Goran Dragic

And-Ones: Ibaka, Foster, Dragic, Olympic Qualifiers

Serge Ibaka is focused more on contributing to his new EuroLeague team than returning to the NBA, writes Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews (subscription required). Ibaka signed with FC Bayern Munich this summer and is adjusting to being back in Europe again after spending the past 14 seasons in the NBA. He’s coming off a season-best 20-point game and is averaging 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per night while shooting 56.7% from the floor for the German squad.

The 34-year-old big man is grateful to be playing again after ending last season in limbo. He appeared in just 16 games with Milwaukee before being traded at the February deadline to Indiana, which waived him two days later.

“My focus is playing in Bayern. I want to keep improving here,” Ibaka said. “Playing basketball is one of the most beautiful things one can do. I didn’t play for 10 months and now I’m playing basketball, something I like to do. I’m grateful for this moment.”

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports believes the NBA needs to address its Scott Foster situation after the official’s latest incident with Warriors guard Chris Paul Wednesday night. Calling Foster “a prima donna ref” with an “outrageous and unchecked ego,” Bourguet points out that he ruined Paul’s return to Phoenix by giving him two quick technicals and ejecting him late in the first half. Suns fans turned out to welcome back one of the most significant players in franchise history, but Foster upstaged that by extending the long-running feud he has with Paul. Suns star Devin Booker told reporters that he could feel the tension between Foster and Paul before the ejection. “Yeah, ’cause I’ve seen it closely too,” Booker said. “This was long before Chris was in Phoenix, so that’s some history that they might have to settle between themselves one day, when they’re both retired.”
  • Partizan Belgrade and Olimpia Milano are among the teams that have expressed interest in Goran Dragic, relays Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. The report, which originated in the Serbian media outlet SportKlub, said Dragic is still hoping for an NBA offer and is reluctant to commit to a European team. The 37-year-old point guard wasn’t picked up this summer after spending last season with Chicago and Milwaukee.
  • Spain, Latvia, Greece, and Puerto Rico have emerged as the favorites to host Olympic qualifying tournaments for the 2024 Games in Paris, Urbonas adds in a separate story. A draw ceremony is set for November 27 in Switzerland, and the official announcement of the host nations is expected before then. Twenty-four nations will be vying for four Olympic spots in the six-team qualifying tournaments.

Heat Notes: Herro, Lillard, Richardson, Dragic, Roster Spots

Damian Lillard spent the summer trying to get traded, but Heat guard Tyler Herro, who likely would have been part of any deal that brought Lillard to Miami, was happy to stay where he is, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel.

Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin reportedly didn’t want Herro, which made it difficult for the teams to reach a deal without a third franchise involved. Although Herro doesn’t hold any resentment toward Cronin for his decision, he’s happy with the way things worked out.

“I didn’t want to go to Portland, so I’m glad Portland didn’t want me,” Herro said. “I just don’t want to be in Portland. So it’s not personal with Portland, at all. I’m just happy to be on the court. I haven’t played since April. I broke my hand and I haven’t played since then, so I’m ready to play.”

Teammates have been raving about Herro’s performance in camp as he returned from the injury that forced him to miss virtually all of last season’s playoffs. Herro doesn’t believe the perception of his importance to the Heat should change because the team reached the NBA Finals without him.

“I got hurt and obviously we went on a run,” he said. “So I don’t know if that changed people’s perspectives on the way that I play or my value. Nothing has changed. I haven’t gotten any worse. I’ve only gotten better, older, more experienced. And our team didn’t get better without me, we just started shooting better and making shots. We didn’t make shots all year. And I’m the best shooter on the team. So I don’t think with me sitting out affected our shooting percentage. I just think we started making shots.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • Lillard discussed his request to be dealt to the Heat during a weekend interview with Sirius XM NBA Radio (Twitter link). “I don’t think it was a secret that Miami is where I wanted to go when I asked for a trade,” he said. “When this conversation started, it was like ‘We’re not going to be able to build this team out. We’ll help you get to where you want to go.’ And that was where I wanted to go.”
  • Josh Richardson appears to be the backup point guard heading into the preseason opener, Winderman states in a mailbag column. In response to a reader’s question about signing Goran Dragic, Winderman said he doubts that the team would want two 37-year-old point guards on the roster, but he adds that the organization’s view of Dragic might change if Kyle Lowry gets traded. Winderman also mentions John Wall if the Heat are in the market for veteran help.
  • Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald takes at closer look at the Exhibit 10 players competing for a roster spot: Justin Champagnie, Cheick Diallo, Drew Peterson, Cole Swider and Alondes Williams.

