Bucks Rumors

Mike Budenholzer, Billy Donovan Win Coaches Association Award

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer and Thunder head coach Billy Donovan have been voted the co-coaches of the year by the National Basketball Coaches Association, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

This award, introduced in 2017, isn’t the NBA’s official Coach of the Year award, which is voted on by media members and is represented by the Red Auerbach Trophy. The winner of that award is expected to be announced at some point during the postseason this summer.

The Coaches Association’s version of the award – named after longtime NBCA executive director Michael H. Goldberg – is voted on by the NBA’s 30 head coaches, none of whom can vote for himself.

Budenholzer, who also won the NBCA’s award in 2019, has had even more success with the East-leading Bucks this season. His team has a 54-13 record and – before the season was suspended – had been on pace to surpass the 60 victories that last year’s Milwaukee squad racked up.

As for Donovan, he has exceeded expectations with a Thunder team that was viewed as a borderline playoff contender and a candidate for a full-fledged rebuild. Instead of returning to the lottery following the offseason departures of Russell Westbrook and Paul George, Oklahoma City is 41-24, good for sixth in the Western Conference. A strong finish over the next couple weeks could result in a top-four record in the conference for the Thunder.

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, widely viewed as the favorite to win the official Coach of the Year award in 2020, was one vote away from finishing in a three-way tie with Budenholzer and Donovan, per Wojnarowski.

Sources tell ESPN that Taylor Jenkins (Grizzlies), Nate McMillan (Pacers), Erik Spoelstra (Heat), and Brad Stevens (Celtics), and Frank Vogel (Lakers) also received votes.

Williams Sidelined By Groin Strain

  • Bucks veteran forward Marvin Williams did not play in the team’s restart opener on Friday but it’s a minor injury issue, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Williams is dealing with a moderate left groin strain and his absence is expected to be short-term.

Bucks’ Bledsoe, Connaughton Not Yet Ready To Return

The Bucks will be without a pair of rotation players when their season resumes on Friday against the Celtics, as head coach Mike Budenholzer confirmed today that Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton will remain sidelined for now, per Eric Woodyard of ESPN.

Both Bledsoe and Connaughton tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the summer, delaying their arrivals to the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus. They’ve each cleared quarantine and have returned to practice, but Budenholzer believes the two veterans need a little more time to get their conditioning and rhythm up to par.

“Everybody else is getting ready to play in a live game and have had 10 to 12 to 14 days of probably 5-on-5 every other day and individual work and all that, so I think giving Bled and Pat a couple of 5-on-5 sessions at a minimum and getting some 3-on-3 in other situations or days,” Budenholzer said, per Woodyard. “They just need to play, so I think that’s a big hurdle and with playing will come both conditioning and their rhythm, so we’re going to make sure they get some of that before we put them in an NBA game.”

With a comfortable 6.5-game lead on the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks can afford to play it safe in the seeding games as they gear up for the postseason. They’ll want Bledsoe and Connaughton to be back at 100% by the time the playoffs get underway on August 17.

Bledsoe, Milwaukee’s starting point guard, averaged 15.4 PPG, 5.4 APG, and 4.6 RPG and played strong perimeter defense in 56 games (27.2 MPG) this season. Connaughton provided depth on the wing, averaging 5.1 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 61 contests (18.3 MPG).

The duo hasn’t been ruled out beyond Friday, so it’s possible one or both of them will be ready to go on Sunday night when the Bucks face Houston.

Pat Connaughton Arrives At NBA Campus

  • Bucks wing Pat Connaughton, who revealed last week that he had tested positive for COVID-19, said on Saturday that he was en route to the NBA’s campus in Orlando, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. Assuming Connaughton began his quarantine that evening and returns two negative coronavirus tests, he should be cleared to rejoin the team today.

Bledsoe "Looks Great" In Practice

  • Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe returned to practice Thursday. However, while coach Mike Budenholzer said Bledsoe “looked great,” he didn’t play in today’s scrimmage against the Kings. Bledsoe tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the team’s arrival in Orlando and flew to the campus on Wednesday.

Eric Bledsoe Arrives At NBA Campus, Begins Quarantine

Having gone through the NBA’s protocols after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, Bucks starting point guard Eric Bledsoe arrived at the Walt Disney World campus on Wednesday night, the team announced (via Twitter).

As Malika Andrews of ESPN notes, Bledsoe will now have to quarantine for two days and will have to return two negative coronavirus tests – at least 24 hours apart – before he can rejoin the team and participate in practices. He obviously won’t be active for Milwaukee’s first inter-squad scrimmage on Thursday vs. San Antonio.

Although Bledsoe won’t be immediately available for the Bucks, his presence in Orlando is good news for the Eastern Conference leaders. Milwaukee has a comfortable 6.5-game lead on the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the East, so there should be little need for the club to go all-out in the eight seeding games. Bledsoe will have plenty of time to ramp up to 100% before the start of the postseason next month.

The Bucks are a little closer to full strength as a result of Bledsoe’s arrival, but are still waiting on role player Pat Connaughton. He revealed earlier this week that he also tested positive for the coronavirus and is waiting on clearance to travel to Orlando.

Central Notes: Reynolds, Porter, Lamb, Leaf, Galloway

When the NBA announced the official rosters for the summer restart on Monday, Cameron Reynolds‘ name didn’t show up on the Bucks‘ squad. Asked about Reynolds’ omission, head coach Mike Budenholzer explained that the limitations placed on the team’s overall traveling party – including coaches and trainers – resulted in Milwaukee leaving its second two-way player at home.

