Milwaukee Bucks

Khris Middleton To Return Wednesday

Khris Middleton announced on a Fox Sports Wisconsin telecast that he will make his return from a hamstring injury on Wednesday against the Heat. Middleton will be making his season debut, as a torn left hamstring caused him to miss the season’s first 50 games.

Middleton wasn’t given a timetable for his return after undergoing surgery in October, but remained optimistic that he would play in 2016/17, telling Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “I feel like I’ll definitely be back this year, barring a setback or anything like that.”

Middleton will be a much-appreciated presence in Jason Kidd‘s rotation. The Bucks currently sit one game out of the Eastern Conference eight-seed, having gone an anemic 1-9 over their last 10 games. Middleton, who averaged 18.2 points in a breakout 2015/16 campaign, will likely supplant Tony Snell in Milwaukee’s starting five.

The 25-year-old Middleton is in the second year of a five-year, $70MM contract.

Teams Contacted Bucks For Info On Sanders

  • Three Southwest Division teams are possible destinations for former Bucks center Larry Sanders, according to Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’sPressBox. Sanders, who hasn’t played in the NBA since 2014/15, has hired an agent and will meet with teams next week in Miami. A source told Woelfel that the five clubs with the best shot at landing Sanders are the Rockets, Mavericks, Pelicans, Celtics and Timberwolves. Several teams have contacted the Bucks to get more information on Sanders, who is expected to receive about $300K for the rest of the season if he does sign somewhere.

Eastern Notes: Plumlee, Baynes, Farmar, House

The Hornets took a major risk by acquiring center Miles Plumlee from the Bucks, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer opines. Charlotte needed to do something to improve its playoff chances but taking on Plumlee’s contract was a questionable move, Bonnell continues. Plumlee signed  four-year, $50MM contract with Milwaukee last summer and that’s a steep price for a backup center to Cody Zeller, Bonnell adds. The Hornets traded two other big men, Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes, in the deal. Hornets coach Steve Clifford and his staff have done well with reclamation projects such as Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lin, Bonnell points out, providing some reason for optimism that the trade will pan out.

In other doings around the Eastern Conference:

  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said it’s “hardly a surprise” that backup center Aron Baynes intends to opt out of his contract this summer, Aaron McMann of reports. Baynes holds a $6.5MM option and reportedly has been shopped, in part because he’s expected to enter the free agent market this summer. “We don’t want to lose him,” Van Gundy told McMann and other beat writers. “I would love to be able to bring him back here, I really would. But at the same time, we knew going into the summer that was going to be a possibility — and that’s why we went out and signed Boban (Marjanovic) a year in advance and we had money, because we anticipated it.”
  • Point guard Jordan Farmar stood out during the Cavaliers’ tryout of free agent playmakers on Wednesday and he’s willing to sign a 10-day contract to join the team, according to Dave McMenamin of’s Joe Vardon also reported that Farmar made the biggest impression. Farmar received assurances that if anyone from the workout would get an offer, he would be the choice, a source told McMenamin. Lance Stephenson, Mario Chalmers and Kirk Hinrich also participated in the workout and the latter two were looking for a contract for the remainder of the season, McMenamin continues. The Cavs would prefer to keep their options open prior to the trade deadline, rather than offering a guaranteed deal at this point, McMenamin adds.
  • Wizards swingman Danuel House will be assigned to the D-League if he’s cleared for full contact, J. Michael of tweets. House, who has appeared in just one game with Washington this season, is progressing from a right wrist fracture that he suffered in November.

Bucks Trade Miles Plumlee To Hornets

3:19pm: The deal is official, with the Hornets acquiring Plumlee and cash considerations from the Bucks in exchange for Hibbert and Hawes, according to a pair of press releases. The Bucks also confirmed the release of Novak.Miles Plumlee vertical

“We are excited to add Miles to our roster,” Hornets GM Rich Cho said in a statement. “He is an athletic big man who brings additional physicality and rebounding to our frontcourt rotation.  He’s a proven player with a strong work ethic and we think he’ll fit in well with our core group.”

