Report: Bucks interested in Kyrie Irving, but Giannis “untouchable”

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks welcome the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 20, and could be taking on the former world champions with one of their star players.

A report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski indicates the Bucks have expressed interest in point guard Kyrie Irving, who earlier this summer voiced his preference to be traded from the Cavaliers. That report also indicated that Giannis Antetokounmpo is the only player Milwaukee considers “untouchable” and all other options are on the table.

The problem for Milwaukee is cap space. They have one of the highest payrolls in the NBA with roughly $14.5 million left before the luxury tax kicks in. That likely means the Bucks would need to give up more talent in order to make a trade for Irving, the top overall pick of the 2011 Draft.

This page will be updated as more is reported.

Breaking down the Bucks 2017-18 schedule

MILWAUKEE — The NBA released its full schedule of games Monday night, highlighted by some key dates for the Milwaukee Bucks.

While the Bucks will have fewer nationally televised games in the 2017-18 season than in past years (16, down from 20 the past two seasons), they’ll still be part of some marquee matchups. That includes games on Halloween (vs Thunder), New Year’s Day (@ Raptors), Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 4 @ Nets), St. Patrick’s Day (vs Hawks), and Easter (@ Nuggets).

Milwaukee’s schedule should be a little less taxing, with 14 back-to-back games, down from 17 last season.

The full schedule can be found here.

Key Matchups
Oct. 18 @ Boston Celtics
The Bucks have opened the season at home each of the past two seasons, so it’s their turn to open on the road in 2017-18. Milwaukee went 1-2 against Boston last season, finishing the regular season with a 112-94 loss at the TD Garden.

Oct. 20 vs Cleveland Cavaliers
One of the Bucks’ top opponents comes at the start of the schedule, with LeBron James and company heading to the BMO Harris Bradley Center to hand Milwaukee another early test. It remains to be seen if Kyrie Irving will be part of that roster.

Jan. 1 @ Toronto Raptors
The Bucks will have to wait until New Year’s Day to get a measure of revenge against the team that knocked them out of the first round of last year’s playoffs. It could also help decide what direction Milwaukee heads with the All Star break slated for mid-February.

Return to The MECCA?
For months, the Bucks have been teasing a return to the UW | Milwaukee Panther Arena, formerly known as The MECCA, where the team called home during its only championship in 1971. That year, the Bucks beat the Washington Bullets for the championship, so it’s possible the highly-anticipated return could take place on either Nov. 20 or Feb. 27 when the Washington Wizards are scheduled to visit Milwaukee.

Report: Former Bucks C Larry Sanders agrees to deal with Cavaliers

CLEVELAND — After a two year hiatus, former Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders is back in the NBA as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Sanders left Milwaukee shortly after signing a four-year, $44 million contract in 2013. At the time, he cited a lack of passion for the game of basketball and also personal issues such as depression. The Bucks were forced to buy out his contract, agreeing to pay the former VCU star $1.9 million over the next seven seasons (through the 2021-2022 season). It appears he’ll still be paid by Milwaukee despite signing with Cleveland.

No details of the new Cavaliers contract were revealed, after initially being reported by Yahoo Sports! The Vertical. Sanders will likely have a contract option for the 2017-2018 season.

The Cavaliers had been searching for a replacement after Andrew Bogut suffered a fractured fibula upon making his debut with Cleveland this season. Sanders has been active on social media about his search for an NBA return, posting frequent photos and videos of himself in Cleveland and wearing team apparel.

Bucks fall to Cavs for third straight time in season series

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks gave Khris Middleton the night off, while LeBron James returned from strep throat to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 102-95 victory at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

It was an uncharacteristic performance from Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who logged just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting. Rookie Malcolm Brogdon led Milwaukee with 20 points and five assists off the bench.

The Cavaliers are 0-4 this season when James misses a game, including a 117-99 home loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.  But although James wasn’t feeling 100 percent, his 24 points in a team-high 37 minutes helped carry Cleveland past Milwaukee, which was coming off a home win Sunday afternoon over the Phoenix Suns. The Bucks are now 4-7 this season in road finales in back-to-backs.

