A.J. Green

Bucks Notes: Giannis, Lillard, Green, Olympics

The Bucks are listing Giannis Antetokounmpo as doubtful on the team’s official injury report due to a left calf strain, making it unlikely that he’ll be available for Sunday’s series opener with Indiana.

Antetokounmpo was held out of practice this week as he recovers from the injury he suffered in an April 9 game. He participated in a walkthrough on Friday, but didn’t do anything more physical, coach Doc Rivers told Jim Owczarski of The Journal-Sentinel.

Antetokounmpo was given a two- to four-week prognosis after the injury occurred, and Owczarski notes that Game 2 of the series will mark exactly 14 days. Game 3 will be 17 days away and Game 4 will be 19, while a potential Game 7 would take place May 4, giving Antetokounmpo three-and-a-half weeks to recover.

Milwaukee was 4-5 without Antetokounmpo this season, including a pair of losses last weekend that dropped the team into the No. 3 seed.

There’s more on the Bucks:

  • Damian Lillard had planned to practice Tuesday as he works his way back from an aggravated Achilles tendon and an irritated adductor muscle, Owczarski adds, but Lillard said the medical staff’s decision to hold him out helped him to be a full participant Friday. Lillard underwent imaging to check the extent of the damage to both areas before returning to the court. “After that it was just like we got a week to get right, to get ready and that was kind of the focus,” he said. “I didn’t want to go out there with my pride or doing anything unnecessary. That was kind of the plan.”
  • A.J. Green isn’t on the injured list after spraining his left ankle in an April 10 game. Rivers tells Owczarski that Green was able to do “most things” at Friday’s practice, but Malik Beasley and Khris Middleton will see extended minutes if Green isn’t able to play. “We have to keep shooting on the floor,” Rivers said. “But A.J. has not only been good offensively, I think he’s been very good defensively. I think he’s been one of our guard rebounders as well. I mean, obviously we would love him to play. He looked good today.”
  • Lillard said he was contacted by Team USA about another Olympics appearance, but he wasn’t willing to make a commitment, Owczarski states in the same piece. Lillard wanted to concentrate on what he hopes will be a long playoff run with the Bucks, and he was reluctant to be away from his family for most of the summer. “I never committed to it and I was also never like, ‘I don’t want to go,'” Lillard said. “So, the roster I think they got a full roster now, so I’m not offended by it at all.”
  • In a separate story, Lillard tells Owczarski that rumors that he’s dissatisfied in his first year with the Bucks are inaccurate. “I saw somebody say ‘Dame is not happy in Milwaukee’ or something like that,” Lillard said. “I know the truth. I love the situation that I’m in. I also know what I have going on outside of basketball going on that kind of drains me at times. People are going to make comments. People are going to say things. And if it doesn’t go the way they said it was going to go, nobody is ever (going to) come to them and say ‘All right, you said this. Now what do you have to say about it?’ They are never held accountable for what they say publicly.”

Injury Notes: Caruso, Bulls, Bucks, Embiid, Hartenstein

Bulls defensive ace Alex Caruso will be available for tonight’s play-in tournament game in Miami, head coach Billy Donovan said (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago).

Guard Ayo Dosunmu (quad) and center Andre Drummond (ankle) will be active too, Donovan added. All three players had previously been listed as questionable.

Caruso was said to have sustained a “significant” left ankle sprain in Wednesday’s play-in victory over Atlanta, but the swelling subsided over the past couple days and he told reporters on Friday morning he expected to suit up. The injury was an aggravation of a previous sprain.

Duncan Robinson, who has been battling a back issue, will be available tonight for the Heat, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Robinson was technically active for Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia, Chiang notes, but he didn’t see any action — that might change with Jimmy Butler sidelined due to a knee sprain.

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

  • Bucks guard Damian Lillard was a full practice participant on Friday, but two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (left calf strain) was unable to do any live drills, according to a report from ESPN. Reserve guard A.J. Green, who sat out Tuesday’s practice with a left ankle sprain, was able to go through most of Friday’s practice. There have been mixed messages from Milwaukee on Antetokounmpo’s status, with president Peter Feigin saying he”definitely will not be back for Sunday,” when the Bucks will host the Pacers in Game 1 of their first-round series. Head coach Doc Rivers is still holding out hope that the perennial All-NBA First Team member will be ready though, per ESPN. “I don’t know yet,” Rivers said. “We’re still hoping. He hasn’t done anything. Would we throw him out there? Yeah, we would. For us, still we’re not sure.”
  • Speaking of Lillard, the Bucks‘ All-Star said he aggravated his Achilles tendon in Sunday’s loss to Orlando, but his adductor has been giving him the most trouble, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic relays (Twitter links). Lillard missed four games over the past few weeks with various injury designations, but he said the week off has helped him recover.
  • Sixers center Joel Embiid is officially questionable for Saturday’s Game 1 in New York with what the team is calling left knee injury recovery, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic. Embiid, who missed a few months after tearing his meniscus in January, has been considered questionable for nearly every game since he returned to action at the beginning of April.
  • Since January 20, Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein has only played 30-plus minutes five times due to Achilles soreness. However, two of those instances came in his last two regular season games, and he said he’s ready for an increased workload in the postseason, according to Katz (Twitter link).