Jrue Holiday Rumors: Heat, Pacers, Knicks, Celtics, More

The Lakers, Clippers, Heat, Celtics, Bulls and Sixers are among the teams Jrue Holiday would be interested in joining, a league source tells Anthony Chiang and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

That said, unless the Trail Blazers are willing to hold onto Holiday for at least a few months, you can scratch the Lakers from the list of possible suitors. They obviously aren’t trading LeBron James for Holiday, and the other players they could theoretically use to match salaries aren’t trade-eligible until December or January.

The Blazers are expected to prioritize young players and draft assets in exchange for Holiday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on NBA Today (YouTube link).

Holiday is expected to draw interest from a variety of teams, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Insider link). The Heat could be among that group, but Portland “had no major interest in any individual Miami player or draft asset, and limited interest in whatever combination Miami might cobble” during negotiations for Damian Lillard, Lowe reports.

According to Chiang and Jackson, the Heat haven’t ruled out making an aggressive push for Holiday, but they didn’t do it immediately on Thursday. Miami isn’t expected to pursue James Harden, and has yet to express interest in Pacers sharpshooter Buddy Hield, who is reportedly on the trading block after failing to reach an extension, a source tells Chiang and Jackson. Free agent guard Goran Dragic is interested in returning to the Heat, but that interest doesn’t appear to be mutual, per The Herald’s duo.

Sources tell Lowe the Pacers and Knicks are expected to have a level of interest in Holiday, though it’s unclear how seriously they’ll pursue the defensive stalwart. While Lowe believes Holiday could be a good fit with both clubs, he wonders if Indiana will decide it’s too early to make a win-now move.

Boston was previously cited as a possible suitor, but multiple sources tell Brian Robb of MassLive that the Celtics will likely be outbid and aren’t expected to land Holiday. Still, the team has long been interested in the veteran guard — Boston tried to acquire Holiday a few years ago before he was traded to Milwaukee, a source tells Robb.

Here are a few more notes related to Holiday, who was sent to the Blazers from the Bucks as part of yesterday’s Lillard blockbuster:

  • Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t have a direct impact on the Lillard deal, Wojnarowski noted in the same segment. “Directly, (Antetokounmpo) literally played no role,” Wojnarowski said. “In fact, (GM) Jon Horst did not bring this trade idea or sign off on it to Giannis Antetokounmpo because Jrue Holiday was involved. And the relationship there and the reverence that this organization and these players have for Holiday. He did not want to put that to Giannis Antetokounmpo and have him have that on his conscience necessarily that he might sign off or not sign off on it.” However, as Wojnarowski observes, Antetokounmpo putting pressure on the organization by saying winning more championships was the most important thing in his career certainly played a significant indirect factor in Milwaukee trading for Lillard.
  • In addition to the previously mentioned teams that might pursue Holiday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Insider link) believes the Pelicans, Kings and Warriors would also benefit from the All-Star guard’s services. Over at The Athletic, John Hollinger lists the Heat, Clippers and Celtics as logical destinations for Holiday.
  • Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star considers the pros and cons of the Pacers pursuing Holiday. As Dopirak writes, head coach Rick Carlisle heaped praise on the five-time All-Defensive member during the 2022/23 season. “I’d like to somebody to name five other basketball players that are better than Jrue Holiday at the entire game,” Carlisle said. “Guy’s an amazing player, both sides of the ball. His scoring tonight was at another level obviously, but defensively, he can guard anybody. Just a nod of respect to him. He’s a guy that too often is overlooked as a truly, truly great player.” Still, Dopirak thinks it’s probably too early for Indiana to go after a 33-year-old veteran like Holiday, who can be a free agent in 2024 if he declines his player option.

