Thanasis Antetokounmpo

Bucks Notes: Holiday, Giannis, Thanasis, Team Building

The Bucks paid a high price to get Jrue Holiday last November, but he has silenced any doubts about whether he was worth it, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Holiday delivered 27 points and 13 assists Saturday night and had a game-changing steal in the final minute as Milwaukee closed in on its first NBA title in 50 years.

Holiday said he was “in the right place at the right time” as he took the ball away from Devin Booker on a play where Phoenix had a chance to take the lead. Holiday pushed the ball up court and delivered an alley-oop pass to Giannis Antetokounmpo that virtually sealed the victory.

“I saw it in Portland, when he was in New Orleans and we got swept in the first round,” Pat Connaughton said. “Just the way he defends on a nightly basis and the way that he’s able to do it in different ways. He’s physical, he’s quick, he’s strong. He’s got a lot of things to him. And he’s got quick hands. First-team All-Defense play. It was a Defensive Player of the Year (play). It just kind of shows we’re built on defense.”

There’s more on the Bucks:

  • Antetokounmpo was dehydrated after the game and had to be treated for cramping before he could conduct his post-game interviews, according to Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press. Giannis played more than 40 minutes and posted 32 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.
  • Antetokounmpo said it was hard for him to play without his brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who missed Saturday’s game after being placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “It was extremely difficult for him not to be here to cheer for the team,’’ Giannis said. “He gives the team a lot of energy and the team feels it. As much as it hurts, we still got to do our job and I Facetimed him after the game.’’ Berman pointed out that Giannis hugged his brother for about 15 seconds before the start of Game 4, but his COVID-19 tests have presumably been fine.
  • The Bucks’ success is erasing the “super-team” narrative that has surrounded most of the NBA champions of the last decade, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Rather than relying on free agency, Milwaukee slowly built a contender around Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, who have been with the franchise since 2013.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo In Health and Safety Protocols

Bucks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo will miss tonight’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals after being placed in the league’s health and safety protocols, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Antetokounmpo is listed as out on the team’s injury report submitted this afternoon, adds Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link).

The news should have little impact on the outcome, as Antetokounmpo has played a combined two minutes during the first four games of the series. He has been used sparingly throughout the playoffs after appearing in 57 regular season games and averaging 2.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 9.7 minutes per night.

The 28-year-old is in his second season with Milwaukee after coming to the NBA from Greece in 2019. He also was with the Knicks briefly during the 2015/16 season.

Injury Updates: Walker, Williams, KCP, Doncic, Kleber, T. Antetokounmpo

With the Celtics facing elimination, Kemba Walker and Robert Williams have been declared out for Game 5 against the Nets on Tuesday, Malika Andrews of ESPN tweets. Walker (left knee bone bruise) and Williams (left ankle sprain) had previously been listed as doubtful. Neither played in Game 4 after exiting Game 3 in the early going.

We have more injury updates:

  • Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is expected to return to the lineup for Game 5 against Phoenix on Tuesday, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. He missed Game 4 with a sore left knee.
  • The Mavericks’ Luka Doncic (neck strain) and Maxi Kleber (right Achilles soreness) are listed as probable to play Game 5 on Wednesday, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News tweets.
  • Thanasis Antetokounmpo isn’t doing any contact work yet but “he did most, if not all of the non-contact portion of (Tuesday’s) practice,” according to Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, as Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. He suffered an avulsion fracture to his right patella tendon suffered on May 16.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo Out At Least Two Weeks With Leg Injury

The Bucks will be without forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo for at least the next two weeks due to a right leg injury he suffered during the regular season finale on Sunday, the club announced today in a press release.

After undergoing an MRI on Monday to assess the injury, Antetokounmpo was diagnosed with an avulsion fracture to the right patella tendon, the Bucks said in their statement. He’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Antetokounmpo, the older brother of Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, wasn’t expected to play a major role for Milwaukee in the playoffs, so the injury shouldn’t have a real impact on the club’s rotation. Still, the 28-year-old did play a minor role for the Bucks this season, averaging 2.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game in 57 contests (9.7 MPG).

