Malcolm Brogdon named NBA Rookie of the Year, Antetokounmpo wins Most Improved

MILWAUKEE | Monday night was a banner night for a couple of Milwaukee Bucks. Guard Malcolm Brogdon was named the 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year. Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was named the NBA’s Most Improved player.

Antetokounmpo beat out Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic for the honor given during Monday’s NBA Awards.  Brogdon, who was also selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team earlier in the day, beat out  Joel Embiid and Dario Saric of the Philadelphia 76ers.  Brogdon becomes the first player who wasn’t a first-round pick to win NBA Rookie of the Year in the common-draft era.

Antetokounmpo was also named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team earlier in the day.

Brogdon led rookies in assists (4.2 apg) and steals (1.12 spg) and ranked second in three-point field goal percentage (40.4) and free throw percentage (86.5). He was also third in field goal percentage (45.7) and fourth in scoring (10.2 ppg). A second round pick (36th overall) in the 2016 NBA Draft, Brogdon became one of just five rookies in NBA history to shoot 40.0 percent or better from 3-point range while averaging at least 4.0 assists per game. He recorded the first rookie triple-double in Bucks’ history, and the only one by a rookie during the 2016-17 season, when he scored 15 points with 12 assists and 11 rebounds at Chicago on Dec. 31.

Antetokounmpo averaged career highs in both blocks (1.9) and steals (1.6) per game during the 2016-17 season, which ranked sixth and 11th in the NBA respectively. He also ranked fifth in total blocks (151) and ninth in total steals (131). Antetokounmpo is the sixth Buck to be named to an NBA All-Defensive team and the first since Alvin Robertson was a First Team All-Defensive Team pick in 1990-91.

Koenig to sign a two-way deal with Milwaukee, Hayes heads to New York

Bronson Koenig has reportedly found an NBA home, and he won’t be going far.

According to Michael Scotto of the Basketball Insiders, the former Wisconsin guard has agreed to join the Milwaukee Bucks.

Though not finalized, Koenig is expected to sign a two-way deal, according to the La Crosse Tribune. The deals are a part of the new CBA, and essentially give every team two more roster spots for players that will spend a majority of their time in the NBA’s G-League. It allows them to develop the player in their system, while also paying them more than the average G-League player.

Koenig worked out for Milwaukee in May, but suffered an ankle injury near the end of the session and was crutches afterwards. That limited his ability to perform in front of other teams until the last few weeks, but he was apparently impressive in those workouts, with ESPN’s Ian Bagley tweeting that the La Crosse product was moving up the draft boards of several teams.

A three-year starter at Wisconsin, Koenig left Madison as the school’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made, and developed a reputation for hitting big shots when the Badgers needed it the most, including a buzzer beater in the 2016 NCAA Tournament to beat Xavier and advance to the Sweet 16.

On Thursday, Koenig wrote a letter via ‘The Players’ Tribune,’ telling general managers around the league why they should take him, including the fact that he believed he was the best shooter in the draft.

While Koenig is staying home, his former teammate, Nigel Hayes, is reportedly headed to play for the New York Knicks. It’s unclear if Hayes’ agreement is a two-way deal or simply for their summer league team.

New York was one of the team’s Hayes worked out for in the pre-draft process.

NBA Draft: Bucks select Michigan’s D.J. Wilson, trade for SMU’s Sterling Brown

The long and lanky Milwaukee Bucks became even more so in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft Thursday night.

Under the guidance of new general manager Jon Horst, who was just promoted to the job last Friday, the Bucks selected Michigan power forward D.J. Wilson with the 17th pick of the night.

The 6-foot-10, 235-pound Wilson averaged 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds during his sophomore campaign, but really started to play well down the stretch for the Wolverines. He had 17 points and six rebounds in a victory against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, and averaged 16 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in the NCAA tournament as Michigan made a run to the Sweet 16.

Wilson’s career got off to a slow start, with a knee injury limiting him to just five games as a freshman. During the 2015-16 season, the California native was used minimally, appearing in 26 games but averaging just 6.1 minutes. His breakout came last season, as he paired with another big man, Moe Wagner, to form one of the better frontcourts in the Big Ten.

