Malik Beasley

And-Ones: Brown, 3-Point Contest, Glass Floor, Bjelica

The All-Star dunk contest has lost its star power in recent years. That could change this month. The Celtics’ Jaylen Brown is strongly considering accepting an invitation to participate, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). Charania said Brown has been “mulling over the possibility for several weeks.”

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • A star-laden cast is lining up for the All-Star weekend’s 3-point contest. Tyrese Haliburton, Damian Lillard, Malik Beasley, Jalen Brunson and Lauri Markkanen have agreed to participate, Charania tweets. The same goes for Tyrese Maxey, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT tweets. Donovan Mitchell has also added his name to the list, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.
  • The entire All-Star Saturday night lineup will be played on a full video LED court that will be installed at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The skills competition, 3-point contest, slam dunk competition and shooting matchup between Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu will take place on the glass floor on Feb. 17. The All-Star Game on Feb. 18 will remain on a wooden court.
  • Former NBA player Nemanja Bjelica was allegedly threatened to be stabbed with scissors, relays. Nikola Petkovic, a former soccer player, confronted Bjelica in a children’s playroom in Belgrade, according to multiple Serbian outlets, and threatened Bjelica and his famly. Petkovic was arrested and detained for 48 hours. Bjelica, a member of the Warriors’ 2022 championship team, hasn’t played this season.

Central Notes: Beasley, Siakam, Nance, Pistons

Speaking to Shams Charania of Stadium (Twitter video link), Bucks shooting guard Malik Beasley explained the thinking behind his decision to sign Milwaukee over the summer when he reached unrestricted free agency.

“Definitely wanted to win a championship, that was one of my goals,” Beasley said. “I felt that I’m at a point in my career where I just want to win and do whatever I can for the team. With the Bucks I felt like the dynamic of Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and being able to space the floor for them, I felt like that was huge. I looked into all that, making sure I would be able to get some reps, making sure I’d be able to get some playing time.”

“I do feel like I’m one of the best shooters in the league,” Beasley added. “I’m not try to be cocky or anything, I’m just confident.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Pascal Siakam‘s new Pacers teammates were encouraged by his strong debut for the club, a 21-point showing in a 118-115 loss to the Trail Blazers, per Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “We were just learning how to go on the fly, just going off our basketball brains,” All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton said. “It’s like playing pickup a little bit out there. That’s the exciting part for us I think is we get back here is, we played alright, but there’s so much more room for us.”
  • Cavaliers 10-day signee Pete Nance is reveling in his opportunity to play for his favorite team, writes Chris Fedor of (subscription required). “It’s surreal,” Nance told Fedor. “The goal was to get a call-up from the G League at some point, but to have it be the Cavs, it’s just a really cool thing for me. I’m super excited. I grew up a lifelong Cavs fan. Something I’ve thought about my whole life. I’ve been working for this my whole life. It’s a dream come true.” Pete’s father Larry Nance played for the Cavs from 1988-94, while his brother Larry Nance Jr. was with the team from 2018-21.
  • The struggling Pistons face an intriguing trade deadline. In a new reader mailbag, Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (subscription required) unpacks Detroit’s options, suggesting that the team will essentially view the trade deadline as an opportunity to get a head-start on the offseason by adding players who will be with the team beyond this season.

Central Notes: LaVine, Ball, Lillard, Beasley, Cunningham

The Bulls continue to make Zach LaVine available but they’re not looking to ship out multiple veterans and enter into a full-fledged rebuild, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack post.

