Jon Horst

Bucks Sign GM Jon Horst To Contract Extension

10:20am: The Bucks have officially announced Horst’s extension.

“Jon’s preparedness, decision-making and leadership have been instrumental in the Bucks’ success during his tenure, and he has earned this extension,” Bucks co-owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens, and Jamie Dinan said in a statement. “We appreciate Jon’s hard work and creativity and are excited that he will continue to lead our basketball operations for years to come.”


10:09am: The Bucks and general manager Jon Horst have reached an agreement on a long-term contract extension, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As Wojnarowski writes, Horst had been entering the final year of his existing contract. His new deal, which was finalized on Friday morning, will cover “several” years.

Horst first assumed control of the Bucks’ basketball operations department in 2017, receiving a promotion from his role as director of basketball operations to replace John Hammond as general manager. His original contract was for three years, and he had two more years tacked onto it in 2019.

The Bucks couldn’t have asked for much more from Horst during his first four seasons on the job. The team has a 206-103 record (.667) in the regular season during that time and won its first title in 50 years in 2021. Horst was also named Executive of the Year in 2019.

Milwaukee’s championship core remains in place for the next several seasons, with Giannis Antetokounmpo under contract through at least 2025, Jrue Holiday locked up through 2024, and Khris Middleton secured through 2023. While the Bucks may face tough decisions on role players in the next year or two, the team has now locked up its off-court leaders as well, extending both Horst and head coach Mike Budenholzer this offseason.

Bucks Co-Owner Lasry Talks Budenholzer, Jrue, Tax, More

After watching the Bucks win a championship for the first time in 50 years during the 2020/21 season, co-owner Marc Lasry is confident that the team will remain in the mix for a title again in ’21/22. Lasry told Sam Amick and Anthony Slater of The Athletic that he views the Bucks and Nets as the top two teams in the East entering the fall.

Asked if the Heat – who eliminated the Bucks from the playoffs in 2020 – are in that top tier alongside Milwaukee and Brooklyn, Lasry praised Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, and P.J. Tucker, calling Miami a “really good” team. However, he said he believes the Bucks are better.

“Ultimately at the end of the day I’d rather have our team,” Lasry said. “… If we’re healthy, you know we should go pretty far.

“But I would say the same thing (about other teams). If the Nets are healthy, they should go pretty far. It’s who’s going to be the healthiest when you get there. And it’s been interesting trying to figure out (that part) because I bet you there’s going to be a lot of gaming of this… You want to be the No. 1 seed, but do you want to be the No. 1 seed, or do you want to make sure you’re the healthiest going into the playoffs?”

Lasry’s appearance on The Athletic’s Tampering podcast touched on several other topics of note. The discussion is worth checking out in full, but here are a few highlights from the Bucks’ co-owner, via Amick and Slater:

On head coach Mike Budenholzer getting a contract extension after being on the hot seat:

“Bud is really good. I mean, he is. He does have that quiet confidence, which is nice. So I think you go through all of this, and one of the things that I saw — and I told this to Bud — was I said, ‘Look, there was a huge amount of pressure on us, on him, on all of us, because everybody expects you to win.’ And what he showed us during that time is how well he handled the pressure, how well he prepared the team, and what a great job he did, so that after we won, we were like, ‘Look, it’s not like we want to reward you; we want to keep you.'”

On the 2020 acquisition of Jrue Holiday and how it influenced Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s decision to sign a long-term extension with the Bucks:

“(General manager) Jon Horst felt that (Holiday) was going to be the missing piece, and he was dead right. You know, I remember the first practice and Jrue is covering Giannis. And same thing — Giannis knew Jrue by reputation. After practice that day, Jon says to me, ‘Yeah, Giannis now knows how good he is. (Holiday’s) covering him. He’s good.’ It was actually great. It was. And I think 100 percent it was a huge factor in Giannis re-signing because he saw what we were willing to do.”

On the Bucks becoming a taxpayer in 2020/21 and going further into the tax in ’21/22:

“Look, (the tax) is a big part. I’m not going to tell you it’s not. I mean, it’s just — if you sign somebody for $5MM, you’re not signing him for $5MM, you’re signing him for $25MM, $20MM. You sort of look at that, and you’re trying to figure out, ‘Alright, look, if we’re going to do that, OK, there is a cost to it. Yeah, we want him, but that’s going to cost us $25MM or that’ll cost us $35MM.’ I mean, whatever the numbers are. And I think we’re very focused on that.

“Look, we’re a small-market team. It’s expensive. I mean, for us, this year we’re going to lose quite a bit of money. … But at the end of the day, the goal is that you want to keep winning a championship, so you’re going to spend the money.”

