Jon Horst

Bucks GM Jon Horst Wins Executive Of Year

Bucks GM Jon Horst was named the league’s Executive of the Year at the league’s annual awards show on Monday.

Horst edged out the Nuggets’ Tim Connelly for the honor. Horst collected 72 total points and 10 first-place votes, while Connelly accumulated 69 points and received nine first-place votes. Lawrence Frank of the Clippers (26 points) was third and the Raptors’ Masai Ujiri (21 points) was fourth.

The votes were tabulated after the regular season and undoubtedly Ujiri would have gotten more votes if the postseason was factored in.

Horst, who is just 36 years old, was named GM in June 2017. He made several shrewd moves that helped make the Bucks the league’s premier team during the regular season, including the hiring of Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer. The signing of center Brook Lopez last summer turned out to be one of the league’s best free agent pickups and he also brought in key reserve Pat Connaughton.

Bucks Sign GM Jon Horst To Contract Extension

The Bucks have signed general manager Jon Horst to a contract extension, the team announced today in a press release. Horst, whose deal would have expired in 2020, received a three-year extension, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“Jon’s strong leadership and savvy decision-making ability have been instrumental as we continue to build the Bucks into a championship-caliber organization,” Bucks co-owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, and Jamie Dinan said in a statement. “He has brought smart processes to our basketball operations and together with head coach Mike Budenholzer and president Peter Feigin, Jon has done an incredible job connecting the basketball and business sides of our organization. We are excited about the future of our team and confident in Jon leading us to the highest level.”

When the Bucks were seeking a new head of basketball operations in 2017 following John Hammond‘s departure for Orlando, Horst was the surprise choice, receiving a promotion from his director of basketball operations role.

Under Horst’s watch, Milwaukee has improved from a middle-of-the-pack team to a legit championship contender. The Bucks won an NBA-best 60 games in 2018/19 and came within two games of the NBA Finals. It was the first time the club had won a playoff series since 2001.

While the continued growth of stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton contributed significantly to Milwaukee’s improvement, free agent and trade additions like Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe played key roles, as did Budenholzer, Horst’s first head coaching hire.

As we relayed last week, Horst has been the NBA’s lowest-paid general manager during his first two years on the job, so his extension will almost certainly come with a raise. Financial details of his new deal aren’t yet known.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucks GM Jon Horst In Line For Extension, Raise?

Having been named the Bucks‘ new general manager in June 2017, Jon Horst now just has one year left on the three-year deal he received at that time, per Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box. According to Woelfel, “word is circulating” around the league that Horst will seek a raise on a contract extension this offseason.

After building a roster that won 60 games and made the Eastern Conference Finals this season, Horst is certainly deserving of an extension, and sources tell Woelfel that Bucks ownership is amenable to working out a new agreement. However, it remains to be seen what Horst’s salary would look like on such an extension.

According to Woelfel, Horst has been the NBA’s lowest-paid GM over the last couple years, with several league officials suggesting that his annual salary is in the $500K range (that figure was also reported by ESPN shortly after Horst’s promotion). The NBA’s highest-paid executives earn salaries in the neighborhood of $8-10MM per year, Woelfel notes.

While Horst’s next deal should certainly be more lucrative than his current one, the Bucks’ ownership group is probably unlikely to make an offer that puts the young GM among the highest-paid execs in the league.

“If you asked me what would be a fair deal for him, I’d say around $3MM (per year),” one NBA executive told Woelfel. “That’s about the average salary for a GM and I think he’s regarded as an average GM. But knowing (the Bucks’ owners), I don’t think he’s going to get even that.”

While the Bucks’ owners may not have a reputation as huge spenders, co-owner Marc Lasry has stated the team intends to do everything it can to win and will attempt to keep all its core players this offseason. I expect the club will pay what it takes to get Horst locked up for the next few years.

Bucks Notes: Brogdon, Hill, Horst

Malcolm Brogdon won’t be available for tomorrow’s Game 4, but he continues to make progress and could return soon, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. Brogdon hasn’t played since March 15 because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot, but coach Mike Budenholzer said today that his condition is improving.

“I think he’s getting close,” Budenholzer said, adding that Brogdon has been able to participate in five-on-five games three times. The former Rookie of the Year was an important contributor for Milwaukee this season, putting up a 50/40/90 shooting line before the injury.

