Pat Connaughton

Central Notes: Cavs, Connaughton, Nwora, Turner

It has been an unusual season so far for the Cavaliers, who won eight straight games after dropping their opener, but have since lost five in a row. According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff spoke at length to his team in the locker room after Wednesday’s loss to Milwaukee and told reporters that his message was about avoiding complacency and adjusting mentally to being a playoff-caliber team.

“We’ve got kind of a fat cat mentality,” Bickerstaff said. “We went out and won eight games in a row. Everyone was giving us love and praising us. We got really comfortable. We are the team that won those eight games though. We are a really good basketball team. This is about maturation and growth from a team as a whole.

“Not one guy is going to do it. Not two guys are going to do it. Just understanding the difference between being the guy who is chasing and the guy who is being chased and how hard it is to win in the NBA. You have to show up every single night. We’re still learning that unfortunately. It’s all the same mentality, the mentality of the fat cat who is comfortable and complacent. You cannot succeed in this league playing this way.”

The Cavaliers will have a good opportunity to snap their losing streak on Friday when they host the banged-up Hornets.

Here are a few more notes from around the Central:

  • After being upgraded from questionable to probable for Wednesday’s game vs. Cleveland, Bucks wing Pat Connaughton was ultimately ruled out, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. However, head coach Mike Budenholzer insisted that Connaughton didn’t suffer a setback, telling reporters that the team was just playing it safe, per Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Connaughton has yet to play this season due to a calf strain, but appears to be on the verge of returning.
  • Bucks swingman Jordan Nwora scored a season-high 21 points in Wednesday’s win, making 5-of-9 three-pointers. Bobby Portis was among those thrilled by the success of his teammate, who re-signed with Milwaukee as a restricted free agent in September. “We’re always hard on him about just being a complete basketball player and not just being a scorer, sharing the basketball and things like that and I finally think just the light bulb is turning on for him a little bit,” Portis said, according to Nehm.
  • Myles Turner is averaging a career-high 17.9 PPG and 8.7 RPG through his first seven games this season, exhibiting more consistency than he has in the past. As Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star writes, Turner’s improved play raises questions about how he fits into the Pacers‘ plans going forward. The veteran center is in a contract year and has long been considered a trade candidate, but might also be an ideal candidate for a renegotiation-and-extension if he wants to stay in Indiana, as we outlined on Wednesday.

Health Updates: Cavs, Doncic, Zion, Connaughton, Banchero, Celtics

As expected, Cavaliers wing Dylan Windler has received a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection in his injured right ankle, the team confirmed today in a press release.

According to the Cavaliers, Windler will miss approximately four-to-six weeks while recovering, with the ankle stabilized in a walking cast for the time being. Health issues have limited the former first-round pick to just 81 total appearances since he entered the NBA in 2019.

Meanwhile, Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen has officially been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. Milwaukee, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. However, it sounds like Allen’s left ankle soreness, which sidelined him on Sunday, is no longer the primary issue — he’s listed on the official injury report as having a non-COVID illness.

Here are a few more health-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic will miss a game for the first time this season on Wednesday, with the club opting to give him a rest night vs. Houston (Twitter link). Doncic is averaging a career-high 37.2 minutes per game and played 40 minutes in the first half of the team’s back-to-back set on Tuesday, so this decision had been expected, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets.
  • Pelicans forward Zion Williamson will miss a second consecutive game on Wednesday due to a right foot contusion, the team announced. Head coach Willie Green‘s comments on Tuesday suggested that it isn’t a serious injury, so perhaps Williamson will be able to return on Friday vs. Boston.
  • It appears Bucks wing Pat Connaughton will likely make his regular season debut on Wednesday vs. Cleveland. Connaughton, who has been on the shelf due to a right calf strain, has been upgraded to probable, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic.
  • Magic rookie forward Paolo Banchero will miss a fourth straight game on Wendesday vs. Minnesota due to a left ankle sprain, according to the team (via Twitter).
  • The Celtics will be without two key members of their backcourt on Wednesday vs. Atlanta, having ruled out both Malcolm Brogdon (right hamstring tightness) and Marcus Smart (right ankle inflammation), the team announced (via Twitter).

Injury Notes: GPII, Beal, Allen, Holiday, Connaughton, O. Porter

Trail Blazers guard Gary Payton II, who is recovering from abdominal surgery, is getting closer to a return, but isn’t quite ready to make his regular season debut, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian.

“He’s still progressing,” head coach Chauncey Billups said after the Trail Blazers practiced on Monday. “Not ready to play yet. He’s doing more and more. I don’t have a timeline.”

