Bucks Rumors

Giannis Antetokounmpo Believes It’s ‘The Right Time To Be A Buck’

With two solid victories to start the season, the Bucks have shown they could be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.  Following a 118-101 victory over the Pacers on Friday night, the first regular season game their new arena, the Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee’s star player had a resounding endorsement.

While it’s too early to put too much stock into any one game, Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s comments after Friday’s win can only be a sign of encouragement for his long-term future in Milwaukee.

“New arena, new practice facility, new coach,” Antetokounmpo said, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “This is the right time to be a Buck.”

A lot has been made of Antetokounmpo’s possible long-term future in Milwaukee. The 6-foot-10 big man has proven himself as one of the league’s most dynamic and talented young players. However, after making the postseason as the seventh seed followed by a first-round exit, it was reasonable to wonder if Antetokounmpo would be looking to join a large market, perennial contender in the future.

The Greece native signed a four-year, $100MM extension in September 2016. But with a solid start to this season, he feels Milwaukee can beat any team in the league.

“I feel we can beat any team on any night,” Antetokounmpo said. “We have a really, really good opportunity to do good stuff this year, so hopefully we can work hard, go back and work on our craft, and be able to execute and compete every night.”

New Arena Kept Bucks in Milwaukee

  • The Bucks saved a little money — $18,321 to be exact — when guard Tim Frazier was claimed off waivers by the Pelicans, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. New Orleans inherited Frazier’s $1.5MM non-guaranteed contract. He was Milwaukee’s final roster cut prior to opening night.
  • The Bucks franchise would have relocated if the new Fiserv Forum hadn’t been built, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. Milwaukee played its first regular-season game there on Friday. “We were going to do everything we could to stay in Milwaukee,” Bucks co-owner Mark Lasry said. “That was ultimately something that was outside our control in that the NBA wanted a new arena, and if we couldn’t get one, they would have forced us to move.” When the current ownership group bought the Bucks for $550MM in 2014, the purchase agreement included a clause allowing the league to buy back the team for potential relocation if the new owners didn’t get a formal arena construction plan in place, Zillgitt adds.

Additional Details On Jodie Meeks Trade

As part of their trade for Jodie Meeks, the Bucks received $1.5MM in cash from the Wizards, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). Taking into account Meeks’ salary, Milwaukee essentially paid $1.4MM for a future second-round pick, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). Washington’s tax savings as a result of the deal will be significantly larger than that.

As for the draft picks involved in the deal, the Bucks already owned the Wizards’ top-55 protected 2020 second-round pick. Milwaukee sent that pick back to Washington in the swap, and the Wizards essentially returned it with new protections, per Katz and Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links).

That 2020 second-rounder now has 46-60 protection, so the Bucks will receive it if it falls between 31 and 45. If it doesn’t, Milwaukee will instead receive the Wizards’ 2022 second-rounder (unprotected).

Bucks Acquire Jodie Meeks From Wizards

4:45pm: The trade is official, according to an announcement from the Bucks (Twitter link). Milwaukee’s announcement notes that Meeks has been placed on the suspended list, allowing him to avoid counting against the Bucks’ roster limit, so it appears he won’t be waived immediately.

3:34pm: The Bucks and Wizards have agreed to a trade that will send Jodie Meeks to Milwaukee along with cash, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The Bucks will subsequently waive Meeks, Wojnarowski adds.

Previous reports indicated that the Bucks would also receive a future second-round pick as part of the swap, which Woj confirms (via Twitter). According to Jordan Schultz of ESPN (Twitter link), Milwaukee is expected to send out a heavily-protected second-rounder to complete the deal.

The cash the Bucks receive in the deal will likely be enough to cover most or all of Meeks’ salary for 2018/19, so Milwaukee will get a chance to add a second-round pick for essentially nothing. The Wizards already owe their top-55 protected 2020 second-round pick to the Bucks, so the simplest move would be to just remove the protection from that traded pick.

For the Wizards, the motivation is to reduce their projected luxury tax bill — Meeks’ $3,454,500 cap charge would have been partially reduced as a result of his suspension, which still has 19 games left on it, but that contract would still have cost the Wizards exponentially more in tax penalties. By replacing Meeks with a minimum salary player, Washington will save some money, despite sending cash to the Bucks in the trade.

The Bucks will use a $3,384,176 traded player exception created in last November’s Greg Monroe/Eric Bledsoe trade in order to absorb Meeks’ salary. While that trade exception technically isn’t worth as much as Meeks’ cap hit, the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement allows teams to trade for a salary worth the value of the TPE plus $100K. That gives Milwaukee just enough wiggle room on Meeks.

A part-time player in D.C. last season, Meeks averaged just 6.3 PPG on .399/.343/.863 shooting in 77 games before being banned 25 games for violating the league’s anti-drug program. Even after serving the final 19 games of that suspension, he wasn’t expected to be a major part of the Wizards’ rotation in 2018/19. He’ll be on the lookout for a new team once he clears waivers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucks Waive Tim Frazier

The Bucks have reached the regular season roster limit by waiving point guard Tim Frazier, the team announced today (via Twitter). The move reduces Milwaukee’s roster to 17 players, including 15 on standard contracts.

