Reports: Ersan Ilyasova returning to the Bucks

Ersan Ilyasova is coming back to Milwaukee.

The 31-year-old forward has agreed to a 3-year, $21 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Ilyasova spent his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Bucks before being traded to the Detroit Pistons in the summer of 2015. Over the next three seasons, Ilyasova spent time with the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers.

A big that could help space the floor for Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 6-foot-10 Ilyasova did average 10.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last year while shooting 36-percent from 3-point range.

Ilyasova’s familiarity with new Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer — the two were together in Atlanta — likely played some role in the two sides coming together.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finishes sixth in MVP race

The 2017-18 season was a bit underwhelming for the Milwaukee Bucks as a team, but forward Giannis Antetokounmpo certainly lived up to expectations.

Antetokounmpo finished in sixth place in the voting for the 2018 NBA MVP. Houston’s James Harden was the winner, finishing with 86 first-place votes.

Antetokounmpo was sixth behind Harden, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, and Russell Westbrook.

James finished with 15 first-place votes, and no other player received a single first-place vote. James also had 79 votes for second-place, the most of any player.

As for Antetokounmpo, he finished one point behind Oklahoma City’s Westbrook. Westbrook totaled 76 votes, while Antetokounmpo finished with 75.

Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jimmy Butler, Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, and Victor Oladipo rounded out the voting.

In his fifth season Antetokounmpo was named an NBA All-Star for the second straight season while averaging 26.9 points per game and 10 rebounds. Antetokounmpo was also named second-team All-NBA.

Milwaukee Bucks select Donte DiVincenzo in first round

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks selected guard Donte DiVincenzo with the No. 17 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.

DiVincenzo, a product of Villanova, was named the 2018 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player as he helped to lead the Wildcats to their second national championship victory in three seasons.

In his junior season DiVincenzo averaged 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 48.1 percent from the floor including 40.1 percent from 3-point range.

DiVincenzo is comfortable in both catch and shoot situations as well as creating his own shots off the dribble.

“The workout with Milwaukee, I just went out there and visited,” DiVincenzo said at the draft after he was selected. “It was toward the end and we sat down and talked for awhile. I talked to chaco [Budenholzer], and I saw with the front office and a couple other players were there. Malcolm Brogdon was there working out, so I got to talk to him a little bit. Everyone was just welcoming. Everybody was great. They were great people and they really took interest in me. They treated me great there. I’m just thankful to be a part of their organization.”

DiVincenzo was named the Sixth Man of the Year in the Big East for the 2017-18 season. He played in all 40 of Villanova’s games this past season, starting 10 of them. The 6-foot-5 guard was also named as a 2016-17 Big East All-Freshman Team selection.

“He’s obviously a sixth starter, but he brings whatever we need,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said about DiVincenzo earlier this year. “If we need a scoring punch, he brings it. If we need defense, he brings it. To have a sixth guy like that is invaluable.”

“Very excited to add a player like him to our roster,” Milwaukee general manager Jon Horst said after the selection. “Man of high character, highly competitive, athletic, has good size for a combo guard, can shoot the ball and is a proven winner.

“Donte was our guy, if you were up there and saw the election in our room when he got [to No. 17]. We were worried about it. We thought he was going to go a bit before us.”

DiVincenzo was rumored to be selected with the No. 16 pick by the Phoenix Suns — one spot ahead of Milwaukee — but the Philadelphia 76ers called them to trade for Zhaire Smith instead.

Sterling Brown to sue Milwaukee police

Milwaukee Bucks rookie Sterling Brown was arrested over a dispute involving a parking violation in Milwaukee on Jan. 26. Brown was tased and arrested during the incident.

Brown is expected to file a federal civil rights on Tuesday against the Milwaukee Police Department and the city with claims of wrongful arrest and excessive force.

During the incident Brown was parked illegally as he entered a Walgreens in Milwaukee. He came out to a police officer waiting for him and questions about his parking violation.

Brown did show identification and was not recognized as a member of the Bucks by the responding officer before backup was called for.

Later that day, Brown had noticeable facial bruising and markings when he spoke with the media prior to Milwaukee’s 116-91 win over the Brooklyn Nets. The body camera footage of Brown’s arrest and tasing can be found here.

Milwaukee Bucks NBA leader in season-ticket sales

There is often excitement surrounding a franchise when a new stadium, arena, or field is opened. That certainly applies to the Milwaukee Bucks as the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center is set to open for the 2018-19 NBA season.

That excitement is palpable according to ESPN’s Darrel Rovell as the Milwaukee Bucks are now the NBA leader in season-ticket sales for next season.

According to the report from Rovell, the Bucks have sold 8,400 season tickets and is on pace to sell 10,000 season tickets for the first time in franchise history. The Bucks have also sold out all 67 suites in the new arena.

The naming rights for the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center have not yet been sold but a deal is reportedly imminent.

Milwaukee Bucks name assistant coaches

When the Milwaukee Bucks hired coach Mike Budenholzer in May he spoke to the media about wanting to move quickly in filling out his staff of assistant coaches. He also was hopeful that he would be able to bring in members of his staff from his five seasons in Atlanta as coach of the Hawks.