Bucks Notes: Lillard, Giannis, Green, Portis, Edens

Bucks point guard Damian Lillard didn’t participate in the team’s practice on Tuesday, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Lillard said after Sunday’s game that his sore left adductor muscle was bothering him at times, citing “little irritation-type moments” (link via Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

As Nehm relays (via Twitter), head coach Doc Rivers told reporters on Tuesday that Lillard has undergone imaging, which came back clean, so today’s absence from practice was mostly just about giving him “a little more rest.”

“I think it’s that,” Rivers said when asked if the adductor was still bothering Lillard. “His Achilles. His groin. We want him to be as close to 100 percent as possible, if you can be that at this point.”

Teammate Bobby Portis downplayed Lillard’s lack of involvement in Tuesday’s practice session, noting that Game 1 of the Bucks’ series against Indiana is still several days away.

“I mean, to start off, man, it wasn’t a shock or anything that Dame sat out,” Portis said, per Nehm (Twitter link). “It’s, what, Tuesday? The game’s on Sunday. I don’t want nobody to put too much stress on that. I think we kind of blow things out of proportion too much.”

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (calf strain) and A.J. Green (ankle sprain) also missed Tuesday’s practice, tweets Nehm. A report earlier today indicated that Milwaukee is preparing to be without Antetokounmpo for the start of round one.
  • Portis discussed several topics in an interview with Shams Charania of Stadium (Twitter video link), including his Sixth Man of the Year candidacy and a February trade rumor involving him and then-Mavericks forward Grant Williams. “When I got hints of (that rumor), I’m like, no way I’m getting traded for – excuse my French, that’s my guy, I love competing against him – but I shouldn’t get traded for Grant Williams,” Portis said. “That don’t even sound right. … I don’t know how that moves the needle. The things I do and the things he can help the team do are just different.”
  • Wes Edens spoke to Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about his first 10 years as the Bucks’ co-owner and his expectations for the next decade, stressing that he has no plans to sell his stake in the team anytime soon, like his fellow co-owner Marc Lasry did last year.
  • Owczarski’s feature also includes quotes from various members of the Bucks organization discussing the impact that the current ownership group has had on the franchise in the last decade. “He brought a winning culture,” Khris Middleton said of Edens. “He’s a great businessman and him and his partners wanted to bring that business culture of winning to our sports team. He did a lot. He had his hands on a lot of things, on the day-to-day operations as far as making sure things were running smoothly and put people in place that he had confidence in that can take us to the next level as a world-class, first-class organization.”

Central Notes: Mitchell, Sanogo, Bulls, Sasser, Green

Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell is looking like he’s regained his All-Star form over the past two games after a rough combination of injuries and off-nights following Valentine’s Day, The Athletic’s Joe Vardon writes. Mitchell appeared in just nine games since the mid-point of February and averaged 16.9 points per contest on 37.8% shooting, well below his season averages of 26.6 PPG and 46.2%.

His return to form began on Wednesday against the Grizzlies when Mitchell shot 52.9% from the field (9-of-17), his highest mark since Feb. 27. According to Vardon, Mitchell’s knee injury sapped him of the ability to get by defenders and get to the rim since mid-February, but he moved around much better against Memphis and he was more vocal and animated than he had been in recent weeks. For what it’s worth, coach J.B. Bickerstaff expects Mitchell to fully get back into form before the postseason begins.

To me, there is no doubt that he’ll get there,” Bickerstaff said. “We’ve got three games in almost 14 days, so he has an opportunity to do some really good work on his body, on the court. We know who Donovan is and what he is capable of.

Mitchell followed his game against Memphis with a 33-point outing against the Pacers that saw him record five assists and four steals, the latter of which matched his season-best mark. As a result of the win, Cleveland clinched a playoff berth and a top-four seed. During the nine games Mitchell struggled, the Cavs went 4-5. In the two wins this week, Mitchell scored a combined 62 points, three m0re than he had in his previous four games combined.

