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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.

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.

Defense found: Bucks overwhelm Celtics for 116-92 win

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Khris Middleton scored 23 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 19 and the Milwaukee Bucks used a dominating first half to overwhelm the Boston Celtics 116-92 on Friday night, narrowing their deficit in the first-round playoff series to 2-1.

Eric Bledsoe and Jabari Parker each added 17 for the energized Bucks, who held the Celtics without a field goal for nearly an 11-minute stretch of the first half.

Milwaukee found its defense after a disheartening 14-point loss in Game 2, getting contributions from up and down the roster.

Backup center Thon Maker scored 14 points and had five of the Bucks’ 12 blocks. Pesky guard Matthew Dellavedova, a veteran of a championship run with the Cleveland Cavaliers, helped hold young Celtics point guard Terry Rozier to nine points on 2-of-7 shooting.

“The activity, if you take the stat sheet out of it, the activity and the energy that we brought … as you go through the game, that’s what you need, is the energy first,” coach Joe Prunty said.

Al Horford scored 16 for the Celtics, who fell behind by 23 at halftime and got no closer than 76-62 with 3:06 left in the third quarter on Jayson Tatum‘s 3-pointer.

The game was so well in hand that the Bucks closed out the victory even with Antetokounmpo on the bench for much of the fourth quarter with five fouls. Middleton had eight points in the fourth.

Game 4 is Sunday in Milwaukee. The Celtics will need to get off to a much better start if they want to avoid going home for Game 5 with a 2-2 series tie.

“We got into a hole. This is new for our group,” Horford said. “They had it going … and we really didn’t have an answer for them tonight.”

Milwaukee hustled for loose balls and stayed active around the paint, used its length to get deflections and disrupt Boston in the lane.

The 7-foot-1 Maker, in particular, provided a huge boost to help Milwaukee counter what had been a decisive edge off the bench for the Celtics. Maker got extended minutes only because starting center John Henson missed the game with a sore back.

Nearly everything else went Milwaukee’s way, too.

Parker, who voiced displeasure this week after playing just 24 minutes over the first two games, was 7 of 12 from the field and played 30 minutes. Bledsoe, outplayed by Rozier in the first two games, shot 8 of 13.

“Good win, lots of positives tonight. Quick turnaround … so we’ll have to do it again on Sunday,” Prunty said.

 

Bucks bring back Brandon Jennings on 10-day contract

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Back in 2009-10, Brandon Jennings was a rookie turning heads in Milwaukee — he dropped 55 on the Warriors in November. The Bucks and their fans thought they had something special.

He never lived up to that promise.

He bounced around to the Pistons, Magic, Knicks, and Wizards before bouncing out of the NBA. He started this season in China, then came back to the D-League, playing for the Wisconsin Herd and averaging 21.4 points and 7.6 assists per game.

Now the Bucks are bringing Jennings back on a 10-day contract, reports Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.

G League Wisconsin Herd point guard Brandon Jennings is returning to his original NBA team, the Milwaukee Bucks, on a 10-day contract, he confirmed to ESPN’s The Undefeated….

“Blessed and grateful for a second chance coming from a franchise where I started,” Jennings told The Undefeated.

Milwaukee can sign him to two 10-day contracts before deciding whether to keep him through the rest of the season (and the playoffs) or let him go.

The Bucks start and lean heavily on Eric Bledsoe at the point, but behind him Malcolm Brogdon has been out with a torn left quadriceps tendon, and Matthew Dellavedova has battled a sprained ankle (and not impressed this season anyway). There is space for Jennings to carve out a role on this team. In his most recent NBA stops Jennings was a volume scorer, if he can be more efficient he can revive his NBA career back where it all started.

Jabari Parker presents Bucks with short- and long-term dilemmas

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DETROIT – Jabari Parker reportedly wanted a max contract extension last offseason. The Bucks reportedly offered him $18 million annually.

Without getting into specific numbers, Parker said he was never close to signing and called the situation out of his hands.

Out of his hands? If Milwaukee made an offer, that put it in his hands, right?

“No, it’s not,” Parker said. “Because they can offer me a dollar, am I supposed to take it?

“So, that’s what it is.”

Parker was still rehabbing from his second left ACL tear while negotiating his extension. Some players in that situation would take the security rather than the chance.

“It’s not my chance,” Parker said.

In an alternate universe, a perfectly healthy Parker is locked into a max contract extension, capitalizing on the promise that made him the No. 2 pick in 2014 and playing Robin to Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Batman on a team drawing consideration for Eastern Conference favorite.

In our reality, Parker has twice torn his left ACL, is headed toward restricted free agency and is trying to find his groove on a second-rate Eastern Conference challenger.

Given how Parker has immersed himself in the work necessary to come back, it’s easy to see how he could lose site of the difference.

“I don’t have to prove myself at all,” Parker said. “People know my résumé.”

The number of times he says he’s taking it “day by day” during a short interview is impressive. He stayed in Milwaukee to train during the All-Star break, a time most players vacation and unwind. He is clearly zeroed in, maybe to the point of delusion.

Parker maintaining that confidence and focus is almost certainly good for him. But it’s not so simple for the Bucks, who face two major questions, the first of which will influence the second:

1. What role will Parker hold in this year’s playoffs?

2. How much is Parker worth long-term?

Parker in the postseason

Parker has looked fine since returning last month. He has played just 20 minutes per game in 13 games, so the sample is small. But he mostly appears comfortable on the court, an important first step.

The Bucks (34-30, tied for seventh in the East) are comfortably in playoff position. Though they’re just 6-7 with Parker, they can afford to ride out his acclimation.