Southeast Notes: Lillard, Coulibaly, Washington, Williams, McClung

While the Heat continue to explore options to acquire star guard Damian Lillard from the Trail Blazers, the NBA eliminated one potential option that could have led to Portland delaying a trade, notes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

As part of the league’s ruling that healthy star players can’t sit out from games, the NBA also prohibited teams from making any long-term shutdown “when a star player stops participating in games or plays in a materially reduced role in circumstances affecting the integrity of the game.”

As Jackson notes, ESPN’s Bobby Marks said the rule specifically precludes Lillard and Portland from mutually agreeing for the seven-time All-Star to stay away from the team while it works on a trade. A punishment for disregarding the rule would involve significant fines, per Marks.

While it’s unclear whether either party was exploring that as an option, it won’t be possible anymore. This is advantageous for the Heat, writes Jackson, who says that Portland must decide whether to play Lillard and risk possible injury, which would diminish his value.

There are still a handful of notable free agent point guards available if the Heat don’t get Lillard, such as the recently released Cameron Payne, but the Heat haven’t been actively pursuing one, Jackson writes. According to Jackson’s source, the Heat could look at options that involve Tyler Herro or Josh Richardson as the starting primary ball-handler if the team is unable to land the star guard.

Of the available free agent point guards, Goran Dragic is a veteran option who spent 2015-21 in Miami. Jackson writes that Dragic has interest in joining the Heat.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards rookie wing Bilal Coulibaly was one of the 2023 draft’s biggest risers, culminating in him being selected with the No. 7 overall pick. Josh Robbins of The Athletic spoke to three anonymous NBA scouts about Coulibaly, who spent part of the last year playing alongside No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama. The scouts agreed that athleticism and an impressive defensive toolbox and instincts are among Coulibaly’s strengths, while his shooting and physicality are improvement points. However, all scouts appeared to be high on the 19-year-old’s upside. “The sky’s the limit for him,” one anonymous scout said to Robbins.
  • Hornets forward P.J. Washington re-signed with Charlotte on a three-year, $46.5MM deal in August, nearly two months after free agency began. While there was some speculation about whether Washington would ultimately return to the Queen City, the 25-year-old forward sounds relieved to be back with the Hornets. “It means the world to me,” Washington said in a video posted by the Hornets social media team (Twitter link). “Obviously, back in 2019, Charlotte took a chance on me and I’m just blessed to be in the position I am today.”
  • The Magic announced they signed Brandon Williams and Mac McClung to Exhibit 10 deals on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Orlando’s G League affiliate Osceola Magic acquired the returning player rights to both Williams and McClung. If an Exhibit 10 player is waived by an NBA club before the season begins and spends at least 60 days with that team’s G League affiliate, he can earn a bonus worth up to $75K. This week’s G League trades assure that Williams and McClung can suit up for Osceola this season if and when they are waived by Orlando. Williams was acquired from the College Park Skyhawks in exchange for Joel Ayayi, Robert Baker II and a 2023 G League first-round pick, per the Orlando Sentinel’s Jason Beede (Twitter link), while McClung was acquired from the Delaware Blue Coats in exchange for the rights to Jeff Dowtin and a 2024 G League second-round pick (Twitter link).

Heat Notes: Herro, Adebayo, Butler, Haslem

If the Heat can’t trade for Damian Lillard before the season begins, Tyler Herro may be the best option as the starting point guard, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Herro has been a shooting guard throughout his career, but he could be the most effective choice to replace Gabe Vincent, who signed with the Lakers this summer.

Giving point guard duties to Herro would allow Miami to keep Kyle Lowry in a reserve role, where he thrived at the end of last season and in the playoffs. At age 37, Lowry may be best suited for limited minutes rather than being counted on to handle the starting job again.

Winderman points out that Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo can help facilitate the offense, so Herro wouldn’t need to become a traditional point guard. He adds that if the experiment doesn’t work, the Heat could look for another option during the season, such as free agent Goran Dragic.

