Bucks Rumors

Korver Brings Intangibles Along With Shooting

Pacers’ first-round pick Goga Bitadze will make his preseason debut on Tuesday, Mark Monteith of the team’s website relays. The Euro big man missed the first three preseason games with an ankle injury. He’s slated as the main backup at center with Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis projected as starters. “That’s kind of where we’ve got him at,” coach Nate McMillan said. “We’ll see as we get into the season what the rotation is going to look like.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers rookie Darius Garland could wind up in the starting lineup with Collin Sexton in a dual point guard backcourt, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Garland has come off the bench thus far in the preseason but that could change with coach John Beilein continuing to tinker with various lineups. “If he’s able to practice enough and earn it, I have no qualms about that at all,” Beilein said. “But there’s a certain process you have to go through to be that starting point guard and whatever it’s going to take. We will get him in when we think it’s best for the team to win.”
  • Pistons coach Dwane Casey wants to see his team take 40% of its shots from beyond the arc, Keith Langlois of the team’s website relays. Like many teams, Detroit attempted a franchise record number of 3-pointers last season and Casey wants to continue that trend. Their backup bigs, including Markieff Morris, will help the Pistons achieve that goal. “We want to stay around 40,” Casey said. “We want to continue to get up more corner threes as much as possible. Our slot threes were up, but we were getting a fair amount of corner threes. We’ve got to continue to do that and put pressure on the basket.”
  • The Bucks added veteran guard Kyle Korver as another perimeter option but coach Mike Budenholzer sees Korver providing assistance in other areas, according to Ben Steele of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Korver signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal in July. “All the little things he does,” Budenholzer said. “Competing and screening. Getting hits on the defensive boards. I think we’re really excited about how he is going to make us better this year.”
  • Zach LaVine is eager to shed his reputation as a subpar defender, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times relays. LaVine has been challenged to become a better two-way player by Bulls coach Jim Boylen‘‘I’m just tired of people talking [poorly] about my defense,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘I’ve always been a good on-ball defender. But there’s no reason I can be this good offensively and not be that good on the defensive end. So I’m taking more pride in it. I’m pretty sure it’ll show.”

Bucks Release Jaylen Adams, Luke Maye

The Bucks have requested waivers on training camp invitees Jaylen Adams and Luke Maye, the team announced today (via Twitter). Both players were on non-guaranteed contracts, so Milwaukee won’t carry any dead money as a result of the cuts.

Adams, a 6’2″ point guard, spent last season with the Hawks, first on a two-way contract and then on a standard deal. He appeared in 34 games for Atlanta but was waived by the team in July and signed with Milwaukee in August. In two preseason games for the Bucks, he averaged 4.5 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 13.0 minutes per contest.

Maye, a 6’8″ forward who went undrafted out of North Carolina, joined the Bucks’ Summer League roster in July, then signed a contract with the club shortly thereafter. He appeared in three preseason games, recording 2.3 PPG and 1.3 RPG in just 5.8 MPG.

It’s possible – but not a lock – that both Adams and Maye will end up playing for the Wisconsin Herd, Milwaukee’s G League affiliate. As for the Bucks, they now have 18 players under contract and will have to make at least one more cut before opening night to get down to the regular season limit.

2019/20 Over/Unders: Central Division

The 2019/20 NBA regular season will get underway in less than two weeks, which means it’s time to start getting serious about predictions for the upcoming campaign.

With the help of the lines from a handful of sports betting sites, including Bovada and BetOnline, we’re running through the predicted win totals for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. In a series of team-by-team polls, you’ll get the chance to weigh in on whether you think those forecasts are too optimistic or too pessimistic.

Having already looked at the Atlantic and Northwest, we’re moving onto the Central today…


Milwaukee Bucks

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Indiana Pacers

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Detroit Pistons

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Chicago Bulls

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Cleveland Cavaliers

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Previous voting results:

Atlantic:

  • Philadelphia 76ers (54.5 wins): Over (54.9%)
  • Boston Celtics (49.5 wins): Under (57.0%)
  • Toronto Raptors (46.5 wins): Under (59.1%)
  • Brooklyn Nets (43.5 wins): Over (58.3%)
  • New York Knicks (27.5 wins): Under (54.9%)

Northwest:

  • Denver Nuggets (53.5 wins): Over (51.8%)
  • Utah Jazz (53.5 wins): Under (50.8%)
  • Portland Trail Blazers (46.5 wins): Over (78.7%)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (35.5 wins): Under (57.5%)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (32.5 wins): Under (55.1%)

Eric Bledsoe Expected To Miss 2-3 Weeks With Rib Injury

12:03pm: Bucks GM Jon Horst clarifies that Bledsoe technically fractured the cartilage between two of his ribs, and doesn’t have any broken bones, tweets Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It’s possible that Bledsoe will beat his projected two-to-three-week recovery timeline, since it will come down to pain tolerance, Velazquez adds.