Heck, they might be better off staying seventh or eighth, avoiding LeBron James and the Cavaliers, who will probably finish between third and fifth. Getting into the non-Cleveland, 3-6 or 4-5 first-round series would be ideal – especially if it’s with home-court advantage. But opening with the Raptors or Celtics, who’ve both looked vulnerable in previous playoffs, wouldn’t be so bad.

Whomever Milwaukee faces in the postseason, determining Parker’s role will be key. The Bucks can beat any Eastern Conference team. They can’t waste minutes on Parker if he isn’t ready to contribute.

At least there appear to be clear distinctions of when Parker will and won’t help.

Milwaukee has unsurprisingly excelled with Antetokounmpo, an MVP candidate, on the floor this season. But Parker and Antetokounmpo, both nominal power forwards, didn’t seamlessly mesh before. Now that Antetokounmpo has seized an even bigger share of the offense and Parker – whose main skill is scoring, primarily on the ball – isn’t fully operational, the fit is even more difficult.

With Antetokounmpo and without Parker, the Bucks have played like a 52-win team. With Antetokounmpo and Parker, the Bucks have played like a 33-win team.

But that doesn’t render Parker useless.

Milwaukee has cratered whenever Antetokounmpo sits. Parker can provide a scoring punch in those minutes without worrying about redundancies.

With neither Antetokounmpo nor Parker, the Bucks have played like a 15-win team. Without Antetokounmpo and with Parker, the Bucks have played like a 26-win team.

That’s not great, but it’s a marked improvement. It’s the type of difference that could swing a playoff game or two.

“We need him,” Bucks interim coach Joe Prunty said of Parker.

Of course, such a narrow role wouldn’t leave much playing time for Parker. Antetokounmpo is already averaging an NBA-high 37.3 minutes per game. He played 40.5 minutes per game in last year’s playoffs, up from 35.6 that regular season. How little time will he sit this postseason?

Maybe Parker will have hit his stride by then. He developed a 3-pointer last year that made him far more dangerous off the ball and workable next to Antetokounmpo. Parker’s improved passing, which we haven’t seen much of yet this season, also contributed to his newfound play-with-anyone flexibility.

But the Bucks don’t need to assess the Parker-Antetokounmpo pairing just for the spring. They also must look much further.

Parker in future seasons

Parker’s injuries are scary. I was surprised the Bucks offered him $18 million annually – and not the way he’d be surprised. The list of NBA players to suffer two ACL tears is short and depressing. Josh Howard and Michael Redd washed out quickly after theirs, though Parker – just 23 – is far younger than either was. That’s the main reason we’re even having this discussion rather than writing off Parker as a high-level contributor.

Is Parker at greater risk of getting hurt again? Will his performance suffer? Athleticism is integral to making each facet of his all-around offensive game work together.

Milwaukee’s luxury-tax situation makes this even more complex.

The Bucks already have $104,034,259 committed to 10 players next season. Add Malcolm Brogdon (unguaranteed but sure to be kept) and three minimum-salary players, and Milwaukee would be about just $11 million below the projected tax line.

Parker’s max salary projects to be about $25 million.

The crunch doesn’t get any easier the following year – at least if the Bucks want to keep Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton and Brogdon. Bledsoe (unrestricted) and Brogdon (restricted) will be free agents and Middleton holds a $13 million player option in 2019.

Milwaukee will probably look to dump at least one of its marginal players with significant money left on their contracts – John Henson (two years, $20,309,862), Matthew Dellavedova (two years, $19,215,000) and Mirza Teletovic (one year, $10,500,000).

Getting Teletovic deemed medically unfit to play could go a long way, as that would remove his still-due salary from cap and tax calculations. However, the earliest that could happen is November, and he might not go along willingly. Would the Bucks really risk starting the season above the tax line and banking on a fitness-to-play panel ruling in their favor?

Unloading Henson, Dellavedova and/or Teletovic in a trade would likely require a sweetener. Milwaukee already traded a first-round pick for Bledsoe. It’ll convey to the Suns if it lands 11-16 this year. Otherwise, the Bucks won’t be able to trade a future first-rounder this summer before their 2023 pick.

Could Milwaukee deal Bledsoe or Middleton, who hold positive trade value, instead? Tony Snell might also factor into that discussion, which could stretch to next trade deadline. The luxury tax is assessed on team salary the final day of the regular season.

Again, all this time lost for Parker and Antetokounmpo to build chemistry – and the Bucks to evaluate the pairing – really stings. It’s not the only consideration, though. Milwaukee doesn’t want to squander an asset. On the right deal, Parker could be signed then eventually traded. Players who can create their own shot are still among the most highly coveted league-wide.

How is Parker perceived now?

He’s a versatile scorer, capable of attacking bigger and smaller defenders in a variety of ways. His improved 3-point shooting and passing make him such a better fit in a team offense. He was even showing small strides defensively, his major weakness, before getting hurt. Perhaps most importantly, he works famously hard.

It’s difficult not to wonder where Parker would be if he focused all his time on basketball development rather than knee rehab. Not that Parker is dwelling on it.

“You don’t put yourself in other peoples’ shoes,” Parker said. “Your life and your situation is what you’ve got to live with, because that’s all that’s going to matter at the end of the day when we die.”

Parker isn’t feeling sorry for himself – not about the injuries, not about the lost development time, not about his contract. Whatever the case during extension negotiations, all those things are definitely out of his hands now.

“It’s just a matter of what you do in response,” Parker said.