George Hill

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.”

Bucks Notes: Middleton, Holiday, Matthews, Tucker, Hill

The Bucks have confirmed that Khris Middleton will miss Games 3 and 4 of their series with the Celtics, but they’re not speculating about his availability beyond that, according to Steve Megargee of The Associated Press. A report last week indicated that Middleton was likely to be sidelined for the entire second-round series and could be in jeopardy for the conference finals.

“We feel really good about where he is,” coach Mike Budenholzer said after Thursday’s practice. “We continue to hope he makes progress.” Budenholzer responded, “We’ll see,” when asked if Middleton could possibly play against Boston.

Middleton suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee on April 20 during Game 2 of Milwaukee’s first-round playoff series against Chicago. An examination was set for this week to reevaluate his condition and determine when he might be able to return. He averaged 14.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in two playoff games against the Bulls.

There’s more from Milwaukee:

  • Jrue Holiday and Wesley Matthews have become the destructive defensive duo they talked about forming nearly five years ago, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. When Holiday was with the Pelicans and became a free agent in the summer of 2017, Matthews tried to convince him to join the Mavericks. However, New Orleans made Holiday a five-year, $150MM offer that was too good to pass up. “It was pretty close,” he said. “But I ended up staying with New Orleans. Money wins.”
  • In an interview with Marc J. Spears of Andscape, Heat forward P.J. Tucker says he felt disrespected by the Bucks’ offer after helping the team win an NBA title last season. Tucker added that he loved playing in Milwaukee, but management wasn’t willing to risk going into luxury tax territory to keep him. “For me, it wasn’t even about money,” he said. “It was more about respect because they basically told me to go find an offer and they would match it. After hearing that for me, I’m not coming back even if I had to take less money. To me, that was disrespectful. So, as soon as they said that, I told my agent Andre [Buck], basically, ‘We are moving on, whatever we get out of that, that’s what we’re doing.’”
  • George Hill is making progress toward returning from an abdominal injury, Nehm tweets“He’s getting close. We’ll see how he responds to today,” Budenholzer said on Thursday. “He pretty much did all of practice and did some extra, a play group, afterwards. I think we just gotta see how he comes out of that.”

Eastern Notes: Smart, Hill, Harris, Bulls

The Celtics only have one player listed on the injury report for Game 2 against the Bucks on Tuesday but it’s a significant one. Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart is questionable due to a right quad contusion, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

“He’s a tough guy who’s going to try to play through things,” coach Ime Udoka said. “We’ll get him some treatment (Monday) and see how he feels tomorrow.”

Smart was already dealing with the injury entering Game 1, then took a couple of hits to that area.

It’s more than just pain tolerance. It’s tightness and restriction of movement as well,” Udoka said.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Bucks guard George Hill won’t play in Game 2, coach Mike Budenholzer told Eric Nehm of The Athletic (Twitter link) and other media members. Hill has an abdominal injury. “He was doing a vitamin, doing some individual work,” Budenholzer said. “He’s doing a little bit more in his vitamins, but not anything significant or any kind of new update.”
  • Tobias Harris is no longer the weakest link on the Sixers’ defensive unit, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic writes. Rather, teams are trying to attack other defenders while staying away from Harris. The addition of James Harden and emergence of Tyrese Maxey has reduced Harris’ offensive stats but he’s contributing at the other end. “I definitely have more energy to go and guard somebody,” Harris quipped.
  • Zach LaVine‘s unrestricted free agency and Patrick Williams‘ development are among the offseason questions looming over the Bulls, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

Injury Notes: Heat, Brown, Hill, Z. Williams, Reid

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was noncommittal on Friday when asked for a status update on Jimmy Butler (sore right knee) and Kyle Lowry (left hamstring), according to Anthony Chiang and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Butler missed Game 5 of Miami’s first-round series against Atlanta, while Lowry missed Games 4 and 5 after leaving Game 3 early.

I don’t want to jump the gun on anything. I just like the progress that everybody’s made. We’ll see if they can make more progress tomorrow. It will just be a daily update,” Spoelstra said.

Butler’s injury is considered relatively minor, with no MRI or other imaging planned. Muscle strains are notoriously tricky to deal with, so Lowry might be out longer, but his hamstring strain is also not considered to be serious, per Chiang and Jackson.

