeting between Antetokounmpo and Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry last Friday also included Bucks senior VP Alex Lasry (Marc’s son), Giannis’ brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and their agent Alex Saratsis, league sources tell Amick and Nehm. According to The Athletic, all parties left that meeting “in good spirits and with a sense of synergy.”
  • While Antetokounmpo’s future remains unknown, a source with knowledge of the Bucks’ perspective tells Amick and Nehm that they’ve long had confidence that the reigning MVP will ultimately sign a super-max contract to stay with the franchise.
  • The Bucks were more concerned about their outside shooting issues in the playoffs than about the defense the Heat employed against Antetokounmpo, per The Athletic. That’s one reason why Eric Bledsoe – who has made just 22.9% of his three-pointers during the last two postseasons – could find himself on the trade block this offseason.
  • Head coach Mike Budenholzer had been prepared to significantly increase Antetokounmpo’s workload for Game 4 against Miami (and beyond) if he had stayed healthy, according to Amick and Nehm. Based on how the series played out, Budenholzer may be more open to a minutes bump for his stars earlier in next year’s postseason.

Bucks Rumors: Budenholzer, Bledsoe, Giannis

Despite leading the Bucks to the NBA’s best regular-season record in each of the last two seasons, head coach Mike Budenholzer has faced criticism in the playoffs after losses to the Raptors in 2019 and Heat in 2020. In each series, there were concerns that Budenholzer was slow to make adjustments when things weren’t working and was reluctant to lean more heavily on his star players for big minutes.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Budenholzer’s job is safe heading into the 2020/21 season. Still, Charania stresses that there’s an understanding across the Bucks’ leadership group that “everyone must learn from this season and be better.” It’s probably a safe bet that Budenholzer’s seat will get a whole lot hotter in 2021 if the team’s next postseason run closely resembles the last two.

Here’s more on the Bucks from Charania:

  • According to Charania, there’s an expectation among rival executives that the Bucks will focus this offseason on acquiring a play-maker and adding more shooting to the roster as they look to complement reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Chris Paul has already been cited multiple times as one possible target, but Milwaukee figures to explore many options on the trade market and in free agency.
  • Starting point guard Eric Bledsoe is considered likely to become a potential trade candidate this offseason, sources tell Charania. Bledsoe, who made the All-Defensive Second Team this season, has two fully guaranteed years left on his contract at $17.5MM annually. The final year of his deal in 2022/23 is only partially guaranteed ($3.9MM of $19.4MM).
  • Charania confirms that the Bucks intend to put a five-year, super-max contract extension offer on the table for Antetokounmpo as soon as the 2020/21 league year begins, which could happen in November. The value of that offer remains up in the air, since the starting salary will depend on where the ’21/22 cap lands.

Bucks Notes: Giannis, Budenholzer, Offseason, Korver

Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo badly wanted to play in Game 5 on Tuesday night despite his right ankle sprain, expressing a willingness to play on one leg. However, as Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, the Bucks prioritized Antetokounmpo’s health over any potential short-term gain, and the reigning MVP appreciates the decision to protect him.

“We have people in the team sometimes that have a bigger say than you and they have to protect you,” Antetokounmpo said. “They have to protect your health no matter what and it’s good. There’s a lot of cases, previous cases in the past that put the team over the player’s health and I love my organization for that, I appreciate that they protected me.

“… I wanted to play. Everybody – you know I wanted to play, I know I wanted to play, my coach knows I wanted to play, but at the end of the day, our organization put my health over Game 5 and that’s big for me.”

With the Bucks’ season now over, all eyes will be on Antetokounmpo’s future. As we detailed late on Tuesday night, Giannis has already said he won’t ask to be traded, but we still don’t know whether or not he’ll sign a super-max extension when the club offers it this fall.

