- P.J. Tucker missed three weeks of action before returning this week and revealing that the calf injury that sidelined him cropped up before he was traded by Houston to the Bucks, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. Tucker wanted to play through the injury but the Bucks’ medical staff chose to keep him inactive until he healed.
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer has revealed that All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is available for Milwaukee’s contest with the Hawks on Thursday night, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. This will be Antetokounmpo’s first appearance following a six-game absence due to left knee soreness.
Antetokounmpo has not played for the Bucks since the team’s 127-109 win over the Trail Blazers on April 2. The Bucks went 3-3 with their two-time MVP sidelined.
Milwaukee played the do-it-all superstar’s health status close to the chest, staying mum on an exact timeline for his recovery from what has been the longest-term injury of Antetokounmpo’s eight-year NBA career.
The five-time All-Star is putting together another MVP-caliber season, averaging 28.8 PPG, 11.4 RPG and 6.2 APG for the 34-20 Bucks, currently the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.
It’s been nearly two months since we checked in on the status of 2021’s traded first-round picks, and there have been plenty of shifts in the NBA standings since then. Those changes have an impact on where in the draft certain traded picks will land, as well as whether or not some protected picks will change hands at all.
With just over a month left in the 2020/21 regular season, it’s worth revisiting the traded first-round picks for 2021. With the help of our reverse standings tool, here’s our latest look at which of those traded picks are most and least likely to change hands, and which ones are still up in the air:
Picks that will definitely change hands:
- Knicks acquiring Mavericks‘ pick (unprotected).
- Rockets acquiring Bucks‘ pick (top-nine protected swap).
The only unprotected traded pick for the 2021 draft, the Mavs’ selection currently projects to be the No. 21 overall pick. That would be a reasonably good outcome for the Knicks, but there’s even more upside here — since Dallas is currently the No. 7 seed in the West, a win in the play-in tournament may be necessary to secure a playoff spot.
The NBA has yet to clarify exactly how draft positioning will be affected by the play-in results, but presumably if the Mavs don’t clinch a postseason berth in the play-in, that pick would move into the lottery.
Meanwhile, the Rockets will acquire the Bucks’ pick, currently projected to land at No. 24 overall, in a swap for their own second-rounder (No. 32, for now).
Picks that definitely won’t change hands:
- Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘s pick (1-7 and 15-30 protection).
- Pelicans acquiring Lakers‘ pick (8-30 protection).
- Rockets acquiring Pistons‘ pick (top-16 protected).
The Jazz are definitely making the postseason and the Pistons definitely aren’t, so their picks (currently projected to be No. 30 and No. 4, respectively) won’t change hands.
The Grizzlies should at least be able to count on getting Utah’s first-rounder in 2022, when it will become top-six protected. It may be a while before the Rockets get a pick from Detroit though — that first-rounder remains heavily protected in 2022 (top-16), 2023 (top-18), and 2024 (top-18) before those protections start to loosen a little.
As for the Lakers‘ pick, it isn’t technically a lock yet — there’s theoretically a scenario in which L.A. misses the playoffs and then moves into the top four in the lottery, sending its pick to the Pelicans. But that’s an extreme long shot. The Lakers’ pick is at No. 23 for now.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Knicks have the ability to swap their own 2021 first-rounder for the Clippers‘ pick. At the moment though, New York’s pick would be No. 15 and L.A.’s would be No. 26, so that won’t happen.
Still up in the air:
- Warriors acquiring Timberwolves‘ pick (top-three protected).
- Magic acquiring Bulls‘ pick (top-four protected).
- Thunder acquiring Warriors‘ pick (top-20 protected).
That Timberwolves pick will be a fascinating one to watch in the lottery. If Minnesota finishes with a bottom-three record, there will be a 40.1% chance it remains in the top three.
The Warriors will actually be rooting for the Wolves to finish with the NBA’s worst record, since in that scenario, there’s a 59.9% chance the pick lands at No. 4 or No. 5. If the Wolves instead have the third-worst record, the pick would be just as likely to land in the top three, but could slip as far as No. 6 or No. 7.
The Magic will have a good chance of landing the Bulls‘ pick, which currently projects to be the No. 10 overall selection. If Chicago remains in that spot, there would only be about a 14% chance of the pick moving up into the top four.