The biggest thing for me is just to continue to build my confidence back up in my body,” Mitchell said after Wednesday’s game. “The biggest cure for this is rest. I don’t have time for that. … I consider myself a pretty mentally strong person, so just being able to find ways to adapt to the situation. I felt really good tonight, and just continue to build on that.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls clinched home-court advantage in next week’s play-in game against the Hawks, and coach Billy Donovan said he’d consult with the players and medical staff for their final two regular-season games, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Much of the Bulls’ rotation went on to not play on Friday against the Wizards as they manage injuries. As a result, several of Chicago’s end-of-roster pieces got extended playing time. Two-way center Adama Sanogo became just the second rookie this season to post a 20-point, 20-rebound game, joining Victor Wembanyama. “I don’t think I got here by chance,” Sanogo said, per The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry (Twitter link). “I got here because these guys believe in me. These guys think I can have a chance. I’ve got to show that, too, that I can do this.” Other role players like Javonte Green (24 points), Jevon Carter (12 assists) and Henri Drell (23 minutes, career-nine points) also had big nights.
  • The Bulls started the season at 5-14 but have since gone 33-28 despite injuries to Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams, prompting Donovan to acknowledge how far the team has come, Johnson writes in the same NBC Sports Chicago story. “I’m happy for these guys,” Donovan said. “I think sometimes when you just look in the moment of where you’re at, sometimes you don’t get a chance to look at where you started. I’ve said before: It was a rough start for us. And I really appreciate the guys in that locker room sticking together, fighting, not quitting, not making excuses or pointing fingers and trying to rally and pull together and play better.
  • Rookie guard Marcus Sasser has been a bright spot in a nightmarish Pistons season that has resulted in the franchise’s worst win percentage of all time. Sasser has appeared in 70 games, starting 10, and averaged 8.1 points and 3.3 assists while making 37.3% of his three-point shots. The Houston product reflected on his rookie year, saying he wants to get mentally stronger for next season, per The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III (Twitter link). “It’s definitely a big jump, but that’s what makes this job fun,” Sasser said. “It’s not for everybody
  • Bucks guard A.J. Green departed Wednesday’s game against the Magic in the second quarter with a left ankle injury. The Bucks announced that he underwent an MRI on Thursday which revealed a left ankle sprain; he was ruled out for at least the team’s final two regular season games (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Eric Nehm). Green has averaged 4.5 points in 11.0 minutes per night while shooting 40.8% from three.

Injury Notes: Ingram, Giannis, Green, Robinson, Melton

Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, who has been sidelined since March 21 due to a left knee bone contusion, is expected to return to action on Sunday vs. the Lakers, TNT’s Chris Haynes said on Thursday night’s broadcast (Twitter video link via Pelicans Film Room).

Ingram’s impending return will give him an opportunity to get acclimated back into the Pelicans’ lineup ahead of the postseason. He’ll also get the chance to try to help New Orleans clinch a playoff berth — the team currently has a one-game lead on Phoenix for the No. 6 seed in the West. Since the Suns hold the tiebreaker, the Pelicans will need to win its remaining two games or have Phoenix lose at least once to hang onto the sixth spot.

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

  • Bucks head coach Doc Rivers said this week that he isn’t sure whether or not star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo will be ready for the start of the playoffs (Twitter link via Jamal Collier of ESPN). Antetokounmpo was in a walking boot on the sidelines during Wednesday’s game (Twitter link via Harris Stavrou of SPORT24). Milwaukee had another player bitten by the injury bug during that contest, as swingman A.J. Green went down with a left ankle sprain (Twitter link via Eric Nehm of The Athletic). Green has been ruled out for Friday’s matchup with Oklahoma City.
  • After missing five games due to a back issue in late March, Heat forward Duncan Robinson returned to action on March 31 and appeared in four more contests after that, but still wasn’t quite right, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Robinson will miss a third consecutive contest on Friday vs. Toronto as a result of that nagging back problem, and his availability for the start of the postseason is up in the air.
  • Sixers guard De’Anthony Melton returned on Tuesday from a lumbar spine injury, playing for just the fourth time since January 12. He admitted that the recovery process was a long, challenging one, as Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer relays. “Throughout the whole process, it was a lot of ups and downs,” Melton said. “Some days [were] better than others. Definitely there was a little doubt that crept into my mind. But I just kind of tried to stay with it and, every day, just take it moment by moment. And now we’re here.” Head coach Nick Nurse said Melton felt good after playing nearly 16 minutes on Tuesday, adding that the team will look to increase his minutes a little on Friday (Twitter link via Derek Bodner of PHLY Sports).