Frazier, who will turn 28 in November, has appeared in 186 NBA games over the last four seasons, spending time with the Sixers, Trail Blazers, Pelicans, and Wizards. In 2017/18, he was a backup in Washington, posting 3.0 PPG and 3.3 APG in 59 games (14.2 MPG).

After waiving Tyler Zeller and Shabazz Muhammad, the Bucks’ final roster decision appeared to come down to Christian Wood, D.J. Wilson, and Frazier — the team only had room for two of the three, and Frazier’s non-guaranteed contract certainly contributed to the decision. Because Milwaukee waited until Monday to cut him, Frazier won’t clear waivers until Wednesday, and the team will assume a small cap hit for two days’ worth of his minimum salary.

Although the Bucks could enter the season with their current roster after releasing Frazier, it’s possible that another move is coming before opening night. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports (via Twitter) that the Bucks and Wizards are in advanced talks on a trade in which Milwaukee would get a player and a draft pick. The Bucks would also get cash in the deal, tweets Jordan Schultz of ESPN.

Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Twitter) suggests that the Bucks would immediately waive that player acquired from Washington and wouldn’t send a player of their own back, so both transactions would have to be completed very soon to beat the roster cutdown deadline.

Several Teams Must Make Moves Before Monday’s Roster Deadline

Saturday was a busy day in terms of NBA transactions, with most of the league’s 30 clubs making cuts and getting their rosters down to the regular season limit. As we explained over the weekend, players on non-guaranteed contracts must clear waivers before the first day of the regular season in order to avoid counting at all against a team’s salary cap, which is why most of those players were released on Saturday instead of today.

However, not every team now has a roster in compliance with NBA rules. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, the Clippers, Suns, Bucks, Pistons, and Spurs still need to make roster moves by 4:00pm CT today in order to get down to the regular season limit. Teams are permitted to carry no more than 15 players on standard contracts and two more on two-way deals entering the season.

Here’s a quick look at the decisions facing those five teams:

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers need to trim their roster from 17 standard contracts to 15. Normally, the guys on non-guaranteed contracts would be the most obvious candidates to be cut, but I’d be surprised if the team parts ways with Patrick Beverley or Tyrone Wallace.

Instead, players on guaranteed salaries like Jawun Evans, Wesley Johnson, and Sindarius Thornwell could be in trouble if the Clips can’t find any trades they like.

Phoenix Suns

Like the Clippers, the Suns have 17 players on standard contracts, with multiple vets on non-guaranteed deals whom they’d like to keep. If Phoenix keeps all 14 players with guaranteed salaries, that would leave just one spot for Richaun Holmes, Shaquille Harrison, and Isaiah Canaan.

Of the players with guarantees, Darrell Arthur is the most obvious release candidate, but if the club keeps him before getting an answer from the league on its disabled player exception request, it won’t be eligible for that DPE.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that the Suns will be granted that disabled player exception anyway. Marks wrote on Saturday that multiple team executives were “dumbfounded” by what season-ending injury Arthur could have suffered since being acquired by Phoenix in July. While the big man has been bothered by recurring knee injuries in recent years, the team hasn’t announced any new ailments or listed him on its injury report.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks have 16 players on standard contracts, meaning one player will need to be traded or released today. Christian Wood, who has one of the team’s two non-guaranteed contracts, appears likely to make the team. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the other player on a non-guaranteed deal – Tim Frazier – will be waived though.

The decision may come down to Frazier vs. former first-round pick D.J. Wilson. Although Wilson has a guaranteed salary for 2018/19, his roster spot is “far from secure,” per Keith Smith of RealGM.com (Twitter link).

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons have 15 players on guaranteed contracts and two on two-way deals, leaving no clear openings for the club’s final non-guaranteed player, Zach Lofton. The undrafted free agent has impressed Detroit this fall though, so we’ll see if the club can find room for him, perhaps by having him supplant one of the current two-way players (Reggie Hearn and Keenan Evans).

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs‘ final move is a mere formality. Manu Ginobili, who announced his retirement this summer, technically remains on the roster, but he should be quietly waived today. Once that happens, San Antonio will have 15 players on standard contracts – including partially guaranteed veteran Quincy Pondexter – and one on a two-way deal.

Note: The Bulls and Rockets also still need to officially convert players on Exhibit 10 contracts to two-way deals. Chicago will reportedly do so with Tyler Ulis, while Houston will do so with Gary Clark and Vince Edwards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2018 Offseason In Review: Milwaukee Bucks

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2018 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2018/19 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Milwaukee Bucks.

Signings:

Trades:

  • None

Draft picks:

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap.
  • Carrying approximately $113.9MM in guaranteed salaries.
  • Hard-capped at $129.82MM.
  • No cap exceptions left besides minimum salary exception.

