Milwaukee Bucks

Bucks Sign Brandon Rush

Oct 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Brandon Rush (4) during the second quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 19: The signing is official, according to Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link).

SEPTEMBER 18: Free agent swingman Brandon Rush has agreed to a contract with the Bucks, according to a tweet from his agency, Priority Sports.

Contract terms weren’t revealed, but Milwaukee has luxury tax concerns that suggest it will be a minimum deal. After waiving and stretching Spencer Hawes right before the August 31 deadline, the Bucks had a team salary of $115.3MM, less than $4MM away from the tax line. They had room for two minimum-salary contracts, one of which is expected to go toward re-signing Jason Terry.

Milwaukee was revealed this morning as the latest team to join the race for Rush, who spent last season with the Timberwolves. The Mavericks, Heat and Pacers all expressed interest in Rush earlier in free agency.

The Bucks will be the fifth team for the nine-year veteran, who started his career in Indiana. He had two terms of duty in Golden State and a brief stop in Utah before signing with Minnesota last summer. The 32-year-old appeared in 47 games for the Wolves, starting 33, and averaged 4.2 points per night.

NBA’s Board Of Governors To Examine Revenue Sharing System

ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst have published an expansive and well-researched report on NBA teams’ finances, providing details on the league’s revenue sharing system, the impact from national and local television deals, and how a lack of net income for NBA franchises could push the league toward considering relocation or expansion.

The report is wide-ranging and detailed, so we’re going to tackle it by dividing it up into several sections, but it’s certainly worth reading in full to get a better picture of whether things stand in the NBA. Let’s dive in…

Which teams are losing money?

  • Nine teams reportedly lost money last season, even after revenue sharing. Those clubs were the Hawks, Nets, Pistons, Grizzlies, Magic, Wizards, Bucks, Cavaliers, and Spurs. The latter two teams – Cleveland and San Antonio – initially came out ahead, but paid into the league’s revenue sharing program, pushing them into the red.
  • Meanwhile, the Hornets, Kings, Pacers, Pelicans, Suns, Timberwolves, and Trail Blazers also would have lost money based on net income if not for revenue sharing, according to Lowe and Windhorst.
  • As a league, the NBA is still doing very well — the overall net income for the 30 teams combined was $530MM, per ESPN. That number also only takes into account basketball income, and doesn’t include income generated via non-basketball events for teams that own their arenas.
  • The players’ union and its economists have long been skeptical of NBA teams’ bookkeeping, alleging that clubs are using techniques to make themselves appear less profitable than they actually are, Windhorst and Lowe note. The union has the power to conduct its own audit of several teams per season, and it has begun to take advantage of that power — according to ESPN, the union audited five teams last season, and the new CBA will allow up to 10 teams to be audited going forward.

How does the gap between large and small market teams impact income?

  • Even after paying $49MM in revenue sharing, the Lakers finished the 2016/17 with a $115MM profit in terms of net income, per ESPN. That was the highest profit in the NBA, ahead of the second-place Warriors, and could be attributed in large part to the $149MM the Lakers received from their huge local media rights deals.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the Grizzlies earned a league-low $9.4MM in local media rights, which significantly affected their bottom line — even after receiving $32MM in revenue sharing, Memphis lost money for the season. The Grizzlies will start a new TV deal this year that should help boost their revenue, but it still won’t come anywhere close to matching deals like the Lakers‘.
  • The biggest local TV deals help drive up the NBA’s salary cap, with teams like the Lakers and Knicks earning in excess of $100MM from their media agreements. According to the ESPN report, the Knicks made $10MM more on their TV deal than the six lowest-earning teams combined.
  • As one owner explained to ESPN, “National revenues drive up the cap, but local revenues are needed to keep up with player salaries. If a team can’t generate enough local revenues, they lose money.”
  • Playoff revenue from a big-market team like the Warriors also helps push up the salary cap. Sources tell Lowe and Windhorst that Golden State made about $44.3MM in net income from just nine home playoff games last season, more than doubling the playoff revenue of the next-best team (the Cavaliers at about $20MM).

How is revenue sharing affecting teams’ earnings?

  • Ten teams paid into the NBA’s revenue sharing system in 2016/17, with 15 teams receiving that money. The Sixers, Raptors, Nets, Heat, and Mavericks neither paid nor received any revenue sharing money. Four teams – the Warriors, Lakers, Bulls, and Knicks – accounted for $144MM of the total $201MM paid in revenue sharing.
  • While there’s general agreement throughout the NBA that revenue sharing is working as intended, some teams have “bristled about the current scale of monetary redistribution,” according to ESPN. “The need for revenue sharing was supposed to be for special circumstances, not permanent subsidies,” one large-market team owner said.
  • The Grizzlies, Hornets, Pacers, Bucks, and Jazz have each received at least $15MM apiece in each of the last four years via revenue sharing.
  • However, not all small-market teams receive revenue-sharing money — if a team outperforms its expectations based on market size, it forfeits its right to that money. For instance, the Thunder and Spurs have each paid into revenue sharing for the last six years.

Why might league-wide income issues lead to relocation or expansion?