Golden State’s own pick, which currently projects to be No. 13, is unlikely to be sent to the Thunder unless the Warriors get hot late in the season. Assuming the Warriors’ first-rounder is protected, Oklahoma City would instead receive Minnesota’s second-round pick (currently No. 31).
Latest on the Rockets/Thunder/Heat/Blazers/Nets situation:
As a reminder, this series of trades and pick swaps is too convoluted to fit cleanly into any of the above sections. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:
- The Thunder will have the right to swap either their own first-round pick or the Heat’s first-round pick for the Rockets‘ first-round pick, but only if Houston’s pick doesn’t fall in the top four. In other words, if Houston gets a top-four pick, the Rockets will keep their own first-rounder; if not, the Thunder will get the two most favorable picks of their own, the Heat’s, and the Rockets’, and Houston will get the least favorable.
- Once the first step is complete, the Rockets will be left with at least one first-round pick, and almost certainly two, since they’re also owed the Trail Blazers‘ first-rounder (top-14 protected). They would then have the right to swap either of those picks for the Nets‘ first-rounder (unprotected).
As of today, the Rockets have the second-worst record in the league, giving them a 52.1% chance of having their pick land in its top-four protected range on lottery night. In that scenario, Houston would keep its first-rounder (tentatively No. 2) and would get the Trail Blazers’ pick at No. 22. The Thunder would keep their own pick (No. 6, pending lottery results) and receive the Heat’s first-rounder (No. 17), while the Nets would hang onto their own selection (No. 27).
On the other hand, if the Rockets’ pick falls outside of the top four, the Thunder would acquire it along with their own first-rounder, while Houston would get Miami’s pick at No. 17.
No matter how the rest of the season plays out, it’s safe to assume that lottery night on June 22 will have massive implications for the Timberwolves, Warriors, Rockets, and Thunder, and potentially for the Magic and Bulls as well.
While the Pistons, Cavaliers, and a handful of other lottery teams will also be invested in the results that night, the outcome won’t be quite as all-or-nothing for those clubs.
Johnson has been out of the league since the 2017/18 season, when he played a combined 55 games for the Jazz and Rockets. He was part of the Team USA squad at the AmericaCup qualifying event in February, averaging 11 points, nine rebounds and 6.5 assists in two games.
He’s also known for his time in the BIG3 League, where he captured MVP honors in 2019 and earned a training camp invitation from the Pistons. He survived until the end of camp, but lost a battle for the final roster spot to Christian Wood.
Johnson played 17 NBA seasons and appeared in seven All-Star Games. Scotto suggests the Bucks are intrigued by his extensive playoff experience, as well as his ability to stretch the floor and score in isolation.
Milwaukee has an open roster spot, so Johnson could be added without making another move.
- The Bucks have been vague regarding Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s left knee injury. There’s still no timetable for the two-time MVP’s return and The Athletic’s Eric Nehm takes a closer look at the origins of the injury and how Giannis’ regular-season absence might impact the club’s chances of going on an extended postseason run.
When the Heat make the anticipated Dewayne Dedmon signing official, his contract will cover the rest of the season rather than just 10 days, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami opted for a longer deal, according to Jackson, because it doesn’t expect anyone better to become available on the buyout market. Players who have appeared in at least one NBA game this season must be waived by Friday to be eligible for the postseason with their new team.
The Heat were looking for a big man who would accept not playing every game, which ruled out DeMarcus Cousins, who has since joined the Clippers on a 10-day deal. Jackson lists Ian Mahinmi, Thon Maker, Dewan Hernandez, Skal Labissiere, Tyler Zeller, Kyle Alexander, Trey Mourning, Kyle O’Quinn, Justin Patton and Anthony Tolliver as some of the names Miami considered before reaching an agreement with Dedmon.
In 2019, Dedmon signed a three-year, $40MM contract with the Kings, but he quickly lost his job as starting center. Poor three-point shooting is a major reason that Sacramento soured on him, Jackson adds, and he was eventually traded to the Hawks and then the Pistons, who released him in November.
The Heat face a deadline to add a 14th player to their roster by Thursday. If Dedmon signs then, his contract will carry a cap hit in the neighborhood of $433K. Miami would be about $314K below the tax line and could add a 15th player later this season without going into luxury tax territory.