Central Notes: Hayes, Bulls, Dotson, Thanasis

Pistons lottery pick Killian Hayes remains out indefinitely due to a hip injury but coach Dwane Casey said the rookie point guard is progressing, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “It’s been solid; it’s really going well,” Casey said. “He’s in the situation where he’s moving and shooting right now. Hopefully, (he returns) sometime in the next month — don’t hold me to it; I’m going by what the medical people are talking about.” Hayes suffered the labral tear seven games into the season.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls executive VP Arturas Karnisovas anticipates a tight market heading toward the March 25 trade deadline, Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times tweets. He said there are very few sellers at the moment because most feel clubs like they’re still in the running for the postseason, including a couple of “delusional” teams.
  • The Bulls recalled guard Devon Dotson from the G League’s Canton Charge, the team tweets. Dotson was averaging 13 PPG and 5.6 APG in 10 games at Orlando’s “bubble” season. He’s on a two-way contract with Chicago.
  • Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Lori Nickel details how Thanasis Antetokounmpo provides the Bucks with an energetic wing option for coach Mike Budenholzer. The league MVP’s older brother is averaging 2.3 PPG and 2.2 RPG in 9.0 MPG in 24 appearances this season.

Bogdan Bogdanovic Talks Free Agency, COVID-19, Hawks

Speaking to Sam Amick of The Athletic about his recent experience in free agency, Bogdan Bogdanovic said he learned about the apparent sign-and-trade agreement between the Kings and Bucks (that would have sent him to Milwaukee) on Twitter, reading about it at the same time everyone else did.

“When the news came out, we were like, ‘What the f–k?'” Bogdanovic told Amick. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

As Bogdanovic explains, he had been told during the summer that the Kings wanted to keep him, so when word of the alleged sign-and-trade broke, he was caught off guard for two reasons: He hadn’t agreed to join the Bucks and he didn’t realize Sacramento was looking to trade him. The veteran swingman had been expecting to either negotiate with the Kings or to sign an offer sheet when free agency opened.

“I was like, ‘OK, we wait for the market,’ and I was ready for that,” Bogdanovic said. “Like, OK, wait for the market and let’s see what’s going to happen. In the end, (the Kings) decided to not tell me about nothing, about what was going on with Milwaukee. I really didn’t know nothing. Yes, I’m friends with Thanasis (Antetokounmpo) mostly — (Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s) brother — but we didn’t know what was going on. It was really on Twitter.

“Now, people are making stories off of it. … I was like, ‘What is going on?’ I didn’t know what was going on. And then, two days later, the NBA investigation (began), and no one called me from the Kings yet. I just got a text, like, ‘Thanks for being part of the team,’ and that’s it.”

[RELATED: Bucks Lose 2022 Second-Round Pick For Early Pursuit Of Bogdanovic]

Bogdanovic’s wide-ranging discussion with Amick goes into more detail on his reaction to learning of the reported agreement between the Kings and Bucks and what it meant for his impending free agency. However, the interview – which is worth checking out in full – also touches on several other topics, including his pivot to Atlanta, his new role with the Hawks, and testing positive for COVID-19.

Here are some of the highlights from the conversation:

On dealing with a positive coronavirus test at the same time as he navigated free agency:

“Yeah, I had it. I had it, and I recovered and I started working out back in Serbia and I was fine. I didn’t have any crazy symptoms or anything like that, but it was all stressful, you know? You’re thinking about coming back and being ready and in shape, you know? It was really stressful. That two, three weeks? Whoo.”

On having to find a new deal in restricted free agency after the Bucks-related drama:

“At that point, when free agency opens up, I was just focused on one thing, you know? And Atlanta called first. The Kings actually called me like 15 minutes after, and I liked what they (the Hawks) offered me. … I think, in the end, I was lucky and I end up being in the perfect situation in terms of contract and a team.”

On whether he thoughts the Kings would match his offer sheet with the Hawks:

“I was scared for that (because) at that point I wanted to leave. At that point, when they traded me already and they didn’t want to talk to me about it, I was like, ‘OK, they really want me out of here.’ So I was like, ‘OK.’

“We end up signing the offer sheet, so I was thinking like, ‘Damn, in the end, they’re going to match this.’ I was confused. It’s not really free agency, because you are not free. And yes, you’re restricted — you’re really restricted. It’s restricted agency. It’s not free agency.”

On how he feels about his new role coming off the bench in Atlanta:

“I feel fine. I feel fine about it. I think coach (Lloyd Pierce) is putting me in situations to kind of run the second unit, you know? And be like the sixth man of the unit. And when you play with Trae (Young), it’s so easy. He always draws so much attention on him, and that’s what gives me a lot of open shots. Not just me, but everyone else.

