Giannis Antetokounmpo

Bucks Notes: Kaminsky, Lopez, Hill, Giannis

In the market for a big man who could stretch the floor at the trade deadline, the Bucks made an effort to acquire Frank Kaminsky from the Hornets, but were turned down, sources tell Sean Deveney of Sporting News. Having missed out on Kaminsky, Milwaukee instead sent a handful of second-round picks to New Orleans to acquire Nikola Mirotic.

With Mirotic and Brook Lopez both headed for unrestricted free agency this summer, however, Deveney expects the Bucks to circle back to Kaminsky, who will be eligible for restricted free agency. Milwaukee’s ability to land him will depend on a number of factors, including how serious the Hornets are about re-signing him and what happens with the Bucks’ own free agent bigs. Still, it’s a potential pairing to watch, particularly if Kaminsky becomes unrestricted and is available at a discount.

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • In a separate article for Sporting News, Deveney previewed the Bucks’ offseason, suggesting that the team will make Khris Middleton its top priority in free agency this summer over Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon, and others.
  • After the Bucks’ season ended last weekend, Lopez said he’d “love to be back,” while George Hill – who is expected to be waived to avoid his full $19MM guarantee – said that money has never been the most important factor for him in free agency, as Malika Andrews of ESPN.com relays.
  • In an interesting piece for The Athletic, Eric Nehm spoke to Giannis Antetokounmpo about what the Bucks star learned during his first extended playoff run, and how he’ll apply those lessons going forward. “There are so many things I thought were tough in the regular season,” Antetokounmpo said after playing three rounds of postseason basketball. “They’re not.”
  • The Bucks recently worked out UNC forward Cameron Johnson, per Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box (via Twitter). The 21st player on ESPN’s big board, Johnson may no longer be available by the time Milwaukee picks at No. 30.

Bucks Co-Owner: “Our Goal Is To Keep Everybody”

Several players who started or played major minutes off the bench for the Bucks this season are headed for free agency this summer, but co-owner Marc Lasry remains hopeful that the franchise can keep its core intact, as he tells Frank Isola of The Athletic.

“Our goal is to keep everybody,” Lasry said. “And we’re going to do everything in our power to keep the nucleus of our team.”

While the Bucks may not retain “everybody” on their roster who will be a free agent this offseason, there are three key players the team figures to prioritize. As Isola writes, Khris Middleton is expected to be offered a maximum-salary contract or something close to it, and the team would also like to bring back Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez. Nikola Mirotic and George Hill will also likely reach free agency.

Outside of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who led the Bucks in minutes during the Eastern Conference Finals, Middleton, Brogdon, and Lopez were the team’s three most-used players in that series vs. Toronto, so bringing them back will be Milwaukee’s No. 1 offseason goal. Brogdon’s modest cap hit (just under $2MM) and restricted status should help give the Bucks some cap flexibility as they weigh their options.

As for Antetokounmpo, he’s not up for a new deal quite yet, as his current pact runs through 2020/21. But he became eligible for a super-max extension by making an All-NBA team for a second straight year, and could sign that five-year extension during the 2020 offseason.

Like Lasry, Giannis recently said he’d like to see all the Bucks’ key free agents return. As long as the team proves it’s willing to invest financially to maintain a title contender, Milwaukee’s co-owner believes the team’s star will be interested in sticking around long-term.

As long as we keep doing well and Giannis believes we’re doing everything we can to win I feel good about our chances,” Lasry said. “… I believe he wants to be here. I have no reason to believe otherwise.

Bucks Notes: Giannis, Middleton, Snell

Now that their season is over, the Bucks will shift their focus to free agency, as several of the team’s key contributors don’t have contracts for the 2019/20 season. Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is locked up through 2020/21, said today in his end-of-season session with reporters that he doesn’t want to get involved in front office decisions, but he hopes Milwaukee can re-sign all of its top free agents (Twitter link via Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

“Obviously, I want everybody back,” Antetokounmpo said, per Malika Andrews of ESPN.com. “Great fricking team — unselfish players that play basketball the right way. They’re winners. We had a great atmosphere. We didn’t have no — I want to be polite. I want to say the A-word — we didn’t have no buttheads. Obviously, I want everybody back. I’m going to let my teammates know that.”

Khris Middleton, perhaps the Bucks’ most important free-agent-to-be, spoke today about having unfinished business with Giannis and the Bucks as a whole, tweets Velazquez. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee he’ll be back though. As Andrews tweets, Middleton said that his top two priorities will be what’s best for his family, followed by his fit.