Check out the Milwaukee Bucks’ full roster and depth chart at RosterResource.com.


Story of the summer:

When analyzing the most important offseason additions, one can’t overlook the change at head coach for the Bucks, who brought in Mike Budenholzer to replace Joe Prunty following Jason Kidd‘s in-season dismissal. Budenholzer established himself as one of the elite coaches in the league during his tenure with the Hawks, using a combination of ball movement, modern floor-spacing, and tough defense to win games.

Beyond the move to bring in Budenholzer as head coach, the Bucks went out and added two veterans who can space the floor and soak up frontcourt minutes around Giannis Antetokounmpo in Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez. Ilyasova is coming off a season in which he averaged 10.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while knocking down 36% of his 3-pointers. Meanwhile Lopez is coming off a down year with the Lakers, but he still averaged 13 points and 4 rebounds per game while hitting 34.5% of his shots from beyond the arc.

Both players are tested veterans that can hit 3-pointers at a league average rate. Now Budenholzer has several options as he looks to space the floor for Antetokounmpo to attack the basket and find open teammates.

Lopez projects to round out the starting lineup alongside Eric Bledsoe, Tony Snell, Khris Middleton and Antetokounmpo. Such a lineup boasts several solid defenders, ball-handlers and shooters. While the Bucks have struggled defensively in recent seasons, they should be able to improve now that Budenholzer is running more traditional defensive schemes.

As the Bucks look to take a jump on that end of the floor, it will be their refined and improved offense that captivates on a nightly basis. After Milwaukee finished 25th in the league in 3-pointers attempted per game last season (24.7), that number jumped up to 40.3 attempts per game throughout the preseason, highlighting the club’s new emphasis on shooting and floor-spacing.

While other teams made big splashes in free agency, don’t let the Bucks fool you with their modest additions of Lopez and Ilyasova. Coupling those signings with the addition of Budenholzer as coach creates a recipe for a much-improved team on both ends of the floor.

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Suns, Clippers, Bucks Remain Active In Trade Market

Most teams made their final roster decisions yesterday, but a few are hoping to swing last-minute trades before Monday’s deadline, tweets Keith Smith of Real GM.

The Suns don’t want to start the season without a veteran point guard and are continuing to make calls around the league in hopes of finding one. They haven’t gotten close to a deal yet, Smith notes, possibly because of their reluctance to surrender a first-round pick.

Phoenix was reportedly talking to the Clippers about Patrick Beverley over the summer, but was only willing to offer second-rounders, while L.A. was holding out for a first. The Suns’ pursuit of point guard help has been complicated by this week’s decision to fire GM Ryan McDonough.

The Clippers and Bucks are also making last-minute trade calls, Smith adds. Both teams remain above the 15-man roster limit and are hoping to trade their excess players rather than cutting them.

L.A. has 15 players with guaranteed contracts, along with Beverley, who has a non-guaranteed $5MM deal, and Tyrone Wallace, who has a partial guarantee for $300K. They are both considered likely to make the roster, but that means getting rid of guaranteed money elsewhere. The Clippers were hoping to resolve the issue in a Jimmy Butler deal, but there’s little chance of that happening before Monday’s deadline.

Milwaukee has reportedly decided to give its final roster spot to big man Christian Wood, which likely means Tim Frazier is expendable. The Bucks waived both Shabazz Muhammad and Tyler Zeller this week, but remain one player above the limit.

Wood To Get Bucks’ Final Roster Spot?

The Bucks will keep Christian Wood on the roster after a strong preseason performance, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Wood was believed to be competing with Tim Frazier for the final spot, but a source tells Spears that the team has made its choice.

The 23-year-old power forward/center signed with Milwaukee shortly before the start of training camp last month. If he does make the roster, the Bucks would be Wood’s third team in three years after playing 17 games for the Sixers in 2016/17 and 13 games with the Hornets last season. Wood has also spent significant time in the G League over the last three years, playing in Delaware and Greensboro.

Wood has a two-year, non-guaranteed contract that will pay him $1,512,601 this season and $1,645,357 in 2019/20 if he remains on the Bucks’ roster.

Milwaukee cleared the path for Wood with a couple of high-profile cuts this week. The team waived Shabazz Muhammad on Thursday, then parted ways with Tyler Zeller earlier today.

 

 

Bucks Waive Tyler Zeller

The Bucks have waived veteran center Tyler Zeller, according to Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). The move leaves Milwaukee one cut shy of reaching the regular season roster limit.

Zeller, the 27th overall pick in the 2012 draft, began his career with two years in Cleveland before spending three seasons in Boston. In 2017/18, he appeared in 66 games for the Nets and Bucks, recording overall averages of 6.7 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 16.8 minutes per contest.

The contract Zeller signed in the summer of 2017 was a two-year deal, but the second year was non-guaranteed, so his hold on a roster spot in Milwaukee was always precarious. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent if he clears waivers on Monday.

With one more cut still to come, Tim Frazier and Christian Wood appear to be vying for the Bucks’ final roster spot.