In fact, the Bulls haven’t ruled out using Lonzo Ball‘s insurance-covered contract as part of a trade package to be buyers on the market. LaVine holds a $21,395,348 player option on his contract for next season. However, 80% of Ball’s contract is covered by league-provided insurance because he’s been sidelined so long. A potential trade partner could lower its payroll by acquiring Ball and inheriting the Bulls’ insurance payments.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Speaking of LaVine, who returned from a foot injury on Friday, he’s now dealing with right shoulder soreness, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. LaVine is available for tonight’s game against Charlotte after being listed as questionable.
  • Damian Lillard will miss the Bucks’ game on Monday for personal reasons, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. Lillard, averaging 25.1 points and 6.9 assists in his first season with Milwaukee, has played in 34 of the Bucks’ first 36 games.
  • Malik Beasley wasn’t upset that Bucks coach Adrian Griffin benched him at the beginning of the second half against Houston on Saturday, Nehm adds in another tweet. “It was just coach’s decision. And like I said, I could play better. And on to the next one,” he said.
  • The Pistons are listing Cade Cunningham as out for Tuesday’s game against the Kings due to a left knee strain, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets. Cunningham didn’t play in the second half of their loss at Denver on Sunday night

Central Notes: Beasley, Giannis, Rubio, Pistons

Appearing on a B/R Live stream with TNT and Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes (Twitter link), Bucks guard Malik Beasley said he bypassed offers worth more money from the Lakers and Mavericks to sign with Milwaukee.

Beasley opened up about his experience in free agency, saying it was “tough” because he closed out the year on a rough note, averaging just 3.0 points per game in the playoffs with Los Angeles after averaging 11.1 PPG during the regular season. The 27-year-old guard said the Lakers wanted to re-sign him on a deal worth about $6MM but explained there were some unknowns regarding his role with Austin Reaves re-signing early in free agency.

Beasley also said he had an offer from the Mavericks worth between $3-6MM, but was again unsure of what his role would be, given that Dallas had a roster filled with guards and shooters.

The seventh-year guard ended up signing with the Bucks on a one-year, minimum contract for a chance to have a bigger role.

“[Bucks general manager] Jon [Horst] is such a great person,” Beasley said. “We talk a lot and he was like ‘You have an opportunity to start here, you have a chance to win a championship.’ And I think for me, most importantly, [the Bucks have] some veterans around [the] team. Most of the teams I have been on, aside from LeBron and AD, they’ve been young.

Beasley earned a prominent role with Milwaukee right away, starting all 33 of his appearances this year. He’s averaging 11.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per night while shooting a career highs of 48.8% from the field and 46.9% on three-pointers (on 6.3 attempts per game). He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

We have more notes from the Central Division:

  • Opening up about his time with the Lakers, Beasley blames himself for how his tenure in L.A. ended (Twitter link via Haynes). “It was more of the past things that happened in my life that caused me to not play at my best,” the Bucks wing said.
  • Out of the Bucks‘ 10 losses this season, four have come at the hands of the Pacers. Giannis Antetokounmpo is bothered by those losses, writes The Athletic’s Eric Nehm. “Now, when you go back home and you sleep and you wake up, you think about it,” Antetokounmpo said. “Now, when you go back and work out, you think about it. In the All-Star break, when you’re gonna be on an exotic beach with your family, I hope you think about it, you know? … But at the end of the day, it’s good because it gives us time to fix things.
  • Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell had a feeling former teammate Ricky Rubio was going to retire,’s Chris Fedor writes. “I feel like he could breathe,” Mitchell said while paying tribute to Rubio. “I’m not speaking for him. But I feel like it’s just one of those things where it’s kind of like that indecision of what you want to do can be a lot. I’m just happy that he finally has time to feel like he can breathe and go pick up his son from school and be with his family in Spain. He’s been playing this game professionally at the highest of levels and had this expectation of himself since he was a teenager.
  • Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff also paid tribute to Rubio, as detailed in a story from ESPN. “I owe Ricky a debt of gratitude that there’s only a couple of guys who I could say at this point have had the impact on me that way,” Bickerstaff said. “He helped us, in a brief period of time, turn this organization into what you see in front of you. His presence allowed me to coach the team in a certain way where no one was too big to sacrifice.
  • The Pistons are widely expected to make a trade of some sort after setting the NBA record for consecutive losses in a season, and The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III thinks Detroit will add some veterans around the margins. In his mailbag, Edwards confirms there’s great interest league-wide in Pistons vet Bojan Bogdanovic but says he doesn’t expect Detroit to trade him just to trade him. The Pistons are in a difficult position, Edwards writes, because the young players who would bring in a difference-making haul are guys the team should build around.