“It’s really hard not to bring him,” Budenholzer said, per Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But at some point … you start thinking, ‘How do we make sure that, whether it be the top eight, nine, 10, 11 guys, have the best health from our sports performance, whether it be a massage person, a physical therapist, strength and conditioning coaches.’ … We felt like 16 players was the right decision and all the staff that we brought from sports performance and assistant coaches gave us our best group.”

Reynolds’ absence in Orlando doesn’t mean he’s no longer under contract with the Bucks. His two-way deal with the team will expire in October, and Milwaukee will have an opportunity to re-sign him at that point.

Here’s more from out of the Central:

NBA Announces Official Rosters For Summer Restart

The NBA has announced the official summer rosters for each of the 22 teams involved in the resumption of the 2019/20 season. A total of 350 players make up the 22 squads, with only eight clubs carrying the maximum allowable 17 players. The Trail Blazers have the smallest summer roster, with just 13 players.

Injured players who didn’t make the trip to Orlando – such as Nets stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant – don’t show up on the official rosters list, but injured players who traveled with their teams – including Mavericks big man Dwight Powell and Pacers swingman Jeremy Lamb – are included, even if they won’t play this summer.

Besides players who are injured, voluntarily opted out, or were ruled out after contracting COVID-19, there are a few more notable omissions on the list, which we’ll round up here:

  • Houston Rockets: William Howard
    • A two-way player, Howard recently reached a two-year deal with ASVEL Basket in France, so it makes sense that he won’t be playing for the Rockets this summer.
  • Los Angeles Clippers: Johnathan Motley, Mfiondu Kabengele
    • As previously reported, Motley and Kabengele didn’t travel to Orlando with the Clippers and won’t be playing this summer.
  • Milwaukee Bucks: Cameron Reynolds
    • The Bucks only brought one of their two-way players (Frank Mason III), as Reynolds doesn’t show up on their official roster. The reason for his absence is unclear.
  • New Orleans Pelicans: Josh Gray
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Ryan Broekhoff
    • Broekhoff was signed as a substitute player to fill the Sixers’ open two-way slot, but later announced that he hadn’t traveled to Orlando because his wife, who is “high risk,” tested positive for COVID-19. Based on his omission from Philadelphia’s roster, it appears that Broekhoff won’t be joining the club after all.
  • Phoenix Suns: Tariq Owens
    • The Suns left one of their two-way slots open and apparently didn’t bring their lone two-way player to Orlando. The reason for Owens’ absence is unclear.
  • Portland Trail Blazers: Moses Brown
    • Despite only having 13 players available in Orlando, the Trail Blazers won’t have Brown – their second two-way player – with them. The reason for his absence is unclear.
  • Washington Wizards: Gary Payton II

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Cavs, Boylen, Bulls

Like most other NBA head coaches who have been asked about players not yet in attendance at the league’s Orlando campus, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer was somewhat cagey on Sunday when asked about Eric Bledsoe‘s situation. However, as Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, Budenholzer sounded optimistic about his point guard, who recently tested positive for COVID-19.

“The NBA has protocols that I think are trying to keep us all in our best place, our safest, to have a positive experience,” Budenholzer said. “When he clears those and when there’s something new to share with you guys we will, but we do feel like he’s on the closer end of the spectrum (to returning) than the longer.”

According to Velazquez, the expectation is that Bledsoe will be able to rejoin the Bucks before they resume play on July 31, though it will likely take him a little more time to get up to full speed. George Hill and NBA G League MVP Frank Mason III figure to handle point guard duties until Bledsoe is ready to go.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Jason Lloyd of The Athletic explores how Dan Gilbert‘s decision to take Quicken Loans public could impact the Cavaliers, noting that there’s no indication Gilbert has any intention of selling the franchise. Within the story, Lloyd adds that the Cavs owner is “turning up the pressure” on the team to show improvement next season in the third year of its rebuild.
  • Bulls head coach Jim Boylen said last week that he’s encouraged by his relationship with the team’s new top executives (link via WGNTV.com). K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago takes a closer look at Boylen’s comments, noting that the head coach dined with Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley in Chicago earlier this month, and both execs have been watching the individual voluntary workouts taking place at the Advocate Center. Boylen’s status for 2020/21 remains unclear, but the longer the Bulls go without making any announcements, the more likely he seems to keep his job.
  • In a pair of articles for NBC Sports Chicago, Rob Schaefer looks at how Kris Dunn and Ryan Arcidiacono performed in 2019/20 and what sort of future the two guards might have with the Bulls. Dunn is a restricted free agent this fall, while Arcidiacono has a guaranteed salary for ’20/21 and a team option for ’21/22.

Bucks’ Connaughton Tested Positive For COVID-19, Not Yet In Orlando

Bucks wing Pat Connaughton revealed today, in a statement to ESPN and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that he recently tested positive for the coronavirus and has not yet reported to the NBA’s campus in Orlando (Twitter link via Matt Velazquez of The Journal Sentinel).

“I am healthy and I feel great and I am excited to join my teammates in Orlando once I meet all the NBA protocols,” Connaughton said.

Connaughton, 27, has been a key part of Milwaukee’s rotation in 2019/20, appearing in 61 games and averaging 5.1 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 18.3 minutes per contest. This is his second season with the Bucks after he began his NBA career by spending three years in Portland.

The Bucks are missing two rotation players due to COVID-19 — Eric Bledsoe also hasn’t yet reported to Orlando after testing positive earlier this month. While it remains to be seen whether either player will be ready for the Bucks’ first of eight seeding games on July 31, the club will be more concerned with making sure both players are back to 100% by the time the postseason begins in mid-to-late August.

The 53-12 Bucks have a 6.5-game lead on the Raptors and have essentially already locked in the No. 1 seed in the East, so they’re unlikely to be going all-out during those eight seeding contests.