Bucks Notes: Portis, Tucker, Horst, 2021/22 Odds

It’s safe to say that nobody is happier with his decision last offseason than Bucks forward Bobby Portis. After helping to bring Milwaukee its first NBA title in 50 years, Portis confirmed that the Knicks made him a better offer than the two-year, $7.5MM deal he signed with the Bucks, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

“I knew it was the right place when I made the decision,’’ Portis said. “Fun fact, like fun little quick story. During free agency — actually, before free agency — the Knicks turned down my ($15M) team option and they wanted to sign me to another deal and it was pretty nice money. But I wasn’t really worried about the money. Sometimes money isn’t everything. It’s about happiness. I found happiness here.”

Portis will have another decision in a few days because he has a $3.8MM player option on the second year of his contract. Berman speculated that New York may have interest in a reunion with Portis, especially if Obi Toppin gets moved in a potential Collin Sexton trade, but Portis sounds reluctant to leave Milwaukee.

“When I first got here, I felt welcome and I felt loved,’’ he said. “The guys made me at home and the coaches made me comfortable. I get to be myself every day, just be energetic. Guys on my team, they are kind of quiet guys. There’s not many guys like me that are outgoing and really bring what I bring to the table with energy.’’

There’s more from Milwaukee:

  • The Bucks will keep their core together with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, but the $106MM those three players are owed next season will limit the team’s financial flexibility, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Instagram link). Milwaukee has Bird rights on P.J. Tucker and would like to bring him back, but that may push the club over the luxury tax.
  • In Tuesday’s post-game celebration, coach Mike Budenholzer gave credit to general manager Jon Horst for the bold moves he made to assemble a championship team, per Spencer Davies of Basketball News. “What Jon Horst has done to put together a team, he’s the greatest GM in the league,” Budenholzer said. “I’m a little bit biased, but to be his partner, for him to go out and get Jrue Holiday, to have the guts to make that (trade), to recruit guys, to get P.J. Tucker midseason, Bobby Portis in the offseason. Stick with Khris, Giannis and Brook (Lopez) and Pat (Connaughton) and these guys, and you go up and down the roster. Jon has done an amazing job.”
  • The Bucks are early favorites to win another title next season, according to ESPN, which has the Nets, Suns, Lakers and Sixers rounding out the top five.

Central Notes: Vucevic, Bulls, Antetokounmpo, Horst

The Bulls collected a big road win at Boston on Monday but have generally struggled since trading for Nikola Vucevic. Billy Donovan believes the team’s rotation players were slow to adjust to new roles with the addition of the All-Star center, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

“The trade really messed up our team a little,” the Bulls’ head coach said. “I don’t say that in a negative way. What I mean by that is everybody kind of got out of their normal rotation, how they were playing, how they were being used. We lost a little bit of our competitiveness not because we didn’t want to compete and play hard. It was really more of guys had to figure out their roles and what to do in their role.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls will likely open their doors to fans before the regular season ends, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot expressed optimism that “there will be fans in the United Center” in the very near future. Chicago has seven home games remaining.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo missed several games with a knee injury but that’s not why he sat out most of overtime during a loss to Phoenix on Monday, according to Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I just cramped. Got to get more fluids in me. That’s pretty much it,” the Bucks’ franchise player said.
  • Bucks GM Jon Horst feels he accomplished his mission by trading for forward P.J. Tucker and adding point guard Jeff Teague via the buyout market, he told Eric Nehm of The Athletic in a Q&A session. Horst feels they could be the final pieces to a championship puzzle. “I could not be happier the way that we came out of the trade deadline and the buyout market in terms of how we’ve hopefully finished off this roster,” he said.

Bucks GM Horst Talks Roster, Giannis, Connaughton, More

The Bucks fell short of the NBA Finals in each of the last two postseasons after putting up the NBA’s best regular season record in each of those two years. However, general manager Jon Horst tells Eric Nehm of The Athletic that he believes the club is “young in its evolution of championship contention,” and that the current Bucks roster is its strongest yet.

“I think that this is the best roster that we’ve had in the last three years,” Horst said. “I have a ton of confidence in the work that our coaches have spent on improving our offensive and defensive systems and our style of play and just the way that that they’re going to approach the season and the way that we’re going to work. And then the work that our players did.

“… If you really peel back, how do you get better? I think you get better coaching, player internal development, and from a front office perspective, you improve the roster. I think we’ve checked all those boxes, and I feel confident about those things. The work that’s been put into all those areas and the results in all those areas. That’s why I feel good about this team and that we’re better than last season.”