“… We are still figuring it out, and I think from this point we can just get better. It’s so much talent. And we have a lot of guys who can get off one night, so that’s a really good problem to have on a team. … I like it so far. We really have a pretty good group, a mix of young (players) and veterans — which is really nice; energy and experience. So it’s really nice to be here. It’s really fun.”

Bucks Rumors: Bogdanovic, Giannis, Oladipo, DiVincenzo, More

Bogdan Bogdanovic was considered Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s preferred target for the Bucks in free agency, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says that Thanasis Antetokounmpo had been in contact with Bogdanovic for months as the brothers attempted to lure the swingman to Milwaukee.

As Fischer explains, Giannis admires Bogdanovic’s “toughness and swagger” and considers him someone you could “go to war with in the postseason.” As a result, the Bucks pursued Bogdanovic aggressively, discussing sign-and-trade scenarios with the Kings in the hopes of effectively taking the RFA-to-be off the market before last Friday by agreeing to a deal with Sacramento.

Early discussions between the Kings and Bucks included Eric Bledsoe, according to Fischer, who points out that sending Bledsoe’s $16.9MM contract to Sacramento would have made it simple for Milwaukee to meet Bogdanovic’s asking price of $18MM per year. However, the Kings insisted on Donte DiVincenzo‘s inclusion on any deal and Bledsoe’s salary was required for Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday acquisition.

After they struck a deal for Holiday, the Bucks reached a tentative agreement with the Kings, but Bogdanovic’s camp insists it never discussed the particulars of a contract agreement with Milwaukee, per Fischer. Bogdanovic even phoned the Antetokounmpo brothers to reiterate that point, Fischer adds.

When at least one rival team filed a formal complaint about the fact that the Kings had seemingly lined up a deal for Bogdanovic days before the start of free agency, the NBA launched an investigation and essentially took Milwaukee off the table as a destination for the 28-year-old due to the risk that the league would block the deal, says Fischer.

Now, the Bucks will have to hope that their failed pursuit of Bogdanovic doesn’t cause Giannis to pass on their super-max offer. According to Fischer, the franchise had been very confident about the odds of reaching an agreement with Antetokounmpo, but there has been a “categorical step back in that confidence” since the Bogdanovic debacle. That doesn’t mean an agreement won’t be reached — just that the Bucks aren’t as sure about it as they once were.

Here’s more on the Bucks from Fischer’s article, which is packed with interesting details:

  • The Bucks and Pacers had conversations about a possible trade for Victor Oladipo, Fischer confirms, adding that a package of DiVincenzo, George Hill, and the No. 24 pick was discussed at one point. Like the Kings did, the Pacers insisted on DiVincenzo being included in any offer.
  • DiVincenzo ultimately remained in Milwaukee and the Bucks are still “bullish” on his potential, writes Fischer. They were willing to move him for Bogdanovic because the RFA was considered a “necessary target in line with Antetokounmpo’s wishes.”
  • Before the Bucks struck a deal for Holiday, the Hawks discussed a package that included the No. 6 pick, Kevin Huerter, and Dewayne Dedmon, says Fischer.

Bucks Rumors: CP3, Giannis, Bledsoe, More

While a potential Bucks trade for Chris Paul has been the subject of much speculation since Milwaukee was eliminated from the postseason last week, it’s not a foregone conclusion that the club will pursue such a deal. According to Sam Amick and Eric Nehm of The Athletic, sources with knowledge of Bucks ownership’s thinking say it’s “highly unlikely” that the team will seriously go after the Thunder point guard.

As Amick and Nehm explain, the exorbitant cost of Paul’s contract ($41.4MM in 2020/21, with a $44.2MM player option for ’21/22) is one factor working against a trade. There also may be concerns about bringing a strong personality like CP3’s onto a roster that already has a superstar leader in Giannis Antetokounmpo, according to The Athletic’s duo. All indications are that Milwaukee would prefer to look elsewhere for upgrades, per Amick and Nehm.