There’s more from Miami:

  • Team USA could use another big man like Adebayo during the World Cup, but he’s probably better off with a summer of rest, Winderman states in another piece. Training camps will open three weeks after the end of the tournament, which is why a lot of veteran players decided not to participate. Winderman wonders whether Adebayo will be more eager to return to international competition in the 2024 Olympics.
  • Butler’s tendency to sit out regular season games may prevent him from being considered for postseason awards, Winderman adds. Players are now required to participate in at least 65 games to be eligible, and Butler hasn’t reached that number since the 2018/19 season.
  • Butler refused to answer a question about Team USA’s loss in the World Cup when approached by a journalist Sunday at the U.S. Open, according to a BasketNews story. Butler thought he was being asked for a photo when Sasa Ozmo of SportKlub Srbija introduced himself, and he quickly ended the conversation when he heard the question. “I don’t care about the World Cup,” Butler responded.
  • The Miami Marlins will honor longtime Heat forward Udonis Haslem at their September 7 game, the team announced on Twitter. Haslem will get a one-day contract with the MLB club, which will hold “UD Night” at the ballpark.

Heat Notes: Lillard, Cain, Audige, Free Agents, Roster

As of Friday afternoon, nothing appeared to be imminent regarding a possible Damian Lillard trade, reports Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

According to Jackson, the Trail Blazers‘ front office is currently on vacation and has shown no inclination to comply with Lillard’s trade request to the Heat. That said, Lillard remains focused on landing in Miami and doesn’t plan expand his list to include additional teams, a person with knowledge of the situation tells Jackson.

Jackson believes the Blazers may have spurred the league to investigate Lillard’s request and the comments made by his agent (Aaron Goodwin) in order to drum up trade interest, hence the NBA’s memo on Friday. Since Lillard and Goodwin told the league the star guard would fulfill his contract and play for any team that trades for him, the Heat will have to hope rival teams don’t decide to make “legitimate trade offers” for the 33-year-old, Jackson observes (Twitter links).

If Portland decides to wait until midseason to move Lillard, that could work against the Heat, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. As Winderman notes, the Nets received far more in return for Kevin Durant at the February trade deadline than the rumored offers they were receiving last summer for the superstar forward.

Here’s more out of Miami:

  • The Heat are interested in bringing back Jamal Cain on a two-way contract, which is why they gave him a qualifying offer, but the young forward hopes to land a standard deal and continues to discuss that possibility with other teams, Jackson writes. Miami could match a potential offer sheet for Cain since he’s a restricted free agent.
  • Miami is interested in signing former Northwestern guard Chase Audige, who played for the Heat’s Summer League team, to a training camp contract, but his agent declined to say whether or not Audige would accept the offer, Jackson adds. As a senior for the Wildcats in 2022/23, the 6’4″ Audige averaged 14.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.9 APG and 2.4 SPG in 34 games (34.4 MPG), though he struggled with scoring efficiency (.368/.325/.832 shooting line).
  • The Heat have had discussions with Goran Dragic‘s representatives about a possible reunion, but a potential deal likely wouldn’t come to fruition until later this summer, according to Jackson. The veteran free agent guard made his lone All-Star appearance with the Heat, but he’s 37 years old and dealt with a knee problem last season that required surgery. The Heat can only offer the veteran’s minimum, which may take them out of the running for free agents like Christian Wood and Kelly Oubre, who are looking for more money, per Jackson.
  • In a mailbag for The Miami Herald, Anthony Chiang answers questions about the Heat’s roster and how the new second apron might affect the team going forward.

Heat Notes: Dragic, Lillard, Vincent, Smith

In an interview with local media in Slovenia, free agent point guard Goran Dragic revealed he had knee surgery during the 2022/23 season, which is why he was released by the Bulls and only played seven games after he signed with the Bucks, per of Siol.net. Dragic previously said he was dealing with left knee soreness.

I played really well until the middle of the season, then I had problems with a knee injury, so after that, it was kind of all agreed that they would bring Patrick Beverley to Chicago, and I went to Milwaukee. Then I also underwent knee surgery, which until now no one knew,” Dragic said (hat tip to BasketNews.com).

The 37-year-old said he’d like to return to the Heat if he’s able to, writes Lenart.

The main desire is to return to Miami,” Dragic said. “Now everyone is waiting for Damian Lillard to decide where he will go next, so everyone is off to a slow start. When this is known, the movement for the other players will open as well.

We are in talks with a few clubs, but much more will be known in a few days when the news will be released. You will see.”

However, there’s “nothing imminent” on a deal between the Heat and Dragic, a source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (via Twitter). If a deal were to happen, it would likely be closer to training camp, according to Jackson.

