Bucks Rumors

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/4/19

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:

  • The Bucks assigned power forward Dragan Bender to the Wisconsin Herd, the team’s PR department tweets. The fourth overall pick of the 2016 draft has averaged 21 PPG and 10 RPG in five starts with the Herd.
  • The Knicks assigned rookie forward Ignas Brazdeikis to the Westchester Knicks, the team’s PR department tweets. He’s appeared in six games with the NBA Knicks, averaging 7.0 MPG in those outings.
  • The Cavaliers assigned rookie swingman Dylan Windler to the Canton Charge, the team’s PR department tweets. He has yet to make his NBA debut. The first-rounder is working his way back into basketball shape after recovering from a leg injury.
  • The Pacers recalled Victor Oladipo and Edmond Sumner from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team tweets. They practiced with the Mad Ants as part of their injury rehabs. There is no timetable for their return, the team adds.
  • The Clippers assigned center Mfiondu Kabengele to the Agua Caliente Clippers, the team tweets. The rookie first-rounder out of Florida State has appeared in six NBA games, averaging 3.8 MPG in those outings.
  • The Hawks recalled rookie forward Bruno Fernando and guard Tyrone Wallace from the College Park Skyhawks, the team tweets. Fernando, a second-round pick, is averaging 4.5 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 12.7 MPG while playing 21 games with the NBA team. Wallace has averaged 3.1 PPG in 12.0 MPG in 13 games with Atlanta.
  • The Thunder recalled center Justin Patton from the Oklahoma City Blue, according to a team press release. In eight games with the Blue, Patton is averaging 10.3 PPG and  7.5 RPG in 26.2 MPG.
  • The Hornets recalled Cody Martin from the Greensboro Swarm, according to a team press release. The rookie guard appeared in three games with the Swarm, where he averaged 14.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 5.3 APG in 34.3 MPG.

And-Ones: LaMelo, MVP Votes, Warriors, Fratello

LaMelo Ball doesn’t mind a little campaigning in his effort to be the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, writes Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports. The buzz around Ball continues to grow as he strings together impressive performances in Australia’s National Basketball League. Over the weekend, he became the first NBL player since 2005 to post back-to-back triple doubles.

“Most definitely,” Ball responded when asked whether he thinks he should be the first pick. “I believe in myself and I’ve worked hard to get here. The other guys at the top of the draft, James [Wiseman] and Anthony [Edwards], are very talented too. But just in the way I believe in myself, I think I’m the top pick.”

Several scouts were in New Zealand recently to watch Ball go up against another projected lottery pick in R.J. Hampton. Many came away impressed, with one scout saying, “The fact that he’s putting up numbers like this in a league full of former NBA players is forcing every team to look at him as a potential No. 1 pick.” 

Ball addressed rumors that he might end his season early to protect his health for the draft. He insists he’s “committed to the whole season,” even though his team is off to a 3-9 start.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Roughly a quarter of the way into the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo is in good position to repeat as MVP, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. In a poll of 101 media members, Antetokounmpo received 48 first-place votes and was the only player listed on all the ballots. LeBron James (29 first-place votes), Luka Doncic (14) and James Harden (nine) were next in line.
  • Declining ratings continue to be a concern, and the league has started taking action to address the problem. One solution is fewer national TV games for the Warriors, who have the NBA’s worst record after five years as its marquee team. Golden State’s next two scheduled ESPN games have been replaced, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic, who speculates that more are likely to be removed.
  • Former NBA coach and long-time broadcaster Mike Fratello will be back on the sidelines soon, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Fratello will serve as head coach for USA Basketball in February’s qualifying games for the FIBA AmeriCup.
  • Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the China controversy today, saying a “culture clash” was almost inevitable, tweets Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic. NBA games haven’t returned to China Central Television, the main broadcaster in Mainland China, but they are back on Tencent, which Silver called a “thawing” in tensions (Twitter link).
  • Sources tell Marc J. Spears of The Athletic that March 20 has been set for the debut of the NBA’s Basketball Africa League (Twitter link). The first game will take place in Dakar, Senegal.
  • The NBA will consider allowing corporate investors to hold passive minority stakes in more than one team, tweets Alex M. Silverman of MorningConsult. The measure will be part of the agenda at April’s Board of Governors meeting.

Cavaliers Notes: Henson, Love, Windler, Beilein

John Henson hasn’t gotten discouraged by the Cavaliers‘ 5-15 start because he’s been through rebuilding before on a team that is now among the NBA’s best, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Henson was with the Bucks when they won 15 games with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton on the roster, and he is confident the young talent in Cleveland will eventually make a similar turnaround.

“You got to keep pushing forward,” Henson said. “Stay positive, hold onto the rope and don’t flinch as Coach says. “We are going to keep trekking this path. We’re not where we want to be, but the way the East is setting up, especially with sixth, seventh, eighth-seed, playoff wise, three or four-game win streak can put you right back in the mix. So, we can’t stop fighting and give up. It’s too early.”

