Bucks Rumors

Poll: Will Eastern Favorites Survive Round One?

On Monday night, the Rockets and Jazz took commanding leads in their respective first-round series, joining the Warriors among the Western teams holding a 3-1 edge. In the fourth Western Conference series, the Pelicans have already advanced, so barring an unlikely comeback by the Timberwolves, Thunder, or Spurs, it looks like we may not get much more drama out west in round one.

The same can’t be said for the Eastern Conference though. Heading into Tuesday night, three of four series are tied at two games apiece, and the Sixers/Heat matchup – where Philadelphia holds a 3-1 lead – has also been entertaining and competitive.

While the Raptors, Cavaliers, and Celtics are still the favorites to advance to the second round, there are areas of concern for all three clubs heading into Game 5. The Raps fell back on same old playoff habits in Game 4 when they failed to move the ball as effectively as they have for much of the season; the Cavs’ supporting cast around LeBron James has been inconsistent; and the C’s have just been hit hard by injuries, though Marcus Smart‘s return appears imminent.

Meanwhile, the opponents in those three series are flawed, but dangerous. The Wizards are led by a pair of All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal, and that backcourt can be hard to stop when it gets going; the Bucks have one of the NBA’s best players in Giannis Antetokounmpo; and the Pacers are a deep and well-coached squad headed by a potential All-NBA guard in Victor Oladipo.

We’ve essentially got a trio of best-of-three series on our hands in the East, and while it’s still possible that we won’t get any upsets, the underdogs have proven that they’ll make things difficult for the conference’s top seeds.

What do you think? Will the Raptors, Celtics, and Cavaliers all survive their first-round scares or will one or more of those teams get bounced in the first round? Vote below in our poll, then jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!

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Latest On DeMarcus Cousins

With the Pelicans thriving so far in the postseason without DeMarcus Cousins, ESPN’s Zach Lowe is the latest to look ahead to the big man’s upcoming free agency, exploring just how hard New Orleans will push to re-sign him. While there was once a consensus around the NBA that the small-market Pelicans, not wanting to let Cousins get away, would put a max deal on the table even after his Achilles injury, that’s far less certain now, Lowe writes.

Here are a few updates and notes from Lowe on what could be one of this offseason’s most interesting free agencies:

  • The Pelicans have internally discussed the possibility of offering Cousins a two- or three-year contract worth less than the max, sources tell Lowe. The ESPN.com scribe doesn’t think that sort of offer would go over well with Cousins’ camp, but notes that New Orleans has a good amount of leverage, given the veteran center’s health — not to mention the lack of teams around the NBA with sizable cap room.
  • Sources tell Lowe that most of the teams with max-level cap space aren’t expected to pursue Cousins. Some clubs are worried about his “baggage,” and he wouldn’t make much sense for a rebuilding team, since it will likely take him a full season to recover from his Achilles tear.
  • Lowe identifies the Lakers and Mavericks as two wild cards for Cousins. However, he notes that the Lakers could use their cap room to land other stars or roll it over to 2019. As for the Mavs, if they go hard after a restricted free agent like Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon, they probably wouldn’t be in the mix for Cousins.
  • The Wizards, Trail Blazers, Clippers, Raptors, Bucks, and Heat are a few of the teams Lowe mentions as possible landing spots if the Pelicans want to sign-and-trade Cousins, but he acknowledges that none would be a perfect match — and some are extreme long shots.
  • With a four- or five-year max offer for Cousins seemingly unlikely, Lowe speculates that a third year could be the “inflection point” in the bidding for the All-Star big man. If one team is willing to do a fully or partially guaranteed third year, while another club wants to do a deal more like Paul Millsap‘s with the Nuggets (where the third year is a team option), that could be the difference, Lowe writes.

Bucks Notes: Antetokounmpo, Henson, Rodgers, Ilyasova

The Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo are both envisioning a long-term relationship, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Antetokounmpo will be 26 when his current contract expires after the 2020/21 season, and he hopes to sign another long-term deal in Milwaukee.

“Definitely. That’s one of my goals,” Antetokounmpo said about spending his career with one franchise.Kobe [Bryant] did it. Tim Duncan did it. Dirk Nowitzki did it. I just want to be one of those guys … that stays for the city, play for the city for 20 years.”

That view is shared by the Bucks, who want to hold onto their MVP candidate for as long they can. Antetokounmpo is coming off his best NBA season, averaging 26.9 points and 10.0 rebounds per game and leading the team to its third playoff appearance in the past four seasons. Bucks president Peter Feigin calls him a “unicorn” and says the franchise is doing all it can to maximize Antetokounmpo’s appeal.

“I think all of us feel like extremely lucky and have a big responsibility to do fantastic things for him, for the team, for the league,” Feigin said. “So we spend a lot of time and just being as innovative as we can and [discussing] how do we really take his likability and just blow it out of the sky.”

