George Hill

Eastern Notes: Crowder, Bucks, Claxton, Williams, Mitchell

What kind of trade package could the Bucks put together for the Suns’ Jae Crowder, considering they’re one of the teams reportedly interested in the veteran forward? Eric Nehm of The Athletic explores that topic, speculating that Milwaukee could deal some combination of Grayson Allen, George Hill and second-round picks.

However, dealing Allen would remove one of the Bucks’ top shooters and it’s questionable whether Crowder would be part of the team’s crunch time unit.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Nets big man Nic Claxton posted back-to-back double-doubles in the team’s first two games. His teammates and coaches want to see him do that consistently, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. “I’m happy he played well, we want him to keep it up, but now as a young player in the league he has to show consistency,” Kyrie Irving said. “And we have to be right there with him.” Claxton re-signed with Brooklyn this summer on a two-year, $20MM contract.
  • Bulls forward Patrick Williams has gotten off to a rough start this season, but he’s not discouraged, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “They (coaches and teammates) know, obviously, I want to play well, and I want them to play well, and they want to play well for themselves as well. But just can’t get too down when you don’t play well,” he said. “Just reminding, that was what, game three? Of at least 82. Obviously we want to play past 82. But that was game three of 82.” Williams averaged 5.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in the first three games.
  • The Cavaliers have already embraced Donovan Mitchell as a leader, according to Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. “He’s just a good dude,” center Jarrett Allen said. “That’s what it boils down to. He is easy to talk to; he doesn’t boast about his accomplishments, he is one of the hardest workers every single game in the gym. It’s easy to root for a guy like that and easy to follow somebody’s lead like that.”

Central Notes: White, P. Williams, Mobley, Bucks, More

Bulls guard Coby White, the seventh overall pick in the 2019 draft, was eligible for a rookie scale extension up until Monday’s deadline, but he never really thought he’d sign a new deal this year, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

“No, no. I didn’t,” White said on Tuesday. “I wasn’t really focused on that. Just play this year out. I put in a lot of work this summer, so let my work show, and take it from there.”

White also dismissed the idea that entering a contract year and playing for his next contract will provide any extra motivation this season: “Nah, I love playing basketball. That’s all the motivation I need. I love playing, I love hooping. I’ve had motivation my whole life. I ain’t gonna change nothing now.”

In other Bulls news, the team’s 2020 lottery pick, Patrick Williams, will open the season as the starting power forward, head coach Billy Donovan confirmed today (Twitter link via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic). Williams came off the bench in multiple preseason games as Javonte Green shone, but Green will be part of the second unit to open the season.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Cavaliers feel as if Evan Mobley has Hall of Fame potential and believe his development is the key to whether the team can become a legitimate championship contender, Chris Fedor writes in an excellent article for Cleveland.com. “Evan needs to be in a position where people look at us and say, ‘Evan is their best player,'” assistant coach Greg Buckner said. “It can’t be, ‘Donovan (Mitchell) is their best player, Darius (Garland) is their best player or J.A. (Jarrett Allen) is their best player.’ It has to be Evan.” That view is shared by head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, according to assistant coach Luke Walton. “J.B. talks about it all the time with us: We need Evan to be one of the best players in this league, if not the best player in this league, if we’re gonna win championships,” Walton said. “That’s our mission coming from J.B. — help him get to that level.”
  • Hoops Rumors has confirmed that Didi Louzada is eligible to become an affiliate player for the Cleveland Charge after signing a two-way contract (rather than an Exhibit 10 deal) with the Cavaliers on Monday and being waived shortly thereafter. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype first reported the Cavs’ plan to secure Louzada’s G League rights.
  • With Khris Middleton and Joe Ingles already ruled out for the start of the season, the Bucks will also be without Pat Connaughton for a few weeks, prompting Eric Nehm of The Athletic to explore how the team will deal with all its injury absences. As Nehm details, George Hill, Jevon Carter, and Wesley Matthews all figure to play increased roles, with young wings Jordan Nwora and MarJon Beauchamp potentially seeing action too.
  • Pacers forward James Johnson was happy to earn the team’s final roster spot, beating out Langston Galloway and Deividas Sirvydis. However, as Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files relays, Johnson knows that he can’t get comfortable yet, since his contract still isn’t fully guaranteed for the season. “It’s an honor for this spot, but at the end of the day I’m still vulnerable,” he said.

Central Notes: Osman, Hill, Pistons Rotation

Cedi Osman has heard his name mentioned in trade rumors, including a potential deal involving Suns forward Jae Crowder. He’s trying to block out those distractions during training camp, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes.

“I’ve been hearing those things,” the Cavaliers forward said. “But I’m just focused on my basketball because you cannot control that. That’s why whenever I stepped on a court I was just working on my game and trying to get better. It’s been six years since coming over, six years in Cleveland. I’m happy here and this is my home.”

