Vin Baker

Bucks Notes: Coaching Staff Changes, Giannis, Lillard, Beverley

The Bucks have parted ways with assistant coaches DJ Bakker, Sidney Dobner, and Josh Oppenheimer, sources confirmed to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report first broke the news.

All three coaches were assistants under Adrian Griffin who finished the season with the Bucks after Griffin was dismissed in January and replaced by Doc Rivers. As Nehm notes, Rivers brought in a few new assistants after his arrival in Milwaukee, resulting in a super-sized coaching staff, so it seemed likely that changes would be coming this offseason.

Following the changes, the Bucks now have seven assistants on their staff, per Nehm: Dave Joerger, Rex Kalamian, Joe Prunty, Patrick Mutombo, Vin Baker, Trevor Gleeson, and Pete Dominguez. With new head coaches filling their staffs around the NBA it’s possible Rivers’ staff will undergo more tweaks before the 2024/25 season tips off in the fall.

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • Rivers said that he usually takes a bit of a break at the end of his team’s season, but that’s not the plan for his first offseason with the Bucks. The veteran head coach “can’t wait to get started” on preparations for 2024/25, as Ben Steele of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays. “This summer is a very important summer for us. I have a lot of work to do,” Rivers said. “I’m going to take a break at some point, but not right away. Right now, I have some work to do that I have to get things right to make sure we’re ready for next year.”
  • Last offseason, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez entered the summer as free agents and Damian Lillard wasn’t acquired by the Bucks until late September. This year, with all the team’s core players under contract, Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking forward to a greater level of stability, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We’re not questioning and trying to figure out how it’s going to look moving forward. You know and now that you know, you just gotta work, strategize to the best of your abilities,” Antetokounmpo said. “Dame’s going to be here. Khris is going to be here. Brook (is) going to be here. Bobby (Portis is) going to be here. I hope I’m here. And then we go and try to find out what we have.”
  • Within the same Owczarski story, Antetokounmpo said he plans to visit Portland this offseason to spend some time with Lillard. “Go work out together, talk, sit down, just spend time,” Giannis said. “It doesn’t have to be basketball. Just spend time together. I’ve done it with Khris in 11 years. I’ve done it with Brook. It’s just what you gotta do.”
  • On the latest episode of his Pat Bev podcast, veteran guard Patrick Beverley said that before he repeatedly fired a basketball at Pacers fans in the last game of the Bucks’ season, he was called a word that he’d never been called before, per The Associated Press. However, Beverley acknowledged that his actions were “still inexcusable.” He was suspended for four games by the NBA. “That should have never happened,” he said of the incident. “Regardless of what was said, that should have never happened. Simple as that.”

Central Notes: Williams, Gueye, Pacers, Bucks

After signing the most lucrative head coaching contract in NBA history, new Pistons head coach Monty Williams has his work cut out for him in reshaping the rebuilding team. Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (subscription required) unpacks five big issues regarding the club’s current personnel that Williams must tackle.

Most pressing among these questions is how Williams will use 2021 No. 1 draft pick Cade Cunningham, who missed most of his sophomore NBA season with a shin injury. Sankofa also wonders how Williams will balance Cunningham’s touches with the looks afforded 2023 All-Rookie Second Teamer Jaden Ivey, how the club’s new coach will juggle his frontcourt, and more.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pacers continue to search far and wide for intriguing young prospects. Today, the team is hosting Washington State forward Mouhamed Gueye for an individual workout, per Pacers.com. Indiana possesses five draft picks this year, including three first-round selections, beginning at No. 7. The team also announced that it will work out two shooting guards, G League Ignite’s Mojave King and the New Zealand Breakers’ Rayan Rupert, on Saturday.
  • Because the Pacers have so many selections in this year’s draft and team president Kevin Pritchard assumes he will trade some of them, the team is making sure to assess all levels of prospects to prepare itself for a variety of different scenarios, according to The Indianapolis Star. Many of the young players who have auditioned for Indiana thus far have enjoyed the experience. “When you can get guys like this in the gym that are competitive and good guys, iron sharpens iron,” UCLA point guard Tyger Campbell said. “You’re going to leave this place better than you were when you came in.”
  • New Bucks head coach Adrian Griffin continues to build out his staff. A source informs Eric Nehm of The Athletic (Twitter link) that Griffin is bringing in Raptors assistant coach Nate Mitchell and Pistons assistant coach DJ Bakker to help fill out his bench. Nehm reveals that Griffin also intends to keep former Mike Budenholzer assistant Josh Oppenheimer. Nehm adds (via Twitter) that another former Budenholzer assistant, Vin Baker, will also return to the fold under Griffin.

And-Ones: NBPA, V. Baker, Hervey, Okobo, NBA Parity

In an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts spoke about why she considers this season a success, what role she plays in the union’s decision-making process, and the criticisms some players, including LeBron James, have vocalized about the shortened offseason heading into this year.

The recommendation to start in December came from the league,” Roberts said. “So the big ask was, could we start the games in December? And the answer was not yes from Michele. The decision to play or not to play comes from the players.”