9:23am: Eric Bledsoe may not be available for the Bucks to start the season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the veteran point guard suffered a small fracture of his rib and is expected to miss up to two or three weeks.

Bledsoe, who turns 30 in December, had a strong regular season in 2018/19 for Milwaukee, averaging 15.9 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 4.6 RPG with a career-best .484 FG%. However, he struggled to consistently produce in the playoffs, as his FG% dipped to .411, including .294 in the Bucks’ six-game Eastern Conference Finals loss to Toronto.

Because he signed a four-year extension during the ’18/19 campaign though, Bledsoe is set to enter the season as Milwaukee’s starting point guard for the foreseeable future. He’ll earn about $15.6MM in 2019/20, the first year of that four-year deal.

If Bledsoe has to miss time to start the season, George Hill figures to slide into the starting five in his place. Donte DiVincenzo and/or two-way player Frank Mason could also see a bump in minutes, while Giannis Antetokounmpo might assume increased ball-handling responsibilities.

Lakers Notes: AD Trade, LeBron, Pelinka, More

When David Griffin arrived in New Orleans as the Pelicans‘ new head of basketball operations, he was faced with a predicament related to Anthony Davis, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. Sources confirm to McMenamin that there was some lingering resentment toward the Lakers within the Pelicans’ organization – all the way up to ownership – due to the way AD’s public trade request played out earlier in the year. However, Griffin also recognized that L.A. was the most logical trade partner for New Orleans.

“When I took over, there was some latent discontent, maybe with the way things had been handled,” Griffin said. “We just talked about the fact that, look, in all likelihood the best package is going to come from this team, because it’s the only team that AD’s willing to stay at.”

As McMenamin details, agent Rich Paul had signaled to the Celtics and other suitors that Davis wouldn’t re-sign with them in 2020, since the big man wanted to play in New York or Los Angeles.

“The last thing you want to do is put a GM in a situation where he trades away an asset and then the guy walks out the door,” Paul said. “Like, you can’t do business that way. So it’s not really a hard conversation to have. And I don’t think it stopped [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny Ainge from trying. It’s just that maybe he didn’t have the deal [he wanted]. He wasn’t willing to give up the young players, which I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t give them up either if the guy is not going to re-sign.”

The Pelicans’ big win on draft lottery night helped clear a path for the team to work something out with the Lakers for Davis, as Paul observed to McMenamin: “The fact that [the Pelicans] were going to get the first pick caused me to understand that it softened the blow of losing Anthony Davis because the organization could still have some momentum.”

McMenamin’s story at ESPN provides an in-depth look at several other aspects of the Lakers’ pursuit and acquisition of Davis, as well as the franchise’s adjustment to having him on the roster. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said that even on the day the Lakers and Pelicans reached a trade agreement, there were a couple times he was convinced a deal wouldn’t come together. But the front office persevered in part because they believed they owed it to LeBron James. “When a player of LeBron’s stature puts his trust in the organization,” Pelinka said, “I think there’s an implicit bilateral trust going back, saying: ‘We’re going to do everything we can to put you in a position to win more championships, because that’s what you’re about.'”
  • Pelinka, who added that he believes in treating his superstar players “like partners,” admitted that he has probably had hundreds of three-way calls with James and Davis since the trade as he has solicited their opinions on certain roster moves. “Every single decision. I [have] never been involved so much,” Davis said. “No matter who the player was, he wanted to make sure. It was on everything. And it was like, ‘Wow.’ To the point where I was like, ‘All right, Rob, stop calling me.'”
  • Kendrick Perkins, who was teammates with LeBron in Cleveland and AD in New Orleans, had a hand in bringing the two stars together. The veteran big man introduced Davis to Klutch Sports in 2018 when word got out that he was considering an agent change, writes McMenamin.
  • Rich Paul believes that Davis’ ability to make threes and pass the ball separates him from other stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo. AD’s agent offered the following spicy take: “If you put Anthony Davis on that Bucks team last year, they’d be playing in the Finals. He knows how to make guys better. That’s not a knock to Giannis, but that’s just what [I think].”
  • The NBA was willing to allow LeBron to give up his jersey number (23) to Davis despite the paperwork not being filed in time, but Nike nixed the idea, citing tens of millions of dollars in wasted inventory on James jerseys, sources tell McMenamin.

Central Notes: Brown, Carter, Wood, Cavs, Bitadze

Attorneys for Bucks guard Sterling Brown have formally asked a federal judge to turn down the City of Milwaukee’s $400K settlement offer, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. As we relayed last month, Brown was always unlikely to accept the offer, which didn’t include an admission of liability by the city.

“Mr. Brown deserves more than a mere apology,” Brown’s lawyer Mark Thomsen told ESPN. “He, as any human being, citizen of the USA, is entitled to an express vindication that his constitutional rights have been violated. He is entitled to no less.”

