With the NBA draft now just 10 days away, the Milwaukee Bucks seem ready to shift their workout schedule into overdrive.
After working out Utah center Jakob Poltl two weeks ago, the Bucks will reportedly be getting a look at Henry Ellenson tomorrow and some of the draft's more intriguing point guards not long thereafter. Washington freshman combo guard Dejounte Murray reportedly will make the Bucks one of four teams he visits (Utah, Boston, and Denver the others), while Gery Woelfel wrote this weekend that the Bucks also hope to work out Notre Dame point guard Demetrius Jackson and long-armed Vanderbilt point guard Wade Balwin (pending injury) before the June 23 draft.
Oh, and before anyone tweets angry things at me about the Bucks already having Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard, let's take a deep breath and remember that there's no plan (or sense) for Giannis to actually defend point guards (this is also why I have a strong preference for calling him a point forward, but whatever). The Bucks excelled after the all-star break with free agents O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless playing as mostly off ball point guards next to Giannis, so figuring out who will play that role going forward is one of the two big roster decisions the Bucks will try to figure out this summer.
Of course, Michael Carter-Williams naturally still thinks he can be that guy, though like most Bucks fans I still struggle with the idea of playing a non-shooter like MCW with Point Giannis and Jabari Parker. Don't get me wrong: I think MCW's defensive potential remains chronically undervalued, and it's easily forgotten that he actually played very well at different points last season (especially in December before his apparent hip injury). But if he can't shoot it's tough to see him as a long-term starter, and do we really think he's going to start shooting more consistently at this point? As a charter member of both the "Bogut with a midrange game would be awesome!" and "Imagine if Luc Mbah a Moute starts knocking down threes!" clubs, I'm more than a little wary of falling into that trap again.
With Mayo and Greivis Vasquez not expected to return, the Bucks will presumably try to re-sign Bayless and add one more guy who can preferably both shoot threes and adequately defend point guards (sidenote: Bayless' defensive metrics were quietly a mess last year). Regular readers know that this is where I typically mention Pat Beverley as the prototypical cheap guy who can do both of those things, though bear in mind these guys don't grow on trees. Tyler Ennis could also make a case for himself with a strong training camp, but it's difficult to imagine the Bucks planning on him being more than a backup at this point.
As for the longer term picture? Well, that's where the aforementioned trio of prospects would fit in. Baldwin seems like the easiest fit, as he's got the size to defend either backcourt position and projects fairly well as an NBA shooter (42% from three and 80% from the line). Meanwhile, Murray is the young, tall, and physically gifted guy who could be a star...or perhaps the next MCW. We can only speculate how the MCW experience might color the Bucks' willingness to add another big point guard who can't shoot; I'd have to think his ceiling would have to be considered rather overwhelming before the Bucks go down that road again. And then there's Jackson, who might be the least exciting option of the three, as he's a terrific athlete but older and on the smallish side (6'1.75" in shoes, 6'5.5" wingspan).
The Bucks reportedly interviewed both Jackson and Baldwin at the combine, while Murray has been linked with Milwaukee ever since Chad Ford attended a Klutch Sports workout for Murray and Ben Simmons a couple weeks back (read: agent Rich Paul either thinks or wants everyone to think that the Bucks love his client). As for who else might be in soon, we might start with the guys the Bucks interviewed in Chicago:
Some other notable players to talk with the Bucks: Florida State's Malik Beasley, Michigan State's Deyonta Davis, Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon, Washington's Marquese Chriss, Vanderbilt's Wade Baldwin IV and Utah's Jakob Poeltl.
Don't expect Chriss in Milwaukee given his recently soaring draft stock, though Davis and Beasley seem like obvious guys for the Bucks to take a closer look at in the next 10 days.
Giannis will play in the pre-Olympic tournament | EuroHoops.net
You already knew Giannis Antetokounmpo was excited to represent his native Greece at their upcoming Olympic qualifying tournament in Italy July 4-9, now here's some more details on how it happened:
The Greek player met today with the Bucks’ owner Marc Lasry and expressed his wish to play with the Greek national team. Despite the fact that the initial plan of the Bucks for Giannis was to take a break from the national team and work on his game during the summer, they understood what playing for Greece means to him.
Reports from the Greek media suggest the Bucks plan to have at least one coach available to work after practices with Giannis while he's in Europe, so it's nice to hear the Bucks are trying to be creative with Giannis' ongoing development work. The same story also reports what we guessed last week: that the Bucks will wait until after GIannis returns from international duty before they put pen to paper on a monster extension that could be worth up to around $144 million over five years.
One guy who won't be working with Giannis this summer? Josh Oppenheimer. He was relieved of his duties as player development coach weeks ago, bringing to a close his three-year tenure in Milwaukee. The rumor of his dismissal had been floating around for a bit, but Woelfel was the first to report it today. You may recall that Oppenheimer was the only assistant retained from Larry Drew's staff, so it's probably no coincidence that he's now the first assistant from Kidd's staff to be let go. Oppenheimer had an impressive client list as a personal skills trainer before joining Drew's staff, but Sean Sweeney has typically been credited as the guy who has worked the most with Giannis the past couple years.
La Crosse Center pursuing Bucks D-League affiliate | WXOW News 19
While Oshkosh was the first Wisconsin city to publicly announce its interest in hosting a future Bucks' D-League affiliate, La Crosse's WXOW reports that there's also hopes of luring the Bucks' affiliate to the far Western part of the state:
"This is something that had success in La Crosse. The old CBA is no longer in existence in the form that it was. The D-League is the closest thing to it and La Crosse had some support for it. This is something the city has shown some excitement for in the past. We're very serious. We're one of a few cities in Wisconsin that the Milwaukee Bucks are taking a look at. So, with the Request For Proposals that they put out, we're going to take a hard look at it and see what we can deliver," said Fahey.
The talks are very preliminary.
The Bucks' goal is to have a team in place by fall of 2017.
The upside of La Crosse is that it would expand the Bucks' potential sphere of influence further afield than options in Madison, Kenosha/Racine or the Fox River Valley; the downside is that there are advantages to being closer than the 3+ hour drive from Milwaukee to the Mississippi.
Good grades for Dunn, Pöltl, Chriss, Davis, Sabonis. Simmons surprisingly 4th, Baldwin just 41st. https://t.co/hkZoJki8NO— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) June 10, 2016
It feels great to be back in Milwaukee I love this city! Specially in the summertime !— Henry Ellenson (@HenryEllenson13) June 13, 2016
Report: Bucks, Kidd finalizing three-year, $15 million contract extension https://t.co/0EDQOHVMUs— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) June 13, 2016
.@Kostas_ante34 in Greek U20 national team: https://t.co/oTFzHDqOOS pic.twitter.com/F1JxFqUVno— Eurohoops.net (@Eurohoopsnet) June 9, 2016
When it comes to "covering" the draft, I think people try too hard, react too much, and understand too little. But it sure is fun— Eric Buenning (@ericbuenning) June 9, 2016
Warriors, Bucks and Wolves have the brightest future in the NBA, according to HoopsHype readers. https://t.co/8vctBuZJUX— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) June 13, 2016