The question that had been plaguing the Bucks online universe for weeks on end has finally found resolution: the Milwaukee Bucks decided to waive DeAndre Liggins just hours before his contract became fully guaranteed for the season. During his stint with Milwaukee, Liggins would feature in 31 contests and average 1.8 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 0.9 assists in an average of 15.5 minutes. I'm thinking no one, besides Jason Kidd, will be shedding many tears over his departure.
Now that Liggins has been sent off, the Bucks have opened up a series of new questions with another available roster spot. Will they upgrade Sean Kilpatrick from a two-way contract to a full-time player? Could someone like Xavier Munford, who has been playing quite well in his time with the Wisconsin Herd, find himself in position to get a shot at the NBA? Is there a free agent out there the Bucks could be looking at instead (ahem, Andrew Bogut)?
Milwaukee hasn't been afraid of roster turnover since the takeover of GM Jon Horst, so the chaos of an open spot shouldn't rattle. How the team chooses to fill that opening will say a lot about how Horst & Co. rate the rest of the roster, and it will be intriguing to see in what direction they go and what it means for the rest of the season and upcoming offseason.
Goodbye, DeAndre. Your time spent playing was often inexplicable, but at least you got plenty of playing time before you were cast back into the sea.
Bucks to waive DeAndre Liggins, put Xavier Munford on two-way (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
We start this week with the big news featured in today’s intro: DeAndre Liggins is out, Xavier Munford is sort of in, and everything else is up in the air.
Munford has been playing lights out this year in the G-League, and it is heartening to see the Bucks rewarding a guy within their minor-league system for consistent play. Figuring out how to utilize a G-League team is still a work in progress, but at least some fruit is being borne:
Well-deserved for Xavier Munford, who has been great for the Herd and been twice selected by USA Basketball for international qualifying events this year. https://t.co/Ep9ngBLAgN— Frank (@fmaddenNBA) January 7, 2018
As Matt Velazquez makes reference in his story and tweets, the elevation of Munford leaves current two-way guys Joel Bolomboy and Sean Kilpatrick in limbo. Bolomboy offers the team size inside, but he's presumably close to his 45-day limit for time spent with the Bucks. Kilpatrick has a relatively fresh contract with Milwaukee, but he may be upgraded to a full roster spot in lieu of being released.
Decisions will hopefully be officially made by the time this piece comes out, so keep your eyes and ears glued for news releases as they come down the pipe.
UPDATE: After writing this piece, the Bucks made it official that Joel Bolomboy will be converted to a full-time NBA contract
The Bucks have signed @xaviermunford to a two-way contract and converted Joel Bolomboy to standard NBA contract https://t.co/PqjZSBbx3P— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 7, 2018
The Bucks now have a third center with whom they've gotten comfortable with over the past few months. That may mean the likes of Andrew Bogut are out as an option to join the team, though players like Jason Terry or Rashad Vaughn could end up released to clear more space for future signings.
UPDATE to the UPDATE: Nevermind! Let chaos reign supreme!
Sources: The Bucks are signing guard Sean Kilpatrick to a full NBA deal for rest of season, converting his two-way contract. Milwaukee waived Joel Bolomboy to create open spot.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 7, 2018
Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo already eyeing Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James for All-Star pick (NBA.com)
All-Star fan voting has reached its first milestone, and to nobody's surprise, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the leading vote-getter in the entire NBA. I repeat: Giannis has garnered more votes from fans than the likes of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and even *gasp* LeBron James.
But LeBron shouldn't feel too bad; if Giannis ends up getting the top spot in the East, he'll be made captain of the team and has already made it known he'll do his best to find a place for the superstar in his lineup.
Why would Antetokoumpo select LeBron over all the other deserving players in the East? According to him: “so we can have a good relationship for the free agency. You never know. He might come play.”
LeBron to Milwaukee? No harm in throwing the Bucks’ hat in the ring this offseason. (Non-existent cap space or otherwise)
It Is Disgusting And Unfair That Giannis Is Making Clutch Jumpers Now (Deadspin)
Heheheh, I love it when a plan comes together.
BAM! Bucks’ scoring trio among best in NBA, team history (FOX)
Does anyone else find it disturbing that there appears to be a limitless number of nicknames bandied about for the trio of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe? The TV broadcast has the ‘Marquee Three’, Ted Davis on the radio feed has ‘KEG’, while others have ‘EKG’, ‘BAM’, ‘MAB’, ‘GKE’, and so on. The disunity among fan ranks has leaked into choosing potential monikers.