As Fentress details, Payton traveled with the Blazers during their six-game road trip that concluded on Saturday and said last week that he was “close.” However, the team is taking a cautious approach and wants to ensure that the veteran guard is 100% healthy before he takes the court.

Payton signed a three-year, $26MM+ contract in July with the Blazers, who have played well even without one of their top offseason additions available. Their 9-4 record puts them in a tie for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

Here are a few more health-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Wizards star Bradley Beal will return to action on Wednesday vs. Oklahoma City after missing five games due to COVID-19 and reconditioning, tweets Ava Wallace of The Washington Post.
  • Although J.B. Bickerstaff‘s comments on Sunday suggested the Cavaliers hoped Jarrett Allen would be back for Wednesday’s game vs. the Bucks, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link) hears from a source that Allen isn’t expected to travel to Milwaukee with the team.
  • In a Twitter thread, Eric Nehm of The Athletic provides a series of health-related updates on Bucks players, noting that Jrue Holiday (ankle sprain) and Pat Connaughton (calf strain) both practiced on Tuesday, though their statuses for Wednesday’s game vs. the Cavs are to be determined. Holiday has missed Milwaukee’s last three contests, while Connaughton hasn’t played yet this season.
  • Raptors forward Otto Porter Jr., whose debut with the team was delayed by a hamstring injury, is sidelined again, this time due to a dislocated toe, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. It’s unclear how much time Porter might miss, but he has already been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. Miami.

Central Notes: Bogdanovic, Okoro, Middleton, Connaughton

Forward Bojan Bogdanovic has been on playoff teams in seven of his eight NBA seasons, so he wasn’t sure what to think at first when he was traded to the rebuilding Pistons. However, a discussion with Detroit’s management made it clear that the two sides have the same goal going forward, which is why he signed a two-year, $39.1MM extension last week (the final year is partially guaranteed for $2MM).

Just talking to (general manager) Troy (Weaver) and (Pistons owner Tom Gores), they assured me that the team is going to go in the right direction,” Bogdanovic told Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscriber link). “We got a good salary cap (situation) for the summer that we’re going to try to bring someone in … We’ve been rebuilding, so they’re trying to win, so that’s the first thing that I asked them, and that was the main reason (to extend), honestly.

As Curtis notes, the Pistons project to have roughly $48MM in cap space next summer, which is theoretically enough to sign a maximum-salary free agent. However, the list of 2023 free agents isn’t the greatest, so it seems unlikely they’ll use all of it on one player.

Though the Pistons are just 2-8 to start the 2022/23 season, Bogdanovic has excelled, averaging 20.2 points on a career-best shooting line of .500/.486/.946 (.679 true shooting percentage). Head coach Dwane Casey recently raved about Bogdanovic, per Curtis.

He’s one of the pieces that we are building with and want to go forward with,” Casey said. “We’re still in rebuilding mode, but one thing that he’s shown is his leadership, and that’s what you gotta have on a young team. You gotta have some veteran pieces mixed in there when they’re going against grizzled veterans.

He’s that piece. He fits in. He’s patient. He’s sharing his knowledge with the players, things that he’s seen over his career and his ability speaks for himself.”

Here are a few more notes from the around the Central:

  • Prior to Friday’s victory over Detroit, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff told Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link) that he has spoken to third-year wing Isaac Okoro multiple times about his rough start to the season. According to Fedor, Bickerstaff said he blames himself for Okoro’s struggles, noting that the former No. 5 overall pick has been in-and-out of the starting lineup — and rotation — multiple times during the team’s 7-1 start. Okoro is averaging just 2.4 PPG and 1.5 RPG through eight games (16.0 MPG), and is 0-for-11 from three-point range.
  • On Wednesday, head coach Mike Budenholzer provided an update on injured wing Khris Middleton, who has yet to make his regular season debut for the 8-0 Bucks after offseason wrist surgery. According to Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link), Budenholzer said Middleton’s practice with the team’s G League affiliate went well, calling it an important step in his rehabilitation process. Budenholzer anticipates Middleton will need another practice with the Wisconsin Herd to build up his conditioning. A previous report indicated that Middleton could return at some point this month.
  • Budenholzer also gave an update on Pat Connaughton, who was expected to miss about three weeks with a right calf strain, but it sounds like he’ll be out longer than that, since Sunday is three weeks since the Bucks announced his injury. As Owczarski tweets, Budenholzer said Connaughton has yet to get 5-on-5 work in and he’ll need to pass that milestone before returning to action. The head coach wasn’t sure about the veteran wing’s timetable for return at this point.
  • In case you missed it, Pacers wing Chris Duarte is expected to miss four-to-six weeks after suffering a Grade 2 left ankle sprain. You can find our story on his injury right here.

