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Bucks improve (slightly) in ESPN Future Rankings, updates on new TV deal for the NBA

Plus reflections on the FIBA World Cup from Giannis!

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Future Power Rankings - ESPN Insider
The Bucks jumped two spots from 28th to 26th in ESPN's latest Future Power Rankings, mostly on the back of their wealthy new owners and refreshing outlook on rebuilding. Note that these ratings apply to expected on-court performance over the coming three seasons.

After a league-worst 15-67 record in 2013-14, the Bucks have moved up two spots in the Future Power Rankings. The easiest explanation is that the darkest hour has already passed in Milwaukee. The disastrous season, plus the sale of the team from longtime owner Herb Kohl to a group led by Wes Edens and Marc Lasry, have allowed the Bucks to embrace a rebuilding path that should offer more upside than their years of aiming for a bottom-four spot in the playoffs.

There is talent on hand, enough for Milwaukee to rank 23rd in the players category. The highlight of 2013-14 was Greek rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo contributing far ahead of schedule and showing star potential. A frontcourt of Antetokounmpo, No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker and center Larry Sanders is an exciting building block, given the crucial caveat that Sanders can overcome the off-court issues that marred his 2013-14 season. The Bucks' backcourt remains a bigger question mark, but one they can address with future lottery picks. Milwaukee ranks a healthy sixth in the draft category.

Our panel's ranking of Bucks management improved from 28th to 24th, in part because of the ownership change. There are still questions about GM John Hammond, who has fared poorly in free agency, but he may have been responding to Kohl's desire to avoid the lottery. And as sketchy as new coach Jason Kidd's move from Brooklyn to Milwaukee was, Kidd demonstrated significant growth over the course of his first season on the sideline.

According to the accompanying graphic on ESPN's story, Milwaukee's "Players" rating actually went down compared to last season, which in hindsight just seems ludicrous. Last season's team, while not projected for any great heights, was apparently still overrated. And to be fair, while there's a lot of potential on the roster now, there's very little in the way of proven big-time performers.

NBA nearing massive media deals - SportsBusiness Journal
Reports have indicated that the long-awaited renewal of the NBA's media rights deal could be finished before the upcoming 2014-2015 season tips off. Here's an exclusive transcript from the behind-closed-doors negotiations:

ESPN/Turner Representative: Ok Commissioner, we've been looking over the figures of our current deal, which amounts to roughly $1 billion annually, and we feel like...

Adam Silver: Double it.

Rep: Ok.

There are still sticking points, however. One major issue is how to deal with rights to live streaming online. With online viewership of the NBA exploding thanks to the popularity of NBA League Pass and some media savvy policies of the NBA offices, there's a lot of money to be made outside of the television market as well, both in the US and globally. Ultimately the NBA is going to be raking in a massively increased amount of cash from media outlets, the question is simply--how much?

Eurohoops: Giannis reflects on FIBA World Cup experience
A really heartfelt quote from Giannis Antetokounmpo as he reflects on his time with the Greek National Team in the FIBA World Championship:

"Whenever the national team calls me, I will be present, provided that I am healthy. I experience a moment with our captain, Nikos Zisis after the game. I saw him, a very experienced player, shading [sic] a tear. Honestly that changed my whole perception about the national team. I understood what the national team means for those guys and I hope after many years to be in his position. I hope this team would have the same meaning for me, even more compared to the many things it already means".

Bucks fan surely hope Giannis can grow to feel the same way about his adoptive home of Milwaukee someday, but for now this is a beautiful reminder of how much the game of basketball and his country truly mean to the young man.

Clips sign Ekpe Udoh and Chris Douglas-Roberts - Clips Nation
In case you missed it, the Clippers announced last week the signings of two ex-Bucks, Ekpe Udoh and Chris Douglas-Roberts. Udoh seems like a good fit for the Clippers, who can easily afford to play the role of defensive-minded forward/center thanks to their plethora of offensive stars. Douglas-Roberts is mostly a depth signing, but as Bucks fans can testify, he's an easy player to get excited about and a tough player to stay excited about. "Lucky Bucks Fan" Promotion
If you're optimistic about the '14/15 Bucks and confident in your own ability to pick winners, the team has one heck of a promotion for you: Fans who purchase tickets via the Bucks "Click 'N Pick" package and attend at least 12 home games in which the Bucks emerge victorious have a chance to win season tickets for life.

This is just the latest big-time promotion unveiled by the Bucks in recent weeks, so if you're interested in attending some games in Milwaukee this season, be sure to check for more deals and special offers.