Central Notes: Beasley, Griffin, Lillard, Dosunmu, Duren

Bucks guard Malik Beasley is trying to establish himself in a different role than he’s used to, Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. The 6’4″ Beasley hasn’t been known for his defense, but he’s taking on the challenge of trying to be more physical on that end and often finds himself squared off against a top perimeter player.

Usually I’m one of the offensive guys, but we got four (of) those guys,” Beasley said. “So I just learn how to be physical. It’s a mindset. … If you notice, I start the game usually with one or two fouls to set the tone so that in the third or fourth quarter I can get away with it.

Beasley, 26, is averaging 9.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game in his first season in Milwaukee. He’s a career 37.9% shooter from distance and is connecting on a career-best 42.5% of his long-ball attempts this year. Beasley signed a minimum-salary contract to join the Bucks this offseason.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • After Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was ejected on Wednesday against Detroit upon receiving two technical fouls, coach Adrian Griffin said he needed to do a better job of advocating for his players, according to Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Then, on Thursday, Griffin was ejected for voicing his displeasure with a call involving Antetokounmpo. “The first technical foul was for an overt reaction to a non-call on Giannis Antetokounmpo,” official Kevin Cutler said after the game in a pool report, per Owczarski. “The second was for disrespecting an official with profanity and per rule, two technical fouls, that is an automatic ejection.
  • Damian Lillard is listed as questionable for the Bucks for Saturday’s game against the Magic, tweets The Athletic’s Eric Nehm. He’s dealing with right calf soreness, which caused him to miss Thursday’s game.
  • Bulls coach Billy Donovan has historically run with nine-man rotations, but guard Ayo Dosunmu‘s play this season is forcing him to extend the rotation to 10 deep, according to The Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley. While Dosunmu’s counting stats aren’t eye-popping, Cowley points out the advanced analytics show he’s one of the most valuable players in the rotation. “I usually [play] nine guys, but because Ayo had a good training camp and has played well in this early part you try and find minutes,” Donovan said. “The unfortunate part sometimes is the guy that is in the role that he’s in there’s not going to be a lot of minutes. There’s just sometimes not enough minutes to go around. [Dosunmu] has done a really good job taking advantage of the time that he has gotten.
  • Pistons center Jalen Duren exited Friday’s matchup against the Sixers with a right ankle injury, according to the team (Twitter link). The same ankle injury has already forced the young center to miss two games this season. Head coach Monty Williams said Pistons staffers will discuss how to handle the injury moving forward, tweets Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press. “When a guy can’t finish a game, that’s something that we have to discuss,” Williams said.

Central Notes: Giannis, Lillard, Beasley, Ivey, Bates

The NBA’s newest superstar duo will be in action for the first time this weekend, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link).

Appearing on NBA Today on ESPN on Wednesday, Bucks head coach Adrian Griffin confirmed that the plan is for Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, who sat out the team’s first two preseason games, to be active on Sunday in Los Angeles when the Bucks visit the Lakers.

Here are a few more notes from around the Central:

  • Malik Beasley, long known as a three-point specialist, is making his case for a spot in the Bucks‘ starting lineup by working on improving his defense, according to stories from Eric Nehm of The Athletic and Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Beasley is on a minimum-salary contract, but is confident that a strong season with a title-contending team will help secure his long-term future in the NBA, writes Owczarski. “The market right now is not that good and I read into all that and I’m betting on myself like I did for my first contract,” Beasley said. “If things go as planned, and God forbid an injury or anything like that, I’ll just let the work do itself.”
  • New Pistons head coach Monty Williams values having a mix of veterans and youngsters in his lineups, which is a key reason why guard Jaden Ivey may find himself coming off the bench when his second NBA season begins, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. “Putting in too many young guys on the floor, I think, is a disservice to them,” Williams said on Tuesday. “You have to have some really good vets who know how to play. They settle us down a little bit, their voice is good on the floor, they know how to space, they know how to make the right plays.”
  • The Cavaliers are still working out their plan for rookie Emoni Bates, according to Chris Fedor of Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said he trusts the coaches with the Cleveland Charge (the Cavs’ G League affiliate) to develop Bates, but would like the 19-year-old to spend a good amount of time with the NBA team too. “I think there is value in him being around the caliber of people and talent we have in that locker room,” Bickerstaff said.

