Greg Monroe talks about how Bucks landed him as free agent

1 Comment

For the year before Greg Monroe officially became a free agent on July 1, it was assumed by many around the league he would become a Knick. The Lakers were expected to make a pitch, but the smart money was on the Knicks — Monroe’s agent David Falk was Michael Jordan’s agent, a guy with a strong relationship with Phil Jackson.

Then the Milwaukee Bucks surprised everyone and won the chase. Quickly. Monroe announced he would be a Buck and the league did a double take.

How did that happen? Monroe said it had a lot to do with owner Marc Lasry, in a discussion with Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

“That meeting is something I will never forget,” Monroe said. “They made a great presentation to me….”

But none of (the new arena or other parts of the pitch) made the real difference. It was Lasry, the veteran deal-maker and renowned high-stakes poker player, who made the sell with his confidence. Despite never having done a free-agent pitch before, Lasry showed why he’s become one of the Bucks’ strong assets.

Kidd spoke and discussed how he’d use Monroe. General manager John Hammond went over plans and discussed the franchise’s planned moves — the Bucks were closing in on a deal to re-sign Khris Middleton to a new contract that night. But it was Lasry who made the biggest push….

“He was very down to earth, but also passionate, and he connected with Greg,” Falk said. “We didn’t need parades or balloons; this was a business decision. Marc treated it that way. What they had already put in place was strong, and he sold that.”

It was a harsh lesson to the big market teams of the league — if the money is the same (Monroe had multiple max offers), what matters to younger players is the fit and if the team can win. Monroe can own a home and live in New York or Los Angeles in the off-season, but in Milwaukee he saw a chance for success on the court.

The Bucks pitch focused on that fit, on stability (something Monroe never felt in Detroit), and on how he can be a cornerstone part of a team on a trajectory to be a real threat in the East in a few years. That — and again, max money — made a fit.

If everything goes according to the Bucks’ plan, they should have little trouble keeping him after he opts out in three years.

 

Knicks’ Obi Toppin out at least 2-3 weeks with knee fracture

0 Comments

Obi Toppin is a fan favorite and Knicks faithful were hoping to see more of him as the season progresses.

However, they are not going to see any of him for at least the next 2-3 weeks due to a fractured knee, the team announced.

Toppin suffered the injury in New York’s win Wednesday over Atlanta, the same game that saw Dejounte Murray sprain his ankle leading him to be out for a few weeks.

Toppin — the reigning All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk contest champion — is averaging 7.7 points in 25 games off the bench. With him out, coach Tom Thibodeau suggested he could lean more on RJ Barrett, asking him to play up at the four.

Report: Zach LaVine not available for trade from Bulls

0 Comments

Front offices of potential contenders from Los Angeles to Philadelphia have their eyes on the Chicago Bulls — will the struggling Bulls pivot to chase Victor Wembanyama and the top of the lottery, making them sellers at the trade deadline? Teams have interest in Chicago’s three stars: Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Except just-extended LaVine isn’t currently available, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday on his network’s pregame show discussing the Knicks.

“The Knicks will be watching Chicago. Is Zach LaVine a player who before the deadline possibly can become available? He certainly isn’t now.”

Chicago is not yet ready to pivot to tanking, so none of its stars are truly available. That said, the Bulls don’t look like a playoff team, they miss Lonzo Ball, and even if things do come together where do they stand in the East hierarchy? If the Bulls do become sellers, they aren’t going to tear this team down to the studs, it would likely be trading just one star. Possibly a second if the offer was strong enough.

LaVine — who signed a five-year, $215 million extension this past summer — is the least likely to be available, league sources have told NBC Sports. The expectation is that Vucevic would be the Bull first made available if the Bulls decide to start seriously listening to offers. And that remains an “if.”

That said, front offices around the league have their eyes trained on Chicago.

Dejounte Murray added to growing Hawks injury report, out 2-3 weeks with sprained ankle

0 Comments

John Collins is out for at least another week with a sprained ankle. DeAndre Hunter has been out with a strained hip flexor.

Now you can add Dejounte Murray to the Hawks’ growing injury report, he is out at least 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic report.

The injury happened on a closeout from RJ Barrett of the Knicks.

The Hawks have already had chemistry and fit issues this season, and missing key players for an extended period only exacerbates the problem. Atlanta looked flat getting their doors blown off by the Knicks Wednesday night, 113-89, a game that added to a string where they have lost 5-of-7. Now they will have to find a way to right the ship without their second-best playmaker.

There also is an update on the Hawks’ play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun.

NBA, WNBA players react to news Brittney Griner coming home

0 Comments

Brittney Griner is finally coming home.

The WNBA and USA Basketball star has spent 10 months in Russian prisons — including being convicted and sent to a Russian penal colony — for having vape canisters with small amounts of cannabis oil in her luggage as she went through Russian airport security back in February. She became a political pawn in the tensions between the United States and Russia, mostly surrounding Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, and was freed via a prisoner swap announced Thursday.

The basketball world — WNBA players in particular — had worked to keep her name front and not let Griner be forgotten during this ordeal, pushing President Joe Biden and the government to reach a deal. With the news Griner was freed, NBA and WNBA players took to social media to react.

“Brittney has had to endure an unimaginable situation and we’re thrilled that she is on her way home to her family and friends,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We thank the members of the NBA and WNBA community who never wavered in their efforts to raise awareness of Brittney’s unjust circumstances.”

“We are overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that our sister Brittney Griner is finally coming home,” the NBPA said in a statement. “Her strength and courage throughout this last year have been truly remarkable, as have the efforts of her wife Cherelle, our WNBPA sisters, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, who have been relentless in their call to bring Brittney home. We know this homecoming would not have been possible without their unwavering support and continued work to keep BG always top of mind, and our players are honored to have contributed to those efforts. While this is a celebratory moment for our sisters and us, we must not forget the other political prisoners who remain in dire circumstances all over the world. These individuals must be remembered and fought for every single day as BG was so that they too can have this moment. Welcome home Brittney, we are so happy to have you back! #WeAreBG”