Milwaukee makes trade for Jrue Holiday official

The Milwaukee Bucks made several moves official Tuesday that had been reported over the last week.

The big one was the trade for guard Jrue Holiday, getting him from New Orleans for guard Eric Bledsoe and two first round picks. The Pelicans also have the right to swap first-round picks with Milwaukee in 2024 and 2026. Guard George Hill was also traded as part of the deal to Oklahoma City.

“Jrue is an incredibly high character person and one of the premier guards in the NBA,” Bucks GM Jon Horst stated in a release. “He will make us better on both ends of the floor, as he’s an elite defender and a proven playmaker on offense with the ability to score, shoot and facilitate. His experience will help our team and we are thrilled to welcome him and his family to Milwaukee.”

Holiday averaged 19.1 points and 6.7 assists last season for the Pelicans. He’s a two-time All-NBA Defensive team member and is considered to be among the best defensive guards in the league.

Milwaukee also got the draft rights to Utah State guard Sam Merrill from the Pelicans. Merrill was the final pick of last Wednesday’s draft.

“Sam is someone we’ve had our eye on over his last couple seasons at Utah State,” Horst stated. “He has demonstrated the ability to shoot at a high percentage and we like his size and overall feel for the game. We’re excited to get him into camp and watch him compete at this level.”

The Bucks also announced the resigning of guard Pat Connaughton, to what was reportedly a three-year deal. He averaged 5.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists for Milwaukee last season.

“Pat is a tireless worker who has proven to be an integral member of our team the last two seasons,” Horst stated. “In addition to his dependable play on both ends of the court, Pat is a great teammate who has also embraced his role in the community, and we look forward to more contributions from him as he continues to grow and develop.”

Bucks reportedly agree to deals with free agents D.J. Augustin, Bobby Portis

Milwaukee has reportedly added a pair of players in free agency.

News broke Saturday that the Bucks had agreed to deals with forward Bobby Portis and guard DJ Augustin on the second day of free agency.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Augustin’s deal is for three years and $21 million. The 33-year-old has played for eight teams since being a lottery pick out of Texas in 2009. He was a solid piece for Orlando over the last three seasons, averaging 10.1 points and 4.1 assists per game.

The 5-foot-11, 183-pound Augustin has been a solid 3-point shooter in his career, hitting at a 37.9% clip, though that dipped to 34.8% this past season. He likely takes over as the backup point guard from George Hill and will run the second unit.

For Portis, it will be his fourth team in four years, with his most recent stop being with the Knicks in New York. The 25-year-old averaged 10.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in 2019, down from career highs of 14.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game with Washington in 2018. The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Portis was a first-round pick of the Bulls in 2015 out of Arkansas.

The two deals come on the heals of reports that Milwaukee had re-signed guard Pat Connaughton to a three-year contract.

NBA reportedly opens up tampering investigation into Bucks, Kings potential trade

The NBA is reportedly investigating a potential trade that now appears unlikely between Milwaukee and Sacramento.

According to Mark Stein of the New York Times, the league is looking into potential tampering violations after it was reported Tuesday that the Bucks and Kings had agreed to a sign-and-trade deal involving guard Bogdan Bogdanovic. Because he is a restricted free agent, neither side could not negotiate a new contract with Bogdanovic until Friday when the free agency period begins.

The original deal would have seen the Kings send the sharp-shooting Bogdanovic and forward Justin James to Milwaukee and the Bucks send back Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson and Ersan Ilyasova.

But word came Wednesday night from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Bogdanovic had instead decided to enter restricted free agency, though some suggested at the time that was done to throw off suspicions of tampering.

However, the Bucks waived Ilyasova Thursday night, along with his $7-million salary, which was a significant part of the deal in matching salaries because Milwaukee is over the NBA’s salary cap.

The move to bring Bogdanovic to Milwaukee was the second of two transactions general manager Jon Horst was reportedly set to make this week. The first was getting Jrue Holiday from New Orleans for Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and three first-round picks.

Both moves were designed to remake the roster around two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will be eligible to sign a supermax extension in the coming weeks.

Bucks add a pair of long-range shooters in NBA Draft

Milwaukee didn’t have a first-round pick in Wednesday night’s NBA Draft, but the Bucks had two second-round picks and they used both on guys that shot it well from beyond the arc in college.

With the first of their two selections, GM John Horst grabbed forward Jordan Nwora at pick No. 45.

The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Nwora played three years at Louisville. As a junior he averaged 18.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting 40.2% from 3. Nwora was a first-team All-ACC pick and finished second in voting for player of the year in the conference.

The second addition isn’t official yet, as it’s part of the trade for Jrue Holiday with New Orleans. The Pelicans, picking at No. 60, chose Utah State guard Sam Merrill. Once the trade for Holiday goes through, Merrill will also join Milwaukee.

A four-year contributor for the Aggies, the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Merrill averaged 19.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists as a senior. He shot 46.1% from the floor and 41% on 3-pointers.

Merrill was named the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year as a junior and a first-team All-MWC player as a senior. He finished his career as Utah State’s all-time leader in free throw percentage (89.1%), and second in points (2,197), assists (477) and 3-point field goals (319).