Here’s more on the Bucks from The Athletic’s latest report:

  • The reported three-hour lunch meeting between Antetokounmpo and Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry last Friday also included Bucks senior VP Alex Lasry (Marc’s son), Giannis’ brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and their agent Alex Saratsis, league sources tell Amick and Nehm. According to The Athletic, all parties left that meeting “in good spirits and with a sense of synergy.”
  • While Antetokounmpo’s future remains unknown, a source with knowledge of the Bucks’ perspective tells Amick and Nehm that they’ve long had confidence that the reigning MVP will ultimately sign a super-max contract to stay with the franchise.
  • The Bucks were more concerned about their outside shooting issues in the playoffs than about the defense the Heat employed against Antetokounmpo, per The Athletic. That’s one reason why Eric Bledsoe – who has made just 22.9% of his three-pointers during the last two postseasons – could find himself on the trade block this offseason.
  • Head coach Mike Budenholzer had been prepared to significantly increase Antetokounmpo’s workload for Game 4 against Miami (and beyond) if he had stayed healthy, according to Amick and Nehm. Based on how the series played out, Budenholzer may be more open to a minutes bump for his stars earlier in next year’s postseason.

Central Notes: Beilein, Sexton, Mykhailiuk, Antetokounmpos

The Cavaliers seem distracted by the trade deadline as they rack up embarrassing losses, writes Chris Fedor of The latest came last night as the Warriors broke a 10-game road losing streak with a 19-point blowout in Cleveland.

“Every loss is hitting me really hard and hitting us … I know it’s hitting me hard, I can’t answer for other people,” coach John Beilein said. “It’s just trying to find solutions and trying to find a better way to get our guys to play harder and smarter, which will lead to wins. But there’s some things that just happen because we’re young and some things happen because of persistence in our effort and some things happen because we’re just missing some pieces in the roster here and there.”

The team may have a different attitude and a different look once the deadline passes Thursday afternoon. Tristan Thompson, Brandon Knight, John Henson and Matthew Dellavedova are all veterans on expiring contracts who may be sent elsewhere. Kevin Love, the team’s highest-paid player, has displayed frustration throughout the season and is also a candidate to be moved.

One question Beilein couldn’t answer last night is whether he still has the support of the players as the Cavaliers have fallen to the bottom of the Eastern Conference at 13-37.

“I think that our guys have to measure themselves,” he said. “Are they bought in to playing winning basketball? I don’t think it has anything to do with a particular coach or coaches, whatever, they’ve just got to go and play hard.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton was “shocked” to be passed over for the Rising Stars Challenge, Fedor adds in a separate story. “I knew I deserved to be there,” said Sexton, who also wasn’t invited to the game last year. “I knew the hard work every day, coming here and playing the game. I knew I deserved to be out there, but I took the good with it. Hey, just continue to build. Can’t be too mad because it is what it is.”
  • The Pistons are benefiting from an under-the-radar trade last February that brought in Svi Mykhailiuk from the Lakers in exchange for Reggie Bullock, notes Keith Langlois of “He’s on track to be one of our core pieces as far as his shooting ability, his ability to make plays off the dribble,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s right with Luke (Kennard) as far as being able to put the ball on the floor, run pick and rolls. And the kid’s a sponge – you can get on him, you can coach him, you can teach him.”
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thanasis Antetokounmpo were thrilled to be in the starting lineup together on Friday, relays Eric Woodyard of ESPN. It marked the first start of Thanasis’ NBA career, and Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer made the decision because it was Greek Night in Milwaukee.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/14/19

Here are Thursday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

  • One day after assigning the pair, the Bucks have recalled Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Dragan Bender from the team’s G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, according to a tweet from the team’s official account (link). Bender scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Herd’s win over the Capital City Go-Go on Wednesday, while Antetokounmpo finished with 14 points.
  • Like Milwaukee, the Kings recalled rookies Wenyen Gabriel and Justin James just one day after sending them both down to the team’s G League affiliate for a game (Twitter link). The Stockton Kings beat the Sioux Falls Skyforce yesterday, with Gabriel scoring 20 points and James adding 17.
  • Per a team press release, the Timberwolves have recalled forward Keita Bates-Diop from the Iowa Wolves, the team’s G League affiliate. Bates-Diop is averaging 22.5 points and 4.5 rebounds over two games in the G League this season.
  • The Clippers have recalled both center Mfiondu Kabengele and guard Derrick Walton Jr. from their G League affiliate, the Agua Caliente Clippers, the team’s official PR account tweeted out this afternoon. The pair was assigned on Tuesday.
  • With no practice on the schedule for today, the Grizzlies assigned guards Grayson Allen and De’Anthony Melton to the Memphis Hustle for their practice, according to a tweet from Memphis’ PR account (link). Allen’s assignment is in connection with rehab of his sore left ankle, while Melton’s is tied to a long-term conditioning and performance plan.