Milwaukee Bucks

Central Notes: Rondo, Hoiberg, George, Bucks

Rajon Rondo faces an uncertain future with the Bulls, but he got an endorsement from coach Fred Hoiberg after tonight’s season-ending loss, tweets Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago. “I love Rondo,” Hoiberg told reporters. “I love the kid. I Iove coaching him.” Rondo is set to make $13.397MM next season, but only $3MM of that is guaranteed through June 30th. The 31-year-old point guard had a rocky regular season, but was instrumental in the eighth-seeded Bulls taking a 2-0 lead over the Celtics before he got hurt and missed the final four games of the series.

There’s more tonight from the Central Division:

  • There were loud chants of “Fire Hoiberg” toward the end of tonight’s 22-point loss, but the second-year coach said he sympathizes with fans who are upset (Twitter link). “I understand the frustration,” Hoiberg said. “We got off to a 2-0 lead but couldn’t finish it off. I do understand.” He has three seasons left on the five-year, $25MM contract the Bulls gave him in 2015.
  • The results of next month’s draft lottery could impact a potential Paul George trade, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The Celtics, who enter the lottery with the best odds, and the Lakers, who are third, are the two teams most often mentioned as trading partners for George. Either could improve their bargaining positions by landing a top-two pick and giving the Pacers a shot at Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball. With Jeff Teague entering free agency, Indiana might be tempted to unload George in exchange for its point guard of the future. Pincus notes that the Celtics could trade for George and still be able to make a max offer in free agency (Twitter link).
  • The Bucks need another star but may not have the resources to add one, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Milwaukee will be over the cap if it re-signs Greg Monroe or Tony Snell, and would have less than $20MM to offer if both players leave, not enough to attract a max-level free agent. O’Connor believes keeping Snell should be a priority. In the draft, the Bucks have all their future first-rounders, but will pick 17th this year and won’t move any higher as long as they keep making the playoffs.

2017 Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Milwaukee Bucks

On the day that Jabari Parker was diagnosed with a torn ACL, the Bucks were 22-29 and appeared to be on track for a spot in the lottery. However, the team came into its own down the stretch of the 2016/17 season, finishing on a 20-11 run and giving the Raptors all they could handle in the first round of the playoffs. This is a team on the rise, led by MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, but Milwaukee isn’t typically a destination for top free agents, and the club likely won’t have much spending flexibility this summer anyway. The Bucks may ultimately continue to rely on the trade market and the draft, where they’ve struck gold in recent years.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Bucks financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2017:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • None

Restricted Free Agents

  • Tony Snell ($4,588,840 qualifying offer / $5,920,818 cap hold)
  • Total: $5,920,818

Cap Holds

  • Greg Monroe ($22,289,589) — If player option is declined
  • Spencer Hawes ($9,523,137) — If player option is declined
  • Michael Beasley ($1,471,382)
  • Jason Terry ($1,471,382)
  • No. 17 overall pick ($2,135,040)
  • Total: $36,890,530

Trade Exceptions

Projected Salary Cap: $101,000,000

Maximum Cap Room: $14,101,037

  • With their 10 players on guaranteed contracts, their first-round pick, and an empty roster spot charge, the Bucks have $86,898,963 in projected salary for 2017/18, giving the team a little breathing room under the cap. However, that’s probably not a realistic scenario, since it would mean renouncing Snell and all their trade exceptions, not to mention Monroe and Hawes both turning down their player options. It’s much more likely that the Bucks will remain over the cap this offseason.

Footnotes:

  1. Payton’s 2017/18 salary believed to be fully guaranteed, per The Vertical.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and The Vertical was used in the creation of this post.

Bucks Notes: Snell, Brogdon, Maker

The Bucks swapped Michael Carter-Williams for Tony Snell right before the season started and the small forward has become one of the team’s most important players, Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times details. Snell has become a top defender on the team, as evidenced by his performance against DeMar DeRozan in Game 3 of the team’s opening round series.  On offense, Snell’s improved 3-point shooting gives the team another lethal option from behind the arc. 

“At the beginning of the season, Tony said he wanted to be a 3 and D guy. He wanted to shoot 3s really well and play defense really well, locking up people. And he’s taken that to heart. He’s playing at a high level defensively,’’ teammate Malcolm Brogdon said.