In his conversation with Nehm, Horst discussed a wide ranging of topics, including his thoughts on all the veteran players Milwaukee added to its roster in free agency or via trade this offseason.

The discussion is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber, but here are a few more notable comments from the Bucks’ GM:

On what Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s decision to sign an extension with the Bucks says about the organization:

“I think it shows mostly a lot about Giannis and his desire to win and to be part of a culture where winning is first and foremost, and where the resources are going to be provided to you to win and continue to push the envelope and be in a position, year in and year out, to compete at the highest level. But to do it in a family environment, in a healthy environment, where people want to come to work every day and enjoy what they do every day. And for us, the goal from day one has been to create that environment, create that culture, and not just do that, but also to win at a high level. And we haven’t reached the ultimate goal yet, but I think we constantly improve and get better and push toward being great.”

On the NBA’s investigation into the Bucks’ pursuit of Bogdan Bogdanovic, which cost the team its 2022 second-round pick:

“We were fully cooperative with the NBA, very open and transparent. And a decision was made and we’re moving forward from that. We’re excited about the season. I think that at different points in your life or different points in your career, things happen and you’re only as good or as bad as how you respond. And we chose to be very cooperative, forthcoming, transparent and tried to work with the league to come up with the best result. The takeaway is that, be honest and helpful and deal with the result and move on and be better. … It’s not a lesson, but it’s a takeaway.”

On the Bucks’ decision not to sign a true backup center to replace Robin Lopez:

“It’s more a bet that we’re going to be more versatile and more equipped to play against teams that constantly go small. And so really our backup fives are Bobby (Portis), D.J. (Wilson), and Giannis, right? All of which also play the four very well. So we have options and versatility.

“… This season, I think we’re intentionally trying to push our money to the front and be a little bit riskier on the back end. And if we have to adjust and pivot, we’ll figure out a way to do it. Of course, we are always a little nervous, but I’ll tell you, I think our roster fits the NBA and the way teams are going to play us better this season than it ever has before.”

On the perception that the Bucks made a mistake by agreeing to a two-year deal with Pat Connaughton that would have violated CBA rules before amending it to a three-year deal:

“I’m sure it’s a more interesting read to write the story that we don’t know what we’re doing… We know what we’re doing. Maybe (it’s) not as interesting to say a deal wasn’t done, (that) negotiations and discussions are still evolving. We’ve done some complex things in the last few years and got it done and figured it out. We were negotiating and trying to figure out a deal that would work for Pat and us.

“… Frankly, I was surprised by a lot of stuff that was written in the process of negotiating a deal with Pat. There’s not a better answer than that. Again, you’re just trying to figure it out, like you’re literally going through real time. If people want to report stuff in real time as fact and final, that’s fine.”

Central Notes: Rose, Beilein, Giannis, Brogdon

Guard Derrick Rose signed with the Pistons because he feels the team can contend, Vince Ellis of the Free Press writes. Rose inked a two-year, $15MM deal with Detroit in free agency to lead its second unit. “I’ve had all the accolades in the past. I’m past that. Now I want to win,” he said. “The only thing on my résumé I’m missing is a championship and being here, seeing what happened last year with the Raptors in (the) East, you never know what can happen.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers are amazed by new coach John Beilein’s work ethic and the 66-year-old’s energy level, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “He has more energy than I do,” forward Larry Nance Jr. said. “He’s always going, always has something on his mind, always something he’s ready to talk about, teach and coach. It’s really exciting to see because as a player that’s what you want. You want somebody that is so eager to get started that they can’t even slow down.
  • The Bucks bet on continuity in their efforts to convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign a super-max extension next summer, Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. They managed to re-sign Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and George Hill in free agency and only lost one starter, Malcolm Brogdon. “We brought back a big part of the group; we believe in continuity,” GM Jon Horst said. “We think that gives us an advantage to have continuity. … This group looks like they’re growing, looks like they’re getting better, looks like they fit and they make sense and that we can compete and sustain success for a long period of time with this group and that’s been the goal.”
  • Despite Brogdon’s departure, the Bucks have plenty of options at shooting guard and small forward, Ben Steele of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out. “I think the vision going forward is with the addition of Wes Matthews and Kyle Korver as wings that have proven that they are elite-level shooters and great defenders,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Got young guys like Donte (DiVincenzo), Pat (Connaughton) and Sterling (Brown) that are all proven to some degree.” Hill, who signed a three-year, $29MM deal, is another option for Budenholzer.

Bucks Fined By NBA For Comments On Super-Max For Giannis

The Bucks have been hit with a $50K fine by the NBA, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who tweets that the club violated league rules related to the timing of player contract comments. According to Charania, the fine stems from the Bucks publicly discussing their plans to offer Giannis Antetokounmpo a super-max contract.