As far as the criticisms from James, and others who may agree with him, Roberts’ reinforced her support for players voicing dissenting opinions. “I don’t have a problem with players that articulate their opposition to decisions that were made,” she said. “That’s their absolute right. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

We have more news from around the basketball community:

  • Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times writes about Bucks‘ assistant coach Vin Baker‘s rise as an NBA star, his battles with alcoholism – which included him drinking Bacardi Limón from a water bottle during games – and his eventual recovery and progression back to the world of the NBA. “This was an opportunity that was afforded to me not to screw up,” Baker said. “It’s not about me. Like it’s not about ‘I made it. I’m a coach of the Bucks.’ It’s about there’s somebody watching.”
  • Virtus Bologna has signed Kevin Hervey to a two-year deal, tweets Donatas Urbonas, a Lithuania-based reporter. The deal for the former Thunder second-round pick had been reported to be in the works in recent weeks.
  • Elie Okobo, the 31st pick in the 2018 draft, has signed with ASVEL Basket in France, reports Dario Skerletic of Sportando. Okobo will join former NBA players Norris Cole and Guerschon Yabusele, as well as top 2023 prospect Victor Wembanyama.
  • The “Parity Era” in the NBA may be here, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “I see this as, hopefully, the end of a transition for the league,” Reynolds quotes commissioner Adam Silver as saying. “Not just post-COVID, but just by virtue of the teams that we saw in the conference finals, a real transition in terms of the league of the up-and-coming new stars, up-and-coming franchises, more parity throughout the league.” Whether that’s the case or whether injuries played more of a role in the playoffs shaping up the way they did remains to be seen.

Bucks Notes: Parker, Brogdon, Dellavedova, Baker

Jabari Parker and the Bucks may both have a better future if he signs somewhere else this summer, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Parker will face an unpredictable market as a restricted free agent after averaging 11.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in 27 games since returning from an ACL tear.

The Bucks offered an extension in October worth about $54MM over three years, but Parker turned it down, hoping for a better deal on the open market. He realizes that his time in Milwaukee may be ending soon.

“Honestly, it’s uncertain,” he said. “I know that, just looking from afar, [the Bucks] will be fine. But I just have to see what’s going to happen with my future, and that’s uncertain. But I know for them, they’ll be fine regardless. They’ve been doing well.”

The Bucks have the option to match any offer Parker receives, but doing so would cut into their free agency plans for next summer, Bontemps adds. Milwaukee will have about $30MM in cap space in 2019, plus $19MM in expiring contracts for John Henson and Matthew Dellavedova that shouldn’t be hard to move if more room is needed.

There’s more news tonight out of Milwaukee:

  • Before he moves onto free agency, Parker will focus on his first trip to the playoffs, relays Genaro C. Armas of The Associated Press. Milwaukee clinched a spot tonight, marking the first postseason in which Parker will be healthy enough to participate. “I’m just grateful to get to get the opportunity,” he said. “That’s what means the most [in] the NBA. It’s not the regular season. It’s the postseason, and that’s where you want to end up.”
  • Malcolm Brogdon was a limited participant in practice today as he tries to bounce back from a partially torn his left quadricep tendon, tweets Matt Velazquez of The Journal Sentinel. Brogdon was projected to miss six to eight weeks when the injury was discovered in early February. Interim coach Joe Prunty said Brogdon is making progress, but there still isn’t a return date for him or Dellavedova, who is recovering from a grade 3 right ankle sprain.
  • Vin Baker has been sober for nearly seven years and is enjoying his new role as an assistant coach for the Bucks, writes Tim Van Vooren of Fox 6 News in Milwaukee. Baker was added to the staff in January when Jason Kidd was ousted as head coach. “I couldn’t imagine, at the age of 46, a more perfect opportunity, a more perfect place to be given my story and given the fact that this is where it all started for me,” Baker said.
  • Gery Woelfel offers a look inside the Bucks’ new arena on Woelfel’sPressBox. The facility is expected to be ready in time for the start of next season.

Joe Prunty To Coach Bucks For Rest Of Season

Bucks interim head coach Joe Prunty will remain in his role for at least the rest of the 2017/18 season, the team announced today in a press release. Prunty, a veteran assistant who was promoted after Jason Kidd‘s dismissal, won his first game as Milwaukee’s head coach on Monday.

[RELATED: Bucks fire Jason Kidd]

“We believe that Joe is the right person to lead our team and help us achieve our goals,” general manager Jon Horst said in a statement. “He has the knowledge and experience, along with the respect of our players and staff, to get the job done. Joe and his staff will be evaluated and considered as part of our widespread offseason search for our next head coach.”

Given the talent on the Bucks’ roster, along with the presence of MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, the club’s permanent head coaching job is expected to be a coveted one this spring. While Prunty will be considered, he’ll likely face stiff competition — Monty Williams and David Fizdale are among the former NBA head coaches already mentioned this week as potential candidates.

Meanwhile, the Bucks announced in today’s press release that they’ve also made a chance to their staff, hiring former NBA big man Vin Baker as an assistant coach. Baker, previously a member of FOX Sports Wisconsin’s broadcast team, had been an “active participant” in Bucks practices, according to Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who tweets that the four-time All-Star has been working with frontcourt players like Jabari Parker.