Eric Bledsoe

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 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’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.

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Bucks, Porter, Lopez

The Bucks’ decision to give point guard Eric Bledsoe a four-year, $70MM extension was a sensible move by both parties, Bobby Marks of ESPN argues. It’s a worthwhile price to retain Bledsoe and keep the core group together and that should aid their recruiting pitch to All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo as he approaches free agency in 2021. Bledsoe has become a more efficient player in Milwaukee, particularly in coach Mike Budenholzer’s system. With that order of business out of the way, the Bucks front office can now concentrate on re-signing Khris Middleton and restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon this summer, Marks adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks had a much more sensible plan to build around Antetokounmpo than the Lakers did with LeBron James, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times opines. Milwaukee has a completely different scheme under Budenholzer, surrounding its star with shooters through savvy decisions in free agency and trades. That has opened up driving lanes for Antetokounmpo. Los Angeles’ front office brought in playmakers and ballhandlers around James, Woike notes, which is why the Lakers rank 28th in 3-point shooting.
  • The Bulls have a much brighter outlook than they did at this time last season, when they went into full tank mode, Matt John of Basketball Insiders notes. The addition of Otto Porter has allowed the Bulls to improve its spacing offensively. Improved health for second-year power forward Lauri Markkanen has also made a difference, as he’s enjoying the best stretch of his young career, John continues. Shooting guard Zach LaVine remains a defensive liability but in a recent eight-game stretch, Chicago was a plus-8.2 with him on the floor, Johns points out. The Bulls will still get a high lottery pick and should continue to be on the upswing, John concludes.
  • It’s not out of the question that Robin Lopez re-signs with the Bulls, according to Sam Smith of the team’s website. The veteran center is showing his value as an offensive factor due to Wendell Carter Jr.‘s injury. The front office was concerned that Lopez couldn’t be effective switching and getting out to the perimeter defensively, but recently few teams have beaten the Bulls at his position, Smith notes. Lopez will want to test the market but with the team’s frontcourt needs expanding, his return for next season will be under consideration, Smith adds.

Central Notes: Oladipo, Sumner, Thompson, Bledsoe

Pacers star Victor Oladipo posted a message on social media thanking his fans, teammates and players around the league for supporting him after suffering a season-ending injury last week. Oladipo, 26, ruptured the quad tendon in his right knee and is scheduled for season-ending surgery.

“The amount of support, love and prayers that I have received over the past few days have been breathtaking and has truly inspired me to come back even better than before,” he wrote on Instagram. “Thank you to everyone including all my teammates, pacer fans and staff. Thank you to all the NBA fans around the world and all my brothers around the league who texted, called, tweeted and posted me I am truly thankful. It’s going to be tough but tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

Oladipo was in the midst of another solid season with Indiana before getting injured, holding per-game averages of 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists. His injury was a crushing blow to a Pacers team focused on making a deep postseason run in the spring.

“I will be back better than ever and if you question that well, thank you,” Oladipo wrote. “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world. I am #UnBreakable.”

The Pacers currently hold the third best record in the East at 32-16, with the team still set on competing for the postseason behind the likes of Myles Turner, Tyreke Evans, Thaddeus Young and others.

There’s more from the Central Division today:

  • Pacers guard Edmond Sumner could receive more minutes going forward with the loss of Oladipo, J. Michael writes for the Indy Star. “There’ll be some nights that we may look to go to him off the bench,” said coach Nate McMillan. “There’s some nights where we can look at going with Ed off the bench instead of Aaron because it does give us more length.” Indiana traded for Sumner, 23, on draft night in 2017.
  • Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson will miss approximately two weeks of action with left foot soreness, the team announced. The soreness is believed to be from a foot sprain suffered on December 10, an injury that forced him to miss 10 straight games.
  • Eric Bledsoe is finally where he wants to be in his career with Milwaukee, Malika Andrews of ESPN writes. The Bucks traded for Bledsoe in November of 2017, giving him the chance to start and help lead a team in the Eastern Conference. “It’s slow,” Bledsoe said of Milwaukee. “There ain’t much to do. It feels just like home. I like it because I don’t want life to pass me by. In big cities, things go by too fast.”

Central Notes: Lopez, Anthony, Burks, Bledsoe

The thumb injury that will sideline Wendell Carter Jr. for the next eight to 12 weeks won’t change the Bulls‘ plans to trade veteran center Robin Lopez, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Even though a deal would leave Chicago short-handed in the middle the team, the team could give more minutes to Cristiano Felicio or get by with a small lineup until Carter returns.

With an expiring $14.3MM contract, Lopez is unlikely to return to the Bulls next season and management wants to get something now by shipping him to a contender. Relegated to a reserve role, Lopez’s numbers are about half of what they were last season, averaging 5.9 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.

The Bulls will continue to look for deals involving Jabari Parker as well, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Parker recently returned to the rotation after being exiled when Jim Boylen took over as head coach, but Chicago reportedly made no progress in working out a Parker trade while he wasn’t playing.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons had internal discussions about acquiring Carmelo Anthony, but decided not to pursue him, tweets Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. There were reports yesterday that Anthony, who remains on the Rockets’ roster although he hasn’t played in more than two months, has multiple options for his next location. Houston needs to open a roster spot before signing Kenneth Faried, so the team may have some urgency to get the Anthony situation resolved soon.
  • Alec Burks wasn’t sure if the Cavaliers planned to keep him when they acquired him from the Jazz in November but he says the experience in Cleveland has been positive, relays Chris Fedor of Burks’ playing time has increased with the Cavs and he has become the team’s top perimeter defender. “I would say there’s more opportunity here, definitely,” he said before Friday’s return to Utah. “I think it’s been great. Been up and down. Still going to be up and down I feel like just trying to find a rhythm. But it’s getting better and better. I’m adjusting more and more every day.”
  • Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated examines the impact that point guard Eric Bledsoe is having in his first full season with the Bucks.