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • Although Antetokoumpo was disappointed not to win the Eastern Conference Finals, he’s confident that the Bucks are in position to make more noise in the playoffs in future seasons. “I think it’s just the start of a long journey,” Antetokounmpo said after Saturday’s loss, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “We’re going to get better. We’re going to come back next year and believe in who we are, believe in what we’ve built this year, and hopefully, we can be in the same situation and be the ones moving forward.”
  • Prior to the end of the Eastern Finals, Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box wrote that some NBA officials believe the Bucks are eager – or even “desperate” – to dump Tony Snell‘s contract. Snell is owed $11.59MM in 2019/20 and $12.38MM in 2020/21. “I think the only way they can move him is if they package him with a pick,” one NBA executive told Woelfel. “But [the Bucks have] already traded two [future] No. 1s, so that won’t be easy to do that, either.”
  • It will be interesting to see how imperative it is for the Bucks to move off of Snell’s deal. If Milwaukee re-signs Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, and Brook Lopez (or Nikola Mirotic) to lucrative contracts, getting rid of Snell’s money could help the team avoid the tax. But if even one of those players departs, keeping Snell on their books for another year may not hurt the Bucks.

Winning Will Affect Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Contract Decision

Giannis Antetokounmpo became eligible for a super-max extension this week, but the Bucks may need a trip to next year’s NBA Finals to convince him to accept that deal, writes Malika Andrews of ESPN.

Milwaukee fell just short of that goal this season, falling to the Raptors in six games after posting the league’s best regular season record. A source tells Andrews that winning big is important to Antetokounmpo and that at least reaching the Finals will be a factor as he considers his future.

Antetokounmpo qualified for the super-max extension with a first-team selection on this year’s All-NBA squad, but he won’t be able to accept it until he has seven years in the league, which will happen after next season. It would be a five-year deal starting at 35% of the salary cap with a projected total value of about $247.3MM.

Since his rookie year, Antetokounmpo has expressed an affection for Milwaukee, Andrews notes, even moving his mother to the city. However, winning will be the prime consideration in his next contract, and he will have to be convinced that the Bucks can be perennial contenders.

Over the past year, Milwaukee GM Jon Horst made an effort to maximize Antetokounmpo’s talents by surrounding him with shooters and hiring coach Mike Budenholzer, who builds his offense around the 3-pointer. Brook Lopez and Pat Connaughton were among the key additions, while Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon were told to shoot more often from long distance to create more inside space for Antetokounmpo.

Keeping the core of this year’s team together won’t be easy as the Bucks face several difficult free agent decisions. Lopez is due for a significant raise after playing for $3.382MM, and sources tell Andrews that re-signing him will be a priority.

Milwaukee also appears likely to pay whatever it takes to keep Khris Middleton, but may not be able to afford Brogdon as well. George Hill and Nikola Mirotic will also be free agents, and the organization is facing luxury tax concerns after giving Bledsoe a four-year, $70MM extension in March.

NBA Announces 2018/19 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has formally announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2018/19 season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden leading the way as the two unanimous selections for the First Team.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Antetokounmpo and Harden scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

As we detailed in March, this year’s All-NBA selections have significant financial implications for several players. Here’s a breakdown of how several All-NBA candidates were impacted:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo is now eligible for a super-max extension with the Bucks, which he can sign in 2020. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2021/22 and would extend his contract by five years.
  • Damian Lillard is now eligible for a super-max extension with the Trail Blazers, which he can sign in 2019. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2021/22 and would extend his contract by four years.
  • Kemba Walker is now eligible for a super-max contract with the Hornets, which he can sign in 2019. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2019/20 and would be for five years.
  • Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson, Nikola Vucevic, and other super-max candidates who didn’t earn All-NBA honors aren’t eligible for super-max contracts (or a super-max extension, in Beal’s case). Thompson’s and Vucevic’s maximum contracts this summer would start at 30% of the cap.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns‘ extension with the Timberwolves, which goes into effect in 2019/20, will start at 25% of the cap, rather than 30%, because he didn’t earn All-NBA honors.

Beal and Thompson received the most All-NBA votes of any guards who missed out on the All-NBA teams, receiving 34 and 27 points respectively. Sixers guard Ben Simmons got seven points, while no other guards had more than four.

LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs) and Danilo Gallinari (Clippers) were the runners-up at forward, receiving 17 and seven points, respectively. Pascal Siakam (Raptors) had four points, while no other forwards had more than three.

At center, Towns received 20 points, followed by Vucevic at four and Pistons center Andre Drummond with three.

Interestingly, the 15 players named to the All-NBA teams for 2018/19 were the same 15 players that Hoops Rumors readers voted for in our end-of-season All-NBA polls last month. The only differences were George swapping places with Durant and Irving flipping spots with Westbrook.

The full and official All-NBA voting results can be found right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Lakers Angling For Antetokounmpo?

The Lakers have stated that they want Jason Kidd on their coaching staff to serve as a veteran assistant to Frank Vogel and a mentor to Lonzo Ball, but the real reason may be more ambitious, according to Steve Popper of Newsday.

A source familiar with the Lakers told Popper at this week’s draft combine that the Lakers are hoping to make a pitch for MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo when he becomes a free agent in 2021. They hope Kidd will provide the personal connection needed to attract the Bucks star.

Kidd was Antetokounmpo’s coach for three and a half years in Milwaukee before being fired in the middle of the 2017/18 season. He helped Antetokounmpo develop from a part-time player as a rookie into one of the NBA’s top talents.

