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Here are players Heat, Rockets and Bucks reportedly offering for Jimmy Butler

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The Timberwolves have reportedly offered Jimmy Butler to the 76ers for Ben Simmons and Bucks for Khris Middleton, getting rejected both times.

But what kind of offers is Minnesota getting for the disgruntled star? The Rockets and Heat (with evident limitations) are interested, and apparently the Timberwolves’ request didn’t scare off Milwaukee like it did Philadelphia.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN:

My understanding is from talking to numerous league officials, league sources, front-office folks, a coach – actually, a couple coaching sources – that the Wolves have all the parameters of the deals that they can make. So, it’s on the Wolves at some point here to say yes.

Now, do they wait a little bit longer just to see if some team adds a player in – like Miami? Miami is not willing to move Josh Richardson, but in the end, do they offer Josh Richardson?

But, so far, as of October 2nd, no sense whatsoever that Miami is making Josh Richardson available. Same goes for Bam Adebayo. Is Goran Dragic available? Yeah. The Wolves could acquire Goran Dragic. Is Hassan Whiteside available? Yeah, the Wolves could acquire Hassan Whiteside.

From Houston, you can get Eric Gordon. You can get P.J. Tucker. The Rockets want Jimmy Butler.

The Bucks are willing to move Brogdon, Bledsoe. The Bucks still have interest in Jimmy Butler. They’re not willing to move Middleton.

The Clippers are also still very, very interested in Jimmy Butler.

Now, league folks still say keep an eye on Miami, that Miami wants him the most. He wants to be in Miami – not that the Wolves care about that, but hey, if he wants to be in Miami, and Miami wants him, that eventually you can find some sort of happy medium, find a way to complete a trade.

It’s unclear whether each team mentioned is offering both the named players in proposals or only one per proposal.

Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon for Butler would work salary-cap-wise. But there would be diminishing returns for the Bucks dealing their best two point guards, leaving the position to Matthew Dellavedova, and Minnesota adding two point guards to a roster that already has Jeff Teague, Tyus Jones and Derrick Rose. This also just isn’t enough value for the Timberwolves.

Gordon and Tucker for Butler would also work cap-wise. That trade could be the most sensible, especially if Tom Thibodeau prioritizes the present.

Dragic and Whiteside for Butler would not work cap-wise, though Butler could be traded straight up for either Miami player. But neither Whiteside nor Dragic is nearly as valuable as Butler.

However, it’s difficult to evaluate these offers without knowing the exact parameters. Are other players involved? Picks? This information is interesting, but limited.

Mostly, though, it points to the Timberwolves not receiving enough value for Butler in an offer yet.

Mike Budenholzer bolsters Bucks

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The Bucks had a superstar. They had another borderline All-Star. They had a solid supporting cast.

And now they have a workable vision.

Milwaukee made the biggest coaching upgrade of the year, going from Jason Kidd/interim Joe Prunty to Mike Budenholzer. Add a couple complementary signings, and the Bucks are coming together.

The Celtics, Raptors and 76ers are in the Eastern Conference’ post-LeBron James first class. Milwaukee fits into the next tier with the Pacers, but an ascension to the top tier appears more likely than a drop lower.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is elite. Khris Middleton is underrated. The rest of the rotation is solid throughout.

The goal must be ending a 17-year playoff-series-victory drought, the NBA’s longest going.

Budenholzer should help. The Bucks got him with the Raptors in hot pursuit, a coup for small-market Milwaukee. (An aside: Would Budenholzer have picked Toronto if he knew Kawhi Leonard would be there?) Budenholzer is not the NBA’s best coach, but he needn’t be.

Whatever innovation Kidd’s switching defense brought, opponents had mostly solved it. His offensive philosophy was dated. And he’d worn out relationships with his players.

Budenholzer had a strong record of player development with the Hawks. His defenses have been sound. And his offense is modern.

To that end, the Bucks signed stretch bigs Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez.

Ilyasova was surprisingly expensive. Milwaukee guaranteed him $7 million each of the next two seasons, and he has an early guarantee date (two days after the 2020 draft) for his $7 million salary the following year. But he just knows how to play. Ilyasova is a good shooter and heady defender who takes advantage of his keen understanding of positioning with a willingness to take charges.

Lopez was a bargain on a one-year, $3,382,000 contract. He might start at center. At minimum, he’s more dependable than Thon Maker. Lopez has quickly become one of the NBA’s better 3-point-shooting centers, and he’s a solid interior defender.

Budenholzer knows how to effectively spread the floor using bigs like Ilyasova and Lopez. And Milwaukee already had good backcourt shooters in Tony Snell and Malcolm Brogdon. It’s downright scary how much space Antetokounmpo will have, whether it’s attacking one-on-one or in pick-and-rolls with Eric Bledsoe.

Landing Ilyasova and Lopez came at a cost, though. The Bucks let Jabari Parker walk, a historically quick exit for the former No. 2 pick.

The failure to get nothing for him can’t be pinned solely on this offseason. Matching the Bulls’ $20 million salary for him wouldn’t have necessarily been wise. Considering Milwaukee’s obvious unwillingness to pay the luxury tax, it was untenable.

But how did the Bucks not see this coming? Why didn’t they move Parker before the trade deadline? And why did they allow him to become an unrestricted free agent in the latter stages of his free agency?

Parker’s two-year deal with Chicago wouldn’t have been possible as an offer sheet, which is required for restricted free agents. The contract contains a team option, and offer sheets must be for at least two years not counting options. If Milwaukee kept Parker restricted – even without an intention to match – the Bulls would have been forced to sign him to a different contract, one not as favorable to them or Parker. Chicago probably would have just made the second year unguaranteed – a small, but noteworthy, difference. But the Bulls never had to make that choice, because the Bucks let Parker become unrestricted.