Passing on that extension would result in all sorts of Giannis-related trade speculation, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. However, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) outlines, it’s possible Antetokounmpo may prefer to wait on finalizing an extension even if he wants to remain with the Bucks. The same deal – a five-year max with the Bucks worth 35% of the cap and beginning in 2021/22 – would be available for Giannis during the 2021 offseason.

For now, teams are projecting no salary cap increase for the next couple years, per Marks. But by the ’21 offseason, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks would have a better idea of the cap outlook going forward. It’s possible at that time that the Defensive Player of the Year would want to sign a shorter-term contract to maintain flexibility and to potentially capitalize on a cap increase down the road by waiting to lock in a longer-term contract.

Here’s more on Giannis and the Bucks:

  • Michael Scotto of HoopsHype spoke to a pair of GMs, two team executives, and a scout about the Bucks’ outlook, including Giannis’ future, Mike Budenholzer‘s status, and the rest of the club’s roster. The consensus among Scotto’s sources is that it’s hard to read too much into bubble results and that Milwaukee shouldn’t be in a rush to make major changes. “I think they’re good enough to win,” an Eastern Conference GM said. “We definitely overreact to certain things. They’re a contending championship team. It’s like OKC back in the day. Play it out. If Giannis leaves, he leaves. His brother is on the team, for crying out loud.”
  • Another Eastern Conference executive who spoke to Scotto offered the following assessment: “If it were my decision, I think you run it back next year with the same squad. I think over the summer, Giannis will learn to extend past the 3-point line consistently. Then, if things aren’t looking good at the deadline next year, you see what you can get for (Khris) Middleton, (Eric) Bledsoe, (Donte) DiVincenzo.”
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic isn’t convinced that Budenholzer’s coaching style is destined to fail in the postseason. Hollinger concedes that the Bucks head coach made some mistakes against Miami, but contends that a bad matchup and some bad luck largely contributed to the club’s early playoff exit.
  • Veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver, whose contract with the Bucks is expiring, told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link) that he’ll talk to his family before making a decision on his NBA future. His teammate Marvin Williams announced on Tuesday night that he has decided to retire, but it’s not clear if the 39-year-old Korver will follow suit.

NBA Announces 2019/20 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-Defensive teams for the 2019/20 season. Unsurprisingly, Defensive Player of the Year (and possible repeat MVP) Giannis Antetokounmpo was the leading vote-getter with 195 total points. Players receive two points per First Team vote and one point per Second Team vote.

This is the Bucks forward’s second consecutive appearance on the All-NBA First Team. Antetokounmpo was listed on 98 of 100 ballots from the 100 broadcasters and writers who comprised this year’s voting panel. 97 of those voters awarded him a First Team vote.

Lakers forward Anthony Davis was featured on every ballot and received a total tally of 187 points (including 87 First Team votes). Sixers guard Ben Simmons tallied 185 points with the third-most votes this year. Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the 2018 and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, was fourth with 95 total votes (85 First Team), for 180 total points. Celtics guard Marcus Smart rounded out the All-Defensive First Team with 152 points, including 57 First Team votes.

Gobert’s inclusion on the All-Defensive First Team has earned him a $500K bonus, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Antetokounmpo’s Bucks teammates Brook Lopez (67 points) and Eric Bledsoe (59 points) each made the All-Defensive Second Team.

[RELATED: Giannis Antetokounmpo Named Defensive Player Of The Year]

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:

You can find the full voting results right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eric Bledsoe Available For Bucks In Game 2

5:02pm: Bledsoe will play for the Bucks tonight, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter link).


4:11pm: Starting Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe remains a game-time decision for Milwaukee’s second tilt against the Heat tonight, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). “We’ll know closer to tip-off,” head coach Mike Budenholzer said of Bledsoe’s health status.

A strained right hamstring kept Bledsoe out of the first game in the Bucks’ second-round series on Monday, a 115-104 loss to fifth-seeded Miami. Sharpshooting veteran George Hill started in Bledsoe’s stead, though the team clearly missed Bledsoe’s perimeter defense.