Eastern Notes: Giles, Nets, Harden, Bucks Prospects

Harry Gilesone-year, non-guaranteed contract with the Nets includes an Exhibit 9 clause, but not an Exhibit 10, Hoops Rumors has learned. That means Giles likely won’t be a candidate to join the Long Island Nets in the G League if he’s waived by Brooklyn before the season, since he wouldn’t be eligible for an Exhibit 10 bonus (worth up to $75K). He also can’t have the deal converted into a two-way.

A former first-round pick (20th overall in 2017), Giles was once one of the highest-rated prospects in his class, but sustained a couple of serious knee injuries. The 25-year-old has been out of the league the past two seasons.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Trade talks involving Sixers guard James Harden are reportedly on ice. The team failed to gain traction in negotiations with the Clippers — Harden’s preferred landing spot — and then took him off the market. Still, given his comments about president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, it seems inevitable that Harden will eventually be moved. Which teams might be motivated to pursue Harden if things go awry during the season? Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype cites the Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks and Lakers as possible destinations that could make some sense.
  • Instead of prioritizing veterans like they have the past handful of seasons, the Bucks instead have filled out the back end of their roster with young players. Over at The Athletic, Eric Nehm spoke to draft expert Sam Vecenie to see how MarJon Beauchamp, Andre Jackson and Chris Livingston might fit with Milwaukee in 2023/24. Vecenie likes the defensive potential of second-year wing Beauchamp and 2023 second-rounder Jackson, but writes that both players will have to improve their jump shots to have a shot at regular minutes alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo. As for Livingston, who was the final pick of 2023, Vecenie believes the former Kentucky wing is a long-term developmental project who is unlikely to make much of an impact in the NBA, particularly early on.
  • In part two of their conversation about the Bucks‘ youngsters, Vecenie says he’s high on TyTy Washington‘s offensive upside and believes the 21-year-old guard has a legitimate shot at being converted to a standard contract. A first-round pick last year, Washington was released by Oklahoma City in August after spending his rookie season with the Rockets, later signing a two-way deal with Milwaukee. Nehm and Vecenie also discuss the potential of second-year sharpshooter A.J. Green, who is on a standard deal, and rookie Omari Moore, who is on a two-way contract.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Central Notes: Stewart, Karnisovas, Bulls, Bucks

Big man Isaiah Stewart has been viewed as the “heart and soul” of the Pistons over his three seasons, which explains part of the reason why they decided to give him a four-year extension, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The 22-year-old plans to outperform his new deal.

I told (general manager) Troy (Weaver) that my goal has always been to prove him right,” Stewart told The Athletic via telephone on Tuesday. “I told him my next goal is to outplay this contract and continue to prove him right. Troy is someone who believes in me and my game, what I can become. My goal has always been to prove him right. I want to prove myself right, too. I put in a lot of work.

It makes me feel very grateful. They’re rewarding me for the work that I’ve done and what I can become. I’m very appreciative to the front office, (owner) Tom Gores, Troy.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • In an interview at Summer League with Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press, Stewart said he’s been impressed by first-round picks Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser. “Dogs. They’ve definitely got some dog in them. You see it with Marcus on defense. Obviously his ability to score the ball. Ausar, you can tell he’s a very smart player. High IQ. He wants to play defense. He’s not a selfish player at all, he’s always trying to connect the team and connect the dots. I’m a fan of his game and what I’ve seen so far, I’m excited to play with him. You can tell he knows how to play the game the right way.” Stewart also said he’s excited to work with the new coaching staff and has been focused on his shooting this summer, per Sankofa.
  • The Bulls‘ top basketball executive, Arturas Karnisovas, explained the decision to sign Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig in free agency, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago relays. Karnisovas reiterated that the team expects to be without Lonzo Ball for the entire 2023/24 season, providing context for the additions. “Unfortunately, we’re going to miss ‘Zo,” Karnišovas said on ESPN2. “He’s the player that pushes the ball, pushes the tempo, gives you 3-point shooting. So we tried to address this this offseason. And I think we got toughness, some shooting and some guys who play with energy and a motor.” Craig’s deal isn’t official yet, Johnson notes.
  • The Bucks decided to give A.J. Green a standard contract after he played on a two-way deal as a rookie last season, and added rookie second-rounder Chris Livingston, the final pick of the draft, to the 15-man roster as well. Both players spoke about their new contracts with Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “It just gives me more confidence, knowing that they trust in me and what I was able to do and how I was able to help the team last year,” Green told The Athletic. “That’s all I’m going to try to continue to do, just help the team and play my role and do what I can.”

