Khris Middleton

Associated Press

If Kyrie Irving bidding reopens, Bucks have offer with Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton

10 Comments

Most likely the deal between the Cavaliers and Celtics for Kyrie Irving gets finalized today (Wednesday). The Cavaliers are already getting Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the highly-coveted Brooklyn first-round draft pick this year. The Cleveland doctors think that the healing timeline/re-injury risk with Thomas is longer than they thought and they want more compensation, and Boston likely throws in a second rounder.

If the trade falls apart, there are other teams hanging around wanting to get in on the Irving bidding, reports Zach Lowe at ESPN. But none of them have a deal near as good as the Celtics gave up.

The Milwaukee Bucks lurk on the fringes of the Irving bidding with an offer centered around Malcolm Brogdon, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, and Khris Middleton, sources say. The Bucks have not yet put a first-round pick on the table, sources say, but the bet here is that they would to get the deal done — or if Irving showed any interest in staying in Milwaukee long-term.

The problem is, that pick from the Bucks is middle of the draft at best, not nearly high enough to get a star the Cavs can count on. Middleton helps now, but while Brogdon won Rookie of the Year in a down season, he is not a blue-chip star player (like they likely land with the Brooklyn pick).

The Suns would have the kind of pick the Cavs want, but…

An unprotected pick from Phoenix would, but bad teams a half-decade away from relevance don’t deal picks for stars who make them slightly less bad before bolting in free agency. Other likely lottery teams — Sacramento, Atlanta, Indiana, Chicago — don’t appear to have made offers.

Denver’s name comes up from fans speculating on a deal.

Denver was the one team in the sweet spot to go all-in with an offer of Wilson Chandler, Jamal Murray (the blue-chipper), and at least one first-round pick. They are at little risk of coughing up a top-10 pick, with a need at point guard and a roster that generally fits Irving’s aging curve. Denver never ventured nearly that far. There are obvious reasons for their reluctance: Irving’s free agency in 2019, the Warriors, the challenge of building a defense book-ended by Irving and Nikola Jokic, the expense of an Irving-Jokic-Gary Harris core.

The big one there: Denver is building a team on a curve to be potentially very good in a few years, right when the juggernaut in Golden State starts to show cracks in the foundation (at least the rest of the league hopes so). Trade for Irving and they are full-on win now at the same time the Warriors’ powers are at their peak. Patience is a virtue.

Boston wants Irving — he’s younger than Thomas, may be better now but certainly will be better in three years — and they have a real chance to keep him in 2019 free agency. Cleveland wants that Brooklyn pick, and there are no options as good as the one on the table.

Which is why the already agreed to Cavaliers/Celtics swap will get done.

Young new head of Bucks basketball says he has final say, not Jason Kidd

Getty Images
2 Comments

Jason Kidd ended up in Milwaukee when his power play in Brooklyn to get front office power failed. With the Bucks, he has had influence on player personnel moves and has reportedly pushed for more.

So when Milwaukee ownership hired 34-year-old Jon Horst as the new head of basketball operations, there were questions about who is running the show. Horst, in a Q&A on NBA.com, left no doubt he is the man in charge.

NBA.com: With all due respect, people will be watching to see if you have the heft to say “no” to Jason Kidd or to the owners who are signing your paycheck. How you address those concerns?

JH: Obviously, ownership is ownership. Jason Kidd is our coach. They’re going to be involved in everything we do. But in taking this job, we talked about these things. Ultimately, I’ve been hired to run the basketball operations for the Milwaukee Bucks, to have the final say and to make the final decisions. I’m going to operate as such, and I have their support in doing that. The only way you can really set aside those concerns is by living it every day and watching the transactions unfold.

We will see how it unfolds, because the step from potentially a great team to becoming a contender are the hardest ones.

Horst has some tough decisions ahead to take those steps. They have the young superstar in Giannis Antetokounmpo, quality role players around him such as Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Tony Snell, and Malcolm Brogdon. The questions now are how well all they can all fit together, how many more long strides can the Greek Freak take forward, how can this gambling defensive team become more solid on that end, and what changes are needed for this team to move forward from 42 wins?

There are going to need to be players shifted and brought in to fit around Antetokounmpo. Horst — consulting with Kidd — has some serious work to do in the coming years.

Giannis Antetokounmpo gives views on loyalty while explaining Kevin Durant’s move

8 Comments

As questions swirled about his future with the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo tweeted that loyalty was in his DNA.

But Kevin Durant also said he was loyal to the Thunder before leaving for the Warriors.

Durant explained the appearance of a contradiction by saying he showed his loyalty by signing a contract extension without options and playing hard every night. Durant was fully loyal to Oklahoma City while he was there. To him, it didn’t mean he pledged to stay forever.

What does loyalty mean to Antetokounmpo, who once said he wanted to play in Milwaukee forever? He provided insight when asked to compare his tweet to Durant’s sentiments.

Antetokounmpo:

A lot of people say they’re go to stay on a team, and they decide to move to a different team. But you guys always got to remember that a guy might want to stay on the team, but the team doesn’t do the right things and the right moves for the player to become great. Because K.D., the reason he wanted to stay in OKC was to be the champs, right? So, did they win a championship? That’s why he decided to leave. He did win a championship down in Golden State.

This is a very rational response, one that indicates his outlook is similar to Durant’s. Nobody would question Antetokounmpo’s devotion to Milwaukee right now. But that doesn’t mean he’ll feel this way indefinitely.

The Bucks have to reciprocate by doing well for Antetokounmpo.

So far, the results have been mixed. They’ve built a solid young nucleus that includes by Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, Thon Maker and Tony Snell. Jabari Parker would’ve counted if not for multiple ACL tears, which can derail a career. Luck can factor. So, it’s on Milwaukee to nail what it can control – like running the franchise without the disarray shown during its general-manager search.

Unlike the Thunder with Durant, the Bucks might be able to buy loyalty with a designated-veteran-player extension before Antetokounmpo’s contract expires in 2021. Those super-max deals didn’t exist under the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement, when Durant left for Golden State.

The salary cap is also stagnating, leaving it far less likely a team can duplicate the situation the Warriors’ presented Durant – a ready-made championship contender with max cap space. Relatively, the Bucks probably won’t have to look quite as appealing to be Antetokounmpo’s best option.

But they’ll still have to create some allure.

It sounds as if Antetokounmpo’s loyalty to the Bucks is, quite reasonably, conditional.

Report: Bucks, Derrick Rose set to meet for second time

rose
Getty
4 Comments

We could be getting even closer to the Milwaukee Bucks signing free agent point guard Derrick Rose.

According to report published by ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Milwaukee is looking to meet for a second time with the former NBA MVP.

Despite already having Matthew Dellavedova, 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, and Khris Middleton on the roster, the Bucks appeared to be interested in Rose.

Via ESPN:

The main obstacle on an agreement to relocate to Milwaukee has been compensation.

Milwaukee is approximately $1.6 million over the tax. The Bucks have $7.6 million of the full mid-level exception available but can use only $4.4 million to sign a free agent. Exceeding a salary of $4.4 million would trigger the NBA hard cap and restrict the Bucks from exceeding salaries of $125.2 million. Currently, Milwaukee has a payroll of $120.7 million. In order to make a more lucrative proposition, the Bucks have to shed salary via a trade.

Big man John Henson could be a prime trade candidate.

It seems like the best fit for Rose at this point would be a team where he would be a contributor off the bench to a backcourt. That could certainly be the case in Milwaukee if they keep their current roster lineup, especially with the three players listed above.

The compensation issue listed by ESPN has to draw concern for Bucks fans given that Rose doesn’t seem deserving of a larger contract. What Milwaukee currently has available feels about right.

Meanwhile, I think where Rose ends up will be one of the more interesting storylines of the last half of July. His role and fit on whatever team he signs for could really sway how we view the eventual contract outside of his individual performance.

Report: Bucks optimistic about re-signing Tony Snell quickly

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Bucks were so desperate for a wing with Khris Middleton injured, they traded for Tony Snell.

At least that’s how it seemed last fall.

But Snell has a breakout year, shooting 41% on 3-pointers and playing fine defense. With a dearth of 3-and-D wings, his value is immense.

Yet, it seems Milwaukee will keep the pending restricted free agent.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Barring a massive offer sheet, I’d expect Milwaukee to re-sign Tony Snell for something in the $10-12 million range

With 14 players locked in, the Bucks are about $9 million below the projected luxury-tax line. Even with a starting salary at that amount, annual raises could push Snell’s average salary over $10 million on a multi-year deal.

But such narrow margins leave Snell ripe for a qualifying offer Milwaukee might be wary of matching.

The Bucks could clear more room by trading or stretching John Henson, Mirza Teletovic and/or Spencer Hawes. Perhaps, that won’t be necessary if Snell agrees to terms quickly.