Henson was back on the court last night after missing 17 games with a hamstring injury. He has been serving as a role model to his young teammates and reminding them that players often don’t get the opportunity they have in their first and second seasons in the league.

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • The Cavs have been slumping because they’ve stopped using Kevin Love as the focal point of their offense, Fedor observes in a separate story. Love reached double figures in scoring in his first 13 games and posted eight double-doubles, but hasn’t seen the ball nearly as much recently. “We really tried to punch it to Kevin and I think he got doubled up a couple times,” coach John Beilein said Tuesday. “People are trying to make other people beat us. They will double him a lot.”
  • Rookie Dylan Windler is taking significant steps toward making his NBA debut, according to Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Sidelined since the start of training camp by a stress reaction in his left leg, Windler has practiced the past two days and took part in a shootaround. Team doctors are monitoring Windler to see how he responds to each workout. “Today, I was in a coaches’ meeting, I heard the ball bouncing,” Beilein said. “When I heard the ball bouncing, I shot right out there right away because I knew Dylan was in the first group that was shooting just to see how he felt. He had no complications or no future soreness from yesterday’s workout.”
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News examines how Beilein is adjusting to losing in the NBA after years of success as a college coach.

Boeder: Giannis Even Better Than Last Year

  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has been better this year than he was last year when he won the MVP, Alex Boeder of NBA.com contends. Boeder identifies an improved three-point shot and a lower turnover rate as evidence of the Greek Freak’s leap.

NBA’s Waiver Claims Order Changes Today

December 1 is a relatively minor day on the NBA calendar, but it will change the way waiver claims are processed for the rest of the season. Starting today, the waiver claim order will be determined by the current NBA standings, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Up until now, the order had been set by where teams finished last season.

The change is especially significant for the Warriors, who are now first in line after previously being 28th. Devastated by injuries and free agent losses, Golden State is off to a 4-16 start, which is the worst record in the league. However, their ability to make any move is restricted by a hard cap that was imposed with the sign-and-trade that brought D’Angelo Russell to the Bay Area.

Next in line are the Hawks (4-16), Knicks (4-15), Cavaliers (5-14) and Grizzlies (5-13). You can follow changes to the order all season long on our Reverse Standings.

Nine waiver claims have been made since the league’s new year began in July. These moves typically involve fringe players, and a couple of them are no longer on the roster of the teams that claimed them. Tyrone Wallace has been claimed twice — by the Timberwolves in July after the Clippers waived him and by the Hawks in October after he was cut by Minnesota.

Today also marks an important guarantee date for two players, Marks adds. Heat rookie Kendrick Nunn will see his guarantee increase from $300K to $450K once the deadline passes at 5pm Eastern Time (Twitter link). Nunn signed a three-year, $5MM contract at the end of last season, including a $1.4MM salary for this year that will become fully guaranteed along with all league salaries on January 7. Nunn is a surprise Rookie of the Year candidate, starting all 18 games and averaging 16.4 PPG.

Bucks forward Dragan Bender will see his guarantee rise from $600K to $800K if he stays on the roster past the 5pm deadline (Twitter link). He has a two-year, $3.5MM deal with partial guarantees, but has only gotten into two games so far. He will receive $1.68MM if he remains with the team through January 7.

Bucks Assign Dragan Bender To G League

  • The Bucks sent former lottery pick Dragan Bender to the Wisconsin Herd for Friday’s game against Erie, according to the team (Twitter link). Bender has logged just two minutes for Milwaukee this season, but is becoming a fixture for the Herd, having averaged 21.5 PPG and 9.8 RPG in four games entering tonight’s contest.

Jabari Parker Won’t Rule Out Return To Bucks

The Bucks had high hopes for Jabari Parker when they selected him with the No. 2 overall pick back in 2014, but injuries robbed him of much of his time in Milwaukee. Parker, who recently signed with the Hawks, wishes things had worked out differently.

“It’s real special, man, how they were able to build this building,” Parker told Eric Woodyard of ESPN. “I haven’t played here but just seeing like the growth of the city, I really like the way that it’s developing.”

“It’s just so sad that I’m not able to share it with them and that they moved on, but that’s fine, that’s business. But I do have like a little homesickness from being here. I just miss being here.”

Parker’s deal is for two seasons, though the second year is a player option. The forward wouldn’t rule out a return to Milwaukee.

“Never. I would never rule out a possible return here,” Parker added. “I would never do that. It’s just so sad how it ended and I wish I could’ve stayed.”

Khris Middleton Ready To Return

Bucks forward Khris Middleton said he’ll return to action on Wednesday for a home game against Atlanta, the team’s PR department tweets.

This comes as a surprise, even though coach Mike Budenholzer indicated that Middleton might be ahead of his projected timetable to return from a left thigh contusion. Middleton was expected to miss 3-4 weeks after suffering the injury on November 10. He has gone through contact work in practice and played in 5-on-5 scrimmages in recent days.

The 28-year-old All-Star is averaging 18.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 2.9 APG after posting averages of 18.3/6.0/4.3 in the same categories last season.