In 36 minutes, Hill scored 8 points on 2-of-5 shooting from the floor and had as many turnovers as he did assists (four). Hill’s Miami counterpart Goran Dragic netted 27 points and proved a crucial contributor to the Heat’s surprise Game 1 victory.

In the Bucks’ first-round 4-1 defeat of the Magic, Bledsoe averaged 11.6 PPG and 6.6 APG (a club high) while playing his typical excellent defense.

Bledsoe, Connaughton, Crawford Cleared To Make Summer Debuts

Three veterans involved in Tuesday’s Bucks/Nets contest have been cleared to play for the first time this summer, the two teams confirmed this morning.

Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton will be available for Milwaukee, according to head coach Mike Budenholzer, who added that both players will see “reasonably low” minutes, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Jamal Crawford is set to make his debut for Brooklyn, tweets Andrews.

Bledsoe and Connaughton both arrived late to Orlando this summer after contracting COVID-19. As we noted when they were ruled out for Milwaukee’s opener against Boston last Friday, there was no need for the the club to rush either player back, since the Bucks have essentially locked up the East’s No. 1 seed and just need to get their key guys up to speed for the start of the postseason.

As for Crawford, he signed with the Nets as a substitute player last month, but it took the 40-year-old a little extra time to get back into game shape. Having cleared him for Tuesday’s game, Brooklyn is apparently confident in Crawford’s conditioning level.

The veteran guard may be leaned on to play rotation minutes immediately, since the shorthanded Nets will be without Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, and Jarrett Allen today. Head coach Jacque Vaughn said Crawford will come off the bench and figures to play in “short stints” (Twitter link via Andrews).

Bucks’ Bledsoe, Connaughton Not Yet Ready To Return

The Bucks will be without a pair of rotation players when their season resumes on Friday against the Celtics, as head coach Mike Budenholzer confirmed today that Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton will remain sidelined for now, per Eric Woodyard of ESPN.

Both Bledsoe and Connaughton tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the summer, delaying their arrivals to the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus. They’ve each cleared quarantine and have returned to practice, but Budenholzer believes the two veterans need a little more time to get their conditioning and rhythm up to par.

“Everybody else is getting ready to play in a live game and have had 10 to 12 to 14 days of probably 5-on-5 every other day and individual work and all that, so I think giving Bled and Pat a couple of 5-on-5 sessions at a minimum and getting some 3-on-3 in other situations or days,” Budenholzer said, per Woodyard. “They just need to play, so I think that’s a big hurdle and with playing will come both conditioning and their rhythm, so we’re going to make sure they get some of that before we put them in an NBA game.”

With a comfortable 6.5-game lead on the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks can afford to play it safe in the seeding games as they gear up for the postseason. They’ll want Bledsoe and Connaughton to be back at 100% by the time the playoffs get underway on August 17.

Bledsoe, Milwaukee’s starting point guard, averaged 15.4 PPG, 5.4 APG, and 4.6 RPG and played strong perimeter defense in 56 games (27.2 MPG) this season. Connaughton provided depth on the wing, averaging 5.1 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 61 contests (18.3 MPG).

The duo hasn’t been ruled out beyond Friday, so it’s possible one or both of them will be ready to go on Sunday night when the Bucks face Houston.

Central Notes: T. Young, Bledsoe, Karnisovas, Boylen

While there has been quite a bit of speculation that high-scoring Zach LaVine could wind up on the trading block, the Chicago player considered most readily available is actually veteran forward Thaddeus Young, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports.