Antetokounmpo is not yet eligible for that five-year Designated Veteran Extension, so league rules prohibit the team from discussing it, as the NBA noted in a press release confirming the fine.

“Under NBA rules, teams cannot commit to offer a ‘super-max’ extension prior to the summer following a player’s seventh season in the NBA,” the NBA said in its statement.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Designated Veteran Extension]

The comments about a super-max deal for Giannis were made by Bucks general manager Jon Horst at a televised fan event earlier this month.

“The answer for now is that we can’t negotiate anything,” Horst said when asked about Antetokounmpo’s contract status.  “So Giannis, basically a year from now will be eligible for a super-max extension. At that time, of course, he will be offered a super-max extension.”

The Bucks technically violated the NBA’s circumvention rules when discussing the reigning MVP’s future, as Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights observes (via Twitter). Still, Horst’s comments are pretty innocuous. While the Bucks can’t exactly “tamper” with their own player, I wonder if the NBA is looking to draw a clear line on this sort of public statement in the wake of its introduction of new anti-tampering measures.

Bucks co-owner Wes Edens also recently told TMZ that the franchise wants to keep Antetokounmpo for “the rest of his basketball career,” but given the lack of specificity involved in that statement, it’s unlikely to run afoul of the league’s circumvention rules.

Central Notes: Horst, Pistons, Kornet, Holidays

Eric Nehm of The Athletic recently sat down with the Bucks’ award-winning GM Jon Horst to discuss the team’s free agency this summer. Here are a few noteworthy passages from Horst’s interview.

Regarding the team’s ability to bring back Khris Middleton on a five-year deal:

“Khris was always a focus… He’s our second superstar, our second star. He’s an All-Star. He’s been one of our best players for a long period of time here… Khris was a target obviously and he got a contract that represents that and we think it’s a great contract because we got our second All-Star locked up for the next five years.”

Regarding the team’s trade of Tony Snell and a first-round pick for Jon Leuer in order to create the requisite cap space needed to re-sign Brook Lopez:

“When we got Brook last offseason, we understood, at some level, how important he was going to be to us… (and) we also understood if he’s as good as we think he’s going to be, it’s going to present a lot of challenges.”

“So, we spent the entire year trying to prepare for that… Just different things we did throughout the year were in preparation to position ourselves to either be prepared to keep Brook, be in a position to keep Brook or be prepared to react if we couldn’t… I don’t know if a lot of people saw it coming, maybe after the Tony Snell deal. Then, maybe they were like, ‘Okay, this is how they’re going to try to do it.’ But before that, I don’t think people saw the moves we lined up to position ourselves to hopefully keep Brook and I’m very thankful we were able to.”

Regarding the decision to trade RFA Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana and whether the luxury tax was a factor in that decision:

“I think there’s a lot that goes into restricted free agency. It’s a monster. Malcolm is very, very important and we knew how important he was to our team. It will be hard to replace him. I think we’ve done the best that we can and we’ll continue to work in ways to be creative and fill that gap.”

“I would say the luxury tax was only part of the consideration for not matching or not being willing to pay Malcolm the market that he was able to get from Indiana. Whether or not he had that market from anywhere else besides Indiana, I don’t know. The decision on Malcolm was much more about our internal evaluations, the roster fit, the ability to be flexible and have options going forward and just building a team that, as I always say, can sustain success over a long period.”

There’s more from the Central Division this afternoon:
  • Horst confirmed in the above interview that the Bucks were not able to create a traded player exception when they traded Brogdon to Indiana, as the signing of George Hill with cap space occurred after the trade, and teams lose their exceptions (other than the Room MLE) when they go under the cap.
  • Taking a look at what each player’s role may be for the Pistons’ during the 2019/20 season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com opines that there are five guys locked in to being sure-fire rotation pieces – Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, and Derrick Rose, and three who will almost certainly join that group – Markieff Morris, Tony Snell, and Bruce Brown.
  • The Bulls are hoping that the three-point shooting ability of free-agent addition, big man Luke Kornet, will be a nice complement next to starter Wendell Carter Jr. and fellow reserve, rookie Daniel Gafford, writes Sam Smith of Bulls.com.
  • Pacers’ new addition Justin Holiday is excited about the prospect of playing with his baby brother, reserve point guard Aaron Holiday, reports Scott Agness of The Athletic. “It was the best situation I had at this time,” Justin said. “(T)he Pacers obviously being a contender every year and going to the playoffs, and then also them having my brother was something that was very, very enticing for me. To be able to be a part of that culture and play with my brother, I think it made it pretty simple where I needed to go.”

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.