“Spencer and Roy are two proven NBA centers who give us additional depth and versatility in the front court,” Bucks GM John Hammond said of his team’s acquisitions. “The trade also gives us future cap flexibility as we continue to shape our roster. Miles and Steve are true professionals both on and off the court, and we wish them all the best.

1:22pm: The Bucks and Hornets have reached an agreement in principle on a trade that will send Miles Plumlee to Charlotte, according to Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of (via Twitter). Milwaukee will receive Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes in the deal, per the ESPN duo. The Bucks will release Steve Novak in order to clear a roster spot for the two incoming players, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter) that a trade call has been scheduled for later today to make the deal official.

Plumlee, 28, reached restricted free agency last summer, and eventually agreed to a four-year, $50MM deal with the Bucks. However, his role in Milwaukee has been reduced this season. Plumlee’s minutes per game have dipped from 14.3 to 9.7, and his other averages in several other categories have taken a hit as well. Most notably, he’s shooting just 44.1% from the floor this year after making more than 60% of his field goal attempts in 2015/16.

While the Bucks entered the season reportedly looking to move Greg Monroe, the former Piston has been a solid contributor for Milwaukee, and has split the majority of the club’s minutes at center with John Henson, leaving Plumlee on the outside looking in. In Charlotte, Plumlee should have the opportunity to earn a larger role, particularly with two Hornets big men – Hibbert and Hawes – heading the other way in the deal.

Hibbert and Hawes have each been part-time players for the Hornets this season, combining to average just under 34 minutes per game between them. Hawes has contributed 7.3 PPG and 4.2 RPG, while Hibbert has chipped in 5.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 1.0 BPG.

Considering there wasn’t much playing time available in Milwaukee for Plumlee, it may be difficult for both Hibbert and Hawes to carve out regular roles for their new team, but early indications are that the Bucks intend to keep both players, per Stein (Twitter link). It’s worth noting that the Bucks have been linked to Hawes in the recent past — his name came up in a Monroe trade rumor during training camp.

For the Bucks, the move represents a cost-cutting maneuver for the future. Although Hawes ($6.35MM) and Hibbert ($5MM) make nearly as much as Plumlee ($12.5MM) this season, neither player is under contract for long. Hibbert will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Hawes could follow suit, if he turns down his $6MM+ player option for 2017/18. Plumlee, on the other hand, will earn a guaranteed $12.5MM salary annually through the 2019/20 season, limiting Charlotte’s spending flexibility down the road.

The Bucks will also eat a little dead money by cutting Novak, who had been on a one-year, minimum salary contract. Assuming he goes unclaimed on waivers, his $980,431 cap charge will remain on the books for Milwaukee.

While the trade is hardly a blockbuster, it’s an interesting move for two teams who are battling one another for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Currently, Charlotte maintains a tenuous grip on the No. 8 seed, with a 23-27 record, while Milwaukee is close behind, at 21-27.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Middleton Closer To Returning

  • Bucks swingman Khris Middleton is getting closer to making his season debut, tweets Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He has been participating in contract drills and is expected to be ready soon, although not during the team’s current road trip. Middleton had surgery for a torn hamstring in September.

Maker Takes Over Starting Role

  • Thon Maker‘s start at center Saturday night could be part of a trend, according to Matt Velasquez of The Journal Sentinel. Bucks coach Jason Kidd said Maker’s playing time will probably increase as the season wears on. “We would like to see more [of Maker] so someone has to sit,” Kidd said in explaining why Miles Plumlee was pulled from the starting lineup. “I thought the second group yesterday did a really good job of getting us back in the game and when he’s been on the floor for us he’s been positive so we’ve got to figure out how to get him more minutes on the floor.”

And-Ones: Sanders, Brown, All-Star Game

Former Bucks big man Larry Sanders caused a stir Thursday night when he tweeted that he was ready to return to the NBA. In 2015, the center walked away from the game at 26 years of age, ultimately citing personal struggles with mental health in a video essay for the Players Tribune.