Young averaged 10.3 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 24.9 MPG in his first year with the Bulls, all career lows aside from his rookie season, and he was unhappy with his role. Young is guaranteed $13.545MM next season, but the final year of his contract in 2021/22 is only partially guaranteed.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe returned to practice Thursday. However, while coach Mike Budenholzer said Bledsoe “looked great,” he didn’t play in today’s scrimmage against the Kings. Bledsoe tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the team’s arrival in Orlando and flew to the campus on Wednesday.
  • New Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas hasn’t pushed ownership for a coaching change and that seems like a wise move, Johnson opines. Jim Boylen seems open to tweaking his offensive system and management has sought his input on player development strategies, Johnson continues. Karnisovas has a good working relationship with Boylen’s staff, Johnson adds.
  • The Athletic’s John Hollinger takes an opposing viewpoint. He sees the lack of progress in the Bulls’ head coaching search as a head-scratcher, believing that Boylen isn’t Karnisovas’ first choice. It’s possible that Chicago’s owners simply doesn’t want to pay off Boylen and then dole out more money for a new head coach, or that the delayed start of next season has made them procrastinate. But the franchise is isn’t giving the next coach a chance to hit the ground running this winter, Hollinger adds.

Eric Bledsoe Arrives At NBA Campus, Begins Quarantine

Having gone through the NBA’s protocols after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, Bucks starting point guard Eric Bledsoe arrived at the Walt Disney World campus on Wednesday night, the team announced (via Twitter).

As Malika Andrews of ESPN notes, Bledsoe will now have to quarantine for two days and will have to return two negative coronavirus tests – at least 24 hours apart – before he can rejoin the team and participate in practices. He obviously won’t be active for Milwaukee’s first inter-squad scrimmage on Thursday vs. San Antonio.

Although Bledsoe won’t be immediately available for the Bucks, his presence in Orlando is good news for the Eastern Conference leaders. Milwaukee has a comfortable 6.5-game lead on the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the East, so there should be little need for the club to go all-out in the eight seeding games. Bledsoe will have plenty of time to ramp up to 100% before the start of the postseason next month.

The Bucks are a little closer to full strength as a result of Bledsoe’s arrival, but are still waiting on role player Pat Connaughton. He revealed earlier this week that he also tested positive for the coronavirus and is waiting on clearance to travel to Orlando.

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Cavs, Boylen, Bulls

Like most other NBA head coaches who have been asked about players not yet in attendance at the league’s Orlando campus, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer was somewhat cagey on Sunday when asked about Eric Bledsoe‘s situation. However, as Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, Budenholzer sounded optimistic about his point guard, who recently tested positive for COVID-19.

“The NBA has protocols that I think are trying to keep us all in our best place, our safest, to have a positive experience,” Budenholzer said. “When he clears those and when there’s something new to share with you guys we will, but we do feel like he’s on the closer end of the spectrum (to returning) than the longer.”

According to Velazquez, the expectation is that Bledsoe will be able to rejoin the Bucks before they resume play on July 31, though it will likely take him a little more time to get up to full speed. George Hill and NBA G League MVP Frank Mason III figure to handle point guard duties until Bledsoe is ready to go.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Jason Lloyd of The Athletic explores how Dan Gilbert‘s decision to take Quicken Loans public could impact the Cavaliers, noting that there’s no indication Gilbert has any intention of selling the franchise. Within the story, Lloyd adds that the Cavs owner is “turning up the pressure” on the team to show improvement next season in the third year of its rebuild.
  • Bulls head coach Jim Boylen said last week that he’s encouraged by his relationship with the team’s new top executives (link via WGNTV.com). K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago takes a closer look at Boylen’s comments, noting that the head coach dined with Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley in Chicago earlier this month, and both execs have been watching the individual voluntary workouts taking place at the Advocate Center. Boylen’s status for 2020/21 remains unclear, but the longer the Bulls go without making any announcements, the more likely he seems to keep his job.
  • In a pair of articles for NBC Sports Chicago, Rob Schaefer looks at how Kris Dunn and Ryan Arcidiacono performed in 2019/20 and what sort of future the two guards might have with the Bulls. Dunn is a restricted free agent this fall, while Arcidiacono has a guaranteed salary for ’20/21 and a team option for ’21/22.