There’s more Bucks news to pass along:

  • Brogdon’s history of foot issues could impact his value as a restricted free agent this summer, writes Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’sPressBox. He slipped down some teams’ draft boards in 2016 after having surgery on his left foot at Virginia, enabling the Bucks to grab him with the 36th pick. Brogdon played just 48 games last season and 64 this year, leaving many rival front offices eager to see how he would perform in the postseason. “I’ll be honest with you; we’re still concerned about his foot problem like we did when he came out in the draft,’’ an unidentified NBA executive told Woelfel. “I want to see how he does in the playoffs. I think he needs to play in the playoffs to show teams he’s fine. That’s going to tell what kind of deal he gets this summer.’’ He estimated that Brogdon could get an offer starting between $14MM and $16MM per season if teams believe he can stay healthy.
  • George Hill is providing a veteran presence in his first playoffs with the Bucks, observes Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Bucks had a financial incentive when they made a deal with Cleveland in December to acquire Hill, who has just a $1MM guarantee for next season. But they also welcomed the postseason experience that he brought to the backcourt. “He’s been a vet in this league,” said teammate Eric Bledsoe. “He knows what it takes. He’s been to the championship; he’s been to the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s no surprise what he’s doing.”
  • GM Jon Horst set the groundwork for turning the Bucks into a contender after being hired as the youngest general manager in the league in 2017, writes Lori Nickel of The Journal Sentinel.

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.

Central Rumors: Cavs Roster, Kennard, Lopez

The Cavaliers plan to leave an open spot on the roster heading into training camp, Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Cleveland currently has 12 players on guaranteed deals and has filled both of its two-way slots. The Cavs are holding spots for both restricted free agent Rodney Hood, whose negotiations with the organization have stalled, and free agent guard David Nwaba, who has agreed to a contract but is still working out all the details, according to Vardon. Training-camp invitees will battle for the final spot on the 15-man roster, Vardon adds.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers will allow the remainder of their trade exception from the Kyrie Irving deal to expire on Wednesday but they still have two more exceptions, Vardon notes in the same piece. It has exceptions of $2.5MM and $1.3MM from the deal that sent Richard Jefferson and Kay Felder to the Hawks last season. Those exceptions expire on October 15th.
  • Pistons swingman Luke Kennard could have an expanded role in his second season, according to Ansar Khan of MLive.com. New coach Dwane Casey wants Kennard to handle the ball more often and become a playmaker, Khan continues. He could see action at three positions, though he will primarily back up Reggie Bullock at shooting guard, Khan adds.
  • Free agent acquisitions Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova fit the current NBA model of big men who can stretch the floor, Bucks GM Jon Horst declares in a video clip posted on the team’s Twitter feed“With Brook and Ersan, you have guys that have great size, that can shoot the three. They compete on both ends of the floor and have high basketball IQ,” Horst said.

Notes & Reactions On The Jabari Parker Signing

The Bucks felt that the organization and Jabari Parker were trending in different directions, league sources tell Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The team let Jabari Parker become an unrestricted free agent, allowing him to sign a two-year, $40MM deal with the Bulls.

Schultz notes that GM Jon Horst didn’t have to rescind the qualifying offer which kept Parker as a restricted free agent, but he did so to allow Parker the ability to negotiate the best possible deal with Chicago.

Here are more notes and reactions from around the league:

  • For Parker to provide good value at $20MM per season, he’ll have to develop into an All-Star caliber player, Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com writes. Pelton can envision a scenario where Parker continues to be limited defensively and becomes what amounts to a high-scoring sixth man. The scribe sees that value to be comparable to Will Barton‘s deal, one that will pay the wing an annual value of $13.5MM.
  • The Bucks would have had to part with either a productive player or attach an asset in order to dump one of their players with larger, unfriendly contract if they intended to sign Parker and stay under the luxury tax, Pelton notes in the same piece. Pelton evaluates Milwaukee’s roster and finds that it didn’t have any smaller contracts that provided poor value, meaning the franchise would have had to find takers for either Matthew Dellavedova, Tony Snell or John Henson, something that’s easier said than done.
  • The Bucks are set to have $116MM on the books this season after the signings of Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (ESPN now link). Milwaukee’s future cap space will be dependent on what Khris Middleton does with his $13MM player option next season. If he opts out and Eric Bledsoe does not return, the team could have upwards of $28MM in cap space.

Bucks Notes: Ilyasova, Parker, Lopez, Zeller

The Bucks are thrilled to have Ersan Ilyasova back on the squad after three seasons without the former second-round pick.

“Ersan is a high IQ player, he can shoot the ball so he gives Giannis and the rest of the team space,” GM Jon Horst said (via the Behind the Buck Pass’ Twitter feed). “He’s competitive, he’s tough, and he knows our system, he knows our community, he knows our players. He was a guy we focused on in free agency, and we’ll be excited to add him.”

