Bucks Rumors

Giannis' Super Max Numbers Likely To Shrink

The changing landscape of the NBA, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has made Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s future decisions regarding free agency a little more complicated, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks breaks down in great detail. The super-max contract the Bucks will offer this offseason, now scheduled for October, will drop in value due to shrinking revenue that will reduce the projected salary cap for the 2021/22 season.

The original projection was a $125MM salary cap for that season, the first year of Antetokounmpo’s super max extension should he choose to sign it. Antekounmpo’s super max would likely turn Milwaukee into a taxpayer team. However, the NBA revenue drop could aid the Bucks’ cause, since Giannis’ potential suitors would see their salary cap space shrink.

  • The Pistons have hired David Mincberg, the Bucks’ former director of basketball strategy, and his role as an assistant GM could be broad, as Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press explains. Mincberg’s responsibilities could have a jack-of-all-trades feel to it, since he brings experience in scouting, analytics, salary-cap management and legal counsel.

Community Shootaround: Eastern Conference Seeding

Although the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference will still be up for grabs when the NBA’s eight “seeding” games begin on July 30, that race has lost much of its luster as a result of the injuries, COVID-19 cases, and opt-outs that have decimated the Nets‘ and Wizards‘ rosters.

Technically, the Magic (30-35) are the No. 8 seed at the moment, but they’re just a half-game back of Brooklyn (30-34) for the No. 7 spot and seem likely to pass a Nets team that will be without at least seven players, including Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, and DeAndre Jordan.

That would leave the Nets to hang onto the No. 8 seed by holding off the Wizards (24-40), who will be missing Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans, and John Wall, but could force a play-in tournament if they finish within four games of Orlando or Brooklyn. Washington is also currently without Thomas Bryant (coronavirus), Gary Payton II (coronavirus), and Garrison Mathews (personal), though some or all of those players may eventually rejoin the team.

While that race for the seventh and eighth seeds may not be quite as dramatic as the NBA would like, there could still be some interesting jockeying for position further up the standings in the East.

The 53-12 Bucks have a 6.5-game cushion over the 46-18 Raptors, so Milwaukee will likely clinch the top seed even if they’re on cruise control during the seeding games. But Toronto’s lead on the third-seeded Celtics (43-21) is just three games, and Boston’s eight-game schedule looks less daunting than the Raptors’ slate.

Five of the Celtics’ eight games are against the Nets, Wizards, Magic, Grizzlies, and Trail Blazers, all of whom are at or near the bottom of the playoff race. The Raptors, meanwhile, will face Orlando and Memphis, but also have games against the Lakers, Heat, Nuggets, Sixers, and Bucks. The Celtics and Raptors face each other as well, in a game that will have important tiebreaker implications.

That No. 2 seed isn’t as important as it once was, given the lack of home court advantage available, but it could mean facing the Magic instead of the Pacers, which should be a more favorable matchup even with Victor Oladipo sidelined.

Speaking of the Pacers, they’re currently tied at 39-26 with the Sixers, with the No. 5 seed up for grabs. Clinching that fifth seed would likely mean securing a first-round matchup with the fourth-seeded Heat instead of the Celtics or Raptors.

The Heat, meanwhile, are 41-24, putting them two games behind Boston and two games ahead of the Sixers and Pacers. They seem like a relatively safe bet to hold their position in the No. 4 vs. 5 matchup, but a hot or cold streak in Orlando could affect their spot in the standings, especially with games vs. Boston, Toronto, and Indiana (twice) on tap.

What do you think? What do you expect the top eight spots in the Eastern Conference to look like by the time the playoffs begin? Will they look relatively similar to the current standings, or will there be some shuffling that results in some unexpected first-round matchups?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

Pistons Hire Bucks Exec David Mincberg As Assistant GM

JULY 9: The Pistons have officially hired Mincberg as an assistant general manager, announcing the move today in a press release.

JULY 7: The Pistons are hiring Bucks executive David Mincberg to fill an assistant general manager role in their front office, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Mincberg, who previously worked in the Grizzlies’ legal and scouting departments, has been in the Bucks’ front office for the last three years under GM Jon Horst. As Wojnarowski notes, Mincberg most recently served as Milwaukee’s vice president of basketball strategy.

It’s the first front office addition the Pistons have made since hiring new general manager Troy Weaver, who presumably played a role in the pursuit and hiring of Mincberg. Detroit has lost two assistant GMs this year, with Malik Rose leaving the team for a job in the NBA’s league office and Pat Garrity departing the organization as well.

Given both of those losses, Mincberg won’t be the last executive hired by the Pistons to fill out Weaver’s new-look basketball operations department. Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link) hears that the club will likely make “at least” two more hires.

Horst Not Worried About Giannis Tampering At Disney

  • Asked today if he has any concerns about teams tampering with Giannis Antetokounmpo at the NBA’s campus in Orlando, Bucks GM Jon Horst replied, “Zero,” tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Horst went on to joke that such tampering would “technically violate the social distancing rules” of the campus.

Bucks Close Practice Facility Following Rounds Of COVID-19 Testing

The Bucks have shut down the team’s practice facility following results from COVID-19 testing on Friday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Milwaukee isn’t expected to re-open its facility for workouts before the team travels to Orlando on Thursday for the NBA’s resumption, Wojnarowski adds.

Along with the Bucks, the Clippers, Heat and Nuggets have all been forced to close their facilities within the past week due to positive coronavirus tests. The Suns and Nets also had to shut their facilities down in June.