L.A. currently doesn’t have any salary committed past 2021 other than $5MM owed for the final year of Luol Deng‘s stretched contract. LeBron James has a $41MM player option for the 2021/22 season, while Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart will all be eligible for extensions by then.

Although nobody can tell what might happen in two years, the Lakers seem to have a tough sell to convince Antetokounmpo to leave a Bucks team that appears headed for a long run as a title contender. Beyond that, he will likely be eligible for a supermax contract that would pay him 35% of the salary cap, but that’s an offer that only the Bucks can make.

Winning this year’s MVP honors would automatically qualify him for a super-max, as would being named Defensive Player of the Year or making an All-NBA team in 2021 or two of the next three seasons.

Harden, Giannis, George Named MVP Finalists

Defending champion James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George are the finalists for this season’s Most Valuable Player award, the league announced in a press release.

The voting is expected to be close between Harden, who averaged 36.1 PPG and 7.5 APG during the regular season, and Antetokounmpo, who carried the Bucks to the best record in the league while averaging 27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG and 5.9 APG. George averaged 28.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 4.1 APG.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors’ 2019 NBA Award Picks: Most Valuable Player]

The league also released the finalists for its other awards. The winners will be revealed during a TNT broadcast on Monday, June 24. Here are the rest of the finalists:

Rookie of the Year:

Sixth Man of the Year:

Defensive Player of the Year:

Most Improved Player:

Coach of the Year:

  • Mike Budenholzer (Bucks)
  • Michael Malone (Nuggets)
  • Doc Rivers (Clippers)

Bucks’ Success May Dictate Team Temperature on Luxury Tax

This season may be Milwaukee’s best chance at a title, as the team has many players set to hit the open market in free agency this summer. Sources tell Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com that ownership’s willingness to go deep into the luxury tax may be dependent on how far the Bucks advance.

Khris Middleton is likely to turn down his player option and hit the market. Malcolm Brogdon will be a restricted free agent. Brook Lopez will almost certainly want a raise on his one-year, $3.38MM deal. And Nikola Mirotic, who the team added at the trade deadline, will pursue a new contract as well.

The Bucks are not against becoming a taxpaying team. They have to do everything they can to surround Giannis Antetokounmpo with a strong supporting cast and give him every reason to sign a super-max extension once he’s eligible next summer. However, if the team with the best record in the league can’t get past the fourth-seeded Celtics, the decision to go deep into the luxury tax becomes a tough one.

The first of their many offseason decisions will likely involve Middleton, and Bontemps writes that the shooting guard is likely to see max contract offers. The Mavs reportedly will be among the teams looking to poach him from Milwaukee.

Eastern Notes: Celtics, Giannis, Dragic, Heat, Pacers

The Celtics picked up their defensive intensity to seal an impressive Game 1 road win over the Bucks on Sunday, swarming the paint and putting an emphasis on slowing down Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo’s primary defender, Al Horford, recorded three blocks (two of which were on him). The Celtics as a whole held the Bucks to just 35% shooting from the floor, including a 7-for-21 performance from Antetokounmpo. Boston’s energy drained Milwaukee, leading to the dominate 112-90 win.

“They were loading [the paint] a lot,” Antetokounmpo said, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “Lots of guys in the paint. Whenever I got in the paint, when I spin or try and change direction, the second guy was right there.

“I’ve just gotta go watch tape. If they are going to play like this the whole series, I have to be able to make the right pass, trust my teammates to knock down shots.”

For Horford and the Celtics, containing Antetokounmpo was the game plan entering Game 1. The next challenge for Boston is dealing with Milwaukee’s adjustments entering Game 2 on Tuesday night.

“I just think that our group, we all understood how we needed to defend and how dangerous he is once he gets it in the paint,” Horford said of Antetokounmpo. “So constantly tonight, we had a couple of breakdowns, but for the most part, I feel like everyone was very aware. Our guards really did a good job of helping and closing down lanes and things like that, and we just wanted to challenge and contest every shot as best we could.”

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • The Heat could wait it out with Goran Dragic entering the final season of his contract, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. Dragic will decide in the coming weeks whether to exercise his $19.2MM player option for next season, though Winderman notes it wouldn’t be beneficial for the team to extend him on a cheaper, multi-year deal that cuts into future cap space. Should Dragic opt into his player option, he’d become an unrestricted free agent in July of 2020.
  • Miami has a long way to go before achieving star status in the East, Winderman writes in a separate article for The Sun Sentinel. The Heat essentially have the same roster situation they did a year ago (minus the fact that Dwyane Wade has retired), leaving more questions than answers about the organization entering this summer. The team is coming off a disappointing 2018/19 season that saw them finish at 39-43, the sixth worst record in the conference.
  • The Pacers would be smart to consider trading one of Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis this summer, Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star opines. Indiana was swept by Boston in the first round of the playoffs this spring, failing to effectively play without injured star Victor Oladipo.