The prodigal son has returned. Or perhaps more accurately: he never left.
On Monday, the Bucks officially re-signed veteran sharpshooter and Brown Deer native Steve Novak, a move that shocked...well, no one. While his original homecoming in late February was cut short by an MCL injury to his knee after just three games, Novak spent the summer rehabbing in Milwaukee and it always seemed like just a matter of time before he was officially back in the fold. Still, Charles Gardner of the Journal-Sentinel reports that Novak isn’t taking anything for granted following his injury last spring.
"Surgery is such a traumatic thing," said Novak, who had not suffered a significant injury in his 10-year NBA career. "I just went through a 2-hour workout with Giannis (Antetokounmpo), Rashad (Vaughn) and Malcolm (Brogdon), and I had zero pain. It's such a blessing. It's amazing what healing has gone on."
Whether the 33-year-old Novak actually plays isn’t entirely clear: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker figure to split the majority of the forward minutes this season, and summer signing Mirza Teletovic is basically a younger, more well-rounded version of the floor-stretching four Novak was in his prime four or five years ago. Throw in Thon Maker — who seems more likely to see minutes at the four than five at this point — and it would appear unlikely that Novak plays outside of situations where injuries force Jason Kidd to go deep into his bench. So most of his value will likely come as a locker room presence and de facto shooting coach, roles he’ll presumably share with the team’s 39-year-old elder statesman, Jason Terry. I always caution against getting overly sentimental with end-of-the-bench guys, but it’s tough not to root for Novak to make some sort of impact for his hometown team, especially after his first stint was cut short so abruptly. He’s Steve Novak! How can you not love Steve Novak?!
Oh, and in case you’re wondering why guys like Novak and Terry continue to play rather than move into the assistant coaching ranks, be aware that the veteran minimum for 10+ year vets is a rather cool $1.55 million. Translation: if you can still play, you might as well ride it out (though Ray Allen appears to disagree). Also note that the league will subsidize around a third of that — giving them the same cap number as a two year veteran — a CBA arrangement intended to make sure teams don’t favor younger players over more expensive veterans. That brings the Bucks’ total cap number to just shy of $100 million (slightly over if you include some likely Miles Plumlee and John Henson incentives), though presuming a minimum deal for Novak they’d still retain their $2.9 million room exception just in case.
Xavier Henry signs camp deal | The Vertical
Way back in June of 2010, I remember watching the NBA draft hoping that either Kansas freshman Xavier Henry or North Carolina big Ed Davis might land in Milwaukee (dream the impossible dream!). Instead, Henry went 12th to Memphis, Davis went 13th to Toronto, the Bucks selected Larry Sanders at #15, and six years later we’re reminded how weird, unpredictable and often disappointing the NBA draft can be.
As for the here and now: while Sanders remains out of basketball doing, uh, whatever it is that he does, Henry has found his way back onto an NBA roster — at least for the month of October. Shams Charania of The Vertical reported on Tuesday that the 25-year-old Henry will sign a non-guaranteed camp deal with the Bucks, who have the maximum 15 guaranteed contracts already and are thus unlikely to be Henry’s home past October.
Still, it’s not a bad opportunity for Henry to rebuild his value after rupturing his Achilles in November 2014 with the Lakers, Henry’s third NBA team in five seasons. He returned to play nine games in the D-League last spring, but for the most part he arrives in Milwaukee just looking to prove that he’s actually good (and healthy) enough to be an NBA basketball player. That’s a far cry from the hype Henry carried as a top high school prospect and lottery pick, but thus far he’s struggled to show either the physical tools or shooting skill (32.5% career from three) that most assumed he’d have coming out of Kansas.
The good news is that he’s still young enough to turn things around and carve out an NBA career, and the Bucks’ lack of depth on the wing means he might see some burn early in the preseason as well — thus joining the illustrious ranks of Stephen Graham, Olek Czyz and Micheal Eric as non-roster guys who actually played some real preseason minutes in Milwaukee. Not exactly the kind of company Henry expected to be in six years ago, but it’s a starting point nonetheless.
And just for fun, here’s a topic for the comments: if Henry plays well in preseason, how many people would be tempted to hang onto the younger guy at a position of need over the likes of Novak or Terry? I’m not saying any of it is likely — especially with Novak and Terry presumably on guaranteed deals — but it’s an interesting (and fair) question.
NBA 2K Ratings Revealed
I haven’t played an NBA video game since NBA Live ‘99 for N64 (old man alert!), but for those who are NBA2K fans here are new ratings for the Bucks’ roster:
I don’t know much about this game, but I don’t think I understand their three-point ratings at all...
Dellavedova brings championship trophy to Australia
Matthew Dellavedova spent his week parading the Larry O’Brien Trophy around his native Australia, which means Matthew Dellavedova had a pretty incredible week.
Not surprisingly he also had some nice things to say about his new team before returning to Milwaukee to try on his new duds:
Dellavedova told the crowd at Fed Square that playing under legendary point guard Jason Kidd was a key in signing with the Bucks. “To be able to play for a coach who is one of the best point guards of all time, I’m going to be able to learn a lot off him and try to really expand my game and be in more of a leadership role than I was in Cleveland,” he said.