Chicago isn’t close to challenging the Bucks. But Antetokounmpo is just 23. The Bulls could definitely become competitive during Antetokounmpo’s prime, and Milwaukee – out of kindness to Parker or fealty to his agent, Mark Bartelstein – made it easier for them to build.

The Bucks also drafted Donte DiVincenzo with the No. 17 and signed Pat Connaughton for slightly more than the minimum. I don’t expect either to contribute much this year.

Antetokounmpo gives Milwaukee a wide-open window. Middleton and Bledsoe are headed toward unrestricted free agency next summer, and the 2019 offseason will go a long way in shaping this team long-term.

But the Bucks have a serious chance this year to have their best season in a long time, and that matters.

They were always due to take a step forward next season. Their moves this summer just push them along a little more.

Offseason grade: B-

Report: Bucks waive Brandon Jennings

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Brandon Jennings apparently thought his $2,222,803 salary was guaranteed.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Actually, it was unguaranteed until July 1. But – for some reason – he agreed to push back his guaranteed date to Aug. 1.

Spears:

That decision backfired for Jennings.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Bucks kept Jennings until now in case they wanted him, but have apparently decided they don’t – at least not enough to guarantee his salary at this point. Eric Bledsoe, Matthew Dellavedova, Malcolm Brogdon and Giannis Antetokounmpo are capable of playing point guard. Milwaukee could also sign another point guard.

Jennings, 28, has struggled in stints with the Knicks, Wizards and Bucks the last couple years. Maybe he gets a minimum deal elsewhere, but many teams have filled their point-guard depth chart by now. Which is why Jennings should have forced Milwaukee to decide on his contract a month ago.

Ersan Ilyasova reportedly agrees to three-year, $21 million deal with Bucks

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Milwaukee needs shooting. They have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe (and Malcolm Brogdon and others) who can drive and dish, but they need to space the floor and have shooting to make new coach Mike Budenholzer’s system to work.

Enter Ersan Ilyasova.

The Turkish stretch four who shot 36 percent from three last season and helped the Philadelphia 76ers down the stretch and in the postseason is headed back to Milwaukee, where he started his career, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Ilyasova will come off the bench and provide a scoring punch for the Bucks, giving them a quality veteran who can fill it up and play a postseason role for them.

The interesting question: What does this mean for Jabari Parker? With a lot of players moving fast to grab money in a tight market, he could be a guy who is forced to take a one-year deal or something far less than he thought — maybe with the Bucks, maybe not, but they can low-ball him a little — because the market is drying up fast.

Giannis Antetokounmpo slashes Celtics, forces Game 7 in Boston

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The Milwaukee Bucks needed a big game from Giannis Antetokounmpo on Thursday night. Boy, did they get it.

After a disappointing in Game 5 in Boston, Antetokounmpo was fearsome in his return to the Bradley Center for Game 6. The Bucks were able to keep their defensive intensity up, and we got the game most of us expected from Antetokounmpo in a return to his home court: complete domination on the biggest stage.

The game started out much the way we’ve seen in this series — sort of kooky. It was another low-scoring affair as the first half closed with Milwaukee leading, 49-38. The Celtics couldn’t get things rolling offensively, and were saved by baskets in the paint in the first quarter. Boston scored just 15 points in the second period, saving themselves with makes from beyond the 3-point line.

The real story of the game came in the second half. Antetokounmpo would not let up from the gas, scoring both as the Bucks center and on the break. Milwaukee’s franchise player matched up against Al Horford all night long, and the battle between the two was intense. Both seemed to want to muscle each other, and for different stretches they both got the better of each other.

Boston battled back, eventually tying the game at 61-61 with 4:21 to go in the third. The Celtics’ charge was led by Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Horford, all three of whom allowed Boston to make up a 14-point deficit. Boston played carefully, allowing their young wings to do the work. Despite not having a fastbreak point until late in the third, they also didn’t have their first turnover of the second half until there was little more than three minutes to go in the same quarter. Antetokounmpo, who couldn’t let Boston’s run continue after the tie, turned on the jets to close the quarter and Milwaukee entered the fourth period with a 9-point lead they would never cede.

The fourth quarter was much of the same, with the matchup between Antetokounmpo, Horford, and Horford’s backup in Aron Baynes. Several times, Antetokounmpo ran full speed after starting with the ball on the opposite free-throw line, going right at either Horford or Baynes. But the Bucks star wasn’t completely selfish. He managed to stave off tunnel vision, at times finding teammates on his spins to the bucket.

A lot of talk was made about Antetokounmpo’s poor performance in Game 5, a career playoff-low of 16 points on just 10 field goal attempts. The Greek Freak made sure that didn’t happen again, finishing the game with 31 points on 13-of-23 shooting, adding 14 rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton were amped up as well. Both finished with 16 points, and as a team the Bucks scored 25 points on the break, with 50 points coming from the painted area, topping Boston in both regards.

For the Celtics, Tatum led the way with 22 points on six-of-14 shooting, adding three rebounds and three assists. Terry Rozier continued his playoff emergence, scoring 18 points while nabbing seven rebounds and dishing out five assists. Boston shot just 27.8 percent from the 3-point line.

Game 7 now heads back to Massachusetts, where we will see if Antetokounmpo can keep his foot to the floor and drive the Bucks past the second-seeded Celtics on Saturday.