He did it. I can't believe he actually did it.
Jon Horst did what many believed to be the impossible and moved not one, but two nigh-untradable contracts in the form of John Henson and Matthew Dellavedova. Not only that, but in shipping those two to Cleveland Horst was able to secure the services of George Hill and Jason Smith (the former a veteran PG who will take the load off Eric Bledsoe/Malcolm Brogdon, the latter useful big depth that reduces reliance on a streaky Thon Maker).
It's common parlance in NBA circles to state that, no matter how unlikely, no contract can't be traded. Horst proved that common wisdom is common for a reason.
For Milwaukee, the price for such a clean-up comes in the form of protected first- and second-round picks, not to mention the unknown blow to team chemistry. Henson seemed to be a particular anchor of team morale whether playing or on the bench, and at least a little something is lost when a guy who embraced Milwaukee as home for seven years begins anew elsewhere. Both men, while not prodigies on the court, were stand-up figures while with the Bucks, and so I salute them for their time with us.
Now. a few days removed from the transaction, we all eagerly await the unveil of the newest Bucks in the proverbial “rubber meets the road” moment. Until then, we've got Giannis MVP articles, Thon Maker the “globetrotter”, and sauerkraut articles.
The Bucks Are All in on the Present (The Ringer)
And why shouldn't they be?
I've always thought one of the most difficult balancing acts in all of basketball was determining when you're to go from “builder” to “contender”. There is no switch to be flipped, no instruction manual to be followed, and often no single signal that gives teams the green light to stop prioritizing losing and start seriously winning.
For the Milwaukee Bucks, coach Mike Budenholzer, and GM Jon Horst, the time to win is now. In nabbing George Hill (and his team-friendly $1 million guarantee next season) the Bucks have pushed their competitive time-horizon up to this season.
With a league-best offense, the league's best player, and a solid supporting cast the case for making a run this year, even at the expense of future draft options, makes sense.
The time to kick in the NBA's door is now, and the Bucks seem to heartily agree.
2018-19 NBA MVP Deep Dive: Giannis, Curry and Davis Lead the Way (The Action Network)
To kick off the Giannis4MVP discussion, I've got a trio of articles from across the web.
We'll start with Matt Moore over at The Action Network evaluating the cases for and against some of the early-season MVP candidates. For Giannis much of the argument revolves around two relatively simple things: The Bucks are set to win a lot of games and Giannis is putting up legendary statlines in spite of his lack of a three-point shot.
Seems convincing to me.
The NBA’s Big Greek Dunking Machine (Wall Street Journal)
Dang, one week the Bucks are in Forbes, the next they beat down the door at the Wall Street Journal.
Sure, it is pretty cool wh3en Steph Curry is out there breaking NBA records for three-pointers made in a season, but isn't it just that much cooler when the record broken is for dunks?
That's right, somehow in the year 2018 with all of its emphasis on threes, ball-movement, and lay-ups Giannis Antetokounmpo is turning the clock back decades in pursuit of the greatest dunk highlight reel in NBA history.
He's obviously a natural at slamming the ball home, but it is notable just how far coach Mike Budenholzer has pushed the offense in favor of running lanes for Antetotkounmpo to charge down. The strategy has a logic all its own: If you have the best dunk artist of the century, why not maximize his chances to, uh, dunk the ball and viciously steal opponents’ souls?
Finally, we've got Ben Golliver over at the Washington Post throwing his weight behind the Giannis campaign.
Did it strike anyone else as relatively strange that so many national media outlets have swung to Giannis as the odds-on MVP favorite this early in the season? The guy is wholly deserving, don't get me wrong, but a lot of media subtext made it feel like things would break co-equally for LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, or Stephen Curry alongside Giannis.
The challenge will come when people really start harping on his struggles from distance. Stuff like, “A MVP who can't hit a three-pointer in the era of the three-pointer? No way!” is coming, so brace yourselves for the onslaught.
Who is Thon Maker? A spin of the globe provides a glimpse behind the Bucks player (Journal Sentinel)
With Delly gone, it now falls on Thon Maker's shoulders to continue the legacy of Aussies in Milwaukee. Something tells me that, given the hectic path he had to take to reach the NBA, he'll be just fine.
Lori Nickel of the JS decided to make Thon the subject of her inaugural column delving into what it is that made pro athletes in town who they are. For Maker it has been a life of travel (forced or otherwise), constant change, constructing an identity to weather varied circumstances, and, of course, basketball.
While his style of play can be, let's call it “frustrating”, at times, one can appreciate Thon's approach not only to the game, but to the world at-large. It is a testament to him as an individual to have survived so much struggle with a effervescent smile.