In the first half, Bucks forward Michael Beasley suffered a left knee injury, initially called a sprain. He wasn’t able to return to the game and was seen on crutches later on in the night.

”We’ll see how he is,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. ”Hopefully it’s not bad where he can get back because he’s playing at a very high level for us.”

The Bucks were out-rebounded 45-33, but were given plenty of chances in the form of 16 Cavalier turnovers. Milwaukee hosts Denver on Wednesday night.

Parker scores 30 but Bucks fall to Cavs in OT 114-108

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks battled back from an 18-point hole in the first half and took the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers to overtime, but that’s all the closer they’d get in a 114-108 loss at the BMO Harris Bradley Center Tuesday night.

LeBron James crushed Milwaukee’s hopes with 24 seconds left in the extra period, draining a three-pointer to give Cleveland the boost they’d need to snag victory from the jaws of defeat. It was James’ fifth three-point conversion on the night (5-9 3FG, 55.6 percent). He’d finish the game with 34 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists.

Jabari Parker was the high point man for Milwaukee, pouring in 30 points and snagging nine boards in the losing effort.

”Jabari [Parker] took advantage of some of our smaller guys when we had them on him, getting to the basket, kind of being physical,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. ”So we’ve got to do a better job with that matchup.”

The Bucks held an advantage in rebounding 51-43, but struggled from beyond the arc, converting on just 25.9 percent of their shots (7-of-27).

The Bucks and Cavaliers battle again Wednesday night from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland at 6 p.m. CT.

Thon Maker scores 15 in Summer League debut

LAS VEGAS — Milwaukee Bucks rookie Thon Maker scored 15 points in his Las Vegas Summer League debut, leading the Bucks to an 81-75 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Maker finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks, but he wasn’t perfect. At times, the Sudan-born rookie didn’t appear to fit within the Bucks’ system, playing out of place and forcing shots. Once he calmed down and got over his two turnovers, Maker showed improvement and some of the qualities that made Milwaukee select him 10th overall in last month’s NBA Draft.

The Bucks were paced by 16 points from former Nebraska standout Terran Pettaway, while Rashad Vaughn and second-round draft pick Malcolm Brogdon each contributed nine points.

Wade meeting with Bucks back on

MILWAUKEE — Free agent guard Dwyane Wade recently cancelled a meeting with the Milwaukee Bucks scheduled for Wednesday, but reports now indicate Wade will meet with the Bucks in New York Wednesday afternoon.

The Bucks likely won’t be able to match offers from other teams, with Wade looking for a $50 million contract. The Chicago Bulls have come the closest to meeting Wade’s demands, offering a two-year contract with a partial guarantee. None of the teams reportedly still in the chase (Chicago, Denver, Miami) have offered a three-year deal, although the Nuggets have been able to surpass the $50 million threshold.

Former Bucks sharpshooter and former Wade teammate with the Heat, Ray Allen, has reached out to the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers about an NBA return. He last played in the 2013-14 season where he averaged 9.6 points per game.


Rumor: Bucks, Pistons interested in Matt Dellavedova

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks were desperate for a shooter last season and rumors are now linking Milwaukee with unrestricted free agent and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova.

Dellavedova could command up to $10 million per year in the free agent market after the Cavaliers failed to sign him to a contract that would have only cost them around $2 or $3 million per year.

The Bucks reportedly sent scouts to several Cavaliers games in the latter portion of the playoffs, with head coach Jason Kidd attending one of the games as well.  Kidd was recently signed to a three-year, $16.5 million contract extension.

Anything could be on the table for Milwaukee this offseason. They’ve already been linked to other rumors that they’d like to trade Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams, while retaining Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, and Giannis Antetokounmpo as “untouchables.”

The Bucks could address their shooting woes in the NBA Draft, however, with GM John Hammond saying they could find their shooter at any point in the draft, not just at pick No. 10.