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.

Joe & Ebo Experience: Sizzling Debate

Brewers Rant (0:00)

WOZN Sports Reporter Cody Grant (9:13)

Favre & McCarthy (21:04)

Middleton Max? (34:30)

Everything Continued (48:25)

Report: West exec believes Middleton will stay in Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Bucks will have many decisions to make this offseason. Their most important decision however may be figuring out what to do with All-Star Khris Middleton.

According to one Western Conference executive, Middleton will get a five-year extension from Milwaukee that is close to the max.

“He’s going back,” the West exec told Jordan Brenner of The Athletic. “What I hear is he will get a fifth year, but take a little less in the beginning. It won’t be the max, but it’ll be close.”

Middleton was a key part to Milwaukee’s success last season. He was their second-leading scorer and averaged career highs in rebounds (6.0) and assists (4.3).

Joe & Ebo Experience: Decisions, decisions

Stand Pat or Blow It Up (0:00)

Khris Middleton (9:24)

Dbag Nominees (22:47)

Parity in MLB (39:10)

Mt. Everest (54:42)

Joe & Ebo Experience: Homer Glasses

Hiura Debut/ECF (0:00)

Homer Glasses (9:36)

WOZN Sports Reporter Cody Grant (25:42)

Fast v. Quick (36:32)

Throw It Back (50:25)

Joe & Ebo Experience: Joe’s Send Off

The National Media’s Darling (0:00)

Badgers Insider RJ Brachman (15:11)

Former Packer Gilbert Brown & Tellurian (31:26)

Bucks-Raptors Match-up (48:15)

Bucks 123, Celtics 102: Last word

MILWAUKEE | Needing a win to avoid going to the east-coast down 2-0, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Boston Celtics 123-102 on Tuesday.

Player of the game: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Coming off one of his worst performances this season, Giannis played terrific in Game 2. He led the Bucks with a game-high 29 points and 10 rebounds. It was his second game of the playoffs with 25+ points and 10+ rebounds, and the fifth such game of his career.

“Usually, after a [bad] game and a bad loss at home, you get a little bit fed up and start hesitating,” Giannis said. “All I can do is trust my teammates, go back and look at the tape to see what I did right and wrong. I just came into Game 2 with the mindset of being aggressive and making the right plays.

Giannis looked like a completely different player. He was aggressive and attacked the paint time and time again. The Celtics sent him to the line 18 times. Also, Giannis looked to feed his teammates more. When Boston collapsed on him inside, he was ready to kick it out to the open man.

Needing to play with more effort was the theme coming out of practice Monday afternoon and Giannis led the way.

Play of the game: Greek Freak shimmy

If there is a weakness in his game it’s the long-ball, but Giannis hit two of them tonight and was feeling it after. But what he did after knocking one down in the face of Celtics’ center Aron Baynes is what got him the play of the game.

https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1123405614447833088

The good: Closing the third

Basketball is a game of runs. The Bucks went on their biggest run of the game to close the third quarter. They outscored Boston 24-4 in the final 7:41 of the frame. This is the stretch that really put the Celtics out of reach.

“To be honest with you, I thought we were competing and playing well defensively for the whole game,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “The third quarter, maybe it was just a little bit of wearing them down or whatever it is, but we just stuck to what we were doing. Our guys were able to create some turnovers, create some misses, take care of the boards and get out and run. I thought the defense from the beginning was quality.”

Milwaukee did this a lot during the regular season. They can pull away late in games because their effort is usually there for a full 48 minutes. Boston looked worn down late in the third. The Celtics made careless passes which led to turnovers and missed several shots they normally make.

It all goes back to playing with effort and being themselves for the Bucks. They didn’t play hard enough in Game 1 according to every member of the team that was asked about it. That didn’t happen in Game 2.

The not so good: Slow start

The way Game 2 started was very similar to the way Game 1 started. Milwaukee had trouble knocking down their shots. They finished the quarter shooting 35% (7-20 FG). Giannis didn’t make a field goal but finished the frame with five points thanks to free throws.

Stat of the game: 20

All 12 members of the Bucks that saw action attempted at least one three-pointer. As a team they shot 47 of them, making an NBA Playoffs franchise-record 20.

Khris Middleton contributed the most from downtown as he hit seven of his 10 attempts from beyond the arc.

“We have to do it a lot better than we did,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said. “It’s tough, he is an All-Star. He is one of the 12 best players in the East this year. He has had a good year and he has started that in the playoffs last year against us. We have to do a better job on him. We did not do a good enough job on him. He still might make it, but he got too many looks.”

What they said:

Budenholzer on the win…

Obviously, I think that’s more what we’re accustomed to seeing. I liked our spirit, our activity and our competitiveness up and down the roster. Giannis, Khris and Eric really set the tone. We just need to kind of capture that, take it to Boston with us and play that way out there.

Stevens on the loss…

I thought they dominated a lot in the first half and we were lucky to be down by four. They owned their space on both ends of the court better than we did. I thought our reaction to that was to settle on offense and it led to some run outs. Then it just steamrolled on us. They were great tonight, deserved to win, and we need to look at what we can do better. We knew they were going to be really good tonight and we talked about matching their urgency, meeting their urgency, but we didn’t do that and even in the first half you could see.

In case you missed it:

*This was the fourth game of the playoffs that the Bucks have won by 20+ points. The 21-point win also marked Milwaukee’s largest victory in a Conference Semifinal game since 1983 (116-95, Game 1 vs BOS).

*Milwaukee hauled in 54 rebounds as a team, tallying their fourth 50-rebound playoff game this postseason.

*The Bucks held the Celtics to 39.5% shooting on the night. This is the third time this postseason that Milwaukee has held its opponent to under 40% shooting.