Pat Connaughton To Miss Three Weeks With Calf Strain

Pat Connaughton has a strained right calf that will keep him out of action for approximately three weeks, the Bucks announced in a press release. Connaughton sat out the last two games with soreness in his calf, and he underwent an MRI on Friday that revealed the injury.

Connaughton had been expected to take Khris Middleton‘s place in the starting lineup while he recovers from offseason wrist surgery. If the three-week prognosis is accurate, Connaughton will miss about nine games.

The versatile swingman signed a three-year extension over the summer. He has been a valuable contributor since coming to Milwaukee four years ago and averaged 9.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 65 games last season.

Bucks Notes: Middleton, Giannis, Lopez, Injuries

Khris Middleton wants to be on the court when the Bucks open their season Thursday at Philadelphia, but the decision will likely be made for him by the team’s medical staff, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Middleton was knocked out of the playoffs by a sprained MCL in his left knee, but it was a torn scapholunate ligament in his left wrist that he suffered late in the season that forced him to have surgery.

Middleton said his legs feel rested after his first full offseason since 2019, but he’s not sure if he’ll get medical clearance to play in the opener.

“I would like to, but I’ve learned in the past to trust my training staff and doctors,” he said. “They know what they’re doing. This is my first time going through this and they’ve been through it many a times and they’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. So I’ve learned just listen to ‘em. I mean, you can push yourself, but don’t really.”

Middleton is starting his 10th season in Milwaukee, and his future with the organization is going to become an important topic at some point. He hasn’t decided what to do with his $40.4MM player option for next season, although he admits that staying with the Bucks is his first choice.

“I think everybody knows that,” he said. “Even though I know you’re really not supposed to say it for all the reasons out there, but I think everybody knows deep down that I want to stay. But also, you know it’s a business. Things change, things happen. You just never know. For sure I would love to stay. If everything works out … Of course if they give me whatever I want I’m there! I’m there.”

There’s more on the Bucks:

  • Coach Mike Budenholzer dismissed any concerns about the team’s 0-5 preseason, but Giannis Antetokounmpo said it shows there are areas that need improvement, Owczarski adds in a separate story“Right now, I feel like we’re not vocal enough,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’re not urgent enough. We’re not hungry enough. But at the end of the day, it’s the preseason. We have the whole regular season to find ourselves.”
  • The preseason struggles might be a result of a new defensive scheme that Budenholzer is implementing, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. The Bucks are placing a greater emphasis on trying to prevent opponents from taking three-point shots. “I think it’s about finding that balance,” Brook Lopez said. “I don’t think it’s for lack of trying or anything like that. We’re figuring things out, and that’s what these preseason games are for, and I think we’re confident of the team we’re capable of being.”
  • The Bucks have some health concerns heading into the regular season, Nehm tweetsPat Connaughton is “going to be a little bit” due to a calf injury, Budenholzer said. Thanasis Antetokounmpo has been sidelined with a non-COVID illness, and the team hopes Wesley Matthews will be cleared to return Monday.

Central Notes: Middleton, Lopez, Stewart, Bagley, Bey

Khris Middleton won’t be ready to play by opening night as he recovers from wrist surgery. Joe Ingles is still rehabbing from a major knee injury.

So who will step up in their place? Eric Nehm of The Athletic examines potential lineup combinations the Bucks may use in their absence. Pat Connaughton will likely start until Middleton returns, though Jordan Nwora and MarJon Beauchamp will have opportunities to establish themselves as rotation pieces. Wesley Matthews and Grayson Allen will fight for minutes at shooting guard.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Middleton has a $40.4MM option on his contract for the 2023/24 season, while center Brook Lopez will be an unrestricted free agent unless he signs an extension. However, there hasn’t been any buzz about it at Bucks camp, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. In fact, Lopez claims that “I wasn’t exactly aware this was a contract year” until the subject was brought up.
  • Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley may be more suited to playing center but they’ll both see action at times at power forward this season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. That will allow Nerlens Noel and rookie Jalen Duren to get some minutes off the bench. “It’s tough,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “What’s going to have to manifest itself is – it’s not natural right now – for Isaiah to kind of slide to the four just to open some spots for everybody.”
  • While most of the attention regarding the Pistons is focused on their young backcourt of Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, third-year forward Saddiq Bey has served notice that he could be an offensive force this season, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic. “He’s putting the ball on the floor a lot better, finding guys a lot better,” reserve guard Cory Joseph said. “We know how he can score and the attention he’s going to get. He’s making the game better for himself and everyone around him right now. He’s playing really well.”