Those rumors persist and the franchise would like to upgrade at small forward, if possible, though the fact that Cleveland is close to the luxury tax line complicates the issue, Fedor adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • George Hill admits that enduring an injury-plagued season actually encouraged him to keep playing, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The Bucks guard had seriously considered retiring after last season. “I felt like I let the city of Milwaukee down last year not being able to perform the way I normally perform,” he said. “I let my teammates down being injured. And I thought about retiring. … but as a competitor I didn’t want to go out like that. So, had a great offseason for the summer, decided to come back and try to redeem myself and make myself better.” Hill signed a two-year, $8MM contract prior to last season.
  • With the addition of Bojan Bogdanovic, how will the Pistons’ frontcourt rotation shake out? James Edwards III of The Athletic projects the former Jazz forward to start alongside Saddiq Bey, with Isaiah Stewart at center. Edwards projects Marvin Bagley and Isaiah Livers as part of the second unit ahead of Jalen Duren, Nerlens Noel and Kevin Knox.
  • Will the Pistons’ drought without a playoff win extend to 15 seasons? That’s what John Hollinger of The Athletic anticipates. He sees this as a 28-win season in Detroit with the caveat that the team’s fortunes should improve sharply in the near future.

Central Notes: Ball, Clarkson, Bogdanovic, Livers, Vucevic, Caruso

There’s confidence that Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball will return at some point this season, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Ball underwent another left knee surgery on Wednesday and doctors are optimistic the issue has been fully addressed. However, he’s going to be out a number of months, Charania adds.

Ball was still unable to “run or jump” entering training camp despite a lengthy rehab from two previous procedures this year.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks showed a lot of interest in trading for the Jazz‘s Jordan Clarkson but the Jazz balked at Milwaukee’s proposal, Tony Jones of The Athletic said on the Bill Riley Show podcast (hat tip to HoopsHype). Utah was uninterested at taking back George Hill‘s contract, which Jones described as a non-starter in trade discussions. One of the league’s top scoring reserves, Clarkson averaged 16 points last season. He has two years left on his four-year, $51.52MM contract. Hill has an expiring $4MM contract, so Milwaukee would have still needed to send out more salary in a potential trade.
  • The Lakers and Suns were among the teams reportedly pursuing Bojan Bogdanovic but he wound up getting traded to the Pistons. The former Jazz forward says he wasn’t concerned where he ended up, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com“I didn’t have any preference,” Bogdanovic said. “There’s a lot of rumors. Who knows if that’s true or not? I’m super happy and excited to be part of the Pistons.”
  • Pistons forward Isaiah Livers wound up playing 19 games during his rookie season after recovering from a foot injury. He’s aiming to become a regular part of the rotation this season, he told James Edwards III of The Athletic. “I wanted to build off those last 19, 20 games,” the 2021 second-round pick said. “Coaches and everyone seemed to love the way that I was playing. It was working effectively.”
  • There was heavy speculation that Bulls center Nikola Vucevic would be part of a package to acquire Rudy Gobert during the offseason. Vucevic had serious doubts that would happen and was proven correct when Gobert was dealt to Minnesota, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “Rumors are a part of what we do,’’ said Vucevic, who is on an expiring contract. “Whether they’re true or not, it’s out of my control. I focus on what I can control, and, in the end, I had some fun with [the Jazz rumors]. At no point did I feel it was going to happen.’’
  • Bulls guard Alex Caruso is one of the candidates to replace Ball in the starting lineup as he mends from his latest knee surgery, but that’s not Caruso’s focus, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes. “It won’t be a conversation I’ll have with Billy (Donovan). He might have it with me depending on what we need,” Caruso said. “But I’ve always been team-first trying to win games. If that’s me starting basketball games then that’s what we’ll do. If that’s me coming off the bench, that’s fine too. I’ve always been I’d rather finish games than start games.

Eastern Notes: Avdija, Wizards, Hill, Middleton, Hornets

The Wizards are taking a cautious approach with Deni Avdija‘s groin injury, which he suffered during EuroBasket 2022, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Before ramping him up, Washington wants to make sure he’s fully healed. Avdija didn’t participate in competitive portions of the the team’s first training camp practice on Saturday.

