1. The principal players in the quest for a new Bucks arena were once again working to find solutions this week in Madison. And while they've yet to converge on a proposal fit for consumption by the state legislature, Bucks President Peter Feigin and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele remain optimistic that a deal is within reach. (Journal-Sentinel/Don Walker)
Feigin also opened the window a bit on the complexity of an arena financing deal to pay for a $500 million arena just north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, and the potential for an additional $500 million in additional development nearby. Asked about the substance of the talks to date, Feigin said negotiators were trying to figure out the revenue streams a new arena would produce, what revenue would result from ancillary development and how that would be allocated.
"That is the crux of what we are trying to figure out," he said.
All sides continue to have ample incentive to get a deal done, which is why it's more a question of urgency than panic (for now). The Bucks obviously want a deal so they can stay in Milwaukee; the city and county would stand to reap huge benefits from outside money investing in a transformative project for downtown; and the state doesn't want to lose the Bucks' ballooning tax revenues, especially when Madison would be on the hook for maintaining the Bradley Center at a cost of $100 million over the next decade without them.
2. A scrappy six-game series with the Bulls was fun, but it shouldn't distract from the years (and luck and skill) that it will take to turn the Bucks into real contenders. (Milwaukee Magazine/Eric Nehm)
With their success this season, the Bucks have started to create an outline for building a team that might one day win 55 games, but even the outline for that dream squad is incomplete. Here’s what we know about the vision for this team thus far: It will be long and athletic. It will play aggressive defense. And it will try to push the tempo.
3. So when will the Bucks be able to make the leap from good to great? It may take a while, but John Hammond knows that their turnaround is off to a flying start. (Journal-Sentinel/Charles Gardner)
"There's a feeling around the NBA of change in Milwaukee," he said. "I think that change started when Wes (Edens), Marc (Lasry) and Jamie (Dinan) purchased the team.
"I think it started when Jason became the coach and some of the things he did this season. I think there is a buzz around the Milwaukee Bucks, and there are people that are interested in coming here and playing.
"They look at our roster; they see the young players on this roster that are going to play up-tempo, they're going to defend, they're going to play hard.
"We'll see. It's going to have to be a situation that's right for us and right for them."
Re-signing Khris Middleton should be the team's #1 priority regardless of how much another team might be willing to offer him, so the more interesting inflection point for the Bucks figures to be whether they try to leverage their cap room to sign a big man in July. To be clear, it's not like they have to do that or anything else: They'll be at the max roster size simply by keeping Middleton, Jared Dudley and their draft picks, and no one would fault them for saving their money and opting for one more year of Zaza Pachulia, John Henson and Miles Plumlee manning the pivot.
But there's also an absolute ton of quality big men hitting free agency this summer, and there won't be as much free cap space chasing them this summer as in 2016. So the time could be ripe for the Bucks to hit the accelerator pedal and add a major talent. Wouldn't it be great if we had a podcast forthcoming on that very topic??? Sit tight, it should be posted sometime next week.
"We're still a very young team, and we're still very much an unfinished product, so I would look and say probably we like a lot of other teams we need a lot of things. We still need size, we need shooting, we need to continue to add toughness and energy to our team. So we have multiple needs."
This may just be Hammond doing a better job of playing draft poker than Kidd, but taken at face value I also think Hammond's right (even if he's just stating the obvious). While every team can use more shooting, the Bucks' long-term core is also conspicuously missing a top-shelf big man; sorry, but I'm still unconvinced that John Henson will be the team's long-term answer in the middle, and they could also stand to add a more natural power forward to complement starting forwards Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo. In short, pick a really good player and worry about his fit later. Easy, right?
5. Just in case our last podcast left you thirsting for a bit more analysis of the Bucks' defensive brilliance, be sure to check out some great video analysis from Andrew Cutler earlier in the season. (BBallBreakdown/Andrew Cutler)
However, their differences from the majority of the league [in defending pick and roll] arise in the positioning of the big man defender. Generally, the Bucks have them a step or two closer to the screener than would be the case in more conformist drop back styles. Milwaukee’s help defenders pinch in further towards the paint, too, where the goal is to force the offense to move to its next, likely secondary action.