Bucks GM Jon Horst: We believe in the culture we are building

Milwaukee Bucks General Manager Jon Horst addressed the media Wednesday morning in advance of the 2019 NBA Draft. He began the presser talking about the season that was and the success they had. Then, Horst answered questions about the No. 30 pick, dealing with the salary cap, the future of Khris Middleton and plenty more.

What to do with pick 30?

The Bucks will have the 30th pick in the NBA Draft Thursday night. Horst believes there are many directions they can go with the selection.

“All things are on the board right now, all the strategies, all the options,” Horst said. “30 has value to us as a franchise whether that’s putting a player on our roster today that can help us next season. There are some great draft and stash opportunities where we can draft a player and kind of put [him] in the cupboard and have another thing to access as we go down the road. And there are some great trade opportunities at No. 30…different ways to move down in the draft and pick up additional assets, maybe move things around roster wise and so there are a lot of things we’re discussing and looking at. I feel fully confident that we’ll make a great decision when it comes down to it but 30 has value and we’re lucky to have it.”

On Monday, Marc Stein reported that the Bucks are looking to move one of the contracts of Tony Snell or Ersan Illyasova. They are willing to offer draft compensation to a team that would take one of those contracts.

Milwaukee has many options to look at prior to the Draft Thursday. If they hold on to the pick it will be about best fit instead of best player available.

“It’s really for us best fit, and best fit meaning what does it do for the overall ability of us to keep the roster together we had last year, what does it do for us to take another step forward and what does it do to help us be transactional as we move forward,” Horst said.

How do you get better moving forward?

Horst shared his thoughts on the keys for the Bucks to improve heading into next season. He spoke about how they can be better internally citing experience as a big part of it. The Toronto Raptors won their first championship in team history just a week ago after years and years of coming up short. Of course, the main difference was Kawhi Leonard, but the way Kyle Lowry stepped up can’t be overstated.

It seems to be the formula in almost every sport. You must lose before you can win. All the greats have gone through it. Everyone from the players, to the coaches, to the front office believes the Bucks are just getting started.

Giannis Antetokounmpo will be better next season. He has improved his game every single year and at only 24 years old is the next superstar of the NBA. Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon will continue to improve as they settle into Mike Budenholzer’s system. Budenholzer and his staff will continue to learn and find new ways to attack offensively and defensively.

As far as players Horst would like to add, well, it starts with shooting.

“I think we always want shooting,” Horst said. “Shooting is what unlocks Giannis, it’s what helps him be great. I think that toughness and defensive mentality and rebounding, we kind of made our name this year by being the best defense in the league. We should double-down on that and continue to be the best defense in the league.”

How do you navigate the cap and luxury tax?

It’s no secret the amount of financial decisions the Bucks must make this offseason. How much money will they need to pay Middleton to keep him in Milwaukee? What will other teams offer Brogdon? Will Milwaukee be able to bring back Brook Lopez and/or George Hill?

Horst believes their cap is manageable and with their creativity they will continue to have sustained success while competing for championships.

Bucks’ co-owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and substantial owner Jamie Dinan are committed to bringing a championship to Milwaukee. When Horst was asked about the possibility of going into the luxury tax, he highlighted how committed the ownership group is to winning.

“There is no reason to believe that this ownership group will not pay a premium on dollars spent if they’re investing in something that can win and sustain winning over a long period of time,” Horst said. “And the other thing we have going on is we were just the best team in the NBA for seven out of nine months. We didn’t win it ultimately at the end and that is the goal but we’re right there.”

Good players cost good money and you need good players to win in this league. It is nice to know that Milwaukee is ready and willing to spend money to improve the team.

Milwaukee believes in what they’re building.

Does Middleton fit into the future?

Middleton is coming off an All-Star season with Milwaukee. He is considered by most to be the second best player on the Bucks. Middleton is due for a big pay day and the Bucks will need to decide if he’s worth it.

According to Horst, Middleton wants to be in Milwaukee and wants to be paid fairly. It will be interesting to see what the Bucks do with him and how much money he ends up getting.