Bucks Rumors

Poll: Who Will Win 2020 Slam Dunk Contest?

Bulls guard Zach LaVine, a two-time Slam Dunk Contest winner, flirted with the idea of taking part in this year’s event in his home arena. However, after suggesting that he’d only participate if he was named to the All-Star team, LaVine has stuck to that stance. That means fans in Chicago this weekend won’t get the opportunity to see a rematch of the 2016 final, which pitted LaVine against Aaron Gordon in perhaps the most memorable Dunk Contest of the decade.

Gordon will participate though, and he’ll be one of the most experienced dunkers on the court this Saturday night. Besides finishing as the runner-up to LaVine in 2016, Gordon also took part in 2017’s contest. Having fallen short twice before, the Magic forward is confident the third time will be the charm, telling Josh Robbins of The Athletic, “I’m gonna win.”

However, it’s Dwight Howard – not Gordon – who has the most Dunk Contest experience of any of this year’s participants. This will be Howard’s fourth time taking part in the event, and he even has a win under his belt.

That win came in 2008 though, and the Lakers center hasn’t participated in a Dunk Contest since 2009, more than a decade ago. A win this year for the 34-year-old Howard would be unprecedented in an event that’s typically a young man’s game. Dominique Wilkins, who had just turned 30 when he won 1990’s contest, is the oldest all-time winner. The second-oldest? Nate Robinson, who was 26 when he beat Howard in 2009.

If you believe that youth will win out in 2020, you’ll have to consider Bucks wing Pat Connaughton an underdog as well. The 27-year-old will be participating in his first NBA Dunk Contest, and is flying under the radar as Saturday’s festivities near — something he says is just fine with him.

No one’s worried about me and hopefully Saturday night they’ll be like, ‘Damn, I should have been worried about him,'” Connaughton said this week, per Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The fourth contestant this year will be Heat swingman Derrick Jones Jr., who will also be celebrating his birthday on Saturday, as he turns 23. Jones finished as the runner-up to Glenn Robinson III in 2017’s event and will likely have some new tricks up his sleeve this time around.

What do you think? Will Howard defy the odds and win his second Dunk Contest? Will Gordon or Jones get over the hump after placing second in past competitions? Will the first-time Connaughton make a name for himself with a win on Saturday?

Vote below our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Bucks Point Guard George Hill Will Always Be "Indianapolis Boy" At Heart

Sweet-shooting Bucks backup point guard George Hill may be on one of the best teams in the NBA as he visits the Pacers, but he will always be an “Indianapolis boy” at heart, as the Indianapolis Star’s Dana Hunsinger Benbow details.

An alum of Broad Ripple High and IUPUI, Hill has been a solid NBA mainstay since being drafted in 2008. Hill apparently does not harbor much nostalgia for the Pacers, who traded him in the 2016 offseason to the Jazz. “I hope we beat them (by 20),” Hill said. “The Pacers didn’t want me.” The 46-8 Bucks sure do. Hill is connecting on an astronomical 51.1% of his 6.4 three-point attempts per game this season.

Eastern Notes: Williams, Kyrie, Raptors

Marvin Williams is making his debut for the Bucks on Wednesday night and ESPN’s Eric Woodyard (Twitter link) passes along the team’s initial plan for the veteran’s first appearance.

“We’re going to play him a little bit and see how it goes,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I’m excited about having him be a part of our group and how he can help us.”

Williams agreed to a buyout with Charlotte last week and inked a deal with Milwaukee over the weekend. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Williams gives the Bucks another viable rotation option, making them an even deeper team, Alex Boeder of NBA.com writes. The former No. 2 overall pick’s shooting from outside should be particularly helpful for Milwaukee.
  • Coach Nick Nurse went on ESPN’s PTI today and was asked about one player behind the Raptors‘ success. Kyle Lowry,” the coach said. “I’ve never seen a guy play harder on the court.”
  • Brian Lewis of the New York Post (Twitter link) asked Nets coach Kenny Atkinson if Kyrie Irving will return after the All-Star break and he got an interesting response. “There’s a lot of days and I don’t want to go out and say something that I’d regret later,” Atkinson said. “When we get back, those first couple practices will determine where he is.”

Forbes Releases 2020 NBA Franchise Valuations

The Knicks have had a miserable 12 months, finishing the 2018/19 season with a league-worst 17 wins, missing out on their top free agent targets, and then firing head coach David Fizdale and president of basketball operations Steve Mills during the 2019/20 season.

None of that seems to have had a noticeable impact on the team’s market value though. Once again, the franchise is considered the most valuable of any of the NBA’s 30 clubs, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Lakers and Warriors aren’t far behind, having both surpassed the $4 billion mark for the first time this year.