Brown’s lawsuit against the city stems from an incident that took place in January 2018. The former SMU star alleged that police officers used excessive force when they tased him while citing him for a parking violation.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • After being limited to 44 games due to injuries in his rookie season, Bulls big man Wendell Carter hasn’t been able to stay healthy in camp this fall either, having been slowed by ankle and tailbone ailments. Joe Cowley of The Chicago-Sun Times notes that those injuries are slowing Carter’s development, while Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago suggests that injuries to Carter and Luke Kornet are making it difficult for the club to evaluate its frontcourt during the preseason.
  • Christian Wood made a strong case for a regular season roster spot in his first preseason game with the Pistons, racking up 19 points and eight rebounds in just 19 minutes. Unless Detroit trades or waives a player with a guaranteed salary, Wood and Joe Johnson will be battling for the 15th spot on the roster. Head coach Dwane Casey said Wood helped boost his chances on Monday, per Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “He played hard,” Casey said. “Key thing is playing hard, play the right way. He’s got to continue to do that.”
  • In a pair of articles for Cleveland.com, Chris Fedor explores what the Cavaliers‘ regular season rotation might look like and digs into whether the team’s first preseason game provided any hints on the battle for the final roster spot(s).
  • Pacers first-rounder Goga Bitadze is getting off to a slow start in his rookie season. As J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star details, the big man – who missed Summer League due to visa issues – may not play at all in the preseason because of an ankle injury.

Central Notes: Giannis, Kennard, Henson, Hutchison

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, last season’s MVP and one of the best basketball players in the world, still needs to improve his shooting ability after making an abysmal 30.2% of his jump shots last season. And as Eric Woodyard of ESPN writes, The Greek Freak is looking at new teammate Kyle Korver for some guidance.

“It’s really important [that] I always try to talk to him a little bit,” Antetokounmpo said of Korver. “And he’s a great guy. He’s not trying to get in your head or overstep and talk too much to you. Whenever he gives me tips, I always try to listen … one of the best shooters to ever play the game.”

Head coach Mike Budenholzer, who coached Korver in Atlanta, also thinks that Korver is going to be a huge addition to the Bucks’ roster.

“His professionalism, his work ethic and attention to detail is just gonna help all of us, including me as a coach. I always say that about Kyle: He makes me a better coach. Adding him to our group was a huge add this summer.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press advocates for Pistons guard Luke Kennard to be moved to a bench role this season. Head coach Dwane Casey seems to agree: “(Kennard) doesn’t fit well with the first unit, but he is one of our most talented players and so the job we have as a coaching staff is to fit him where he’s going to go.”
  • Coming off an injury-riddled 2018/19 season that saw him traded from Milwaukee to the Cavaliers, big man John Henson is ready to add an element of rim protection to help the Cavs’ defense improve this season. He’s also ready for whatever role the team has in store for him, admitting that he doesn’t yet know exactly where he fits in the rotation, writes Chris Fedor of cleveland.com. Henson is entering the final year of his contract.
  • Bulls head coach Jim Boylen says forward Chandler Hutchison will not return in the next two weeks and that opening night is in jeopardy, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Hutchison is still recovering from a hamstring strain he suffered in September.

There Are Multiple Options To Replace Brogdon

  • 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.

Giannis Not Interested In Addressing Contract Situation In 2019/20

Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo can’t sign a super-max extension for another year, and can’t become a free agent until the summer of 2021, but that won’t stop NBA fans and observers from speculating about his long-term future. Speaking today to reporters, including ESPN’s Eric Woodyard, Antetokounmpo made it clear that he has no plans to entertain that speculation this season.

“I’m not gonna talk about it a lot this season, and I’m not going to try to address it,” Antetokounmpo said.

The Greek forward is still just 24 years old and is coming off his first MVP season, cementing his place among the NBA’s stars to watch over the next five or 10 years. Throw in the fact that he’s playing in one of the league’s smaller markets, and it’s no surprise that whispers about his next contract have already begun. For his part though, Antetokounmpo is focused on the season ahead.

“I feel like if you have a great team – and our goal is to win a championship and be the last team standing and get better each day – I think it’s disrespectful towards my teammates talking about my free agency and what I’m going through,” Antetokounmpo said. “So, when the time is right, we’re all gonna talk about it. I don’t think the time is right.”

Because he earned All-NBA honors and took home an MVP award this season, Antetokounmpo locked in his super-max eligibility, but he can’t actually sign that extension – which would start at 35% of the cap – until he has at least seven years of NBA experience. As soon as they’re permitted to, the Bucks plan on putting that offer on the table — in fact, general manager GM Jon Horst made that plan public and was fined $50K by the NBA for doing so.

Based on the league’s latest cap projections, a five-year super-max deal for Giannis that starts in the 2021/22 season would be worth just over $252MM.

Examining Two Potential Long-Term Paths For Giannis

  • In an in-depth story for ESPN.com, Tim Bontemps examines the two possible long-term paths for the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will be eligible for a super-max contract extension next summer. Antetokounmpo’s decision on whether to re-up with the Bucks or explore other options will have a massive impact not just on basketball in Milwaukee but on the entire NBA.