The Bucks currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings at 53-12, winning six of their last 10 games before the season was indefinitely suspended on March 11. They hold an impressive 28-3 record at home, going 34-5 against teams in the East this season.

Milwaukee is slated to play its first game on July 31 against Boston. To this point, only individual workouts have commenced at team practice facilities — group workouts won’t be allowed until the 22 teams enter the NBA’s campus in Orlando.

Detailing Remote Bucks Practices

  • During the NBA’s season pause, the team with the best record employed creative outside-the-box thinking to stay active, per Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Nickel details the 53-12 Bucks‘ intriguing practices. “It’s been weird,” All-Star Khris Middleton told reporters in a conference call today. “Usually we’re all encouraging each other, talking to each other, joking around with one another, playing music.”

Restart Notes: Older Coaches, Roberts, Power Rankings, Disney Employees

The league won’t prevent older coaches and staff members from working at the Orlando campus, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. “We’ve been assured by the league that no one will be red-flagged by the league from going to Orlando based on age alone,” according to Mavericks coach and NBA Coaches Association president Rick Carlisle. All coaches and staffers will go through a medical screening process, MacMahon adds.

We have more news related to the NBA’s restart:

  • National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts is unconcerned about losing some fans due to the players’ desire to make social justice messages during the resumption of play, she told The Athletic’s Michael Lee. Among other things, the league will paint “Black Lives Matter” on the Orlando courts. “Anybody that says, ‘I’m done with the NBA,’ see ya,” she said. “I can’t even abide someone that says that because we are saying killing Black people is something we need to talk about. If they don’t want to hear that, I don’t really think they have a place in our game.”
  • After perusing each team’s eight “seeding” games prior to the playoffs, The Athletic’s Zach Harper places the Bucks and Lakers in the top two spots in his latest Power Rankings. Harper previously had the Lakers on top. The Clippers and Raptors remained in the third and fourth spots, respectively, with the Heat moving up two notches to No. 5.
  • While NBA teams will be subject to rigorous testing, Disney World employees won’t have similar restrictions, Rich Greenfield of LightShed tweets. There will be no COVID-19 testing of employees at Disney parks before they return to work next week. Instead, they will only be administered temperature checks.

Pelicans-Jazz Begins NBA Restart On July 30

The Pelicans and rookie star Zion Williamson will face the Jazz on July 30 at 6:30 p.m. ET in the first game of the NBA’s restart, the league announced on Friday.

There will be 88 “seeding” games from July 30 to August 14 prior to the postseason.

The Clippers will square off against the Lakers in the second game on July 30 at 9 p.m. ET. The first two games will be broadcast by TNT.

It will get very busy the next day with six games scheduled, highlighted by Celtics vs. Bucks and Rockets vs. Mavericks. There will be a maximum of seven games per day, with start times ranging from 12-9 p.m.

At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the highest combined winning percentages across regular-season games and seeding games will be the first through seventh seeds for the conference playoffs.  If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage (regular-season games and seeding games) in a conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference, then the team with the eighth-best winning percentage would be the No. 8 seed.

If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage in a conference is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference, then those two teams would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the No. 8 playoff seed in the conference.  The play-in tournament will be double elimination for the eighth-place team and single elimination for the ninth-place team.

Much of the intrigue regarding the seeding games concerns the final Western Conference spot. The Grizzlies, currently eighth, hold a 3 1/2-game lead over the Trail Blazers, Pelicans and Kings, a four-game lead over the Spurs and a six-game advantage on the Suns.

Memphis will face the Blazers, Spurs, Pelicans, Jazz, Thunder, Raptors, Celtics and Bucks during the seeding round. Among the Grizzlies’ pursuers, the Pelicans appear to have the weakest schedule. After opening against the Jazz, they’ll face the Clippers, Grizzlies, Kings (twice), Wizards, Spurs and Magic.

The Nets and Magic need only to hold off the Wizards in the East to claim the final two spots in their conference. Washington trails Brooklyn by six games and Orlando by 5 1/2 games.

The breakdown of each team’s seeding schedule can be found here. The day-by-day schedule and national TV schedule can be found here.

Batum, DeRozan Among Players With Earlier Option Decision Deadlines

Most veterans who have player options in their contracts for the 2020/21 season will have an October 17 deadline to either exercise or decline that option. That Saturday represents the second-last day of the 2019/20 league year under the NBA’s new calendar, meaning it would coincide in a normal year with June 29, the usual player option decision deadline.

However, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, some of the players who have to make option decisions for 2020/21 have slightly earlier deadlines. For instance, if the Spurs don’t make the postseason, DeMar DeRozan will be required to make his decision within seven days of the team’s last game, per Marks.

The full list of player options for ’20/21 can be found on our free agents page, but here are the options which must be exercised or declined before October 17, according to Marks:

The rest of this season’s player option decisions must be made by October 17, a deadline that applies to nearly every team option for 2020/21 as well. The only team options with earlier decision dates are minimum-salary ones for Deonte Burton (Thunder) and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Pistons), which are due by October 15, per Marks.

Budenholzer: Giannis "Completely And Totally Healthy"

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo was dealing with a minor knee injury when the NBA went on hiatus in March, but he’ll be ready to go when the season resumes next month, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer tells Jackie MacMullan of ESPN. “It’s a huge advantage for us that Giannis will be completely and totally healthy,” Budenholzer said. “He’s in a great place, both mentally and physically.”