Snell will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and he should garner interest from rival teams. 6’7″ wings who shoot over 40% from three and play great defense are alway in demand and I speculate that Snell nabs a contract with annual values ranging from $12-14MM. The Bucks have approximately $82MM in guaranteed salaries on the books for next season against a projected $101MM salary cap, though they could go over the cap to sign the small forward since they own his bird rights.

Here’s more from Milwaukee:

  • The Bucks are the first team since the 2012/13 Warriors to start two rookies in a playoff game and the team has put in a lot of work to get them ready for the postseason, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes.“[Thon Maker] and Malcolm believe that they can do the job,” coach Jason Kidd said. “The guys on the floor and on the bench support them, and the coaching staff has done everything to prepare them for this moment. It’s up to them to be basketball players, and they’re very comfortable with doing that.” 

[RELATED: 2017 NBA Award Picks: Rookie Of The Year]

  • Maker is embracing his role as a defensive-minded starter on the Bucks, Michael Grange of SportsNet relays. “Bringing energy, blocking shots. It starts at the defensive end. Offensively it’s spacing the floor and using my knowledge of the game at this point to make plays for others and myself, but at this point it’s mostly on the defensive end,” Maker said.
  • If the Bucks had their own D-League affiliate, Maker may not be playing for the NBA club, Grange adds in the same piece. The team wanted to get him experience but didn’t want to send him to another team’s affiliate and potentially waste time. Stuck without many options, the coaching staff found a solution in playing Maker in limited minutes in the starting lineup. “So, we needed to play him and after talking with the coaching staff we thought, ‘Let’s look at starting him and being able to benefit, using his energy but also an opportunity to play so it’s not a wasted season,’‘ Kidd said.

Impressive Bucks Show Glimpse Of Future

  • The way that the Bucks have been playing in their first-round matchup against the Raptors has served as a glimpse into the future, Genaro Armas of the Associated Press writes. While the emergence of Giannis Antetokounmpo is nothing new, it’s the first time they’ve been on full display on the national stage.

ROTY Candidate Brogdon Asks Bucks To Give To Charity

  • A second-round pick currently helping guide the Bucks to a six-seed in the Eastern Conference is in the running for the Rookie of the Year award, but Malcolm Brogdon has asked the club to donate the money it would have spent on an extravagant campaign on his behalf to charity instead. Per Alysha Tsuji of USA Today, Brogdon, who averages 10.3 points and 4.3 assists per game, sits second on the publication’s rookie tracker.

Potential 2017 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will go into effect on July 1, 2017, includes a number of changes to the free agent process, including some that apply specifically to restricted free agents. However, one aspect of restricted free agency unaffected by the new CBA is what’s referred to as the “starter criteria,” which can affect how much an RFA’s qualifying offer will be worth.

Here’s how the starter criteria works: A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency. A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2015/16 and 35 in 2016/17, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons exceeds 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player ensures that a team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet, and gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO. Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. Still, those QOs can have an impact on a team’s salary cap outlook during July’s free agent period, so it’s worth checking in to see which potential RFAs will be eligible for higher or lower qualifying offers this summer.

Listed below are the top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,187,598.

Len and Noel had the worst QO luck this season. As the fifth and sixth overall picks in 2013, they would have been in line for qualifying offers worth about $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively. Instead, their QOs will be worth less than $4.2MM. Both players were very close to meeting the starter criteria too — they’ve started 77 games apiece in the past two years, so they’ll fall just short of the 82 required.

The players listed below are non-lottery first-round picks who will meet the starter criteria. That will make each of them eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,588,840.

All four of these players were selected in the 20-26 range in the 2013 draft, and their QOs would’ve ranged from about $3.39MM to $3.22MM if they hadn’t met the starter criteria.