For the first time, all 30 NBA teams have a perceived worth of $1.3 billion or more, per Forbes’ annual report. Every team’s value increased by at least 6% since Forbes put out their 2019 valuations last February, with a handful of franchises jumping by 20% or more.

The NBA-wide average of $2.12 billion per team in 2020 is also a new record — that league-wide average surpassed the $2 billion mark for the first time. NBA franchise values are up almost sixfold over the last decade, according to Badenhausen.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $4.6 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $4.4 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $4.3 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $3.2 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $3.1 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers: $2.6 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets: $2.5 billion
  8. Houston Rockets: $2.475 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $2.4 billion
  10. Toronto Raptors: $2.1 billion
  11. Philadelphia 76ers: $2 billion
  12. Miami Heat: $1.95 billion
  13. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.85 billion
  14. San Antonio Spurs: $1.8 billion
  15. Sacramento Kings: $1.775 billion
  16. Washington Wizards: $1.75 billion
  17. Phoenix Suns: $1.625 billion
  18. Denver Nuggets: $1.6 billion
  19. Milwaukee Bucks: $1.58 billion
  20. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.575 billion
  21. Utah Jazz: $1.55 billion
  22. Indiana Pacers: $1.525 billion
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $1.52 billion
  24. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.51 billion
  25. Charlotte Hornets: $1.5 billion
  26. Detroit Pistons: $1.45 billion
  27. Orlando Magic: $1.43 billion
  28. Minnesota Timberwolves: $1.375 billion
  29. New Orleans Pelicans: $1.35 billion
  30. Memphis Grizzlies: $1.3 billion

The Raptors are among this year’s big “winners,” with their value rising 25%, from $1.675 billion a year ago to $2.1 billion this year following their first NBA championship. The Clippers also had a noteworthy bump, moving from ninth place on Forbes’ list to sixth after landing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer.

Although every franchise’s value increased, the Nets had the smallest jump, just 6%. The Magic‘s modest 8% increase resulted in the team slipping from 23rd on last year’s list to 27th this year.

It’s worth noting that when a franchise has been sold in recent years, the price often exceeds Forbes’ valuation, so these figures are just estimates.

Bucks Officially Sign Marvin Williams

The Bucks have made it official with Marvin Williams, announcing today in a press release that they’ve signed the veteran forward. Terms of the deal weren’t revealed, but it figures to be a one-year contract worth the prorated veteran’s minimum.

After remaining in Charlotte through the trade deadline, Williams quickly negotiated a buyout with the Hornets, clearing the way for him to join a contending team. Before that buyout with Charlotte was even official, Williams’ camp had lined up a deal with the NBA-leading Bucks, who released little-used big man Dragan Bender in order to create an opening on their 15-man roster.

Williams is unlikely to play major minutes in Milwaukee, but he’ll provide veteran leadership in the locker room and is still capable of playing a three-and-D role off the bench.

The 33-year-old has averaged a career-low 19.7 minutes per game in 41 contests for the Hornets in 2019/20, but has made 37.6% of his three-point attempts, slightly better than his career rate of 36.2%. He also contributed 6.7 PPG and 2.7 RPG in Charlotte this season.

Williams, who is in his 15th NBA season, suggested last month that he may consider retirement at season’s end. Before he seriously weighs that decision, he should get a legit chance to compete for a championship for the first time in his career — he has never made it beyond the second round in any previous postseason.

Williams’ new minimum-salary deal with the Bucks will pay him $956,348 for the final 66 days of the regular season — that’s the exact amount he gave up in his buyout with the Hornets, per Jeff Siegel of the Early Bird Rights (Twitter link). Milwaukee will carry a $604,278 cap hit for Williams.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer noted that Williams will be listed as active for tonight’s game against the Kings but will probably not play, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Matt Velazquez (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucks Waive Dragan Bender

FEBRUARY 10: The Bucks issued a press release confirming they’ve officially waived Bender. They now have the roster spot necessary to finalize the signing of Williams.

FEBRUARY 8: The Bucks will waive big man Dragan Bender, clearing the way to sign forward Marvin Williams once he completes a buyout with the Hornets, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Bender, 22, has appeared in just seven games for Milwaukee this season while bouncing between the G League and the NBA squad. He has seemingly been a candidate to be waived all season since the two-year deal he signed over the summer was initially only partially guaranteed for 2019/20 and non-guaranteed for next season. Because this year’s salary became fully guaranteed last month, Milwaukee will be on the hook for the full $1,678,854 unless he’s claimed on waivers.

The Croatian big man has struggled in the NBA since being drafted fourth overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. After appearing in all 82 games for the Suns during his sophomore campaign, he has struggled to maintain any sort of stable role.

