Bucks Rumors

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Milwaukee Bucks

For the first time in over a decade, the Bucks have an enviable core with an ambitious ceiling. That they’re on track for a second consecutive playoff berth with one of the game’s hottest young stars is a testament to the principles put in place under the franchise’s new regime.

Of course the Bucks didn’t win the lottery over night. The club that they’ve assembled – a merry band of overachievers who have overachieved so much they may actually just be regular achievers we’ve been underestimating all along – is deep and talented.

The small-market Bucks have committed to guys who work for them and necessarily so, but while that’s all fun and games when your team has Khris Middleton and John Henson locked into team-friendly contracts because they saw value, it stings a little when there’s $20.1MM tied up between Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic, with the luxury tax looming large.

Don’t get it twisted, the Bucks have tactfully leveraged their organization’s strength while minimizing environmental challenges outside of their control. The only downside? Now that the Bucks have a core worth hanging onto – players that they’re committed to and reliant upon – managing finances becomes that much more important.

Sean Kilpatrick, SG, 28 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $0.8MM contract in 2018
Kilpatrick showed that he could put points on the board in an extended stay with the Nets between 2015 and 2017. While he hasn’t had much of an opportunity to showcase his scoring skills so far in Milwaukee, you can bet the organization knows what he’s capable of when given a chance to fill reserve minutes out of the backcourt. Given the team’s financial constraints, it would be wise to lock in an affordable depth piece like Kilpatrick when given the opportunity.

Jabari Parker, PF, 23 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $22.2MM contract in 2014Jabari Parker vertical
A pair of ACL injuries have cast doubt on Parker’s value as a pending restricted free agent. While once it seemed extremely plausible – if not borderline inevitable – that the forward would draw a max contract out of somebody, that’s no sure thing in 2018. We wrote earlier this month that the Bucks seemed reluctant to offer Parker any more than $18MM per year. If Parker’s play from now until the end of the 2017/18 campaign justifies more than that, the franchise would need to get creative in order to bring him back in a scenario that’s financially palatable for ownership. Expect Parker to land an offer sheet from one of the few teams with cap space this summer, and for the Bucks to shed salary in order to comfortably match it and avoid the tax, even if it costs them an asset to do so. While Parker can’t be credited for much of Milwaukee’s recent success, he’s a big reason why they have such an intriguing ceiling.

Jason Terry, SG, 40 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.3MM contract in 2017
There’s no doubt that having veteran leadership in the locker room is beneficial to young players. Still, while Terry could conceivably present as an affordable option for rounding out the depth chart next summer, his on-court value is minimal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Wants To Work With Kobe Bryant

  • While Giannis Antetokounmpo has shown that whatever he does to improve his game in the offseason seems to be working just fine, the 23-year-old Bucks forward has an interest in training with Kobe Bryant in the summer. “When I go to [All-Star Weekend], I’m going to try to sneak an opportunity to talk to him,” he told ESPN’s Eric Nehm.
  • Second-year Bucks guard Xavier Munford, among the NBA’s first class of two-way players, has bounced between the big league club and its G League affiliate so far this season. He spoke with Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype about his new role.

Bucks’ G League Team Claims Brandon Jennings

1:13pm: The Bucks’ G League affiliate – the Wisconsin Herd – has claimed Jennings off waivers, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). Jennings began his NBA career with Milwaukee back in 2009.

10:21am: Veteran NBA guard Brandon Jennings has signed a G League contract, league sources tells Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link).

Having signed a G League deal, Jennings will be available on waivers, with the Wisconsin Herd – Milwaukee’s affiliate – currently holding the No. 1 priority, Johnson notes (via Twitter). If no G League teams places a claim for Jennings, he would enter the league’s available player pool, freeing him up to sign with any club.

Jennings’ decision to play in the G League comes on the heels of his comments indicating that he’s looking to get back into the NBA. As we detailed on Monday, the 28-year-old sounds open to returning to the league in any way possible, suggesting he’d be happy to sign a 10-day contract. Signing a G League deal signals that Jennings wants to go out and prove he’s worthy of a spot on an NBA roster, rather than waiting around for a team to call.

Prior to going down with a torn Achilles in January 2015, Jennings had averaged 16.6 PPG in over 400 career regular season games. However, he didn’t look like the same player after the injury, recording just 7.0 PPG in part-time roles for the Pistons, Magic, Knicks, and Wizards.

Jennings, who says he has fully recovered from that Achilles injury, spent the 2017/18 season in China, posting 27.8 PPG, 6.8 APG, and 5.1 RPG for the Shanxi Brave Dragons. He has returned stateside now that Shanxi’s season is over.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/10/18

Here are Thursday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA.

10:26pm: 

  • The Warriors recalled Patrick McCaw from their Santa Cruz affiliate, the team announced in an email. The second-year guard has played 49 NBA games this season and averages 3.7 points and 1.4 assists per night.