Here are the rest of the RFAs whose qualifying offers won’t necessarily be determined by the standard criteria:

  • Undrafted power forward JaMychal Green (Grizzlies) has met the starter criteria, putting him in line for a QO worth $2,820,497 instead of the more modest amount he would’ve received as a minimum-salary player.
  • Two players – Joe Ingles (Jazz) and Ben McLemore (Kings) – still have a chance to meet the starter criteria depending on how the season’s last four days play out. Ingles has played 1,848 minutes this season, meaning he would have to average about 38 MPG in Utah’s last four contests to reach 2,000, which is a tall order. McLemore may fall just short as well, as he currently sits at 79 starts over the last two seasons. He’ll need to start three of the Kings’ last four games in order to average 41 starts per year, but he has only been in Sacramento’s starting lineup twice since the start of March. (End-of-season update: Neither Ingles nor McLemore met the starter criteria.)

Henson's Thumb Injury Costs Him $250K

  • Bucks big man John Henson will lose $250K in bonus incentives because of his current thumb injury, Bobby Marks of The Vertical tweets.  Henson needed to play in 60 games to collect the bonus. Henson signed a four-year extension in October 2015 that kicked in at the start of this season. The contract is worth between $44MM and $48MM, depending upon if Henson reaches certain incentives.

Poll: 2017 NBA Rookie Of The Year

It has been a somewhat underwhelming year for NBA rookies. No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons has missed the entire season due to a foot injury, while other top selections from the 2016 draft – such as Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown, Kris Dunn, and Buddy Hield – have shown promise but haven’t provided consistent production throughout the season.

With the regular season winding down, a small handful of viable candidates for the NBA’s 2017 Rookie of the Year award have emerged, and none of them are 2016 first-round picks, which is somewhat unprecedented in recent history.

Since the turn of the century, 18 players have been named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, including co-winners Elton Brand and Steve Francis in 2000. Of those 18 players, 17 were drafted in the first round a year earlier — the only exception is Blake Griffin, a first overall pick who missed his first NBA season and won the award in his second year. Additionally, all 18 Rookies of the Year were top-11 picks, with Michael Carter-Williams (11th) and Amar’e Stoudemire (ninth) representing the lowest-drafted winners.

This year, the top three contenders for Rookie of the Year don’t meet the criteria noted above. Joel Embiid was a top pick, but he missed his first two NBA seasons before finally making it onto the court this season. Dario Saric was selected outside of the top 11 (12th), and spent two seasons playing overseas before arriving stateside. And Malcolm Brogdon, the top non-Sixer in contention for the award, was selected in the second round last year, 36th overall.

Of those top three candidates, a group that includes two players drafted in 2014 and a 2016 second-rounder, Embiid was easily the most impressive on a per-game basis, averaging a staggering 20.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 2.5 BPG in just 25.4 minutes per contest. However, injuries derailed his season once again, and he was limited to just 31 regular season games, making it tough to vote for him.

His teammate Saric emerged as a top contender for Rookie of the Year in recent months, bringing his season-long averages up to 12.9 PPG and 6.3 RPG after a slow start. Since January 24, around the time Embiid played his last game of the season, the Croatian forward has averaged an impressive 16.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 2.9 APG in 36 contests.

In Milwaukee, meanwhile, Brogdon has been a steady contributor for the Bucks all year, chipping in 10.3 PPG, 4.3 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.1 SPG, and a .404 3PT%. According to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, who spoke to about a dozen voters around the league, Brogdon has “real support” to win Rookie of the Year, though some voters still like Embiid, and Saric may have an overall lead.

What do you think? Is one of those three players is deserving of the Rookie of the Year award this year, or should another rookie take home the hardware? Submit your vote below and then jump into the comments section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Bucks Sign Gary Payton II

APRIL 2, 11:28am: Payton is getting a two-year deal with a partial guarantee for next season, tweets Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. The deal is now official, per the Bucks.

APRIL 1, 4:20pm: The Bucks plan to sign guard Gary Payton II to a 10-day contract Sunday, tweets Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The team opened a roster spot earlier today by waiving Terrence Jones.

Payton signed with the Rockets last summer, but was waived before the season began. He has been playing for Houston’s D-League affiliate in Rio Grande Valley, averaging 14.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists through 48 games.

If Payton signs tomorrow, the contract will take him almost to the end of the regular season. Milwaukee’s final game is April 12th.

The family has a connection with the Bucks already, as Payton’s Hall of Fame father spent part of the 2002-03 season there.

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