Bucks bust out of slump for 116-100 win over Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS — The Milwaukee Bucks defense was more solid, while the offense was firing in a 116-100 win over the Indiana Pacers Saturday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo just missed out on a triple double, recording 20 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds in the win. Milwaukee’s offense also woke up for a season-high 17 three-pointers.

Malcolm Brogdon, Greg Monroe, and Mirza Teletovic gave the Bucks some depth off the bench, each scoring in the double digits in points. Teletovic was 5-of-9 on three-point attempts, finishing with 19 points. Once Milwaukee got out of the first quarter, it never trailed the remainder of the game.

As a team, the Bucks shot 54.8 percent (17-of-31) from beyond the arc, while limiting their turnovers to just six (the Pacers had 14).

The Bucks host the Pistons Monday night before visiting the Nets entering the All-Star Break.

Timing of Parker injury likely ruins chances of max contract

MILWAUKEE — Adding insult to injury for Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker is the reality of what his second torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) means for his next NBA contract.

At just 21 years of age, there’s plenty of basketball ahead for the Duke product, but the fact that Wednesday’s injury occurred to the same knee as two years ago raises questions about Parker’s durability and if he can get back to the same form he started to show this season.

NBA rookies typically sign two-year contracts upon entering the league, with team options for the third and fourth year. Parker is currently on year three of that contract structure, earning a base salary of roughly $5.4 million. Because Milwaukee had already exercised its option for the fourth year, Parker’s next step was to earn a max contract extension.

That now appears to be in doubt.

While the No. 2 overall draft pick of 2014 is scheduled to be owed about $6.8 million next season, he may instead be looking at free agency in the next few months.

A max contract for players with fewer than six years of NBA experience earn either $9 million or 25 percent of the team salary cap, whichever is greater. In Parker’s case, the estimated salary cap for the 2018-19 season is $103 million. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) gives teams 42.14 percent of the NBA’s basketball-related income (BRI), while the 2017 CBA gives teams 44.74 percent. In layman’s terms, the Bucks will have a 2018-19 salary cap of roughly $46.1 million, rather than $43.4 million.

That would have been good news for Parker, who could have made an estimated $11.52 million per year under the new CBA. Under the old terms, he would have maxed out at $10.8 million.

But it all remains to be seen what Milwaukee decides to do with one of the cornerstones of its “Own the Future” movement. Parker ranks second on the team in points per game (20.1), third in total rebounds per game (6.2), and fourth in assists per game (2.8).

Bucks to announce D-League details on Wednesday

OSHKOSH, Wis. — The Milwaukee Bucks are set to make an announcement regarding their future NBA D-League team Wednesday in Oshkosh, reports WBAY-TV.

Oshkosh is one of the three finalist cities team president Peter Feigin alluded to during an interview on The Neighborhood late last summer. While no potential team names were mentioned at that time, Feigin said they would take the process seriously. Other cities being considered are Sheboygan and Racine.

The announcement is expected to include details about the construction of a new arena to house the franchise. The WBAY report says Oshkosh investors are proposing a $15 million, privately-funded arena that would seat about 3,500 fans for D-League games, while doubling as a concert venue holding 4,000 people. Construction is expected to begin next month.

Feigin told the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network that a determining factor for which city would house the D-league team would have to bring “attendance, an in-bred fan base, and the financial support…A lot of it is who the partnership group is and then what the excitement, and the activity, and the pre-sales are.”

Milwaukee has been among just a handful of NBA teams without an affiliate, relying upon the league’s “flexible assignment rule” when sending players to the Development League to build up their skills. If everything goes as planned, the Bucks would become the 25th of 30 NBA teams to have its own affiliate.

Spelling errors won’t cost Antetokounmpo potential All-Star bid

MILWAUKEE — People across the NBA are beginning to pronounce (and spell) Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the Milwaukee Bucks forward jokingly expressed concern over lost All-Star votes due to misspellings.

“Imagine how many votes didn’t count,” Antetokounmpo said Friday of the All-Star selection process. “I’d have a million votes if everybody could spell my name right.”

The NBA has come out to say there’s a system in place to account for fan votes that are misspellings of players’ names. For example, the league will count votes for Dwyane Wade regardless of the spelling of his first name. Fans can vote for a player on Twitter by writing out the player’s name along with the hashtag “#NBAVote.”

Players will be selected based on a formula where fan votes account for 50 percent of the selection process, current players votes at 25 percent, and media members’ votes will count toward 25 percent of the decision. NBA officials released this formula for how players at each position are selected:

Antetokounmpo’s recognition has exploded since the 2015-16 season, seeing his votes increase more than 19-fold.

The Neighborhood: Bucks can’t backdoor Antetokounmpo

The Milwaukee Bucks signed Giannis Antetokounmpo to a four-year, $100 million contract extension on Tuesday afternoon, locking up a key member of the franchise through the 2020-21 season. Antetokounmpo’s deal puts the Bucks in a great position because the Greek Freak took about $6 million less than a max contract to give Milwaukee room to operate when it comes to future roster moves.

But will Antetokounmpo be rewarded for his generosity or will the Bucks take advantage when it comes to his next deal?

Antetokounmpo has been one of the most vocal supporters of the city of Milwaukee and didn’t ask for an additional fifth year on the contract due to the potential of a fluctuating salary cap after the 2017 collective bargaining agreement is reached. A fifth year could have bound Milwaukee into a bad financial situation should the salary cap drop below the Bucks’ expectations. The deal also includes to player option for that fourth year, keeping Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee for the full length of the deal.