The career 38.8% three-point shooter signed a five-year, $178MM contract in free agency this summer to remain Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s sidekick. The Bucks have continued to thrive despite the absence of their second-best player. They have won eight straight and have the best record on the Eastern Conference.

Injury Updates: Winslow, Thomas, Middleton, Vucevic

Justise Winslow has been sidelined most of the month with a concussion but he’s closer to returning, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets. The Heat’s point forward is expected to practice on Tuesday. Winslow hasn’t played since November 5. He suffered the brain injury in a collision with Nuggets forward Paul Millsap. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Winslow formally remains in the protocol, Winderman adds.

We have more injury updates:

  • Raptors guard Matt Thomas has a fractured left middle finger and missed Monday’s game, Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press tweets. The rookie suffered the injury at Atlanta on Saturday. Thomas, a shooting guard out of Iowa State, is averaging 4.8 PPG in 11.3 MPG while making 53.8 percent of his 3-point attempts over 12 games.
  • Bucks forward Khris Middleton has gone through contact work in practice and played 5-on-5 as recently as Monday, coach Mike Budenholzer told Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Middleton suffered a left thigh contusion on November 10th and was expected to miss 3-4 weeks. Budenholzer said Middleton might be ahead of the original timetable for his return.
  • Magic center Nikola Vucevic said his right ankle sprain is not as severe as he originally feared when he suffered the injury last Wednesday, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. However, he also has a bone bruise that will take some time to heal. He hasn’t been able to do any kind of running, Robbins adds. Vucevic is expected to miss a minimum of four weeks.

Early Check-In On Protected 2020 First-Round Picks

We’re about a month into the NBA’s 2019/20 regular season, and no team has played more than 16 games. Still, based on what we’ve seen so far, we’re starting to get a sense of which teams will be competitive and which teams probably won’t.

As a picture begins to form of which teams will be vying for top seeds in each conference and which might be battling for lottery odds, it’s worth checking in on the traded first-round picks for 2020. Of next year’s 30 first-round selections, 10 have been traded, and all 10 have some form of protection on them, meaning the ’19/20 standings will dictate whether or not those first-rounders actually change hands.

Here’s an early look at which of those picks are safe bets to move, which ones will likely be kept, and which ones are still up in the air:

Likely to change hands:

  • Bucks acquiring Pacers‘ pick (top-14 protected)
  • Celtics acquiring Bucks‘ pick (top-7 protected)
  • Nets acquiring Sixers‘ pick (top-14 protected)
  • Thunder acquiring Nuggets‘ pick (top-10 protected)

The Bucks (11-3) and Nuggets (10-3) are currently competing for the No. 1 seed in their respective conferences. If that continues, the Celtics and Thunder can count on receiving picks in the late-20s.

Meanwhile, the Pacers (8-6) and Sixers (9-5) have been a little shakier since opening the season, but there’s little doubt that they’ll be playoff teams in the Eastern Conference. They’ll send their respective first-rounders to the Bucks and Nets, who will be hoping those picks land in the teens or at least the early-20s.

Unlikely to change hands:

  • Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘ pick (1-7, 15-30 protected)
  • Nets acquiring Warriors‘ pick (top-20 protected)
  • Sixers acquiring Thunder‘s pick (top-20 protected)

The protections on the Utah first-rounder included in the Mike Conley trade are meant to ensure that the Grizzlies don’t receive too high or too low a first-round pick. Assuming the Jazz (9-5) make the playoffs, as expected, they’d retain their 2020 pick and would owe Memphis their 2021 selection with the same protections.

The Warriors (3-13) and Thunder (5-9) picks are a little more interesting, since they won’t simply roll over to 2021 if and when they’re retained. If Golden State keeps its 2020 pick, the team will only owe Brooklyn its 2025 second-rounder. Oklahoma City, meanwhile, would owe Philadelphia its 2022 and 2023 second-round picks if its 2020 first-rounder falls into its protected range.

Still up in the air:

  • Celtics acquiring Grizzlies‘ pick (top-6 protected)
  • Hawks acquiring Nets‘ pick (top-14 protected)
  • Pelicans acquiring Cavaliers‘ pick (top-10 protected)

The Grizzlies have been frisky so far, but they’re just 5-9 and will likely finish among the West’s worst teams. Whether or not they hang onto their 2020 first-rounder may come down to lottery luck. If it falls in the top six and Memphis keeps it, Boston would be in line to acquire the Grizzlies’ unprotected 2021 first-round selection.

The Hawks will need the Nets to make the postseason to receive their first-rounder in 2020. That’s not a lock, but it still seems likely — despite a modest 6-8 record, Brooklyn holds the No. 7 seed in the East. If the Nets miss the playoffs and keep their first-round pick in 2020, they’ll owe a lottery-protected 2021 first-rounder to Atlanta.

Finally, it may just be a matter of time before we can move the Cavaliers’ first-rounder into the “unlikely to change hands” group. The team is putting in a good effort under new head coach John Beilein, but is just 4-10 so far. Unless things improve, the Cavaliers’ pick will remain in the top 10 and they’ll keep it, instead sending their 2021 and 2022 second-rounders to New Orleans.