I’m expecting them to get healthy day by day, honestly,” Bam Adebayo said when asked if he expects Butler and Lowry to be available for the start of the second round. “If they can go, they can go. If they’re not, we got to go out there regardless. You can’t push back Game 1.”

Here are some more postseason injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Head coach Ime Udoka told reporters, including Jay King of The Athletic (Twitter links), that Celtics star Jaylen Brown is dealing with hamstring tightness and had it evaluated recently. Despite the injury, Brown is expected to play in Game 1 against Milwaukee on Sunday.
  • George Hill (abdominal strain) was unable to practice on Friday, per Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer. He’s out for Game 1 but the team is hopeful he might return during the second-round series against Boston, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The veteran guard missed the entire first-round series against Chicago with the injury and hasn’t played since April 8.
  • Grizzlies rookie wing Ziaire Williams (right knee soreness) was unavailable for Friday’s Game 6 contest against the Timberwolves, the team announced (via Twitter). He’d previously been listed as doubtful. Wolves big man Naz Reid also missed Game 6 due to personal reasons (Twitter link via Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic).

Bulls’ LaVine, Caruso Listed As Out For Game 5

The Bulls will be missing a handful of important backcourt players on Wednesday as they look to stave off elimination in their series against the Bucks. Down 3-1 and already without Lonzo Ball, Chicago has also ruled out Zach LaVine (COVID-19 protocols) and Alex Caruso (concussion protocol) for Game 5, according to the NBA’s latest injury report.

LaVine was the Bulls’ second-leading scorer during the regular season with 24.4 PPG on .476/.389/.853 shooting, while Caruso was the club’s top perimeter defender, so Chicago will take a hit on both sides of the ball as a result of their absences.

The Bucks are dealing with some injury issues of their own, with Khris Middleton (left MCL sprain) still sidelined and George Hill (abdominal strain) listed as questionable after missing the first four games of the series. However, those absences didn’t slow them down at all in Games 3 or 4 — the Bucks won those two games in Chicago by a combined total of 54 points and now have an opportunity to close out the shorthanded Bulls in Milwaukee.

With LaVine and Caruso unavailable, the Bulls will have to lean more heavily on players like Ayo Dosunmu, Coby White, and Javonte Green as they attempt to extend the series.

Central Notes: Portis, Hill, Hayes, Brogdon

Bobby Portis and Grayson Allen helped the Bucks survive the absence of Khris Middleton in a Game 3 rout of the Bulls, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Portis took Middleton’s spot in the starting lineup and posted 18 points and 16 rebounds as Milwaukee pulled away early. Allen hit five three-pointers on his way to a career playoff high of 22 points.

It was a timely performance for Portis, who will have to decide on a $4.565MM player option that was included in the two-year deal he signed last offseason. Portis was in demand last summer before opting to return to the team that he helped win a championship.

“I just take the shots that are given to me,” Portis said. “I’m a guy that, I don’t really try to go get the game, I let the game come to me. If somebody doubles Giannis (Antetokounmpo) or they build a wall and I’m open, then that’s the shot that you have to shoot for the possession. It’s possession-for-possession in the playoffs, half-court setting, and obviously, teams’ defenses are always going to be built around trying to stop ’34,’ so the guys around him have to be able to open the floor up and knock down shots and space the floor, so just let the game come to us.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks guard George Hill may miss extended time with an abdominal strain, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Hill hasn’t played since being hurt on April 8, and coach Mike Budenholzer said his condition shouldn’t be considered “day to day.”
  • The Pistons believe second-year guard Killian Hayes could benefit from a summer of pick-up basketball, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. They saw improvement in Hayes’ mental approach to the game this season and want him to experience a setting where he has to win to keep playing. “You guys play pick-up. How hard do you have to play to stay on the court,” coach Dwane Casey asked reporters. “If not, you wait until next, waiting three more games. He’s never had to go through that, and that’s not a knock on him. It’s just something a young man, 18, 19-year-old had to go through. He played on club teams in Europe that practiced three times a day, structured. He hasn’t had a chance to go out and spread his wings and do some of the things he can do.”
  • Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, who was shut down for the season on March 18 because of back pain, is looking forward to more time playing alongside new backcourt partner Tyrese Haliburton next season, per Wheat Hotchkiss of NBA.com“He’s a great young talent, great young point guard,” Brogdon said. “Super unselfish. He’s the guy you want to play with. He’s the guy that’s going to help you win. I think the fit is great for me, for the organization. I’m excited to play with him.”