LISTEN: Bucks post-draft press conference

Considered more of a finesse scorer, Wilson will join a team stacked with length but in desperate need of some consistent outside shooting, which he should be able to help with, after hitting 37.3 percent of his 3-pointers a year ago.

In the second round, Milwaukee chose South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell with the 48th overall pick, but quickly traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers for cash considerations. They then went and acquired SMU’s Sterling Brown, who had been Philadelphia’s pick at No. 46.

As a senior, Brown averaged 13.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, while shooting 44.9 percent from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound, Brown is originally from Maywood, Ill.

Report: Greg Monroe to opt in for 2017-18 season

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks will retain their prized free agency acquisition from 2015, after the team was notified Wednesday morning that center Greg Monroe would exercise his player option and return for the 2017-18 season. The Vertical  was the first to report the news, which has since been confirmed by several other media outlets.

Monroe signed a three-year, $51.4 million contract with the Bucks in 2015 worth an average of $17.1 million per season. That was a huge payday for an offensive mainstay in Detroit that earned $5.4 million in 2014, his final season with the Pistons.

While not confirmed at the time of publication, Monroe’s motivation for re-upping with the Bucks is likely two-fold: The uncertainty of a very active trade season throughout the NBA; And the balance of potential success with the Bucks paired with a large contract. Monroe’s decision nets him an additional $17.88 million this upcoming season, although his role could change with the NBA Draft on Thursday night.

The consensus among many mock draft analysts is that Milwaukee will select a center in Thursday’s draft, leaving Monroe’s status up in the air. He was relegated to a bench role in 2016, which Monroe learned from reporters during a preseason Media Day session.

NBA G League accidentally leaks Bucks affiliate logo

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks planned on unveiling their new G League affiliate logo on Thursday during a special event paired with the NBA Draft, but that logo appears to have been released prematurely.

The Wisconsin Herd, Milwaukee’s new G League affiliate set to debut in Oshkosh, appears to be taking a page from the professional franchise’s book, using a redesigned version to represent the affiliate team. The authenticity of the logo has not been verified, but after displaying the logo on their website for each NBA team’s affiliate, the image has since been removed.

The G League, formerly known as the NBA D League (Development League), has been renamed due to a sponsorship with Gatorade. The organization has not issued a statement on the leak.

Bucks confirm Horst will be next GM

MILWAUKEE — He may not have been their first choice, but the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t have to look far to find their next general manager.

The team confirmed on Friday evening that Jon Horst would be the next GM, promoting  the 34-year-old from director of player personnel. Horst has been with the Bucks organization since 2008.

It wasn’t exactly a straightforward hire for Milwaukee, who interviewed six candidates on June 5-6 in New York. That field was cut in half and interviewed in Milwaukee the following week. After it appeared the search had come down to Denver Nuggets executive Arturas Karnisovas and interim Bucks GM Justin Zanik, the Nuggets preempted Milwaukee’s next move by promoting him as their general manager.

After Karnisovas withdrew his name from consideration for the Milwaukee job, the feeling around much of the state was that Milwaukee would promote Zanik. That didn’t happen, mainly because of what was perceived to be some disagreement among the ownership group.

“Our No. 1 priority is building a championship-caliber organization and we believe Jon is the right person to be our general manager,” the Bucks’ ownership group said in a statement. “He has been an integral part of basketball operations for the last nine years, and has helped advise us on every major basketball decision since we purchased the team. Jon is very talented, capable, organized and someone we have leaned on for his strategic thinking and ability to execute our vision.”

Horst will be introduced on Monday with a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. Reports suggest the Bucks plan to add a veteran executive to work alongside Horst during the transition.

Several big decisions are looming over the Bucks organization within the next few weeks. The NBA Draft begins on Thursday, which also happens to be the deadline for center Greg Monroe to exercise his nearly $18 million player option for a third year on his contract. Guard Tony Snell also becomes a restricted free agent on July 1.

Reports: Bucks to hire Horst as new GM

Amid internal strife, the Milwaukee Bucks apparently have their new general manager.