There are some instances of instability in the Bucks’ organization, however, that should keep Antetokounmpo’s head on a swivel.

Last season, the Bucks went a disappointing 33-49 and missed the postseason even after adding free agent gem Greg Monroe. It took until after the All-Star break for head coach Jason Kidd to move Antetokounmpo to point guard, which provided almost instant success for the 21-year-old phenom. Antetokounmpo finished with an average of 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. He also became the youngest Bucks player to record a triple double, logging 27 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in a Feb. 22 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

There was also the security breach from this past May, in which several Milwaukee Bucks players had their financial information stolen, including social security numbers, addresses, compensation, and more. An email scam compromised their security, which is cause for concern when thinking long term about what that means for Antetokounmpo.

I’m not saying the Bucks have it out for Antetokounmpo or any other player, but let’s hope the young Greece native isn’t naïve to some of the corruption that happens in major and professional sports in the United States. If Milwaukee wants to have future chances at greatness and win a championship for the first time since 1971, they’ll make good on their debt of gratitude to Antetokounmpo and lead him to the top of the NBA mountain.

Sheboygan Armory would be used for more than Bucks basketball

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — Joe Wolf is spearheading an effort to bring a Milwaukee Bucks NBA Development League team to Sheboygan, but his proposal to refurbish the Armory would mean a venue for community events and youth programs as well.

“We’d like to provide a safe zone for kids,” Wolf told the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network on Sunday. “There are a lot of troubling things in the Sheboygan community that we’d like to take out of the kids’ lives and we’d like to set the right foundation.”

Wolf is the leader of Lakefront Jewel Group, which hopes to raise enough funds to renovate the Armory, which hasn’t seen much action since the 1990’s. The Armory was once home to the Sheboygan Red Skins, a National Basketball League team operating from the years of 1938 to 1949.

One of the community issues Wolf hopes his plan will protect children from is rampant drug use. According to a WHBL interview in 2015 with Samaritans Hand director Kent Kollath, one of the most common drugs used in Sheboygan County is heroin.

“Actually, the impact in Sheboygan County is bigger than anybody would even be aware of. People aren’t really aware of all the overdoses that they don’t hear about. The problem is huge and all of the problems related to the heroin problem; homelessness, crime, it could be prostitution, neglect of their children — it’s just flooding our city.”

 
A Sheboygan County data report from 2014 shows heroin as one of the most prevalent drugs used in eastern Wisconsin.

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The Bucks have set the goal to have an affiliate team up and running by the 2017 season. It’s a lofty goal, but one Wolf says they can realistically meet.

 

Milwaukee has narrowed down its choices for their affiliate team to three and hopes to make a decision by mid-September before gaining NBA approval.

LISTEN: Bucks delay D-League decision by two weeks

MILWAUKEE — The process of naming a host city for a Milwaukee Bucks NBA Development League team is taking longer than expected, pushing the decision date into September.

In an interview with the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network, team president Peter Feigin says he expects that decision to come down in the next four to six weeks, with the longer end of that time frame bumping up against Milwaukee’s start of training camp.

 

While Feigin said the team is now considering “about three cities” as the affiliate’s host, the decision comes down to more than just location. Location was a factor, however, in ruling out La Crosse, despite being the only reported city with an arena already in place.

Among the cities believed to be in the running, Sheboygan has launched a site with renderings of a proposed arena. Oshkosh and Racine are also considered strong contenders.

According to Feigin, the city which wins the bidding war will have “attendance, a [built-in] fan base, and then actually have the financial support to do it.” The partnership group and excitement level will also come into play.

Sheboygan’s ownership group, Lakefront Jewel Group, is headed by former Milwaukee Bucks player and assistant coach Joe Wolf. Wolf was also an assistant with the Brooklyn Nets for the 2014-15 season and has experience coaching NBA Development League teams. The Group’s Web site lists 2017 as the year in which the proposed arena will be completed, which falls in line with Milwaukee’s plan to have a team established by that time frame.

At this time, no team names have been generated and no sponsorship opportunities have publicly been announced.

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.

 

UPDATE: Dwyane Wade cancels meeting with Bucks

UPDATE: Zach Lowe of ESPN reports that Dwyane Wade has cancelled his meeting with the Milwaukee Bucks, citing unnamed sources. He’s also cancelled meetings with some other teams during this free agency period.

Rumors had also been circulating that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were hoping to meet with Wade.


MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks will reportedly meet with veteran free agent Dwyane Wade on Wednesday to discuss a potential return to the city he called home during his college days at Marquette.

The Miami Heat have offered Wade a two-year, $40 million contract after the Golden State Warriors signed one of Miami’s main targets, Kevin Durant. Many analysts believe the Bucks can sway Wade to come to Milwaukee by offering a third year on their contract offer, but they wouldn’t be able to match Miami’s dollar offer because of Greg Monroe’s contract. NBA writer Frank Madden believes Milwaukee’s odds at landing Wade hinge mainly on moving Monroe and his $17 million.

It’s still possible Milwaukee gets some shooting help,  after reports surfaced that the Cleveland Cavaliers likely won’t match the Bucks’ four-year, $38 million offer sheet for Matthew Dellavedova. The deadline for the moratorium period is 11:01 p.m. CT on Wednesday.