Bucks Notes: Beasley, Point Guards, Jackson, Green

In an extensive interview with Eric Nehm of The Athletic, Bucks general manager Jon Horst explained the thinking behind many of the team’s offseason moves, including contract agreements with Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Jae Crowder.

Some of Horst’s most interesting comments were about signings that will certainly be less impactful than the new deals for starters like Middleton and Lopez. For instance, in discussing the team’s minimum-salary deal with Malik Beasley, the Bucks’ GM indicated that he believes that Milwaukee’s system and personnel can put the 26-year-old swingman in position to thrive.

“I think that he could benefit from playing with a guy like Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and Khris and Jrue (Holiday) and our system,” Horst said. “You’ve seen in the past. We’ve had players who are good shooters and really become kind of elite shooters in our system. I think he’s one of those guys that is capable of doing that because, again, he has a willingness and a desire to let it go and he’s proven that he can make it efficiently.”

The fact that the Bucks were able to get Beasley to sign for the veteran’s minimum could pay off in a big way, according to Horst: “He’s really ready to prove to the league that he’s better than where his market was this year, and I think it’ll be a great fit.”

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • Asked about the lack of a backup point guard on the roster, Horst told Nehm that Milwaukee is “at peace with where we’re at right now,” pointing out that the team has “a lot of secondary ball-handlers,” along with guards Lindell Wigginton and Omari Moore on two-way contracts. However, he didn’t close the door on a possible addition at that spot. “I think (head coach Adrian Griffin)’s excited for that challenge to figure out how we utilize it and we’ve ultimately made a talent bet on where we wanted to put our money and our minutes and felt like we could cover that position with the roster we have,” Horst said. “If that doesn’t work, we’ll figure it out.”
  • The contract that No. 36 overall pick Andre Jackson signed with the Bucks is a four-year, minimum-salary deal using the NBA’s new second-round pick exception. Only the first year is fully guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has learned. The second year is 50% guaranteed (approximately $946K) while the third season is non-guaranteed and the fourth is a team option.
  • A.J. Green‘s new three-year contract with the Bucks also has just one guaranteed season, Hoops Rumors has learned. Green will earn a guaranteed $1.9MM salary in 2023/24, with non-guaranteed minimum salaries in each of the following two years.

A.J. Green Re-Signs With Bucks On Standard Deal

July 7: Green’s standard deal is official, per NBA.com’s official transactions log.

July 6: A.J. Green will remain with the Bucks on a multi-year contract, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Only the first year of the deal is fully guaranteed, Charania adds. It’s a three-year deal, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

The 23-year-old shooting guard will receive his first standard NBA contract after playing on a two-way deal last season. He signed with Milwaukee last July after going undrafted out of Northern Iowa.

Green appeared in 35 games for the Bucks during his first NBA season, averaging 4.4 points and 1.3 rebounds in 9.9 minutes per night. He underwent surgery for a nasal fracture in October that kept him out of action for close to a month.

Green is the fourth Bucks free agent to agree to re-signed with the team, joining Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Jae Crowder. The team has also reached deals with Malik Beasley and Robin Lopez.

Wolves’ Garza, Ryan Among Players Receiving Two-Way QOs

Timberwolves forward Luka Garza and wing Matt Ryan are among several players on two-way contracts who received qualifying offers on Wednesday, according to the official transaction log at RealGM.com.

Besides Garza and Ryan, the following two-way players were issued qualifying offers, making them restricted free agents:

The default qualifying offer for a player on a two-way contract is another one-year, two-way deal, with a small partial guarantee.

A player who has four years of experience or who has spent the last two seasons on a two-way contract with the same time becomes eligible for a QO equivalent to a standard, minimum-salary deal. However, none of these seven players fit that bill.

These two-way restricted free agents will have the option of accepting their qualifying offers or trying to negotiate new contracts. They’re all technically eligible to sign offer sheets with new teams, which their current clubs would have the ability to match. However, that outcome has been a rarity for players coming off two-way deals.

While Garza, Ryan, Mobley, Rhoden, Quinones, and Green all finished the 2022/23 season under contract with their respective teams, Mannion has been out of the NBA since 2021 and recently signed with Baskonia in Spain. Having issued him a qualifying offer in each of the last three seasons, Golden State continues to retain Mannion’s RFA rights in the event that he eventually returns stateside.

According to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, the Warriors aren’t expected to tender qualifying offers to Anthony Lamb and Ty Jerome (two-way). The team still has some level of interest in re-signing one or both players, but that interest may hinge on how the free agent market plays out, Slater explains.