There’s more on the Heat, all from Jackson:
- As Miami considered roster additions, the organization was made aware that Lance Stephenson and Greg Monroe are both hoping to return to the NBA. The Heat got good reports on Stephenson, but they don’t need another wing player and they were looking for more immediate help than Monroe was likely to provide.
- Some Grizzlies players are still upset about Andre Iguodala‘s decision to remain inactive until Memphis found somewhere to trade him last season. Jackson notes that several Grizzlies felt they had something to prove when they faced Iguodala Monday night.
- Jackson proposes Bucks forward Bobby Portis as a potential free agent target for Miami this summer. Portis has a $3.8MM player option for next season that he’s expected to decline, and Jackson suggests he could get a $10MM mid-level exception offer as the start of a multiyear deal.
Fans of lottery-bound NBA teams will be keeping a close on the league’s reverse standings down the stretch because of the effect they’ll have on the draft order and lottery odds for the 2021 first round.
However, it’s not just the first round of the draft that’s worth keeping an eye on. Those reverse standings will also dictate the order of the draft’s second round, and an early second-round pick can be nearly as valuable as a first-rounder.
Traded first-round selections will ultimately be more valuable than any second-rounder, but it’s still worth taking a closer look at some traded 2021 second-rounders that project to be quality picks.
[RELATED: Traded Second-Round Picks For 2021 NBA Draft]
Here are a few of those traded picks:
From: Minnesota Timberwolves
To: Oklahoma City Thunder or Golden State Warriors
Current projection: No. 31
The top-three protected first-round pick the Timberwolves sent to the Warriors in last February’s D’Angelo Russell trade rightly gets most of the attention, but it’s worth remembering that Minnesota also included its 2021 second-rounder in that deal.
It’s not a lock that Golden State will receive that pick, however. If the Warriors’ 2021 first-round selection lands in the top 20 (it projects to be No. 13 for now), they’ll keep that pick and instead send the Wolves’ second-rounder to the Thunder as part of last November’s Kelly Oubre trade agreement.
From: Houston Rockets
To: Milwaukee Bucks
Current projection: No. 32
As part of last month’s P.J. Tucker trade, the Rockets gained the right to swap their own 2021 second-round pick for Milwaukee’s 2021 first-rounder. Currently, Houston’s pick projects to be No. 32, while Milwaukee’s would be No. 26.
If the Bucks keep winning and the Rockets keep losing, Milwaukee might end up not having to move down very far at all on draft day. If the Rockets get hot or the Bucks slump though, the difference between the two picks could be 10 spots or so.
From: Detroit Pistons
To: New York Knicks
Current projection: No. 33
The Pistons originally gave up this pick (and their 2023 second-rounder) on draft day in 2018 in order to acquire the draft rights to Khyri Thomas, the 38th overall pick, from Philadelphia.
Thomas is no longer a Piston and this second-rounder has since been flipped multiple times. The Sixers included it in the package they sent to the Clippers for Tobias Harris in 2019, then the Knicks acquired it as part of their return for Marcus Morris at the 2020 deadline.
From: Washington Wizards
To: New Orleans Pelicans
Current projection: No. 35
From: Cleveland Cavaliers
To: New Orleans Pelicans
Current projection: No. 36
The Wizards’ second-rounder was originally traded to Utah during the 2016 offseason for Trey Burke. The Cavaliers acquired it from the Jazz in a 2018 swap involving Korver and Alec Burks, then flipped it to Milwaukee along with George Hill in a three-team trade just one week later. Two months after that, it was one of four future second-round selections the Bucks sent to New Orleans in a deal for Nikola Mirotic.
As for the Cavaliers’ pick, it was first traded first to the Hawks in 2017 for Kyle Korver, then to New Orleans during the 2019 draft when Atlanta moved up for De’Andre Hunter. It was initially meant to be a 2019 first-rounder, but since it landed within its protected range (top 10) for multiple years, it eventually turned instead into a pair of second-rounders, including Cleveland’s 2021 pick.
Jrue Holiday‘s contract extension includes $4.1MM in bonuses currently deemed likely and $20.9MM in unlikely bonuses, Eric Nehm of The Athletic reports. The guaranteed salary adds up to roughly $135MM through the 2024/25 season.