Bucks trade for Bogdan Bogdanovic reportedly falls through

Bogdan Bogdanovic isn’t coming to Milwaukee after all.

It was reported Tuesday that the Sacramento Kings were prepared to send Bogdanovic and forward Justin James to Milwaukee in a sign-and-trade deal that would have seen the Bucks send back Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson and Ersan Ilyasova.

But word came Wednesday night from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Bogdanovic had instead decided to enter restricted free agency when the new league year opens on Friday. The hope, according to ESPN, is to land an offer sheet from another team or another sign-and-trade deal.

The move to bring Bogdanovic to Milwaukee was the second of two transactions general manager Jon Horst was reportedly set to make this week. The first was getting Jrue Holiday from New Orleans for Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and three first-round picks.

Both moves were designed to remake the roster around two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will be eligible to sign a supermax extension in the coming weeks.

Bucks make pair of big trades to bolster roster

(Associated Press) Point guard Jrue Holiday is being traded from New Orleans to Milwaukee, which is aiming to give two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo the improved roster that he seeks with the decision on his supermax contract extension looming, a person with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday.

The Pelicans are getting Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and a package of future first-round draft picks from the Bucks, the person told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no deal had been finalized.

ESPN, The Athletic and The New York Times first reported details of the Holiday trade. ESPN also said the Bucks were executing a second trade with Sacramento, with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Justin James going to Milwaukee for Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson and Ersan Ilyasova.

The trade of Holiday was the second blockbuster involving a point guard since the league allowed transactions to begin again Monday. Chris Paul was traded to the Phoenix Suns by the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier Monday; Paul and Holiday had been mentioned throughout the offseason as point guards who could be moved and were expected to be in high demand.

Hours after the Paul deal got done, Holiday was headed to Milwaukee. The Bucks’ message is clear: They want to win a title, and they want to give Antetokounmpo enough incentive to sign his supermax extension — one that will be worth more than $200 million for five years — before Dec. 21. When Antetokounmpo was announced as the back-to-back MVP in September, he stated his intention openly.

“I’m happy for this, I’m happy for this award,” Antetokounmpo said at the time. “But I want more. … I’ve got to keep getting better. I want to be a champion.”

Bucks general manager Jon Horst, speaking to reporters earlier Monday about the draft and the free-agent period that starts Friday, seemed to drop hints that the Bucks expected to put together a roster that would be better than the one they had last season — when Milwaukee had the NBA’s best regular-season record for the second consecutive season, but fell short of making the NBA Finals anyway. This past season, they were ousted by the Miami Heat in the second round.

“Fun, busy, exciting time of the year,” Horst said. “We are heavily focused on continuing to improve the team. … A lot of action. A lot of activity. And really looking forward to improving the team and getting the season going in early December.”

Holiday will almost certainly make them better. Widely considered one of the best defenders in the NBA, he averaged 19.1 points and 6.7 assists last season and now joins Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton on a Milwaukee roster that will obviously look very different than it did this past season.

Holiday is due to earn $25.4 million this season and holds a $26.3 million player option for next season. Therein lies the gamble for the Bucks: There’s no guarantee that Holiday will stay more than a year, and Antetokounmpo’s future in Milwaukee remains in at least some question as well. And it’s now almost certain that the Bucks will have to fill out their roster for this season with several minimum-salary players, since they’ll owe about $86 million to just Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Holiday this season.

It is the second consecutive offseason in which New Orleans traded a standout for a haul of players and draft picks. In 2019, it was Anthony Davis to the Lakers in a move that saw reigning Most Improved Player Brandon Ingram and more coming to New Orleans; now, it’s Holiday to the Bucks.

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Bucks: Sterling Brown agrees to $750K settlement over arrest

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown and the Milwaukee city attorney have agreed to a revised $750,000 settlement of a lawsuit Brown filed after getting taken to the ground, shocked with a Taser and arrested during an encounter with police in 2018.

City Attorney Tearman Spencer is recommending the payment plus an admission that Brown’s constitutional rights were violated during the arrest that began with a parking violation outside a Walgreen’s store. Brown’s attorney signed the agreement on his behalf Friday.

Spencer’s recommendation came in a letter he sent to Milwaukee Common Council members. The settlement is subject to approval by the city; it wasn’t immediately clear when the council would take it up.

The Bucks said in a statement Monday that “we are pleased that Sterling’s lawsuit has been mutually resolved and that there’s been an important commitment by the City of Milwaukee and its Police Department to make changes to the MPD’s standard operating procedures.”

Brown rejected the Milwaukee City Council’s original offer of $400,000 made in 2019. Brown’s attorney, Mark Thomsen, said at the time that any settlement without an admission of a civil rights violation would go nowhere. Thomsen said the admission was necessary for the city to heal.

Brown contends in his lawsuit that police used excessive force and targeted him because he is Black when they confronted him for parking illegally in a handicapped-accessible spot in January 2018. He was talking with officers while waiting for his citation when the situation escalated. Officers took him down and used a stun gun because he didn’t immediately remove his hands from his pockets, as ordered.