Sanders last saw consistent action in 2012/13, before playing 23 games in an injury-compromised 2013/14 season and 27 games in a 2014/15 season beset by drug-related suspensions absences for personal reasons.

Sanders has reportedly worked out for the Celtics and, while reports that he’s had a meeting with the Wizards are said to be false, he has been training at the team’s facility.

Sanders averaged 9.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game for the Bucks during that 2012/13 campaign.

  • Former NBA head coach Larry Brown is open to coaching in EuroLeague, writes E. Carchia of Sportando via Italian newspaper La Gazetta. Brown had reportedly been in touch with Maccabi Tel Aviv but was scared off when they quickly cycled through three head coaches already this season.
  • The Windy City Bulls of the NBA D-League have acquired forward Duje Dukan in a trade for a 2017 fifth-round pick, tweets Chris Reichert of The Step Back. Dukan’s last taste of NBA action was with Kings at the start of the 2015/16 season. Earlier this year he had been under contract in Croatia, but the parties mutually split.
  • Journeyman point guard Bryce Cotton has reportedly received a 10-day contract offer from an NBA team, writes O. Cauchi of Sportando. The 24-year-old, however, has elected to stay with the Perth Wildcats for the time being. The report originated from Australian journalist Boti Nagy.
  • The NBA All-Star Game reserves have been announced. Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated looks at the biggest snubs that didn’t make the roster, including rookie Joel Embiid and injured Chris Paul.

Oshkosh Ready To Move Forward On D-League Arena

  • The Oshkosh Common Council has approved plans for an arena that could serve as a home for the Bucks‘ D-League affiliate, according to a report from Fox 11 News. However, the Bucks have yet to commit to a specific city for a new D-League affiliate, and organizers say they won’t move forward and start building the $15MM arena until Milwaukee makes a decision. In addition to Oshkosh, the cities of Racine and Sheboygan are also believed to be in play for a D-League franchise.

NBADL Expects To Add Multiple Teams In 2017/18

The NBA D-League is close to finalizing the addition of multiple teams for the 2017/18 season, league president Malcolm Turner tells Scott Howard-Cooper of The NBADL is expected to make an announcement on expansion within the next few weeks, perhaps before this year’s NBA All-Star Game, with the league likely to add at least two new teams.

For now, there has been no definitive word on which cities or NBA teams may be involved in the latest round of D-League expansion, but as of this season, there are only eight NBA clubs without an affiliate, so the possibilities are limited.

The Magic have an agreement in place to buy their current affiliate, the Erie BayHawks, and move the team to Lakeland, Florida. According to Howard-Cooper, there’s speculation that Erie could retain a D-League team, with the Hawks replacing the Magic as the club’s NBA affiliate. Atlanta has an affiliate of its own lined up, but that team isn’t expected to begin play until the 2019/20 season.

According to Howard-Cooper, the Wizards and Bucks are among the other NBA teams currently without affiliates that could have an NBADL team in 2017/18. The Clippers have also explored some Southern California venues, but aren’t expected to be ready to launch a D-League team by next season, Howard-Cooper writes.

Meanwhile, the D-League may also change how it runs its annual showcase event, which took place in Mississauga, Ontario last week. The D-League’s showcase serves as an opportunity for NBA and international scouts to assess the league’s talent in one place without having to travel to scout individual teams and games. Per Howard-Cooper, the league would like to either hold the showcase in the same place every year, or establish a rotation of three or four locations for the event.

“I couldn’t tell you specifically where, but I do think we would like to explore, A, whether or not there is such a thing as a permanent home for Showcase or, B, are there two or three venues that we can have in a rotation to different parts of the country, different parks of North America,” Turner said. “Those are a couple scenarios that we would like to spend a little bit of time understanding.”

Parker Benched For Rules Violation

  • The Bucks held Jabari Parker out of the starting lineup Saturday as punishment for talking to the media about locker room conversations, discloses Chris Haynes of Parker made comments on a team meeting earlier this week, which is a violation of team rules. “I spoke up for the first time, and it didn’t go my way,” he told the media. “I was getting thrashed, but hey, as long as I give them another perspective, I did my job.”
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