The contract includes a player option in the fourth and final season. He received a 20% raise from his $25.1MM base salary this season. From there, the extension gives him an 8% raises on his first-year base salary.
With Holiday locked up along with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, it will be nearly impossible for the Bucks to create cap space to sign significant free agents. Instead, they will have to using cap exceptions and offer minimum contracts, Nehm adds.
We have more on the Bucks:
- Holiday’s contract will make it nearly impossible to retain Bobby Portis, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes. Portis has a $3.8MM option on his contract for next season and is likely to opt out. Milwaukee won’t have access to its full mid-level exception next year and that will remain the case should the front office extend Donte DiVincenzo close to his market rate, Hollinger adds.
- Holiday already feels like a part of the Bucks’ family and didn’t have to be persuaded to sign the extension, according to an ESPN story. “I’m really not the type to be wooed and all that,” he said. “I don’t need to be courted or whatever, but it felt good to be appreciated. It felt good to be wanted.”
- Darvin Ham had discussions with Texas Tech, his alma mater, about its head coaching position but opted to stay on Milwaukee’s staff, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Ham plans to stay in the NBA and pursue a head coaching job. He was a finalist for the Pacers’ head coaching job last fall and also interviewed for the Clippers’ head coaching position.
1:17pm: The Bucks have announced (via Twitter) that Holiday’s extension is now official.
11:34am: The Bucks have reached an agreement on a four-year maximum extension with guard Jrue Holiday, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Agent Jason Glushon confirms the deal, which could be worth as much as $160MM.
Holiday has been considering the extension since being acquired in a November trade, Charania adds (via Twitter). He wanted to get more familiar with the roster, coaching staff and front office before making a commitment. Charania notes that Milwaukee now has long-term deals with its three stars: Holiday, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton (Twitter link).
The agreement means Holiday will bypass an opportunity to become a free agent this summer. His current contract contained a $26.765MM player option for next season.
Holiday, 30, has been considered one of the NBA’s top two-way players for several years, but Milwaukee provides his best chance to compete for a title since he entered the league in 2009. He’s averaging 17.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists and a league-best 1.8 steals per game in his first season with the Bucks.
The first season of a veteran contract extension can have a starting salary worth up to 120% of the player’s previous salary. Although Holiday has a cap hit of just $25,876,111 in 2020/21 for the time being, that figure doesn’t account for a handful of incentives, which bump up his maximum starting salary further.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the four-year extension has a base value of about $135MM, which means it’ll start at approximately $30.13MM. It can be worth up to a total of $160MM with incentives, though Holiday is unlikely to earn all those bonuses.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
When the NBA and NBA Players’ Association hold CBA renewal talks, the league plans to consider bringing up buyout reform as part of a broader discussion, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Some team executives have complained about the plethora of veteran players getting buyouts and joining playoff contenders.
Commissioner Adam Silver‘s office doesn’t see it as an issue of fairness between big and small markets, but rather a process that is contradictory to the financial system’s goals. In the league’s view, teams with big payrolls are adding an impact player without a dramatic impact on their luxury tax penalties, since those salaries after clearing waivers are usually prorated minimums.
The NBA would also like to find a way to make players who have been bought out available to more teams than just the contenders.
We have more from around the basketball world:
- Aaron Epps has signed in Israel with Elitzur Eito Ashkelon, sources told Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw (Twitter link). Epps holds G League experience with the Northern Arizona Suns and Canton Charge, most recently playing with Canton in the bubble.
- Veteran NBA swingman Lance Stephenson is hopeful of playing in the league again, David Aldridge of The Athletic tweets. He has been working out in New York for the last few weeks, in case a suitor comes calling. The 30-year-old last played in the NBA with the Lakers in 2019.
- There’s some speculation around the league that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri may eventually wind up in Seattle if the league approves a new franchise, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. The group heading expansion efforts in Seattle includes longtime sports executive Tim Leiweke, who hired Ujiri as Toronto’s executive vice president and GM in 2013.
- Texas Tech has received permission to interview Bucks assistant Darvin Ham for its head coaching vacancy, Wojnarowski tweets. Ham led the school to the Sweet 16 in 1996 and played in the NBA from ’96 to 2005.