The Wizards are having a difficult time processing the Jason Smith trade (Washington Post) & George Hill finds his sweet spot in sauerkraut company (The Undefeated)
I figured it'd be in our best collective interest to see what makes new Bucks Jason Smith and George Hill tick, so I found an article about Smith being a superb chemistry guy and Hill a sauerkraut entrepreneur.
The fact that Smith was so widely beloved by his Wizard teammates in a situation full of strife is comforting. He may be unable to decisively shift the on-court production, but if you're going to lose a morale anchor like John Henson you could do worse than bringing in a man voted “Teammate of the Year” just a year ago.
And then there's Hill and his ‘kraut. There's not much to say here except to think of the cross-promotion possibilities between “Cleveland Kraut” and whichever local sausage company has a partnership with the Bucks right now.
The Only Division II Player In The NBA (Fadeaway World)
Jaylen Morris is no stranger to the life of a fringe NBA player. Undrafted out of college, he would find his way to the G-League's Erie Bayhawks after a number of tryouts, eventually cracking into very limited minutes on a tank-o-riffic Atlanta Hawks team.
Now, a season later, he's moved up from G-League draftee to two-way player with the Bucks, but he hasn't yet had a chance at anything more than blowout minutes. Still, his story as the only player in the entire league to have come from a DII college is impressive.
The Social Media Section
Fare thee well, John and Matthew:
I’ll truly miss Milwaukee and I’m so grateful to have been a part of the turnaround the organization has had over the past 7 seasons... But all good things must come to an end. I’m excited to be a part of the Cavs and can’t wait get back on the court!— John Henson (@Johnhenson31) December 8, 2018
Thanks to the Bucks for the opportunity- all the best to the boys and everyone involved- great people— Matthew Dellavedova (@matthewdelly) December 8, 2018
The 48 hours after getting tradedhttps://t.co/KIQ0lIu8A1— Matthew Dellavedova (@matthewdelly) December 10, 2018
Future draft pick details!
In order to trade their 2022 second-rounder to Milwaukee, the Wizards removed the protections on the 2020 second-rounder they’re supposed to send to the Bucks, according to a league source. Pick was previously 46-60 protected in 2020 and unprotected in 2022.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) December 8, 2018
Viewed from the other perspective… Bucks, leveraging their room below the luxury tax line (and the fact that they already had an agreement on a trade in place with the Cavs), effectively paid $3.9M for two future second-round picks from the Wizards. https://t.co/j1TphL5JE9— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertNahmad) December 8, 2018
We need voices like Bomani Jones to make the case that dunking opponents into dust is just as effective as burying others under an avalanche of threes:
Giannis is on pace for a NBA record 375 dunks— HIGH NOON (@HIGHNOONonESPN) December 7, 2018
Pablo: “…but science!!”
Bomani: “I feel like the non-dunking population out here is always like — don’t be out here dunking too much” pic.twitter.com/fRvMEJo9iu
Happy belated birthday, Giannis!
Can't wait for the Tony Snell-WWE crossover:
How Tony Snell became the first Milwaukee Bucks Free Throw Champion: pic.twitter.com/wCDpXj3mQS— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 5, 2018
Hopefully Mychal's son Klay knows how to spell Giannis’s name:
Anybody see Hezonia step over Antitakumbo after he dunked on Anti? I hope Hezonia dont try n block Antitakumbo wen HE’s goin in for a dunk...It will NOT be pretty— Mychal Thompson (@champagnennuts) December 3, 2018
A rarity: Two consecutive weeks with DJ Wilson posts...
Absolutely necessary Thon Maker content to close out the roundup:
Riley’s 2018-2019 Weekly Prediction Record: 12-13
Normally you'd find me here laughing myself to death contemplating the fact that the Bucks play the Cleveland Cavaliers twice this week. I was chucking at the thought of a top offense against one of the league's worst teams, but then I remembered the loss to the Phoenix Suns, and then I got sad.
Oddly enough we've already got the "John Henson Tribute Video” game this evening with the Cavs coming to town. The week then shifts decisively to Indiana and Ohio as the Bucks visit the Pacers and Cavaliers on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
Just a week ago I declared it unlikely the Bucks would reliably string together a perfect week of play, but with Victor Oladipo sidelined and the only other threat being the “Delly Revenge Game” I think it is more than possible Milwaukee ends the week 20-8.
Here's to a breakout from the win one, lose one ways of late, and right back into the Eastern Conference's stratosphere.