Bucks Notes: Lillard, Holiday, Middleton, Fifth Starter

In an interview with Marc J. Spears of Andscape, Damian Lillard said it’s “definitely different” to see himself in a Bucks uniform after 11 seasons with the Trail Blazers. The week since the trade was finalized has been a whirlwind for Lillard, who flew into Milwaukee on Saturday, participated in media day on Monday and worked out with his new teammates for the first time on Tuesday.

Lillard, who was given a break from practice on Wednesday, said the idea of being with a new organization really hit him for the first time Saturday night after the introductions, his physical and a video were all complete.

“And then by the time I got back to the spot and I was sitting there by myself,” he said. “I kind of just took it all in and just thought about all the different moving parts of it. And that was when I was just like, ‘Man, this is where I’m supposed to be. This is what it’s supposed to be.’ And in that moment, I just settled in with it.”

Lillard insisted that he doesn’t harbor any bitterness toward anyone from the Blazers, even though his exit was more contentious than he wanted it to be. He confirmed that the opportunity to go to Milwaukee cropped up about two weeks ago and said agent Aaron Goodwin supported it as “the best basketball situation.”

Lillard also expressed excitement about the chance to team up with Giannis Antetokounmpo, a player he has long admired for his competitiveness and work ethic.

“When I hear him speak and how he goes about his business, he speaks my language,” Lillard said. “He goes about it in the way that I’ve always done it. And for me to be able to coexist, I think that’s the kind of person that it would mesh best with.”

There’s more from Milwaukee:

  • At Monday’s media day, general manager Jon Horst talked about how difficult it was to part with Jrue Holiday, but he believed the team had to react when the chance arose to acquire Lillard, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Holiday was an integral part of the 2021 title team and a beloved member of the community. “In the same breath, we’re really excited about this team, the change that’s happening, the way we’re going to play and hopefully the dominance that we’re going to play with,” Horst said. “It’s a great opportunity for this organization, and we’re really excited about it.”
  • Coach Adrian Griffin gave evasive answers when asked about the status of Khris Middleton, who wasn’t a full participant at today’s practice, Nehm tweets. Griffin wouldn’t say whether it’s a knee issue that is limiting Middleton – who underwent knee surgery in the spring – and didn’t commit to having him ready for the season opener.
  • The Bucks have several options to fill the starting spot that opened up when Grayson Allen was sent to Phoenix in the Lillard trade, notes Jim Owczarski of The Journal Sentinel. Owczarski examines what Malik Beasley, MarJon Beauchamp and Pat Connaughton would each bring to the starting lineup.

Bucks Notes: Lillard, Giannis, Roster Spot, Holiday

Pairing Damian Lillard with Giannis Antetokounmpo should create plenty of scoring opportunities for the rest of the Bucks‘ offense, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Both players averaged better than 30 points per game last season, so while they’ll have to figure out how to mesh their talents, they provide plenty of individual firepower.

Lillard is a reliable shot maker who will cause opponents to be more reluctant about sagging into the lane to guard Antetokounmpo. Outside shooters Malik Beasley, Pat Connaughton and A.J. Green should all get better looks by playing alongside Lillard, Owczarski notes, while Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis become more dangerous in pick-and-pop actions.

Exchanging Jrue Holiday for Lillard will lead to a drop-off defensively, but Owczarski points out that new head coach Adrian Griffin is installing a system that emphasizes help. With Antetokounmpo and Lopez protecting the rim, the Bucks may be able to cover up Lillard’s shortcomings on defense.