The latest offer also includes unspecified changes to the police department’s policies, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

In a letter dated Nov. 4, Spencer recommended the new settlement proposal to the Common Council’s Committee on Judiciary and Legislation “because of the unpredictability of a trial, and the city’s risk for exposure to compensatory and punitive damages, as well as additional attorney fees and costs.”

NBA players approve plan to start season on Dec. 22

(AP: Tim Reynolds) The National Basketball Players Association voted Thursday to support the notion of starting this coming season on Dec. 22, the date that the league has been targeting in its talks about how and when to get teams back on the floor for a planned 72-game season.

The vote, conducted by the NBPA’s board — which has a player rep from each team, entrusted to speak on behalf of his teammates — is just another part of a lengthy process. Among the primary matters still to be determined: how much escrow will be taken from player salaries because of the shorter-than-usual season, and how the league and the players will navigate testing and other health and safety issues amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

All that has to be worked out before the plans for next season truly become official.

“Additional details remain to be negotiated and the NBPA is confident that the parties will reach agreement on these remaining issues relevant to the upcoming season,” the union said in a statement.

Talks between the NBA and NBPA on those and other topics are continuing, though there is obvious urgency to finalize things. The NBA draft is scheduled for Nov. 18 and the plan presented to players — and now approved by the team reps — calls for training camps to begin on Dec. 1.

Free agency would almost certainly have to be wedged between the draft and the start of those camps, the league year would have to open, trades would have to become permissible again and some players need to be presented with deadlines by which they will have to either accept or decline options for this coming season.

The NBA wanted the Dec. 22 start date over a mid-January notion for many reasons, revenue being foremost among them. A 72-game season, by league estimates, would allow for $500 million more in revenue than a season of no more than 60 games — the mid-January option — would have provided.

The Dec. 22 start also means that the NBA’s traditional Christmas schedule of games will be possible, something the league and its broadcast partners wanted. The season is also expected to conclude before the start of next summer’s Tokyo Olympics, meaning NBA player participation in those games remains possible.

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Giannis named NBA MVP for second straight season

Giannis Antetokounmpo has become the 12th player in NBA to history win back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday morning that the Milwaukee Bucks superstar had edged out the Los Angeles Lakers LeBron James and the Houston Rockets James Harden to take home the coveted award.

Antetokounmpo was dominant for the Bucks in helping them to the best record in the NBA. He averaged a career-best 29.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game, while his Player Efficiency Rating (31.9) was more than two points higher than the next closest player.

Milwaukee joins Boston and the Lakers in having at least two players win the award multiple times. This is Antetokounmpo’s second year winning, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won it three times while playing with the Bucks.

However, Antetokounmpo has done something that not even Abdul-Jabbar could accomplish, winning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. He joins Basketball Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to do it in NBA history.

Giannis Antetokounmpo a unanimous first-team All-NBA pick

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — LeBron James now stands alone in All-NBA recognition history, getting there unanimously.

James was revealed Wednesday as an All-NBA player for a record 16th time, breaking the mark he shared with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. He was a first-team pick on all 100 ballots, joining Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only unanimous first-team selections this season.

Joining them on the first team: Houston guard James Harden, Lakers forward Anthony Davis and Dallas guard Luka Doncic, who got the nod in just his second season in the NBA — becoming the first player to do that since Duncan in 1998-99.

The 21-year-old Doncic is the sixth player to make All-NBA at that age or younger, joining Kevin Durant, James, Duncan, Rick Barry and Max Zaslofsky.

James is a first-team pick for the 13th time in his career, extending his record there. Bryant and Karl Malone were 11-time first-teamers. Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP and the frontrunner to win the award again this season, was picked unanimously for the second consecutive year.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, Denver center Nikola Jokic, Portland guard Damian Lillard, Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul and Toronto forward Pascal Siakam were on the second team.

The third-team picks were Boston forward Jayson Tatum, Miami forward Jimmy Butler, Utah center Rudy Gobert, Philadelphia guard Ben Simmons and Houston guard Russell Westbrook.

Paul and Westbrook are now nine-time All-NBA players, Harden a six-time choice, Lillard is a five-timer and Antetokounmpo, Leonard and Davis are four-time selections. Butler and Gobert are three-time selections, Jokic a two-time choice and Siakam, Tatum and Simmons all joined Doncic as being on the team for the first time.

Harden and Doncic appeared on all 100 ballots — though only James and Antetokounmpo were unanimous as first-team choices on every ballot. Davis and Jokic were on 99 ballots, and Leonard appeared on 98.

The voting was conducted based on regular-season games played through March 11, and voters had to choose two guards, two forwards and one center for each team. Milwaukee forward Khris Middleton did not make All-NBA even though he appeared on more ballots (60) than Simmons (43) and Westbrook (38); they made the team as guards. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid got 39 votes and did not make the team either, after finishing fourth among centers.

Middleton led forwards who didn’t make the team in votes, Embiid did the same for centers and Washington’s Bradley Beal (26 votes) did the same for guards.

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