“The Dragon” played seven seasons with Miami from 2014-21, making his lone All-Star appearance in ’17/18. He played 58 total games last season, averaging 6.3 points and 2.6 assists on .421/.359/.689 shooting.

Here’s more out of Miami:

  • As of mid-week, apparently the Trail Blazers had been “unmotivated” to seriously engage with the Heat on a potential Lillard trade, according to Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). Jackson’s reporting isn’t very surprising. Blazers GM Joe Cronin recently said a deal could take “months,” while other reports have stated there hasn’t been much progress in talks.
  • Appearing on JJ Redick‘s The Old Man and the Three podcast, Gabe Vincent discussed his decision to join the Lakers and leave Miami, as Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes. “It was very difficult,” Vincent said of leaving the Heat. “The relationships that I have with those guys are, to me, lifelong. Even the guys that I played with, to the staff, to the front office. I got to know all of them very well and closely. So it wasn’t an easy decision.” Financial constraints were the obstacle, with Vincent later telling Chiang he’d miss his teammates and will always look back fondly on his time with the organization.
  • Dru Smith is back with the Heat, on his fourth two-way deal in under two years, after finishing last season with the Nets on a two-way contract. He spoke this week about why he keeps ending up in Miami, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscription required). “I think it’s because I’m a good fit,” Smith said. “I think just the way the Heat like to play, the style of basketball they like to play, I think it fits my game well. I think I’m lucky to be here. I’m thankful to have this opportunity again.”

Bucks Notes: Griffin, Dragic, Draft

Adrian Griffin said that he’s honored to be taking over a Bucks team that won the championship two years ago, Steve Megargee of The Associated Press writes.

“Let’s be real,” he said. “What first-time head coach gets to coach the Milwaukee Bucks, with all the special talent on this team? I’m extremely humbled.”

Griffin was assistant with the Raptors the past five seasons. All other recent coaching vacancies around the league have been filled by former head coaches.

“(Assistant GM) Milt Newton said throughout this process after we met with Adrian, ‘Adrian’s a head coach. He just hasn’t gotten the opportunity yet,’” GM Jon Horst said.

We have more on the Bucks:

  • Griffin got the job after making a strong impression on everyone he met in the organization, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “…We interview him, and he blew us away in the interview. And then we bring him back for a second interview, and we get to the chalk talk and get on the board and watch the film, and he blows us away again,” Horst said. “Then he meets with our staff: the front-office staff, the medical staff and the business side. Players. Ownership. And he blows them away again. And then he’s in the big moment. You’re the guy that needs to go for the final interview with the owners. Like, don’t mess it up, right? And he did it again.”
  • Goran Dragic, who is headed into free agency, doesn’t plan to play for the Slovenian national team this summer in the FIBA World Cup, Sportando relays. Dragic, 37, could be contemplating retirement. “I’ll be at home (laughs). I’m not going to play, it was enough, 16 years, plus the NBA and everything else,” he told MozzartSport. “Maybe I will go to Japan to support the national team, but I will hardly play.”
  • The last pick of this year’s draft belongs to the Bucks (No. 58 overall). JR Radcliffe of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel takes a look at nine prospects they might consider at that spot.

Nets Notes: Bridges, Dragic, Claxton, Thomas

The Kevin Durant deal that shook up the NBA on the eve of the trade deadline never would have happened if the Suns hadn’t included Mikal Bridges, Nets general manager Sean Marks tells Nick Friedell of ESPN.

Marks had come to the realization that it was time to end the super-team experiment in Brooklyn that brought together Durant, Kyrie Irving and eventually James Harden. Durant was the last of the trio to be moved, and Marks wanted to create the foundation of a young team that could remain competitive while building for the future. The centerpiece of that was Bridges, who has become a star in Brooklyn, averaging 26.1 PPG in 27 games since the trade.

“We knew the end of an era was upon us,” Marks said. “When Kyrie had already moved, the discussions with Phoenix heated up and it became real, like, ‘All right, well, there’s a shift happening here, right? Are we resetting, retooling, rebuilding?’ We were able to come to terms with that knowing that the package we were getting back in return was something that has a clear pathway.