There’s more today from Milwaukee:

  • John Henson is sitting out his second straight playoff game with back issues, the Bucks announced this morning (Twitter link). Milwaukee’s starting center averaged 9.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in the first two games of the series with Boston.
  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has become a limited partner in the Bucks’ ownership group, relays Rob Demovsky of ESPN. A longtime NBA fan, Rodgers was introduced to the crowd in his new role during Friday’s Game 3. “I am excited and honored to deepen my connection to the region by joining Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, Jamie Dinan, Mike Fascitelli and the ownership group of the Milwaukee Bucks,” Rodgers said. “As a huge fan of the NBA and the sport of basketball, this is a dream come true for me, and I look forward to furthering my affinity for Wisconsin sports as a minority owner in a team I love and support.”
  • Sixers forward Ersan Ilyasova gave serious consideration to the Bucks after his buyout from Atlanta, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Ilyasova broke into the NBA with Milwaukee and his family still lives there, but he was more excited about the opportunity in Philadelphia.

Bucks Eager To Pair New Arena With Playoff Success

  • The Bucks haven’t made it out of the first round in 17 seasons. Down in their 2018 first-round tilt with Boston, they have plenty of work to do, but Genaro C. Armas of The Associate Press writes it would do wonders for business as the franchise prepares to move into a new arena.

Brandon Jennings Talks Return To Milwaukee

Jabari Parker has played a total of 24 minutes in two postseason games as the Bucks return to Milwaukee trailing the Celtics 2-0 in their first-round series. Parker has struggled to produce, and attributed his lack of playing time to not being on Bucks interim head coach Joe Prunty’s good side, tweets Stephen Watson of WISN 12 News.

  • Brandon Jennings did not play in the NBA for most of last season before he joined the Bucks‘ G League affiliate and eventually returned to Milwaukee last season. As Jennings tells David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insiders, he’s glad to be back. “It’s good, it feels good just being back in the NBA in general,” Jennings said. “A lot has changed since I left, but for the good. I’m just excited.”

Jabari Parker Eager To Bounce Back In Game 2

  • The Bucks almost pulled out a victory against Boston in Game 1, but forward Jabari Parker wasn’t much of a factor in his first career playoff game, going 1-for-5 with two points in just 15 minutes of action. Per Nick Friedell of ESPN, Milwaukee is confident Parker will bounce back in Game 2.

2018 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker

After a period of virtually unprecedented stability in the NBA’s head coaching ranks, the coaching carousel started spinning again during the 2017/18 league year. Three teams made in-season coaching changes, installing interim replacements, and three more clubs have dismissed their head coaches since the regular season ended.

In the space below, we’ll provide daily updates on the head coaching searches for each club that has yet to give anyone the permanent title. Some of these searches could extend well into the spring, so be sure to check back each day for the latest updates.

Updated 4-25-18 (1:46pm CT)

Charlotte Hornets

  • Out: Steve Clifford (story)
  • To interview: Jerry Stackhouse (story), Ettore Messina (story), David Fizdale (story), Ime Udoka (story)
  • The Hornets also made a change in their front office, hiring Mitch Kupchak as their new president of basketball operations and general manager. Kupchak will lead the search for a new head coach, with fellow UNC alum Stackhouse among the first of the candidates who will interview for the job.

Memphis Grizzlies

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Out: Jason Kidd (in-season change)
  • Interim coach: Joe Prunty
  • As long as the Bucks remain alive in the playoffs, the team won’t actively move forward with its coaching search. If Prunty can get the club through the first round, he’d become a stronger candidate for the permanent job.

New York Knicks

  • Out: Jeff Hornacek (story)
  • Interviewed: Jerry Stackhouse (story), Mark Jackson (story), Mike Woodson (story), Kenny Smith (story), David Fizdale (story), Mike Budenholzer (story), David Blatt (story; additional details), James Borrego (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: Doc Rivers (story), Craig Robinson (story)
  • Not in running: Jeff Van Gundy (story), Jay Wright (story)
  • The Knicks are casting a wide net as they search for a new head coach, meeting with current and former head coaches, assistants, and even Smith, who has no previous coaching experience. Jackson, Fizdale, Blatt, and Stackhouse were initially considered part of the team’s “top tier” of candidates, though it’s possible another prospective hire emerges with a strong interview. Budenholzer, who reportedly wants to coach the Knicks, could be that emerging candidate.

Orlando Magic

  • Out: Frank Vogel (story)
  • To interview: Jerry Stackhouse (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: Nick Nurse (story)
  • The Magic plan to take their time with their search, so there haven’t been a ton of rumors about their targets so far. They’ve been linked to a couple coaches in the Raptors organization, given president Jeff Weltman‘s connection to Toronto.