The 21-year-old could receive a big role in the Wizards’ rotation this season, as he averaged 8.4 points and played all 82 games in 2022/23. He was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2020 draft.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

  • Bucks veteran George Hill seriously contemplated retirement this offseason, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. Instead, Hill decided to return to Milwaukee, committing to play his 15th NBA season. “I do owe the city a better George than last year,” he said. Given that he’s 36 years old and already considered it this offseason, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Hill retires at the end of the 2022/23 season.
  • The Bucks are hoping to get star swingman Khris Middleton back early in their season, general manager Jon Horst said, as relayed by Lily Zhao of FOX6 (Twitter link). The 31-year-old, who underwent surgery in August to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist, is doing well in his recovery, Horst added. Middleton is coming off his third straight season of averaging more than 20 points, having put up 20.1 points per contest on 44% shooting last year.
  • Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer examines five questions for the Hornets ahead of the preseason. Among the questions is what will happen to Miles Bridges, who remains a restricted free agent after being arrested for felony domestic violence back in June.

Central Notes: LaVine, Hill, Carter, Bucks

Recent reports suggest that it’s no slam dunk Zach LaVine will re-sign with the Bulls. However, execs around the league believe the chatter is agent-driven and he’ll likely stay put, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. The thinking is that his agency, Klutch Sports, is trying to ensure he’s considered the franchise player in Chicago and that he gets a max deal. An NBA source told Deveney, “It is still Zach’s team, Klutch just wants to make sure everyone knows it.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • If LaVine does indeed leave, the Trail Blazers or Spurs would be the logical move for him, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report writes. LaVine could join forces with Damian Lillard in Portland or Dejounte Murray in San Antonio. Re-signing with the Bulls is still the likely outcome, Fischer echoes, but the fact that DeMar DeRozan was often the crunch-time go-to scorer this season may play a role in LaVine exploring other options.
  • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer made a mistake playing George Hill over Jevon Carter against Boston, Eric Nehm of The Athletic opines. Budenholzer overestimated Hill’s postseason impact as he battled through an abdominal injury. Nehm explores numerous topics in his mailbag, including how Milwaukee could improve defensively in future postseasons.
  • With the Bucks near the luxury-tax threshold for the 2022/23 season, they’ll once again be looking for players who will sign at the veteran’s minimum, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. Owczarski looks at all of the team’s free agent decisions this summer, pointing out Milwaukee will only have the taxpayer mid-level exception at its disposal to sign outside free agents beyond those minimum-salary roster fillers.

Bucks Notes: Game 7, Middleton, Carter, Hill, Allen

The Bucks missed an opportunity to end their series at home Friday night and they’ll have to regroup quickly as they head to Boston for Game 7, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Milwaukee has already won twice on the Celtics’ home floor in the series, and Giannis Antetokounmpo said he and his teammates will have a relaxed attitude heading into Sunday’s showdown.

“No matter what happens, we’re gonna leave that game and we’re going to be better,” Antetokounmpo said. “If we’re going to be the team advancing to the next round, great. I hope so. We’re gonna play hard, but if we’re not, at the end of the day, we’re gonna learn from this one. We’re gonna be better. So for me just go out and play free. Be fearless, play free, we don’t owe nobody nothing.”

There’s more from Milwaukee:

  • The Bucks haven’t found an effective way to replace Khris Middleton, who has already been ruled out for Game 7 with a Grade 2 MCL sprain, Nehm states in the same story. Jevon Carter, who was signed in February, took Middleton’s spot in the rotation during the first two games against Boston and George Hill replaced him once he returned from injury in Game 3, but neither is the complete player that Middleton is. “Jevon’s been good. He’s helped us,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “So we gotta look at everything, but I think the defense and everything … I think George really helps us defensively. And Jevon can too. They’re different in how they help us defensively.”
  • Budenholzer will also have to decide how much to use Grayson Allen in Game 7, Nehm adds. Allen has made some important contributions in the series, but he was a minus-29 and missed all four of his three-point shots in Game 6. Boston has been targeting him on defense and taking advantage of switches to create mismatches. “The plus-minus is a tough stat and sometimes it’s good, but Grayson is doing his best,” Budenholzer said. “He had some good looks. Just some nights they go, some nights they don’t. Sometimes you get good looks …  It can flip. You make one or two of those, he feels a lot better. Less transition defense, more halfcourt defense, but as a group, we gotta be better.”
  • An outdoor watch party in Milwaukee for Sunday’s game has been canceled in the wake of shooting incidents on Friday night that left 21 people wounded, according to Jim Salter of The Associated Press. The Bucks said 11,000 people attended Friday’s watch party.

Bucks Notes: Hill, Matthews, Horst, Antetokounmpo, Ibaka

George Hill returned to action in Game 3 of the Bucks’ series against the Celtics and had no setbacks. The veteran guard is not listed on the injury report for Monday’s game, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Hill, who hadn’t seen action since April 8 due to an abdominal strain, played 11 scoreless minutes with one assist in Game 3.