Confused names notwithstanding, those three players have been scoring at alarming rates, helping drag Milwaukee to the sixth best offensive rating in the league at 110.3. They'll need to keep that pace up, especially with a defense that continues to crater without an end to the madness in sight. (the Bucks have the 6th-worst defense in the NBA at a 110.5 defensive rating)
Milwaukee's reliance on their version of a Big Three can be frustrating at times, especially when they get lost in the oblivion that is Jason Kidd's rotations. Sure would be a shame to see a historically great offense go to waste thanks to a defensive scheme prone to giving up the most valuable shot in the game of basketball.
How the Bucks are exploiting defenses with unique point guard-to-point guard alley-oop (CBS Sports)
Even in an offense that is prone to stagnation and endless isolation sets there is room for quirky connections. Look no further than Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon's alley-oop connections for a perfect example.
The play has had a run of success over a number of games since Delly's return from injury, and it offers up a conundrum for defenses who have to account for the athleticism of Brogdon and the potent scoring abilities of Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo on the wings.
If a defender sticks too close to his guy on the perimeter, Brogdon can use a burst of speed to cut to the basket and receive a bullet from Delly, or if that defender decides to collapse and help on Malcolm, they now have the likes of Middleton open and ready to create a scoring opportunity of his own.
What variations of that play await is beyond my imagination, but who doesn't love discovering a idiosyncrasy like that?
The Case for Jason Kidd as Milwaukee’s Long-Term Coach (VICE Sports)
This is an, uh, interesting take, for sure. I guess if you believe that Jason Kidd is an as-yet-unformed coaching prodigy the arguments presented in this article make sense.
I wonder how many #FireKidd avatars the author Michael Pina has run into in his mentions since this piece dropped last week.
One-on-one with Bucks forward Jabari Parker (Journal Sentinel/Midwest Ballers)
Matt Velazquez sits down with a Bucks player each week to talk about them, their lives on and off the court, and where they've come from before arriving in Milwaukee.
Last week's show featured a talk with forward Jabari Parker who discussed his surprise at the cultural scene in Milwaukee, his progress returning from injury, and much more!
From the Social Media Realm
Telly Hughes - The finest dressed hype-man in the entire state of Wisconsin:
"His rise in terms of his popularity has just been crazy over the last year and a half and has been warranted, especially for a guy that's averaging 29 points per game." - @tellyhughes on @Giannis_An34#GameTime pic.twitter.com/y6QTWZzkHr— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 7, 2018
Brandon Jennings will always hold a special place in my heart as the headstrong guard leading the initial ‘Fear the Deer’ campaign, so it is good to know he's still got love (and a sense of humor) regarding his time in Milwaukee:
It’s always love 414 #BucksIn6 lol https://t.co/KhYQXCMug8— Brandon Jennings (@brandonjennings) January 6, 2018
Speaking of former Bucks floating out in the ether...
Sources: The Los Angeles Lakers are releasing center Andrew Bogut. With Lakers at 11-27, this allows sides to part ways and Bogut to pivot toward signing with a playoff team.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 6, 2018
This week's “Ouch”, presented by a scorned Gerald Green:
Toyota Center game ops show Gerald Green highlights from last night. Loved his answer about how he could have been a FA. "Maybe you should ask the Milwaukee Bucks."— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) January 5, 2018
Good to hear that D.J. Wilson is in high spirits while he continues to not earn playing time:
love what i do, i find nothing but pure pleasure in the process— D.J. Wilson (@Lanky_Smoove) January 6, 2018
If only, like NBA 2K, we could pool our resources to buy some VC and max Thon Maker out as the Kevin Garnett-lite he hopes to become:
This season still feels like Thon Maker is basically an NBA2K create-a-player where you only have enough points to allocate for shooting but barely anything else— Adam Robert Paris (@adamrparis) January 3, 2018
Another week, another four game slate on deck! After going 2-2 against exclusively Eastern Conference opponents last week, the Bucks begin another stretch tonight in Indiana to face the Pacers, then play Wednesday at home against the Orlando Magic before continuing their pseudo-rivalry with the Golden State Warriors on Friday in Milwaukee. They'll finish the week in Florida against the Miami Heat on Sunday.
I'll keep the hope alive for another 2-2 mark, with two of those wins against teams competing in the heart of the East for playoff positioning. Golden State is almost a guaranteed loss, and we must account for the Saturday off-day the Bucks will most likely spend in Miami. Miami's nightlife remains an unassailable home-court advantage, or so I'm told.
If where you reside is anything like where I've been the past few weeks, you've experienced a cold snap of dizzying depths. I'm here to tell you to rejoice! A veritable heat wave is about to sweep the nation, with highs here in Minneapolis-St. Paul set to reach 40 degrees. I leave you this week hoping that your neck of the woods gets almost as spring-like.