Williams, 33, averaged career-lows in PPG (6.7) and RPG (2.7) while playing a reduced role in Charlotte. He has scored a mere 10 points in his last four games but the veteran remains a capable three-point shooter and perimeter defender. Williams figures to help the Bucks down the stretch as the team pursues the best record in the Eastern Conference.

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

Scotto’s Latest: Gallinari, Nunn, Pacers, Nuggets, More

When the Thunder and Heat discussed a potential Danilo Gallinari trade leading up to last week’s deadline, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Kendrick Nunn, and draft compensation were among the various assets that came up in talks, league sources tell Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report. Miami reportedly wanted to extend Gallinari’s contract as part of a deal, but couldn’t agree to terms with his camp, which is one main reason the trade didn’t happen.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote last week that he believed the Heat could’ve acquired Gallinari without surrendering any of their young players like Nunn. So even though his name came up in discussions, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Thunder would have insisted on his inclusion, depending on what other pieces were involved.

While Gallinari remained with the Thunder for this season, Scotto suggests the Heat and Knicks could be among his potential suitors this summer. Miami clearly has interest, and created some cap flexibility for 2020/21 by moving Johnson and Dion Waiters last week. New York, meanwhile, will have cap space and is hiring veteran CAA agent Leon Rose as its new president of basketball operations. Gallinari is a CAA client.

Here are a few more noteworthy tidbits from Scotto’s look at the post-deadline landscape:

  • The Knicks and Pacers discussed a possible Marcus Morris trade. According to Scotto, a package that featured Aaron Holiday, Doug McDermott, and T.J. Leaf was “briefly kicked around,” but didn’t end up going far.
  • McDermott’s name also came up in discussions about a potential Pacers trade with the Bucks involving Ersan Ilyasova, says Scotto. It’s not known which team initiated those talks.
  • Before the Cavaliers traded for Andre Drummond, they called the Pacers to ask about Myles Turner‘s availability, per Scotto. Indiana has remained firm on keeping Turner, though many executives expect the team to eventually break up its Turner/Domantas Sabonis frontcourt.
  • The Nuggets discussed the possibility of trading Gary Harris, Malik Beasley, and Juan Hernangomez as part of a package for Bulls guard Zach LaVine or Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, sources tell Scotto. New Orleans set a very high asking price for Holiday, while LaVine was said to be “off-limits” for Chicago, so Denver didn’t get far on either front.

Marvin Williams Finalizes Buyout With Hornets; Plans To Join Bucks

FEBRUARY 8: Williams has finalized his buyout agreement with the Hornets, according to a team press release. As noted below, he’s on track to join the Bucks once he clears waivers on Monday. Bender will be the player released by Milwaukee to make room, as we relayed in a separate story.

FEBRUARY 7: Veteran forward Marvin Williams is nearing a buyout agreement with the Hornets, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Williams is planning to sign with the Bucks once he completes the buyout and clears waivers, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Milwaukee has a full roster and would have to waive a player to add Williams. Dragan Bender appears to be the team’s likeliest release candidate.

Williams is making just over $15MM this season in the final year of a four-year, $54.5MM contract. Williams would become a target for several contenders, according to Wojnarowski.

Williams, 33, indicated last month he might retire after the season rather than seek another contract.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’ve certainly thought about being done,” Williams said at the time. “I feel like that’s where I am right now: I could do it or I could not.”

Williams, 33, is averaging a career-low 6.7 PPG and 2.7 RPG due to reduced playing time at 19.7 MPG. He’s a capable 3-point shooter (36.2% for his career) as well as a solid perimeter defender. He had an 18-point game last month against Milwaukee but has scored just 10 points in his last four appearances.

Trade Deadline Notes: Bucks, Raptors, C’s, Heat, Thunder, More

The 2:00pm CT trade deadline has now passed, but word of last-minute deals can sometimes trickle in after the buzzer. That won’t be the case for the Raptors and Bucks though, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who reports (via Twitter) that the Eastern Conference’s top two teams didn’t make a move today.

Here are more deadline updates:

  • It was a fairly quiet deadline for many of the top Eastern teams. The Celtics didn’t make a trade either, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). And the Pacers also stood pat, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
  • The Heat were active earlier in the day, finalizing a trade to acquire Andre Iguodala. However, the team didn’t expand that deal to include Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald confirms (via Twitter). As Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald explains (via Twitter), the Heat’s extension talks with Gallinari were more of a hang-up than the trade talks with the Thunder, given Miami’s desire to keep its cap clear for 2021.
  • The Thunder, having held onto Gallinari, didn’t make any deadline deals, tweets Wojnarowski.
  • The Jazz stood pat today as well, tweets Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. So did the Spurs, says Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).