8:12pm:

  • The Thunder have assigned Terrance Ferguson and Dakari Johnson to OKC Blue, tweets Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The G League squad plays tonight, and both are expected to be recalled for Sunday’s game against the Grizzlies.
  • The Bucks recalled rookie power forward D.J. Wilson from the Wisconsin Herd, the team announced on its website. The first-round pick is averaging 14.9 PPG and 5.2 RPG in nine G League games.

And-Ones: Free Agent Market, Payne, Perkins, Booker

The bull market for free agents has ended and there will be few free-spending teams this summer, according to Brian Windhorst and Bobby Marks of ESPN. Many organizations are paying the price for the huge contracts that were handed out in 2016 as cap issues are forcing much of the league to take a more frugal approach.

This season, five teams are on pace to pay the luxury tax, which kicks in with a payroll topping $119MM. Twelve teams are projected to be in tax territory for 2018/19 and several more are in danger of getting there just by re-signing their own free agents. The authors list the Bucks as one team that will cross the line if they hold onto Jabari Parker.

“The luxury tax was not designed for this many teams to pay it,” a league executive told Windhorst and Marks. “Many of those owners probably didn’t think they’d be paying it. Quite a few of those teams are probably going to take steps to get out of the tax or limit new spending.”

When teams were handing out big contracts in the summer of 2016, they were expecting a salary cap in the range of $108MM for next season. That projection has been revised down to $101MM, leaving many in an unexpected dilemma. Only seven teams — the Lakers, Sixers, Bulls, Hawks, Mavericks, Suns and Nets — will have more than $10MM available to chase free agents, and virtually all of those teams are in rebuilding mode.

NBA agent Mark Bartelstein expects the situation to improve in 2019 and 2020 when those 2016 contracts start to expire.

There’s more NBA-related news this morning:

  • Max and “supermax” deals are the reason more stars seem to be on the trade market, writes Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer. Clippers consultant Jerry West had been urging owner Steve Ballmer to trade Blake Griffin ever since Chris Paul let the team know he wouldn’t be re-signing. Ballmer was convinced after Griffin’s latest injury, recognizing the risks of paying him $171MM over five years, including nearly $39MM in the 2021/22 season when he will be 32. Teams are taking stock of their future and weighing whether maxing out a star is worth giving up financial flexibility. O’Connor predicts fewer mid-sized deals, like the approximately $17MM the Magic are giving to Bismack Biyombo and Evan Fournier, in favor of more non-taxpayer midlevel exceptions, which are valued at $8.4MM an will rise to about $10MM before the current CBA expires.
  • Adreian Payne, who was waived by the Magic last month in the wake of the Michigan State scandal, had signed to play in Greece, relays the Associated Press. Payne had a two-way contract and played just four games for Orlando.
  • Veteran center Kendrick Perkins has decided to leave the G League Canton Charge, tweets Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. Several teams have contacted him about signing after the deadline, and he may consider playing in China or Japan next year, depending how the rest of this season turns out, adds Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Perkins officially “retired” from the G League so the Charge can receive compensation, according to 2 Ways & 10 Days.
  • Sixers forward Trevor Booker has changed agents in advance of his upcoming free agency, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Booker has signed with Jim Tanner’s Tandem Sports + Entertainment.
  • Lavoy Allen, who played 61 games for the Pacers last season, has joined the Northern Arizona Suns of the G League, the team tweeted.

Central Notes: Pistons, S. Johnson, Dunn, Bucks

The Disabled Player Exception the Pistons received doesn’t make them more likely to complete another deal before tomorrow’s trade deadline, writes Ansar Khan of MLive. Coach/executive Stan Van Gundy says tax concerns will limit the team’s ability to follow up last week’s blockbuster that brought Blake Griffin to Detroit.

“The chances of that helping us at all are very, very slim because it would take us into the [luxury] tax to begin with and we only have until March 12 to use it,” Van Gundy told reporters before tonight’s game. “I don’t expect it to be of much value, but you want to have every tool at your disposal.”

The Pistons’ DPE is valued at about $5.25MM, half the salary of Jon Leuer, who is out for the season with an ankle injury. The Griffin deal cost the team its top two scorers in Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley, but Van Gundy believes there are still enough good shooters on the roster.

There’s more news from the Central Division:

  • It might take a starter and a draft pick to pry Stanley Johnson away from the Pistons, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Johnson is among the team’s best defensive players and has increased his offensive production over the past five games, averaging 15 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
  • Bulls guard Kris Dunn returned to practice today for the first time since suffering a concussion after taking a hard fall in a January 17th game, writes Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago. Dunn has been ruled out for Friday’s game, but is hoping to play again before the All-Star break. However, coach Fred Hoiberg warned that may not be possible. “He hasn’t done anything,” Hoiberg said. “His inactivity will prevent him from playing anytime soon. But the important thing is he was able to do some non-contact drills, he’s been on the treadmill, he’s completed the bike portion.” The Bulls are 1-7 without Dunn, who sparked a streak of success after moving into the starting lineup in December.
  • The Bucks created a $1.9MM trade exception when they shipped Rashad Vaughn to the Nets on Monday, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Milwaukee also has two other trade exceptions valued at $3,4MM and $5MM.

