Basketball, being an inherently star-driven sport, is far more prone than other sports to upheaval when players move from team to team. Acquiring the likes of LeBron James turns you from a group of nobodies to an instant contender, and the movement of three to four players can end up being seismic. Getting a big name means more here than it does anywhere else.
That dynamic alone makes the NBA's off-season something to follow, and that's why the news of Kyrie Irving's trade to the Boston Celtics is such a big story. Thanks to one transaction (which finds itself on the ropes thanks to questions about Isaiah Thomas’s hip health), the landscape of the Eastern Conference has noticeably shifted, and training camps haven't even begun!
All we need is a trade or two more to keep things interesting until the regular season gets underway. Since those moves weren't forthcoming at the time of this writing, we’ve got a collection of stories dealing with the fallout from the trade and the Bucks’s place in the East, the Giannis-for-MVP hype gaining steam, revisit international basketball controversy, and more.
Kobe Bryant Challenges Giannis Antetokounmpo to Win NBA MVP Award (Bleacher Report)
It'll be truly deflating if and when Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn't find himself holding an MVP award at season's end. He believes he's capable, we naturally believe he's capable, Vegas bookmakers have him as somewhat capable of the feat, and now Kobe Bryant would like to see Giannis pull it off.
Unfortunately, unless Giannis enters the year with that always-elusive jump shot everyone prays nightly for, or Kobe cooks the books and media votes in Giannis’s favor, expecting a surefire MVP-caliber season could be too lofty even for a player like Antetokounmpo.
Greece Basketball Coach Missas Stands by Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greek Reporter)
After a few incendiary back-and-forths, the tumult between the Greek Men's National basketball team and the NBA/Milwaukee Bucks has slowed to a simmer. The truth behind the situation remains elusive, and how both sides will handle the tension going forward is equally unclear.
The national team's coach gave a parting shot ahead of EuroBasket, though, stating that, in his estimation, “To put an end to the issue, I believe that if Giannis was healthy and the Bucks asked him not to play, he would play.” At least he isn't ambiguous about his feelings, right?
Re-Ranking Top 10 NBA Title Contenders Post-Kyrie Trade (Bleacher Report)
Determining who qualifies as a title contender and who doesn't is an inexact art. For Bleacher Report's purposes, though, anyone who has an even chance at making their conference's finals makes the list, and so that's how we find the Bucks being ranked as the ninth best team in the NBA (on paper) post-Kyrie trade.
The complaints against the team in its current iteration are the usual: Poor defense, a poor second unit, and a lack of upper-end talent. But, hey, this is the Eastern Conference they'll be competing in. Nothing can be counted out, even an unlikely run to the Eastern Conference Finals for last year's sixth-seed.
Milwaukee Bucks mark halfway point in new arena construction (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Progress on the new arena has been steady since the ground-breaking in 2016, and now the exterior has been “topped off”. That means, in effect, that the final necessary beam to the superstructure is now in place, and so focus will move to bringing the interior together.
From everything we’ve heard, the project is still on-time and there haven't been any major delays. Keep tuned as images of the interior inevitably get released.
The Herd had a busy week between announcing their inaugural season's schedule and participating in the G-League's expansion draft.
Their season will begin on the road on November 6th when they head to Ohio to take on the Erie Bayhawks, and they'll begin competition in Oshkosh on November 17th as they host the Windy City Bulls.
We already knew Thon Maker was a pretty sweet guy, at least in interviews. Now the world knows that he's the exact same guy on an airplane delayed because flight attendants couldn't find someone to give up their spot to accommodate other passengers. Thon rose to the dire situation and gave up his extra legroom in first-class seating.
Jakob Poeltl vs. Thon Maker - Raptors Whiffed the Pick (Raptors Rapture)
I'm not sure if Raptors fans should be beating themselves or their front office up too much for not picking Thon Maker as the ninth pick in the 2016 draft; everyone else was as shocked as most of us were when the selection happened at number 10.
Fair or otherwise, go on and enjoy the lamentations of a Toronto fan upset that Jakob Poeltl isn't the player Thon Maker may become. I know I'd be upset if I was in their position.
The Sixers have done their best to break the NBA thanks to their dedication of being consistently God-awful year after year. Their fanbase is full of vocal zealots who can't help but #TrustTheProcess, a slogan with enough power to find acolytes across the league.
Others aren't nearly as big of fans of what had gone on and is going on in Philadelphia and may see the Milwaukee Bucks as a team building the “right way” doing their best to compete every season even when a high draft pick may have more value than another first-round playoff exit.
Given the differing styles it was only natural that the two franchises would come directly up against each other. Both have highly-touted stars (if that's what Joel Embiid qualifies as), both have promising cores, and both should compete in the near-term. This season may see the rekindling of a rivalry that goes back decades and was a staple of the NBA; the names on the court aren't the same, but the bad blood boils just beneath the surface. Now it is time to see whether #TrustTheProcess or #TrustTheResults (guh) shall come away victorious.
Giannis Antetokounmpo gets shout-out on new Public Enemy record (Milwaukee Record)
A story that broke in mid-July that went under the radar, but it is weird enough to warrant a mention in this week's roundup while forcing us to ask an odd question: Is Flava Flav secretly a die-hard Bucks fan?
The most interesting aspect of last week's trade news, for Bucks fans at least, was the mention that the Bucks purportedly offered Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, and a future first-round pick for Kyrie Irving. Many were aghast at those terms, and I was among them. On the one hand, if you're competitive heading forward your first-rounders can become viable trade chips for the right guy. If you've got to give up two of your roster's premier guards AND a pick to get a star guard back, though, it may not be worth it either way.
It is heartening to see the front office in the running for stars and off-the-wall trades, but count me in as a member of the group thinking the terms may have been too rich for my blood. Besides, I'm too emotionally invested in Khris and Malcolm to see them go, and that's my right as a fan.
For now, those guys are still a part of the roster, so go ahead, take your mind off things, rest easy, and as always: