Russell Westbrook isn’t going to Milwaukee.
Charlie Westbrook, though?
Shams Charania of RealGM:
Westbrook went undrafted out of South Dakota in 2012 and has played overseas and in the D-League since.
He’ll give Milwaukee 17 players, but
just 14 15 of them have guaranteed salaries. So, Westbrook will join Jorge Gutierrez and Marcus Landry (both of whose contracts are fully unguaranteed) in competing to supplant a guaranteed player for a regular-season roster spot.
The Bucks already several players capable of playing Westbrook’s position, shooting guard: Khris Middleton, O.J. Mayo, Rashad Vaughn, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jerryd Bayless and even one of Michael Carter-Williams or Greivis Vasquez in bigger lineups. Without a clear need for him, Westbrook will really have to impress to stick past the preseason.
Jabari Parker. Giannis Antetokounmpo. Greg Monroe. Michael Carter-Williams. Khris Middleton. John Henson.
Last season, with four of those six in place (Parker was injured most of the season, Monroe was in Detroit) the Milwaukee Bucks took a big step forward into the playoffs. They did it with great defense and the guidance of Jason Kidd.
Can they take another step this season? They should have an improved front line and offensive punch with Parker healthy and Monroe in the fold as a free agent. However, they Bucks sent veteran voices like Jared Dudley, how much will they be missed?
What matters more to GM John Hammond is continuity — he has a core in place now he thinks he can win with down the line. They just need time to grow and develop together. Look at what he said on The Baseline Podcast, as transcribed by Brew Hoop.
We’re trying to build around some kind of consistency with the nucleus of Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe and John Henson. Those six guys are the young core that we look and say that’s kinda the future of this organization, and that’s not discounting anyone else. Other players have to step and become a part of that group with us. But those guys are the group we hope we can build some kind of continuity with.
While we can debate whether guys like Henson or Carter-Williams are part of the long-term core for them, Hammond is spot on about continuity. But more than just continuity of roster, there has to be continuity of system and style. You can keep the same players, but if you change coaches and systems as often as Sacramento, it’s not going to matter.
Let these guys grow together and see what they can become under Kidd. They are still a few years away from being a threat to Cleveland (if they get there at all, we’ll see where their trajectory takes them) but the Bucks have to be patient and let it all play out.
Then right about the time they move into that new downtown arena, this could be a very dangerous team.
One final look back at the entertaining, defense-free Team USA scrimmage on Thursday that was at the end of mini-camp in Las Vegas…
Michael Carter-Williams does not exactly have a reputation for defensive excellence on a good day, and Victor Oladipo of the Magic completely exposes that during the exhibition game. It makes for a good dunk.
Don’t expect to see either of them in Rio for the 2016 Olympics.
As a reminder, here were the rosters for last night’s Team USA scrimmage:
Blue Team (Monty Williams, coach):
Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, Victor Oladipo, and Elfrid Payton.
White Team (Tom Thibodeau, coach):
Arron Afflalo, Michael Carter-Williams, DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green, Blake Griffin, Terrence Jones, Kawhi Leonard, Mason Plumlee, Klay Thompson, C.J. Watson.
Austin Rivers’ takeaway?
Rivers certainly doesn’t lack confidence – which is his biggest problem as a player. He too often takes bad shots or dribbles into trouble, because he believes he’s good enough to handle it.
This tweet gives little hope he better grasps his limitations.
To be fair, Rivers has improved each of his three NBA seasons. How dreadful he was as a rookie certainly plays a part, but Rivers has made nice progress. Most Improved Player is a good goal for him.
The rest is nonsense.
Maybe – maybe – Rivers is better than Watson, a non-Team USA minicamper invited to fill out the roster. But a lot of those dudes? It’s just insulting to them, which Rivers seemed to realize before he went further:
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Derrick Rose wouldn’t play for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics, because Rose missed this week’s minicamp mandatory for Olympic consideration.
Don’t hold Colangelo to that, though.
Colangelo, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“I always said you never shut the door entirely on anyone. I mean, why? To prove what? Was I disappointed Derrick [Rose] wasn’t here? Sure. Because, we want the best for him. We want the best for him. We want him to get back to the level that he once was. So let’s just see how things go in the future.”
This is the logical approach.
Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Mike Conley and Michael Carter-Williams deserve credit for attending the minicamp. That should give them an advantage over Rose.
Even without that advantage, it’s difficult to see Rose being more deserving than three of that group. With the advantage, it’s nearly impossible.
But it’s not completely impossible. If Rose reverts to his MVP form – Westbrook indicates it’s possible – and other point guards don’t play for whatever reason, Rose might deserve to represent the Americans in Rio.
I’m hardly counting on that, but Rose is still in the running. He’s just starting behind the blocks.