Free agent guard JR Smith meets with Bucks

JR Smith was recently waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he may not be a free agent for very long. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Milwaukee Bucks are meeting with the 15-year NBA veteran.

Smith, who is 33 years old, played in only 11 games for the Cavs last season.

The Bucks have two roster spots to fill. One of those spots they would like to have a wing shooter. Smith is one of the NBA’s most accurate three-point shooters and he played a vital role in helping the Cavs win their first NBA Championship in 2016.

The 6-6 guard/forward has averaged 12.5 points per game in his career. He won the 2012-13 Sixth Man of the Year Award. However, what Smith is mostly known for is his personality.

The Bucks can only offer him a minimum level contract.

Bucks hire Chad Forcier as assistant coach

The Milwaukee Bucks are adding to their coaching staff for the 2019-20 season. According to league sources, the Bucks plan to hire 23-year veteran Chad Forcier as an assistant coach.

The position opened earlier in the offseason when Taylor Jenkins left to take the head coaching job with the Memphis Grizzlies. Forcier spent last season as an assistant for the Grizzlies.

Forcier has plenty of experience in the league as an assistant. The 46-year old has spent 18 years as an NBA assistant beginning under George Karl and the Seattle SuperSonics for five years in the 1990s.

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer is familiar with Forcier as well. From 2007 until 2013, the two worked together as assistant coaches for the San Antonio Spurs. Forcier has also spent time in Detroit (2001-03), Indiana (2003-07) and Orlando (2016-18).

Giannis ranks third in NBA 2K20 ratings

The overall player ratings for top 20 players in NBA 2K20 were released Monday night. LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard lead the pack each receiving a 97 overall rating.

The reigning MVP and Milwaukee Bucks superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo comes in at third with a 96 overall rating.

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Gamers will have to wait until Sept. 6 to play the game. Now, fans of the basketball video game franchise can begin to strategize which player they want to use the most.

Check out the full list of the top 20 players below:

1. LeBron James, 97

2. Kawhi Leonard, 97

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, 96

4. Kevin Durant, 96

5. James Harden, 96

6. Stephen Curry, 95

7. Anthony Davis, 94

8. Paul George, 93

9. Damian Lillard, 92

10. Joel Embiid, 91

11. Kyrie Irving, 91

12. Nikola Jokic, 90

13. Russell Westbrook, 90

14. Klay Thompson, 89

15. Karl-Anthony Towns, 89

16. Jimmy Butler, 88

17. Kemba Walker, 88

18. Donovan Mitchell, 88

19. Rudy Gobert, 88

20. Blake Griffin, 88

Giannis: ‘I think I am at 60 percent of my potential’

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the reigning NBA MVP and one of the most dominant players in the league. He averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists last season leading the Milwaukee Bucks to 60 wins and an Eastern Conference Finals berth.

At just 24 years old, he is arguably the best young player in the world. There are some “experts” that believe he is currently the best player in the game. However, Giannis doesn’t see it that way.

“There’s a lot of things I can improve on,” Giannis said to ESPN. “First of all, [I have to] look at myself before I look at anybody else. Try to self-improve as much as possible. There are a lot of things that I got to work on in my game.”

“A lot of people say, ‘You are the MVP, you are one of the best players in the league, you are so dominant. But I think I can get better. I think I am at 60 percent of my potential, as good as I can be. I just want to be better. If I am in the same situation again [in the conference finals], react better, play the game better, play better, execute better.”

The Bucks were the favorite entering the Eastern Conference Finals but fell to the Toronto Raptors in six games. That can be looked at as a positive going forward. Giannis and his teammates gained valuable experience they can build on next season.

“My goal is going to stay the same: It’s get better, take it day by day, step by step, and the ultimate goal is to win a championship,” Giannis said. “As long as that we are all on the same page and we are all focused on that goal, why not play for the Bucks 20 years, why not play 25 years? Why not, after playing, be a member of the coaching staff or a member of the front office? But we got to have the same goal. We got to have the same principles. … We got to focus on winning a championship.”

Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and George Hill are all returning to the Bucks going forward. Milwaukee also added veteran center Robin Lopez, veteran wing Wesley Matthews and the Thanasis Antetokounmpo. If the pieces are being built around Giannis, expect him to compete as a Buck.

“I want to be a part of a winning team,” Antetokounmpo continued. “As long as we have the same mindset and same approach to the game, there’s no reason for me to move and not be like Steph [Curry], not like be like Dirk [Nowitzki] or Kobe [Bryant] or Tim Duncan.”

To think that Giannis has just scratched the surface of the player he can be is crazy to think about. There is no doubt he has a few holes in his game, for instance, outside shooting. He has the drive and determination to continue to improve his game. The best part is, he wants to do it in Milwaukee.

The current landscape of the NBA has superstar players moving to different teams constantly. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard will all be playing for a different team in the 2019-20 NBA season than the 2018-19 season. That doesn’t have to be the case for Giannis. It isn’t the case for Portland Trail Blazers’ star Damian Lillard.

Last season was a special year for the Bucks and next season could be even more special. This team will go as far as Giannis can take them.

July 14 is now Giannis Antetokounmpo Day in Milwaukee County

Giannis Antetokounmpo Day is here. The Milwaukee Bucks’ star has his own holiday in Milwaukee county. The county executive Chris Abele shared a photo on Twitter on Sunday.

“Giannis is an exceptional example of what Milwaukee and the Bucks stand for in terms of integrity and humility, indicating that he is more than just an excellent basketball player,” the postage read.