Milwaukee agreed to terms on a three-year, $21MM deal as free agency began last weekend. Here’s more from Milwaukee:

  • Horst discussed the Jabari Parker‘s pending restricted free agency during an appearance on NBATV (h/t Adam McGee of Behind the Buck Pass). “We’ve had great conversations [with Parker and his agent], we’re in contact every day. I think the market will dictate some of it, but we’ll continue to work on it and we’ll see how it turns out,” Horst said.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com examines why Brook Lopez didn’t fetch a more lucrative deal than the one-year, $3.4MM contract he agreed to with the Bucks. While Lopez will provide Milwaukee with a proven scorer in the paint, his lack of foot speed will make it difficult for him to have a defensive impact. Pelton notes that the big man’s ability to shoot from behind the arc will help the team space the floor on offense.
  • The arrival of Lopez likely means Tyler Zeller‘s time in Milwaukee will come to an end, Pelton speculates in the same piece. Zeller’s $1.9MM salary is non-guaranteed and the Bucks will have to be careful in the margins if they plan on making an offer to Parker without going into the luxury tax. If the Bucks waive both Zeller and Brandon Jennings, whose $2.2MM salary does not become guaranteed until August 1, they’d have approximately $11.5MM of financial wiggle room below the luxury tax line.

Budenholzer Seeks To Unlock Bucks’ Defensive Potential

Mike Budenholzer will prioritize improving the Bucks’ defense, Genaro C. Armas of the Associated Press reports. Budenholzer, who agreed to a four-year contract last week to become the team’s head coach, feels Milwaukee’s roster has plenty of good defensive pieces and it’s his task to put them together. “I think with the individual talents we have in Milwaukee … I think one of the words I used in the interview process was, ‘How can we unlock this talent defensively?'” Budenholzer said during his introductory press conference on Monday. “I just think there’s so much to work with.” Milwaukee finished 17th in the league’s defensive ratings last season, 21st in defensive field-goal percentage, 22nd in opponents’ second-chance points and 23rd in points allowed in the paint.

In other notable items from the press conference:

  • Budenholzer believes he can help All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo expand his game. He has already had breakfast with the team’s superstar and Khris Middleton. “He’s a smart player,” Budenholzer said. “I think together, he and I will probably push each other. But I look forward to pushing him. He believes it, I believe it. He’s going to get a lot better.”
  • GM Jon Horst interviewed at least seven candidates, according to Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Horst wanted to find someone with whom he could engage in casual, productive conversations. “It was just an enjoyable time the entire period of time,” Horst said of his initial interview with the ex-Hawks coach.
  • Budenholzer wants to his staff to be mainly comprised of former Hawks assistants. “I’m very hopeful that the majority of my staff will come with me,” Budenholzer said. “I’m a huge believer in my group that’s been with me the last five years.”

Central Notes: Collison, Big Three, Horst, Blakeney

In a young man’s league, Pacers point guard Darren Collison, 30, is the definition of a veteran, but doesn’t want his ability to reflect it. In his ninth NBA season, Collison wanted to make some adjustments and improvements, which led him to a phone conversation with one of the all-time greats.

Mark Monteith of NBA.com writes that Collision set up a call with future Hall-of-Famer Steve Nash. Collison wanted to pick Nash’s brain on how to adapt to playing against younger guards, implementing new moves, and improving his diet. Collison said he has long admired Nash and wanted to learn as much as he can.

“He was one of my favorite players to watch, because he’s not athletic, he’s not big, he’s not strong,” Collison said. “But when you guard him, it’s the hardest thing to do because he just knows how to keep the defense honest in the pick-and-roll. He doesn’t go fast, he doesn’t go slow. He makes every read precisely. I’ve watched a lot of film on him, so I figured why not just call him and pick his brain?”

Collison is averaging his usually solid numbers this season with 12.7 PPG and 5.3 APG in 59 games. If he ever needs it, he now has one of the greatest point guards in league history just a phone call away.

Check out more Central Division notes below:

  • With Reggie Jackson back on the court, the Pistons finally have their three best players healthy simultaneously. Midseason acquisition Blake Griffin, prolific rebounder Andre Drummond, and Jackson are a strong trio that can do a lot of damage if healthy, NBA.com’s Keith Langlois writes. “If we can get Reggie healthy and keep him healthy,” head coach Stan Van Gundy said, “with those three guys, that’s going to be a formidable group to play against for anybody.”
  • After recent reports suggested that the Bucks nearly traded Jabari Parker at the deadline and have a list of potential replacements for interim head coach Joe Prunty, general manager Jon Horst rejected those stories during a radio appearance in Milwaukee. Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays Horst’s comments, in which the Bucks GM denied the reports and indicated they came from erroneous sources.
  • As we relayed earlier today, Bulls two-way guard Antonio Blakeney suffered a fractured left wrist and he will miss the rest of the season.