On Thursday morning it was announced that Budenholzer’s staff has been filled out with five members from his time in Atlanta.

Darvin Ham, Taylor Jenkins, Charles Lee, Ben Sullivan, and Patrick St. Andrews all spent time in Atlanta under Budenholzer and will be joining him in Milwaukee, the team announced. Sean Sweeney, who was an assistant coach for the Bucks under Jason Kidd and later Joe Prunty, has also been retained under Budenholzer.

“I’m thrilled to have my staff together again as we work to help improve our players and build sustained success here in Milwaukee,” Budenholzer said in a press release. “I am also excited to work with Sean [Sweeney], who is highly thought of in the league.”

Ham, Jenkins, Lee, and Sullivan were all part of the Eastern Conference All-Star coaching staff in 2014-15 when Budenholzer’s Hawks won 60 games and finished with the best record in the conference.

Ham and Jenkins had spent the past five seasons in Atlanta with Budenholzer while Lee and Sullivan had each been there for four years. St. Andrews was named as an assistant coach with the Hawks prior to this season, but was an assistant in basketball operations beginning in 2013 before working in the video department from 2014 until 2017.

Sweeney will be returning to the Bucks for his fifth season. He also spent one year as an assistant coach in Brooklyn with Kidd and was the Nets assistant video coordinator for two seasons prior to that.

Giannis Antetokounmpo earns All-NBA honors

For the first time since the mid-1980s, the Milwaukee Bucks have put a player on an All-NBA Team in consecutive years.

The league announced its all All-NBA teams on Thursday, and the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo was a second-team pick for a second straight year. The 23-year-old becomes the first member of the franchise to earn All-NBA honors in back-to-back years since Sidney Moncrief did so in the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons.

An All-Star starter for a second consecutive season, Antetokounmpo had career-highs in points (26.9) and rebounds (10.0) per game, while helping Milwaukee make the playoffs again.

Antetokounmpo got 28 first-team votes, the most of anyone not to make it.

Here are the full All-NBA teams:

First team

James Harden | Houston
LeBron James – Cleveland
Anthony Davis – New Orleans
Damian Lillard — Portland
Kevin Durant – Golden State

Second team

Giannis Antetokounmpo — Milwaukee
Russell WestbrookOklahoma City
Joel Embiid – Philadelphia
LaMarcus Aldridge – San Antonio
DeMar DeRozan – Toronto

Third team

Stephen Curry – Golden State
Victor Oladipo – Indiana
Karl-Anthony Towns — Minnesota
Jimmy Butler – Minnesota
Paul George – Oklahoma City

Video of Sterling Brown arrest released

The City of Milwaukee Police Department has released the body camera footage from the January 26, 2018 arrest of Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown.

Brown was tasered and arrested over a dispute with police involving a parking spot early in the morning of January 26. The video can be seen below.

Statements from Brown, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the City of Milwaukee Police Department have all been released as well.

Brown released his statement via Twitter on Wednesday evening.

The Bucks followed with an official press release moments later.

The City of Milwaukee Police Department apologized at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon shortly  the footage of the arrest was released. Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales stated that after an internal investigation the officers who acted inappropriately have been disciplined internally.

“I am sorry this incident escalated to this level,” Morales told the media. He did not take any questions from reporters.

Brown plans to file a civil lawsuit against the Milwaukee Police Department.

Brown played in 54 games this season for the Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged four points per game in 14.4 minutes played. In the playoffs Brown saw action in three games of Milwaukee’s first round loss to the Boston Celtics.

Five thoughts from Mike Budenholzer’s introductory press conference

MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Bucks officially introduced Mike Budenholzer as the 16th coach of the team on Monday afternoon at the Wisconsin Sports and Entertainment Center. Budenholzer had spent the past five seasons as the coach of the Atlanta Hawks, with his role doubling as President of Basketball Operations in the first four of those seasons.

The hiring of Budenholzer concluded a search that officially started when the Bucks lost Game 7 of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs to the Boston Celtics back on April 29th. Milwaukee reportedly interviewed a number of candidates including Spurs’ assistants Becky Hammon, Ettore Messina, and James Borrego, former Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford, and former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt before hiring Budenholzer.

Five takeaways from Budenholzer’s introductory press conference
Defense, defense, defense

One area where the Bucks drastically underachieved was on the defensive end of the floor. The team is comprised of mostly long, athletic players, and the defensive side of the ball should have been a place where Milwaukee thrived. Instead, the Bucks finished 17th in defensive rating this past season despite the talented roster they held.

“The thing that probably stands out to me first is the potential on the defensive side of the ball. I would say that’s been always something that’s prioritized,” Budenholzer said about his time in Atlanta and San Antonio. “We want to be great on both sides of the ball. Whether it be the last five years in Atlanta as a head coach, I think San Antonio at the end of the day has always been great defensively. With the individual talents we have here in Milwaukee and how we can get them – one of the words I used in the interview process is how can we unlock this talent defensively – I just think there is so much to work with.”