Giannis is coming off a season in which he won his first NBA MVP, leading the Bucks to a 60-win season and Eastern Conference Finals berth.

The Milwaukee Bucks are retooling as they look to make another deep playoff run next season. It will be a tall order to bring a championship to Milwaukee, but Milwaukee County’s government is confident Giannis will eventually bring one home.

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Giannis, Yelich each win an award at the ESPYs

The awards continued to roll in for Giannis Antetokounmpo and Christian Yelich last night.

After claiming NBA MVP in June, Antetokounmpo was named Best Male Athlete and Best NBA Player at the ESPYs. He’s the first Milwaukee Bucks player to win either award at the show, which began in 1993.

Yelich, meanwhile, earned Best MLB Player following his 2018 NL MVP season. The Milwaukee Brewers slugger is the first player in franchise history to win the award. Yelich was also up for Best Breakthrough Athlete but lost out to New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley.

Former Wisconsin soccer star Rose Lavelle also earned an ESPY as part of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. They were named Best Team for their historic run through the World Cup, which they won last Sunday with a 2-0 win over the Netherlands. Lavelle scored the second goal in that game and received the Bronze Boot, recognizing her at the third-best player at the tournament.

You can find a full list of the award winners here.

Bucks agree to two-year deal with Thanasis Antetokounmpo

The Milwaukee Bucks have agreed to a two-year deal with Thanasis Antetokounmpo, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Thanasis is the older brother of 2019 NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Add Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez, the Bucks will feature two pairs of brothers next season.

The contract will be guaranteed and is expected to pay Thanasis a total of $3 million. The 26-year old played in Greece with Panathinaikos the past two years. His last stint in the NBA came in 2015-16 with the New York Knicks.

He was drafted with the 51st overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Knicks. He went on to make NBA D-League All-Defensive Teams in both 2014 and 2015. He shouldn’t be expected to have a big role with the Bucks, but the move will surely make Giannis happy.

Malcolm Brogdon heading to the Pacers

The Milwaukee Bucks entered NBA Free Agency with the knowledge they needed to make a few tough decisions. Restricted Free Agent Malcolm Brogdon was high on that list.

On Sunday, the Bucks made their decision on the combo guard. After retaining free agents Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, the Bucks decided to move on from Brogdon.

The good news is they didn’t lose him for nothing. According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Milwaukee agreed to a sign-and-trade with the Indiana Pacers sending Brogdon in exchange for a first-round pick and two second-round picks. Brogdon will sign a four-year, $85 million deal with Indiana.

If the Bucks decided to match the Pacers’ offer, they would’ve gone into the luxury tax. This move may have had more to do with money than anything else. Replacing Brogdon will have its own challenges. He is coming off a season where he shot over 50% from the field, over 40% from three-point range and over 90% from the free throw line becoming just the eighth player in NBA history to post those numbers.

This move will give Milwaukee some cap flexibility for the future and a few much-needed draft picks. GM Jon Horst has shown he has plenty of tricks up his sleeve during his time in the Bucks’ front office. It will be interesting to see what his next move is.

Khris Middleton re-signs with Bucks for five-year, $178 million deal

The Milwaukee Bucks and Khris Middleton agree to terms on a new contract for five years at $178 million. It was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Middleton previously declined his $13 million player option.

A second-round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Middleton has spent the last six seasons in Milwaukee after one season with the Detroit Pistons. This is the richest contract ever signed by a second-round pick.

The 27-year old is coming off his first All-Star season. He averaged 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists while helping the Bucks to a 60-win season and Eastern Conference Finals berth.

The deal isn’t quite a max contract but is close to it. The Bucks could’ve offered Middleton $190 million over the next five years.

Many people will look at this deal as a bit of an overpay for a player like Middleton. He’s a good basketball player, for sure, but is he worth close to the max?

The answer may not even matter in this situation. Given the Bucks cap situation, they couldn’t sign anyone near the level of Middleton. He’s a long, versatile forward who can shoot the three-ball and takes the challenge of defending the opposition’s best wing. This was a no-brainer for Milwaukee.

The Bucks came two wins away from reaching their first NBA Finals since 1974. Letting their second best player walk for nothing would be far worse than overpaying for him.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was this year’s MVP and is without a doubt the most important player on the team. But, there’s also no doubt this team would be worse off next season without Middleton. If they want to remain contenders over the next several seasons, they’ll have to open up their checkbooks and pay their role players.

“Giannis and I want to win a championship together some day,” Middleton said. “We’ve both already gotten back in the gym this summer and are determined to make next season special. This team is on a mission to win it all for our city.”

Report: Bucks, Brook Lopez agree to four-year deal

The Milwaukee Bucks aren’t wasting any time getting the crew back together. When free agency starts Sunday night, Brook Lopez is planning to sign a four-year, $52 million deal to stay with the Deer.

The 31-year old center was a key signing for the Bucks last season. He averaged 12.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 28.7 minutes per game. Lopez also converted on 45.2 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from beyond the arc. He was the first player in NBA history to average two-plus blocks and two-plus three-pointers made per game.

Head coach Mike Budenholzer now has the perfect center locked up for the next four seasons. Lopez allows the Bucks to space the floor offensively opening up driving lanes for the league’s MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Once known as a dominant post-up player, Lopez has evolved his game to fit today’s NBA. He also does as much on the defensive end as he does on the offensive side. A dominant rim protector, Lopez is able to clog the lane forcing difficult shot attempts at the basket.

This move is a no-brainer for the Bucks.