Forbes Releases 2018 NBA Franchise Valuations

The Knicks are still reeling from Tuesday’s news that Kristaps Porzingis has suffered a torn ACL and will be sidelined for the rest of the season. While Porzingis’ injury essentially eliminates the Knicks from the playoff race in the East, team ownership can at least find some solace in the fact that the organization remains the highest-valued franchise in the NBA, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes.

For the first time, all 30 NBA teams have a perceived worth of $1 billion or more, per Forbes’ annual report. In 2017, 18 teams had a valuation exceeding $1 billion, which was up from 13 teams in 2016 and just three teams in 2015.

The league-wide average of $1.65 billion per team is also a record, with franchise valuations up 22% in total over last year’s figures. NBA franchise values have tripled over the last five years, according to Badenhausen.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $3.6 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $3.3 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $3.1 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $2.6 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $2.5 billion
  6. Brooklyn Nets: $2.3 billion
  7. Houston Rockets: $2.2 billion
  8. Los Angeles Clippers: $2.15 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $1.9 billion
  10. Miami Heat: $1.7 billion
  11. San Antonio Spurs: $1.55 billion
  12. Toronto Raptors: $1.4 billion
  13. Sacramento Kings: $1.375 billion
  14. Washington Wizards: $1.35 billion
  15. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.325 billion
  16. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.3 billion
  17. Phoenix Suns: $1.28 billion
  18. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.25 billion
  19. Orlando Magic: $1.225 billion
  20. Utah Jazz: $1.2 billion
  21. Philadelphia 76ers: $1.18 billion
  22. Indiana Pacers: $1.175 billion
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $1.15 billion
  24. Denver Nuggets: $1.125 billion
  25. Detroit Pistons: $1.1 billion
  26. Milwaukee Bucks: $1.075 billion
  27. Minnesota Timberwolves: $1.06 billion
  28. Charlotte Hornets: $1.05 billion
  29. Memphis Grizzlies: $1.025 billion
  30. New Orleans Pelicans: $1 billion

For comparison’s sake, Forbes’ 2017 valuations can be found right here.

Bucks Still Have Interest In DeAndre Jordan

Lakers Receive Another Tampering Fine From NBA

After being fined $500K for tampering with the Pacers and Paul George during the 2017 offseason, the Lakers have once again been penalized by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-tampering rules. The NBA announced today that the Lakers have been fined $50K for tampering related to Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The latest fine levied upon the Lakers by the NBA comes as a result of a recent interview between ESPN’s Nick Friedell and Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson. During that discussion, Johnson raved at length about Antetokounmpo’s talent and potential, comparing The Greek Freak’s game to his own.

[RELATED: Magic Johnson offered to pay George tampering fine out of his own salary]

“He plays above the rim. I never could do that,” Johnson said of Antetokounmpo. “But in his understanding of the game, his basketball IQ, his creativity of shots for his teammates. That’s where we [have the] same thing. Can bring it down, make a pass, make a play. I’m just happy he’s starting in the All-Star game because he deserves that. And he’s going to be like an MVP, a champion, this dude he’s going to put Milwaukee on the map. And I think he’s going to bring them a championship one day.”

While Johnson appears not to have learned his lesson after the Lakers were fined $500K for tampering with George last offseason, his comments on Giannis seem pretty innocuous, which is why this penalty is a slap on the wrist compared to that initial fine. Still, it serves as another reminder to Johnson and the Lakers’ front office to watch what they say going forward as they plot their next roster moves.

Matthew Dellavedova Expected To Miss 3-4 Weeks

Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova has been diagnosed with a grade 3 right ankle sprain and is expected to be sidelined for the next three or four weeks, league sources tell ESPN’s Chris Haynes. Dellavedova suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against Brooklyn.

Dellavedova, 27, has seen his minutes cut back during his second season in Milwaukee. After playing a career-high 26.1 MPG in 76 regular season contests a year ago, Dellavedova is averaging just 19.0 MPG this season, his lowest mark since his rookie season.

Still, Dellavedova had been serving as the Bucks’ primary backup point guard behind Eric Bledsoe, with his role growing in importance after Malcolm Brogdon went down with an injury of his own. Brogdon is expected to be sidelined until mid-to-late March due to a partially torn quad.

Assuming the Bucks don’t make a move before this week’s trade deadline to add some backcourt depth, the team figures to lean more heavily on Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo for primary ball-handling duties during Dellavedova’s absence, with bench guards like Jason Terry and/or Sean Kilpatrick perhaps seeing increased roles too.

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