ESPN’s Mark Stein was the first to report the team would officially announce sometime Friday that they were elevating Jon Horst, their current director of basketball operations, to GM.

Earlier on Friday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ‘The Vertical,’ tweeted there was some “contentious ownership disagreement” over the search for John Hammond’s replacement. While interim GM Justin Zanik had the backing of owner Marc Lasry and coach Jason Kidd, there was no a clear consensus.

Horst has been with Milwaukee since 2008, and there were some reports that suggested that Hammond was considering him for a role with Orlando, where he is now the GM.

Zanik was thought to be the front runner when Hammond left last month, but the team conducted a vast search that has now lasted close to a month. During that time, Zanik has been preparing for the NBA draft, which is less than a week away.

Bucks to hold throwback game at UW Milwaukee Panther Arena

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks will celebrate 50 years of the franchise this season by holding one game at the UW | Milwaukee Panther Arena.

That announcement was made on Saturday during the team’s third annual block party in downtown Milwaukee. The arena, once known as the “MECCA,” will play host to a Bucks game this coming season for a date yet to be determined. The Bucks called the arena home during its inaugural season in 1968 until their final year in the building in 1988.

“What can be more fitting to celebrate 50 seasons of the Milwaukee Bucks than returning to the venue that holds so much of the franchise’s history?” Bucks president Peter Feigin said in a statement. “It’s going to be such a unique and special occasion for our current players to take the court at the MECCA and for our fans to experience the early era of the Bucks.”

The “catch” for fans hoping to take part in this special promotion is that tickets for the game will only be available with purchase of a full season ticket plan. The date and opponent will be unveiled at a later date.

Bucks unveil team name for new D-League franchise

We knew the Milwaukee Bucks would be outfitting a D-League team this fall and it would play in Oshkosh. Now we know what they’ll be called.

Bucks’ officials announced on Thursday that the new franchise will go by the Wisconsin Herd.

“We are proud to call our D-League team the Wisconsin Herd, which we believe will resonate with fans across the state,” Bucks President Peter Feigin said in a statement. “The Herd will become an important brand extension of the Bucks and we’re excited to watch the emerging talent in the upcoming season.”

The D-League is the NBA’s version of the minor leagues of baseball. The addition of the Herd will give the league 26 teams in 2017.

“The Wisconsin Herd is so much more than a team name; it’s a brand that embodies a group of players fighting to join the Milwaukee Bucks, along with an excited fan base ready to rally behind Wisconsin’s newest team,” Wisconsin Herd President Steve Brandes said in a release from the team. “We hope the people of the Fox Valley join the Herd today with family-affordable season tickets to watch future NBA talent.”

The new logo for the Herd will be unveiled at a special event in Oshkosh on June 22.

Report: Bucks have narrowed down GM candidates to three

MILWAUKEE — Two weeks after general manager John Hammond left the Milwaukee Bucks for the Orlando Magic, his former team has reportedly narrowed its choices down to three for its next GM.

Arturas Karnisovas (Denver Nuggets, Assistant GM), Wes Wilcox (Atlanta Hawks, Ownership Advisor), and Justin Zanik (Milwaukee Bucks, Interim GM) are the finalists, according to The Vertical. The Bucks held interviews in New York City Monday and Tuesday and will invite Karnisovas and Wilcox to Milwaukee later this week.

Team owners Jamie Dinan, Wes Edens, and Marc Lasry will continue to be involved in the hiring process while Zanik takes care of pre-draft responsibilities. Upon his hire last June, Zanik had received the moniker “GM-in-waiting” but team president Peter Feigin told the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network at the time that’s not true.

Karnisovas was nearly hired to be the next GM in Brooklyn last season, but took an assistant role in Denver under Tim Connelly. A former NBA player, Karnisovas also won two Olympic medals with the Lithuanian team.

Wilcox took over as GM of the Hawks in 2015, leading Atlanta to 48 and 43-win seasons thanks to his roster management. Since then, he’s taken a more hands-off approach as an advisor.

No timetable has been set for when Milwaukee plans to make a hire, but it figures to come this month, with the NBA Draft set for June 22.