  • At least one team owner has raised the idea of expansion, since an expansion fee for a new franchise could exceed $1 billion and it wouldn’t be subject to splitting 50/50 with players. A $1 billion expansion fee split 30 ways would work out to $33MM+ per team.
  • Meanwhile, larger-market teams who aren’t thrilled about their revenue-sharing fees have suggested that small-market clubs losing money every year should consider relocating to bigger markets, sources tell ESPN.
  • As Lowe and Windhorst observe, the Pistons – who lost more money than any other team last season – are undergoing a relocation of sorts, moving from the suburbs to downtown Detroit, in the hopes that the move will help boost revenue.

What are the next steps? Are changes coming?

  • The gap between the most and least profitable NBA teams is expected to be addressed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting next week, per Lowe and Windhorst. Team owners have scheduled a half-day review of the league’s revenue sharing system.
  • Obviously, large- and small-market teams view the issue differently. While some large-market teams have complained about the revenue sharing system, they’re outnumbered, with smaller-market teams pushing those more successful clubs to share more of their profits, according to ESPN.
  • Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen is one of the loudest voices pushing for more “robust” revenue sharing, sources tell ESPN. Some team owners have argued that the system should ensure all teams make a profit, while one even suggested every team should be guaranteed a $20MM profit. There will be “pushback” on those ideas, Lowe and Windhorst note. “This is a club where everyone knows the rules when they buy in,” one owner said.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, some teams have floated the idea of limiting the amount of revenue sharing money a team can receive if it has been taking payments for several consecutive years.
  • Any change to the revenue sharing system that is formally proposed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting would require a simple majority (16 votes to 14) to pass.

Bucks Re-Sign Jason Terry

SEPTEMBER 18: The Bucks have officially re-signed Terry, the team announced today in a press release. Terry’s new deal will give him the ability to veto trades during the 2017/18 season.

SEPTEMBER 15: The Bucks are signing Jason Terry to a one-year, $2.3M deal, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. It’s a guaranteed minimum salary deal for Terry, who will earn $2,328,652 despite only counting for about $1.471MM against Milwaukee’s cap.

Now on the verge of his 19th professional campaign, Terry brings his considerable wealth of knowledge (not to mention his respectable stroke from beyond the arc) back to the young Bucks roster. The veteran, who is celebrating his 40th birthday today, logged 18.4 minutes per game in 74 contests with Milwaukee last season.

The decision to bring back Terry for a second year with the club will increase Milwaukee’s guaranteed contract total up to 14 players, although it’s not clear what sort of on-court role he’ll actually see in 2017/18.

The Bucks watched Malcolm Brogdon blossom into a Rookie of the Year at the point last year, backed up by the ever-scrappy Matthew Dellavedova. Similarly, at the two, they’ve already re-signed Tony Snell (at over $9M this year) and may look to integrate third-year man Rashad Vaughn.

The logjam in the backcourt, however, likely had little bearing on the guard’s free agency either way. Considering that Milwaukee has officially arrived on the scene as an upstart playoff contender, simply having someone with Terry’s experience swinging towels on the sidelines will likely pay off in the end.

Dante Cunningham Decision Expected Soon

The Timberwolves should know in the next day or two whether their pursuit of free agent Dante Cunningham has been successful, tweets Jerry Zgoda of 5 Eyewitness News. A source tells him the team expects Cunningham’s decision in the “next 24-48 hours.”

An eight-year veteran, the 30-year-old forward has spent the past three seasons with the Pelicans. He appeared in 66 games last year, starting 35, and averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in 25 minutes per night.

Cunningham has received interest from several other organizations, with the Bucks reportedly becoming the latest team to join the chase. He became a free agent in April when he opted out of a $3.1MM salary for next season.

A second-round pick by the Trail Blazers in 2009, Cunningham spent a year and a half in Portland before being traded to Charlotte. He also played for the Grizzlies and Wolves before signing with New Orleans in 2014.

With just 15 players under contract and 12 with guaranteed money, Minnesota has more flexibility than any other team heading into camp. The Wolves re-signed Shabazz Muhammad over the weekend, but are still looking for veteran help at the wing to improve their bench.

Bucks Join Pursuit Of Brandon Rush

The Bucks are the latest team in the mix for former Timberwolves swingman Brandon Rush, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.

Rush is one of the top free agents left on the market with training camp just a week away. The 32-year-old spent just one season with Minnesota after signing there last summer. He appeared in 47 games, starting 33, and averaged 4.2 points per night. He has also played for the Pacers, Warriors and Jazz in a nine-year NBA career.

Milwaukee has also expressed interest in free agent forward Dante Cunningham, who spent the last three seasons with the Pelicans, Wolfson adds, but he is expected to sign somewhere else.

The Bucks will have 18 players under contract with the expected re-signing of Jason Terry. Only 14 have guaranteed money, so an opening exists for Rush or Cunningham.

Bucks Had Interest In Anthony Morrow

Poll: Milwaukee Bucks’ 2017/18 Win Total

The Bucks were one of the NBA’s best teams down the stretch in 2016/17. Having fallen to 22-30 in early February, Milwaukee reeled off a 22-10 run to finish the season, earning a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and then giving the Raptors all they could handle in the first round.

With Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s star on the rise and many of the Bucks’ other core players – such as Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, Thon Maker, and Jabari Parker – still young enough to expect improvements, the team is a popular pick to make some noise in the East in 2017/18.

Still, the Bucks’ cap situation prevented the club from making roster upgrades over the summer. Milwaukee didn’t lose many key pieces — off-the-bench scorer Michael Beasley headed elsewhere, and veteran glue guy Jason Terry remains unsigned, but virtually everyone else is back. The Bucks also didn’t add any players likely to make an impact in 2017/18 though. The team’s only real additions were draftees D.J. Wilson and Sterling Brown.

The Bucks have enough young talent that it’s reasonable to expect the team to take a step forward even without any changes to the roster, and oddsmakers are counting on that. After finishing with a 42-40 record last season, the Bucks have an over/under of 47.5 wins for 2017/18, per offshore betting site Bovada.

What do you think? Can the Bucks improve by at least six wins this season, even with Parker not expected to return until sometime in 2018? Or should we temper our expectations for the young squad a little? Vote below in our poll and jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Previous over/under voting results:

15 Two-Way Contract Slots Remain Open

With NBA training camps just a couple weeks away, most teams are putting the finishing touches on their respective rosters. In addition to having secured at least a dozen players on guaranteed contracts and perhaps a handful of camp invitees, each NBA club has also signed at least one player to a two-way contract.

As we explain in depth in our FAQ, two-way contracts – a new concept under the league’s latest Collective Bargaining Agreement – allow NBA teams to carry two extra players in addition to the 15 on their regular season roster. These players spend most of their time with the club’s G League affiliate, but are eligible to join the NBA roster for up to 45 days per season, and remain under team control — they can’t be poached by rival franchises.

Teams have been signing players to two-way contracts since July, so we’re starting to get a better idea of what players on those deals will look like — some are late second-round draft picks; some are undrafted rookies; others are G League or international veterans, or former NBA players looking to work their way back into the league.

Every NBA club has signed at least one player to a two-way deal, but only half of those 30 clubs have filled both spots, meaning that there are still 15 two-way openings around the league. With the help of our two-way tracker, here’s a breakdown of the teams that still have an open two-way slot:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Houston Rockets
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Miami Heat
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New York Knicks
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Portland Trail Blazers

While the Suns and Jazz technically could be included on this list, they’ve reportedly reached agreements – with Alec Peters and Nate Wolters, respectively – to fill their second two-way slots, so unless those deals unexpectedly fall through, they won’t have any openings.

Although some of these two-way openings figure to be filled in advance of training camp, many of the clubs listed above have signed camp invitees to Exhibit 10 contracts, which can later be converted into two-way deals. So rather than signing someone new and waiving a camp invitee, a handful of teams may simply convert an Exhibit 10 contract to a two-way contract before the regular season begins.

Timberwolves Continue To Eye Dante Cunningham

SEPTEMBER 13, 10:39am: The Timberwolves are putting the “full-court press” on Cunningham in the hopes of bringing him back to Minnesota, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press.

SEPTEMBER 12, 7:56pm: After agreeing to terms with Shabazz Muhammad earlier today, the Timberwolves continue to scour the free agent market for veteran additions, and they’d “very much welcome” forward Dante Cunningham, per Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). Wolfson, who tweeted on Monday about the “buzz” on Muhammad and the Wolves, suggests there’s a comparable buzz now on Minnesota’s chances for Cunningham.

As we’ve written several times over the last few weeks, the Timberwolves have been on the lookout for two wings and a point guard to fill out their roster. With Muhammad set to finalize a new contract, that leaves a wing and a point guard on Minnesota’s shopping list. Cunningham is more of a power forward, but has added a three-point shot to his arsenal and has seen plenty of minutes at small forward in past seasons.

We heard nearly two weeks ago that the Pelicans and Bucks are in play for Cunningham as well, in addition to the Wolves. New Orleans and Milwaukee are hovering around luxury tax territory and Minnesota has used its cap space and room exception, so a minimum salary deal appears likely for Cunningham when he eventually strikes a deal.

The Wolves have brought in a number of veteran free agents for workouts this month, with Anthony Morrow, Alan Anderson, Isaiah Canaan, and Thomas Robinson among the players to get a look last week. Jason Terry and Marcus Thornton are reportedly visiting Minnesota this week, though Wolfson suggests (via Twitter) that Terry is more likely to end up with the Bucks than the Wolves. Wolfson also adds another name to the list of veterans drawing interest from Minnesota, tweeting that free agent swingman Gerald Green is in town this week.

Season Ticket Sales Spike

  • The Bucks have seen their season ticket numbers rise this summer on the heels of a solid 2016/17 and the looming benefits of a new venue. James Nelson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that the franchise is selling multi-year packs that will give fans the chance to watch the team in the BMO Harris Bradley Center this season and the team’s yet-to-be-named new facility in 2018/19.
  • Ever wonder just how much of a physical advantage Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has over some of his opponents? A post on Reddit demonstrates just how big the 22-year-old’s hands really are.
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