Central Notes: Connaughton, Ball, Cunningham

Pat Connaughton believes he could have gotten more money in free agency but he wanted to stay with the Bucks. That’s why he exercised his contract option this summer before signing an extension, Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes.

“I think I have the opportunity to potentially make a little bit more elsewhere, but for me, to prolong my career, how do you keep yourself in a position where they value what I do? I value winning,” he said. “I value my teammates and the culture that we’ve built, the organization, the management, the ownership, all of it.”

Connaughton, who received a three-year extension worth $28.3MM in July, added that the team is hungry after getting bounced in the second round of the playoffs by the Celtics last season.

“I think we have a group of guys that are excited to get back out there and excited to play with a chip on our shoulder and not have that same taste in our mouths,” he said. “It’s one of those things where I’ll never forget sitting in Boston after Game 7. You use that as fuel, you use that as hunger and you take a slow, methodical approach to this offseason to making sure you’re putting yourself in the best position to come out on top again.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls are expected to be without their starting point guard, Lonzo Ball, in the early portion of the season due to lingering pain in his surgically repaired left knee. ESPN’s Jamal Collier takes an in-depth look at Ball’s knee issues. Ball hasn’t taken the court since mid-January after originally receiving a projected recovery timeline of eight weeks.
  • The biggest question regarding Pistons guard Cade Cunningham this season is whether he can develop a consistent 3-point shot, James Edwards III of The Athletic opines. Edwards also considers what second-year forward Isaiah Livers and lottery picks Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren must prove in order for Detroit to be a surprise team this season.
  • In case you missed it, the Pistons officially signed Micah Potter to an Exhibit 10 contract.

Bucks Sign Pat Connaughton To Three-Year Extension

JULY 18: Connaughton’s extension is now official, according to NBA.com’s transactions log.

The deal has matching annual cap hits of $9,423,869, for a three-year total of $28,271,607, Hoops Rumors has learned. As noted below, the final year is a player option.


JULY 12: The Bucks and swingman Pat Connaughton are finalizing a three-year contract extension, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The deal will lock up Connaughton through the 2025/26 season.

The extension will be worth $28.5MM and includes a player option, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who tweets that the two sides have reached an agreement.

Last month, Connaughton chose to put off free agency by opting in to the last year of his current contract. He’ll make $5,728,393 next season.

His option decision was somewhat surprising at the time but an extension was apparently already in the works. He was eligible to sign a contract extension for up to four years and approximately $58MM after opting in, so Milwaukee managed to secure his services for a lesser amount.

Connaughton, 29, had the best season of his seven-year career in 2021/22, averaging 9.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game in 65 appearances (26.0 MPG). He also established new career highs in three-pointers per game (2.2) while knocking them down at a 39.5% clip.

Bucks’ Pat Connaughton Opts In For 2022/23

Bucks swingman Pat Connaughton has decided to exercise his player option for 2022/23, putting off free agency for another year, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Having opted in, Connaughton will assure himself of a $5,728,393 salary for next season.

Connaughton, 29, had the best season of his seven-year career in 2021/22, averaging 9.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game in 65 appearances (26.0 MPG). He also established new career highs in three-pointers per game (2.2) while knocking them down at a 39.5% clip. Connaughton’s emergence on the wing was one factor in the Bucks’ decision to trade Donte DiVincenzo at the 2022 deadline.

Connaughton’s option decision comes as a bit of a surprise, since he likely could’ve earned a raise if he had chosen to test the open market. John Hollinger of The Athletic (Twitter link) says he felt Connaughton was worth twice as much as his $5.7MM salary and got the sense that a number of teams agreed.

Now that his option has been exercised, Connaughton will be eligible to sign a contract extension for up to four years and approximately $59MM. As Hollinger notes in a follow-up tweet, it’s possible the veteran wing and the Bucks have already discussed the possibility of an extension and reached a mutual understanding contingent on Connaughton opting in.

Theoretically, the Bucks could commit to paying Connaughton the same amount over the next few seasons with an opt-in and extension as they would have if he’d opted out and signed a new free agent contract. Locking in a lower ’22/23 salary should benefit Milwaukee financially, with team salary projected to be well over the luxury tax line next season.

Connaughton had been the No. 20 player on our list of 2022’s top 50 free agents. If you enter our free agent prediction contest and select the Bucks as his destination, you’ll earn a free point.