*Pat Connaughton grabbed a playoff-career-high 11 rebounds, marking the first playoff game of his career with double-digit rebounds.

*The Celtics were led by Marcus Morris who finished the night with 17 points and matched his playoff-career-high with three three-pointers. This was his third time scoring in double figures this postseason.

*Boston also had Jaylen Brown (16) and Al Horford (15) score in double figures.

What’s next?

Next up the Bucks (1-1) head out to Boston to play the Celtics (1-1) in Game 3 on Friday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm.

Bucks 119, Pistons 103: Last word

DETROIT | The Milwaukee Bucks took a 3-0 series lead over the Detroit Pistons with a 119-103 win Saturday in Detroit.

Player of the game: Khris Middleton

Middleton led the Bucks with a team-high 20 points (7-13 FG, 3-6 3PT), eight rebounds and four assists. “Khris did a great job of guiding the team and making the right plays,” Giannis said.

Often overshadowed by the MVP candidate, Middleton was an all-star this season and is capable of leading Milwaukee to victory. Fans will argue whether he’s worth or not worth a max-contract this offseason but one thing you can’t argue is how important he is to the success of this team.

Play of the game: Eric Bledsoe dances through two Pistons

Bledsoe has been a match-up nightmare for the Pistons. His quickness and strength have been difficult to stop. He showcased both with this play late in the second quarter.

The good: The balance

Milwaukee got contributions from almost everywhere. Seven players scored in double figures.

“Lots of different people stepping up and playing well,” head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “George off the bench, I just think Bled’s defense and Bled’s energy, Brook, Khris, all those guys. Just a really good overall team performance tonight.”

Ersan Ilyasova got Milwaukee going in the first knocking down three shots from beyond the arc to help withstand the strong start by the Pistons. “That’s what our bench was doing all year long, including this series,” Middleton discussed. “When they come in they’re ready to play. Ers did a great job of being ready. He got three great looks from three and he knocked all of them down. Just took a lot of pressure off us, allowed us to relax, play our game and play within the flow.”

Brook Lopez poured in 19 points (8-13 FG, 3-7 3PT), seven rebounds and five blocks, four of the blocks coming against Andre Drummond. “He’s 7’8”, isn’t he,” Pistons’ head coach Dwane Casey joked when discussing Drummond’s struggles with Lopez. “A lot of people struggle against him.”

Eric Bledsoe finished with 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Nikola Mirotic had his best game of the series with 12 points (3-5 3PT) contributing to Milwaukee’s 42 bench points. George Hill added 11 points and five assists.

The not so good: Giannis Antetokounmpo

For his standards, Giannis had an off night. He finished with 14 points (5-13 FG), 10 rebounds and four turnovers in 28 minutes of play. He ended up with the worst +/- of the Milwaukee starters with a -7.

“It’s good to see my team doing really well out there without me,” Giannis said. “It means a lot to me. Even when I don’t play my best game, having the team playing such a good game and winning a playoff game – on the road – it makes me feel really good about this team. It shows the great character this team has and what a great team this team is. There’s going to be nights like this and I think my teammates did a great job picking me up.”

It says a lot about this team that they can win by double-digits on the road while their star struggles. Obviously, the Bucks need the very best from Giannis if they expect to go deep in the playoffs, but Saturday’s game reinforces the fact they are more than just Giannis. Giannis is surrounded by many capable players who can perform on both ends.

Stat of the game: 1

The Bucks are one win away from their first playoff series victory since 2001. They’ve been building to this point the last few years. Two seasons ago, they lost to the Raptors in six games. Last year, they fell to the Celtics in seven games. Now, they have a chance to sweep the Pistons and move on to the second round.

“We might be the No. 1 seed and the best team in the NBA, but at the end of the day we haven’t won a playoff series in a while and we’re hungry,” Giannis said. “I think everybody’s hungry. It starts from our coach, it starts from the leader setting the tone. We’re just going to keep fighting, we’re going to keep playing hard and try to win as many games as possible.”

What they said:

Lopez on the depth of the Bucks

They can’t sleep on anyone. Our depth is a huge boon for us, it’s a huge bonus we have. We just got to keep going to that. We’ve been putting trust in a lot of different people all season long and guys have been showing why we’ve been doing that.

Casey on the loss

We made some uncharacteristic mistakes. That’s what the playoffs are about – getting through that, understanding time-score-situation. We had situations where we’d make a mistake or miss a shot, now we go down to the defensive end and not carry out our assignments.

What’s next?

The Bucks will look for the series sweep of the Pistons Monday night in Detroit. Tip-off is scheduled for 8pm eastern time.

Deer Milwaukee: April 2, 2019

On this week’s episode of Deer Milwaukee, Cody Grant shared his thoughts on why he believes the Milwaukee Bucks get plenty of respect from the national media. Plus, he shared his thoughts on who he most wants to see the Bucks play in the playoffs. Also, Gabe Stoltz of Brew Hoop stopped by to talk about the games this past week and the MVP conversation between Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden.

1:46 | The Bucks and the national media

15:04 | Gabe Stoltz of Brew Hoop

31:16 | Who are you most looking forward to seeing the Bucks play in the playoffs?

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Bucks’ Khris Middleton nominated for Twyman-Stokes Award

Milwaukee Bucks’ All-Star Khris Middleton has been a key piece to the success of the team this year. He has sacrificed part of his individual game for the better of the team. Now, he is getting recognized for the teammate that he is.

Middleton has been named one of the 12 finalists for this year’s Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award.

The award recognizes the player deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to team.

The winner will be announced on June 24 during the NBA Awards show.