Budenholzer is correct in this thinking. All-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has the potential to be one of the best defensive players in the NBA, and while his teammates aren’t exactly that caliber, there’s little doubt they should be better than they have been.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

Much was made of the accurate report from ESPN’s Zach Lowe stating that Budenholzer shared breakfast with Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton the morning prior to Milwaukee hiring him.

Budenholzer reaffirmed that when he was asked about it at his introductory press conference on Monday.

“It was a great opportunity to sit and visit with both Khris and Giannis. Just kind of talk basketball, talk a little bit about families, life,” Budenholzer said. “I think it was such a smart and important part of the process. I think how important both players are to us in the short term and the long term. As a coach, you’re only as good as your players and I think to connect with them on a lot of different levels. It was important that morning, it’s important going forward. It’s important to connect with our entire roster.”

No word on where they ate, or what they had, but it seems as if that breakfast sold Budenholzer on the job, no matter who picked up the check.

Developing Antetokounmpo

Antetokounmpo is the most important player on Milwaukee’s roster, and probably is the most important in the franchise since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar donned a uniform that read Milwaukee across the chest. That’s no secret.

It’s also not a secret that Antetokounmpo still has quite a way to go in order to become the player that many believe he can be. Antetokounmpo has yet to turn 24, but he has also yet to win a playoff series, or see his team finish higher than sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

Antetokounmpo just finished the first year of a four-year contract that runs until the summer of 2021. He’s openly spoken about being loyal and wanting to play his entire career out in Milwaukee, but until he signs his next contract, that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. In today’s NBA stars move from team to team more frequently than they have ever before. In the past five seasons we’ve seen LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and many others either change teams in free agency or force their way out of their current situation via trade.

Not saying that will happen, but Budenholzer getting the most out of Antetokounmpo will ensure that it doesn’t. The relationship between those two will be key for the success of the Bucks today, tomorrow, and years from now.

San Antonio background

Almost every franchise in the NBA envies the success of the San Antonio Spurs. That’s no secret as San Antonio has been the model of consistency for the past three decades, missing the playoffs only once since 1989, including making the postseason every year since 1998.

The Bucks are trying to emulate the Spurs, and that was no secret during the interviewing process. Milwaukee reportedly interviewed three members of the (then) Spurs staff and one front office member in Monty Williams.

While they didn’t hire directly from San Antonio, Budenholzer does have almost as much experience under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich as the four direct ties combined. He was an assistant in San Antonio from 1996 until he accepted the head coaching position with the Atlanta Hawks in 2013. This hire is as close to hiring directly from the Spurs as it gets without actually doing so.

Wisconsin Sports and Entertainment Center

The press conference was held in the soon-to-be home of the Bucks, the Wisconsin Sports and Entertainment Center.

The arena is still waiting on a permanent name, it’s also waiting to be finished. In one of the stranger experiences of this writer’s career, all media and team personnel, with the exception of Budenholzer and Horst, were dressed complete with a hard hat, reflective vest, safety goggles, and work gloves while inside the arena.

Milwaukee Bucks new head coach Mike Budenholzer speaks at a news conference in the team’s new arena Monday, May 21, 2018, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

It was an oddity to say the least, and truthfully the press conference probably would have been much better served taking place in the team’s practice facility right down the street. The Bucks wanted to show off the brand-new arena, but the media having to wear protective gear for one of the bigger moments in the history of the franchise seems incredibly silly.

On the bright side, there was cake. And who doesn’t love cake.

Bucks make it official, hire Mike Budenholzer as coach

The Milwaukee Bucks have their new head coach.

News broke Wednesday that the organization had hired Mike Budenholzer to oversee the team and the franchise made it official Thursday afternoon.

“Mike has played a key role in building successful teams throughout his career,” general manager Jon Horst said in release. “He’s widely respected and has shown a special ability to teach and develop players. His leadership, basketball intellect, championship-level experience and communication skills make him the right fit to take our team to the next level.”

A longtime assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, Budenholzer spent the last five seasons as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. There, he made four playoff appearances and was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2015. The 48-year-old went 213-197 with the Hawks, but just 17-22 in the postseason, including one trip to the conference finals.

The Bucks reportedly interviewed at least six candidates for the job before settling on Budenholzer. He met with the team on Tuesday and then, according to Zach Lowe, had breakfast with stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton on Wednesday.

Budenholzer takes over a team that many think is on the rise and one that will be playing in a brand new building next season. It’s a franchise that has made the playoffs in three of the last four seasons, including pushing Boston to seven games in the opening round this year. With Antetokounmpo, he’s got one of the top 10 players in the NBA, while Middleton is among the more underrated wing players in the game.

“There are terrific people throughout the organization and together we have a tremendous opportunity to take the Bucks to the next level,” Budenholzer said in the release. “I look forward to working with our group of young and exciting players and helping us evolve in many ways to succeed on the court. The venues are also in place with an incredible, new state-of-the art arena and first-class Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center. The tremendously supportive fans in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin are waiting and ready. Now it’s up to us to put all the pieces together, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Budenholzer replaces Jason Kidd, who was fired midseason. His assistant, Joe Prunty, served as Milwaukee’s interim coach and was not retained.