Phoenix Suns

Community Shootaround: Possible First-Round Upsets

Game 1 is in the books for all eight of the NBA’s first-round playoff matchups, and several of those games set up potentially fascinating series. Six of the eight higher seeds held their home-court advantage in the first game, but some of those favorites looked a little shaky in their victories, leading to plenty of speculation about first-round upsets.

We’ll start with the weekend’s biggest upset, which took place in Cleveland, where the Pacers dismantled LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Game 1. It won’t be a surprise if the Cavs eventually pull out this series, but their 98-80 loss on Sunday was something we haven’t seen since James returned to Cleveland in 2014. In their last three first-round series, the Cavs have swept the Celtics, Pistons, and – one year ago – the Pacers.

Of course, these Pacers are a much different team than the squad swept out of the postseason a year ago. Victor Oladipo looked like the best player on the floor on Sunday, and players like Myles Turner, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Lance Stephenson looked great in supporting roles. This Pacers team was overlooked and underappreciated all season, and appear poised to give the Cavs all they can handle in round one.

The other Game 1 upset occurred in Portland, where the Pelicans edged out a two-point win over the Trail Blazers. Anthony Davis (35 points, 14 rebounds) was the best player on the court in that game, but Jrue Holiday‘s impact shouldn’t be understated. Besides posting 21 points and seven assists, Holiday also locked up Damian Lillard on the other end of the court — Lillard made just six of 23 shots.

The Pelicans don’t have a whole lot of standout talent behind Davis and Holiday, but Nikola Mirotic (16 points, 11 rebounds) stepped up as a reliable third option on Saturday. If he – or another Pelican – can continue to support Davis and Holiday throughout the series, New Orleans should have a chance.

Elsewhere, the Raptors, Rockets, and Thunder had to battle to the end to hold off the Wizards, Timberwolves, and Jazz, respectively, but came away with Game 1 victories. The Bucks pushed the Celtics to overtime before losing Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo to foul problems and ultimately losing the game. None of those four favorites is a mortal lock to advance, though Houston is probably close.

The Warriors and Sixers took care of business with comfortable wins over the Spurs and Heat, respectively.

What do you think? Will we see an upset – or multiple upsets – in the first round of the postseason? Which lower-seeded teams do you think look like the best bets to advance to round two?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Jabari Parker "Wishes" Bucks Offered Alleged $54MM Deal

2018 NBA Draft Order Tiebreaker Results

After a series of tiebreakers were conducted Friday night, the lottery odds for the NBA Draft have been finalized. Similarly, the draft order for teams outside of the lottery has been decided as well.

While a total of four two-way ties and one four-way tie were all broken by coin toss, the biggest winner of the night would have to be the Mavs who will now officially boast the third-greatest odds when the lottery is drawn on May 15.

Although the Hawks equaled Dallas in futility, both teams limited to 24 wins on the year, they’ll slot in one spot behind them at No. 4. That means, if neither team secures a top-three pick when the lottery results are revealed, they’ll just pick after them, the same as if they had won one more game. Both teams, however, will have nearly identical odds (13.7% versus 13.8%) of securing a top-three pick in the lottery.

The Bulls also won big today, edging out the Kings for the No. 6 spot. Sacramento will have an identical shot at landing at top-three pick, however.

The four-way tie between Utah, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Indiana ended with the Thunder at No. 20, the Jazz at No. 21, the Pelicans at No. 22 and the Pacers at No. 23.

That Oklahoma City pick will head to Minnesota while the 22nd pick will go straight to the Bulls as part of the Nikola Mirotic deal.

The Heat won the tiebreaker for the the 16th pick, ahead of the Bucks, and will send that to Phoenix as part of the Goran Dragic trade back in 2015.

Milwaukee claiming the No. 17 pick is particularly interesting since, had they won the tiebreaker, they would have had to flip the pick to the Suns as part of the Greg Monroe trade. Since they didn’t, they’ll keep the pick and send a protected first-rounder in 2019, so long as it falls between 4-16.

The Spurs won the coin toss between themselves and the Timberwolves and will now pick at No. 18. Minnesota’s 19th pick will go to Atlanta as part of a 2015 Adreian Payne trade.

As is always the case, the loser of any tiebreaker will end up with the better pick in the second round. In the event of the four-way tie, all four teams will simply be flipped, giving the Pacers the 50th pick and so on.

Here’s a rundown of what the draft order currently looks like, prior to the results of the May lottery.

Pick Team
1 Suns
2 Grizzlies
3 Mavs
4 Hawks
5 Magic
6 Bulls
7 Kings
8 Cavaliers
9 Knicks
10 76ers
11 Hornets
12 Clippers
13 Clippers
14 Nuggets
15 Wizards
16 Suns
17 Bucks
18 Spurs
19 Hawks
20 Wolves
21 Jazz
22 Bulls
23 Pacers
24 Trail Blazers
25 Lakers
26 76ers
27 Celtics
28 Warriors
29 Nets
30 Hawks