“We’ve never sort of had a group of young guys before that were under contract, proven, healthy and you can see a pathway of, ‘Hey, I can see what this may look like in two, three years from now.’ … Not just Mikal, but all of them, where do they all take their games to? Who’s the next person that takes that leap?”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Veteran guard Goran Dragic is the latest player to indicate that there was significant behind-the-scenes turmoil with the Nets, per Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Dragic, who finished last season in Brooklyn, said he had an offer to stay but he chose to sign with the Bulls to get away from the drama. “I could have re-signed with Brooklyn, but I didn’t want to be in that situation, because it was a little bit crazy,” Dragic said. “I just tried to find a team that’s calmer and to be more stable. I thought that would be with Chicago.”
  • Facing Joel Embiid is a difficult matchup for Nic Claxton, so coach Jacque Vaughn wants him to use his speed to his advantage, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Claxton needs to find a way to get some easy baskets after being held scoreless Monday.
  • Vaughn wouldn’t commit to playing Cam Thomas in Game 3, Lewis tweets. The second-year guard wasn’t used at all in Game 2 after seeing four minutes in the series opener. “It’s always at the disposal of someone not getting minutes, and so who is that?” Vaughn asked. “Is that Spencer (Dinwiddie)? Is that Cam Johnson? Is that Mikal Bridges? Everyone is available to play it and in the wheelhouse to be prepared if their number is called.”

Bucks Notes: Lopez, Top Seed, Thanasis, Mamukelashvili, Ingles

Brook Lopez showed why he’s so valuable to the Bucks during Sunday’s victory over Toronto, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. The veteran center finished with a strong stat line — a team-high 26 points (on 9-of-15 shooting), five rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal in 31 minutes.

What those numbers don’t show is that he completely dominated the fourth quarter. With Giannis Antetokounmpo facing consistent double-teams, Lopez made timely cuts, drives and finishes around the hoop, finishing with more points (17) than the Raptors (16) in the final frame, Nehm writes.

As Nehm details, Lopez’s offensive arsenal has continually evolved since he joined Milwaukee five years ago. He’s averaging 15.6 points (highest total in six years), while shooting 52.1% from the field (highest FG% in nine years) and a career-best 37.7% from three-point range.

Lopez, who is making $13.9MM in the final year of his contract, is also a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, posting a career high 2.5 blocks per game for the NBA’s top team.

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • At 52-20, the Bucks hold a 2.5-game lead on the Celtics for the best record in the NBA. Are they gunning for the No. 1 overall seed entering the playoffs? “I think we want it,” guard Grayson Allen said, per Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I think we want the one seed. Even like after All-Star break it’s been super close between really the top three teams in the East, so, it’s not something we obsess about – we’re not checking it every day, every game – but I think we’re definitely aware of it. I know as a group, I know we want the one seed.” According to Owczarski, Antetokounmpo said that if he had to pick between the Bucks being healthy or the top seed, he would choose health, but since it’s within reach, they “should take the spot” to get home-court advantage throughout the postseason.
  • Reserve forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo was away from the team for five days, including a couple games, while dealing with a personal matter, but he has rejoined the Bucks, Owczarski writes in another story. Guard Goran Dragic has yet to make his Bucks debut due to knee soreness, and forward Jae Crowder has missed the past three games with left calf soreness. When asked if they could return on the upcoming three-game road trip, head coach Mike Budenholzer said it was still up in the air. “I think it’s right on the window of possibility,” Budenholzer said. “There’s a chance they’re not available, but there is a chance that they are. They’re working, both of them hard, making good progress. We’ll just see how it goes during that stretch.”
  • Budenholzer said it was tough to part with Sandro Mamukelashvili at the beginning of the month, but the team believed it was the “right thing” for the big man’s career, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. He is a good player,” Budenholzer said before Thursday’s matchup with the Spurs. “I hope he is terrible tonight, but generally he is great. And we are great fans of the human. He is a great person.” The Spurs claimed the second-year forward/center off waivers after he was released by Milwaukee and converted his two-way contract to a standard rest-of-season deal.
  • Forward Joe Ingles recently shared some thoughts on how he’s approaching his return to Utah to face the Jazz on Friday night, his longtime former club, notes Gabe Stoltz of BrewHoop (via Twitter).