There’s more from Milwaukee:

  • The Bucks sent Grayson Allen to Phoenix in the three-team deal, leaving them with 14 guaranteed contracts and the ability to make a roster addition, Owczarski adds. He notes that the team doesn’t have a reserve point guard with a guaranteed deal, so that might be a priority. Backups Lindell Wigginton and TyTy Washington both have two-way contracts. Milwaukee doesn’t control any of its first-round picks until 2031, so it will be difficult to improve the roster through any more trades.
  • Hundreds of fans waited for hours outside Fiserv Forum on Saturday for a chance to welcome Lillard to Milwaukee, according to Jack Baer of Yahoo Sports. Lillard acknowledged the crowd, but he didn’t say anything as he walked inside to meet his new team. The Bucks posted a video of Lillard taking a few shots inside the arena.
  • Holiday offered a farewell message on Instagram after the trade became official, per JR Radcliffe of The Journal-Sentinel. “Thank you fans! For those who know me best, they know we are all about family,” Holiday wrote. “Milwaukee — you welcomed me and my family into your city, into your homes, into your hearts. We will forever be champions together, and me and my family will forever be grateful and thankful. Until next time, thanks for everything.”

Bucks Notes: Giannis, Middleton, Roster, Griffin, Beasley

Over the past couple months, Bucks superstar and franchise legend Giannis Antetokounmpo has dropped hints that he might leave Milwaukee if a better winning situation presented itself. In a recent mailbag, The Athletic’s Eric Nehm tackled that topic. Nehm writes that he believes Antetokounmpo’s comments aren’t news to the organization, and that it’s something they expected when he signed a super-max contract in 2020.

The Bucks know Antetokounmpo’s No. 1 priority is winning, Nehm writes, and they’ll continue to try building a contender around him. It makes sense that Giannis would be noncommittal about signing an extension with the Bucks because it would add just two years to his deal, limiting his ability to put pressure on the organization to win now.

If Antetokounmpo signs such an extension, he wouldn’t have the ability to threaten to hit free agency, and he wouldn’t make more money in the long run, as opposed to continuing to sign super-max extensions.

Additionally, Nehm doesn’t think Antetokounmpo was taking shots at his teammates when he said he wanted to make sure “everybody’s on the same page, everybody’s going for a championship, everybody’s going to sacrifice time away from their family like I do. Nehm says that his comments seemed to just be an explanation of his approach to the game rather than a shot at anyone in the organization.

According to Nehm, two years without a championship (the Bucks won in 2021) is two years too long for their superstar.

I thought we were going to win a championship, and it was going to be like a fairy tale and it’s done and we’re all going to be enjoying it,” Antetokounmpo told The Athletic, per Nehm. “We’re going to be partying for 15 years straight, but you win one and you’re like, ‘What’s next?’

We have more from the Bucks:

  • Bucks wing Khris Middleton has been a massive part of Milwaukee’s success since joining the team in 2013/14. Appearing on an episode of J.J. Redick‘s Old Man and The Three podcast (YouTube link), Middleton discussed the dynamics of the Bucks roster as an All-Star caliber player starting next to Antetokounmpo. “There’s never been a struggle about who is one and who is two [on the roster] between us,” Middleton said.
  • Addressing more questions in his mailbag, Nehm takes a look at the Bucks’ roster situation, focusing on an apparent lack of depth at the point guard spot. The Bucks have utilized their two-way contracts to address the position, with Lindell Wigginton and TyTy Washington Jr. among options to take on some rotational minutes. However, Milwaukee could look to simply have Antetokounmpo or Middleton bring the ball up the court, or even Andre Jackson Jr, according to Nehm. The Bucks would be in a bad position if starting point guard Jrue Holiday went down, though, and a trade to bring in a more reliable backup could be on the horizon.
  • While new head coach Adrian Griffin was with the Raptors, Toronto forced turnovers on 17.2% of their opponent’s offensive possessions, according to Nehm, which is an important factor to consider when looking to Milwaukee’s defense this year. This may affect Brook Lopez, the backbone of Milwaukee’s defense, with the Bucks potentially shifting to a more perimeter-oriented defensive style while Lopez acts as more of a traditional rim-protecting center.
  • Malik Beasley is going to be on his fifth team heading into his eighth NBA season. According to Nehm, while Beasley’s shooting and scoring numbers look great on paper, teams generally have concerns about his defense, leading to his current journeyman status.

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.