The Bucks have had one of the NBA’s busiest offseasons. They traded Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Ish Smith, waived Drew Gooden and Gustavo Ayon, let Monta Ellis, Samuel Dalembert and Mike Dunleavy Jr. walk in free agency and signed-and-traded Brandon Jennings and J.J. Redick.
That’s most of the roster turned over, yet it’s not clear the Bucks made any progress. They’ve just replaced those eight with players of similar ability.
Why? Perhaps this is a clue.
Gery Woelfel of RacineSportsZone.com:
Without an assertive leader last season, the Bucks’ locker room was a cesspool. Players didn’t get along with each other. Players didn’t along with the coaches and vice versa.One longtime NBA employee who witnessed all the shenanigans told me it was the worst locker room he had ever observed.
Milwaukee certainly hopes it has progressed off the court, but it’s not just about dumping the troublemakers. It’s about adding players like Caron Butler, who recently organized a team dinner.Woelfel:
“I just wanted to get off to a good start with my teammates,” Butler said. “I think it was a good way to build camaraderie.“All the guys showed up and we had a great dinner and talked about expectations for the season together on and off the court.“It was a good session.”It was also a tad expensive. Often times when a group of athletes congregate for a night out on the town, they’ll throw their respective credit cards into a hat. The person whose credit card is withdrawn winds up picking the tab.Not this time. The only credit card that made its way on to the table was Butler’s.
Butler has talked about being a good leader, and now he’s putting his money where his mouth is. I can’t claim to know exactly which players were causing problems last season, and subsequently, whether they’re among the jettisoned. But Butler has to be an improvement in the locker room, even if the Bucks are running in place on the court.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.
The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.
Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.
Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.
“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”
After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.
There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.
Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.
However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.
It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.
I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.
There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.
But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.
Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.
This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:
Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.
Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.
“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.
Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).
By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).
But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.