The fun/annoying/exhausting part about covering the four weeks of mayhem leading up to the draft? The echo chamber of ever-changing rumors, front office wrangling and agent posturing that goes into it all.
Now that the lotto has cemented the draft order, that echo chamber will be throwing plenty of speculation and conflicting information our way, so I'll offer this disclaimer: take everything with a grain of salt, and remember that lots of people have lots of reasons for putting information out there.
TO THE NOTES!
Boston Globe | Top three prospects will work out for top three teams?
The Boston Globe's Baxter Holmes has some potentially excellent news for fans of the Cavaliers, Bucks and Sixers:
League sources say that the draft's top three prospects - Duke's Jabari Parker and Kansas's Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid - are likely to do individual workouts only for the teams with the top three picks - Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia.
Well wouldn't that be nice?
Immediately following the lottery, David Morway expressed confidence that the Bucks would get access to the top prospects leading up to the draft (see the DraftExpress video at the bottom of this post), so hopefully the Globe report can be taken as validation of that confidence. Still, Billy McKinney hedged his bets on the topic during a Wednesday interview on 1250 WSSP, acknowledging that you never know how agents might try to manipulate the process. So (as always) we probably need to wait and see how things play out.
As far as why all of this matters, Embiid is really the key name here. Earlier in the week we heard multiple reports that agent Arn Tellem--who also reps Parker--was specifically trying to steer Embiid away from the Bucks, which could have meant denying Milwaukee an individual workout/physical or even just access to Embiid's medical records. Hardly an ideal scenario given Embiid's prodigious talents come with lingering concerns about a back injury that prematurely ended his freshman season and may stlll not be 100% healed. But hey, at least he was standing upright during the lottery show, eh?
So why the (potential) change in heart from Embiid? Did Yi Jianlian tell him about our river and lake? Did he hear about Kopps' frozen custard? Possibly. But some other explanations are probably more likely. Seeing the Lakers fall to #7 dashed all of the top prospects' hopes of landing in a big/warm media market, and Milwaukee doesn't seem so unappealing when it's placed next to Cleveland, Philly, Orlando and Utah. Moreover, we have no idea what kind of conversations might have happened between the Bucks and Tellem, whose representation of both Embiid and Parker makes him one of the league's power players over the next few weeks. And for the conspiracy theorists, it's probably worth pointing out that the Bucks brought Tellem client Brandon Knight with them to the lottery night proceedings. Did we mention he's up for a contract extension this summer?
Basketball Insiders | Kyler: Who Wants To Move A Pick?
Steve Kyler reiterates the general view that the Bucks remain rather wide open in their search for a favorite among the top four prospects--though as of Wednesday he was still peddling the "Embiid will try to avoid Milwaukee" angle.
The Bucks have had eyes for Embiid for most of the season, but it seems pretty clear that his agents are trying to steer him away from Milwaukee. That’s not going to stop the Bucks from doing their due diligence on him in the event that Cleveland passes.
Word from the Draft Combine was that Jabari Parker and Dante Exum were the top two candidates for the Bucks and both may be there when the Bucks select at number two. There is a sense that new ownership in Milwaukee is going to have a lot of say in where this pick gets used and as much as the current management may want to go with Exum and set them up going forward, there may be a desire from ownership to pick a named guy that the fans can connect with.
Strategically, the Bucks would seem to be in a pretty good spot as far as keeping everyone else guessing: ESPN's Chad Ford has maintained for some time that the Bucks would take Wiggins if he's on the board, while Kyler mentions the Bucks having interest in everyone but Wiggins. I'm not sure if the Bucks would entertain trading down with either Philly (which owns the #3/10 picks) or Orlando (#4/12), but at a minimum there's no harm in keeping everyone guessing.
As for what's next, Billy McKinney was in Southern California this week for a slew of prospect workouts, and it's worth noting that Wiggins was supposed to take part in a group workout arranged by BDA Sports in L.A. on Friday. I haven't seen confirmation that the Bucks would be there, but it'd be a bit of a story if they weren't, right?
Milwaukee Business Journal | New Milwaukee Bucks owners may seek to upgrade team practice facility
One of the more subtle upsides to the Bucks' new era of ownership: the possibility of spending more money on things like facilities, technology and staffing.
"You want to have a culture of having the best facilities and the best environment for the team," Edens said. "I think that the physical plant matters a great deal. That’s why we’re excited about a new arena.
"The practice facility seems perfectly fine but it's probably fair to say it’s not the best practice facility in the league. At the end of the day, we want everything to be first class."
The key point here: "we want everything to be first class," which should be music to the ears of everyone who works, plays or cheers for the Bucks.
While Herb Kohl was never shy about spending money on players, everything else was a bit of a mixed bag--some money was spent on things like SportVU cameras (even before the league adopted it for everyone), and the marketing and ticketing teams did the best they could with creative game night promotions and entertainment. But no one was about to confuse the Bucks with a team like the Mavericks, whose willingness to invest in the bells and whistles--like a $46 million team plane and all the creature comforts a player could dream--has long been perceived as giving them an edge in wooing players and staff alike. It's not to say Kohl was cheap; he regularly lost money trying to field a competitive team, especially before the 2011 CBA began to shift dramatically more revenue sharing towards smaller market teams.
Thankfully, the league's revised revenue structure has now made the Bucks profitable again, and new owners with deeper pockets and fresh ideas appear ready to make big investments to raise the bar even further. A new arena, a new mindset, and a new, young roster to go with it? It's still early, but for the first time in a while there's plenty for Bucks fans to be excited about.