We have more on the defending champions:

  • Wesley Matthews‘ excellent defense and the Bucks’ scheme frustrated Jayson Tatum in Game 3. Tatum now has to figure out how to get to his sweet spots more frequently, Jared Weiss of The Athletic writes. Weiss takes an in-depth on the Bucks’ plan against Tatum and how he might counter in Game 4.
  • Boston fumed about a no-call in the closing seconds of Game 3. Surprisingly, Bucks GM Jon Horst also felt the officiating wasn’t up to par, as he told Eric Nehm of The Athletic“I couldn’t do their job. You couldn’t do their job,” Horst said. “Officiating is hard, just like playing is hard and coaching is hard, and I think we all have a standard of trying to get better and improve. And at the end of the day, that’s what stood out to me. We have to improve. That wasn’t a quality playoff basketball game, and I think officiating played a role in that.”
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo takes all kinds of punishment and doles it out, too. His teammates marvel at his mental toughness with defenses constantly collapsing on him, Steve Aschburner of NBA.com writes. “He’s so good at being mentally strong,” center Brook Lopez said. “He obviously has lots of guys throwing themselves at him when he’s trying to get into his moves and make plays for himself and everyone else. He does a great job of sticking with it, staying in the game, and just keeping his mojo … It can be frustrating at times. He does a great job of just kind of letting it go like water off a duck’s back.”
  • Serge Ibaka was a late scratch from Monday’s game due to a non-COVID illness, Lily Zhao of FOX6 tweets. Ibaka has made two cameo appearances in the series.

Eastern Notes: Giannis, Hill, Dedmon, Isaac

Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo declined to criticize the officiating after Game 3 on Saturday, Mike Hart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Instead, Antetokoummpo joked that he’d rather avoid the fine and spend his money on something else.

“How much does it cost if I say a comment about the ref?” he asked, as relayed by The Sporting News (Twitter link). “Is it $20,000? It’s a lot of money. So, I should not do it. I’ll save my money, I’ve got to pay for diapers.”

Antetokoumpo, of course, has a two-year-old son. He put forth an excellent performance in Game 3, finishing with 42 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the win. The Bucks were called for six more fouls than the Celtics and shot 17 fewer free throws.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference today:

Central Notes: LaVine, DeRozan, Holiday, Hill, Bucks, Pacers

Should the Bulls be worried about Zach LaVine going to another team as an unrestricted free agent this summer? Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic explores that topic, noting that while Chicago can offer LaVine more years and money (five years, $212MM) than other teams (four years, $157MM), the two-time All-Star was noncommittal at his end-of-season media session.

I’ve been here for the last five years, and I’ve really enjoyed my time,” LaVine said. “I think the city – and I hope everybody – understands how much I care about the Bulls and what I’ve done for the city and things like that.

Obviously, you guys have been a really soft spot in my heart, and I have to do this as a business decision as a man, not to just be viewed one way, and be, like, ‘I’m automatically coming back’ or ‘I’m automatically leaving.’ It’s unrestricted free agency. For my family and me, I have to go into this like it’s a decision where I have to be open-eyed.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • In a question and answer session with Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, Bulls star DeMar DeRozan said he thinks Bucks guard Jrue Holiday is the most underrated player in the NBA at the moment. “Wow, that’s a great one … most underrated … most underrated from my opinion and one of my favorite players to watch I would say is Jrue Holiday, yeah, Jrue Holiday,” DeRozan said.
  • Bucks veteran guard George Hill is listed as probable for Saturday’s Game 3 against the Celtics, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Hill has been dealing with an abdominal strain and has yet to play this postseason, but he was able to practice on Thursday and could see some action today.
  • Jamal Collier of ESPN lists four keys to the Bucks repeating as NBA champions this season. One key is making up for the production of injured star Khris Middleton, who’s sidelined with a sprained MCL. “Khris clearly is a huge part of what we do, but we have a lot of talented guys on our team,” Brook Lopez said. “We’re going to see a lot of different guys, I think, stepping up on different nights.”
  • Keifer Sykes recently spoke to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star about his rookie season with the Pacers. Sykes was waived by the team just before the season ended. “I did everything that I could do,” Sykes said. “Even when I look up and think about the day I got cut, the night before, after that (last home) game, I was in the gym until like 12 or 1 a.m., so I squeezed everything I got out of the Pacers thing. That’s not gonna stop me from having camps back home and finishing it with this one. I’m very much at peace with the situation. … A lot of players don’t have peace in free agency.”
  • Sykes was waived to accommodate standard deals for undrafted Pacers rookies Terry Taylor and Duane Washington, who were both promoted from two-way contracts. Taylor said it was a dream come true, as Boyd relays in another story. “My agent called me and was like, ‘Yo, we’re gonna get this done Thursday (April 7),’ so he was telling me congrats,” Taylor said. “After we hung up the phone, I just prayed because it finally happened. My dream came true.”