It was a bit of news at once both completely shocking and totally understandable: The Bucks and guard Eric Bledsoe had agreed on a four-year, $70 million extension.
Shocking because there had been very little chatter about such an avenue being pursued; understandable because the Bucks, on track for their best season in decades, are best served doing what they can to retain the core players who have helped them get here.
Instead of heading into the offseason with just another variable at play, GM Jon Horst proactively ensured that the Bucks would not need to replace a two-way guard who has been a masterful third fiddle since arriving in Milwaukee.
Because of cap constraints there wouldn’t have been many options to replace Bledsoe if he’d gone elsewhere. For Bledsoe there was always a risk in heading to market at his age and with his style of play. Sure, maybe a bidding war would erupt to his benefit, but maybe his name wouldn’t be big enough to cash in on the initial round of free agent spending. That type of risk on what will surely be his last large payday proved great enough to entice him to sign onto a slight raise over the course of a longer deal.
Milwaukee gains a bit of flexibility while nailing down a key cog in a league-wrecking machine. Eric gets his money and, for the first time in perhaps his entire career, has found a place he can truly call “home”.
We posted this one when it first ran in late January, but it feels proper to throw it up here again given the events of last week. Reading it now definitely bring much of what Eric said home regarding the importance of having finally found a basketball “home” in the midst of his career.
Plus there’s always the J-Hook seal of approval:
My guy @EBled2 — couldn’t be happier ! Good things happen to good people— John Henson (@Johnhenson31) March 2, 2019
Malcolm Brogdon: ‘People think if you’re black you can’t be both educated and a sportsman’ (The Guardian) & Bucks, Kings collaborate to address social injustice (Yahoo Sports)
The first one is a great one-on-one by The Guardian’s Donald McRae with Malcolm Brogdon speaking on his views of the state of the country, living in one of America’s most segregated cities, and the role basketball has played in his life
Malcolm is an extremely well-spoken individual, so I was excited when this piece came across the wire. We’ve noted in the past that the Bucks are an organization that’s fostered an environment for its players to speak out and feel supported in, and this interview (not to mention the second article focusing on a joint event hosted by the Bucks and Kings) is just one more example among many of basketball players being so much more than that.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Is N.B.A. Must-See TV, and Maybe the M.V.P. (New York Times)
(yawns) Just more gushing articles about our superstar from one of the nation’s papers of record.
The best parts of this one involve, invariably, Pat Connaughton marveling at the incredible made routine, the similarities in mindset to some of the league’s other top talents, and of course how much time Giannis spends in the gym.
Sidney Dobner may not be a name you’re familiar with right now, but it very well may be one you get to know. Dobner is the first female coach to work for the Bucks at any level and is currently an assistant with the Wisconsin Herd. She played professionally overseas before returning stateside to pursue coaching and player development.
Eventually Dobner ended up assisting in working out a number of NBA draft picks and drew the attention of Bucks GM Jon Horst and Herd GM Dave Dean. They brought her on-board and she now assists in compiling film and working on skill development with the G-League players. Maybe it’s a one-off as Dobner’s career develops and takes her elsewhere. Maybe this small role now will be just the first step on her way up the organizational ladder.
I could definitely get on-board with the perspectives Tim Bontemps brought in evaluating Milwaukee’s chances in the post-season, but his main reasons to knock the Bucks are, uh, that Giannis supposedly isn’t good in the clutch and the perennial favorite “they haven’t been here before”. We’ll always have this, at least:
Here’s Brian Scalabrine talking about how Giannis isn’t the MVP because he isn’t great in the last 4 minutes, as Giannis is great in clutch time in the background: pic.twitter.com/Lfun7Ot3fL— Jonathan Gauthier (@jgauthier_23) February 16, 2019
I got asked on a radio show this week if I would take Giannis Antetokounmpo or Brad Stevens if I was starting a team. I said Giannis, but man, Stevens is just so good that I might have to change my mind. He's incredible.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) May 5, 2018
The Social Media Section
I hope your Monday has some very DJ Wilson vibes to it
The face of a man who became millions of dollars richer just hours earlier
Twitter translates the following to read, “Fate brings you back to the ideal people by your side when you least expect it. Here’s the ‘Boss’”
TMZ stalking superstars through the streets of LA is going to help small markets more than the supermax ever could https://t.co/XeFjtITU1O— Frank Madden (@fmaddenNBA) March 1, 2019
Bucks-Jazz was peak 21st Century basketball
The NBA in 2019: Giannis is guarding Rubio who is guarding Middleton who is guarding Mitchell who is guarding Ilyasova who is guarding Ingles who is guarding Mirotic who is guarding Favors who is guarding Lopez who is guarding Gobert who is guarding Giannis.— Rob Mahoney (@RobMahoney) March 3, 2019
It is the year 2129. Earth’s surface is scorched, its oceans barren, its food supply dwindling. Civilization crumbled eons ago — chaos reigns. Coach Mike Budenholzer motions for Ersan Ilyasova to check into the game.— JJ Bersch (@jjbrsch) March 2, 2019
We’ll look back on this as the inflection point for a championship season or a date with first-round disaster
The Milwaukee Bucks are very deep and VERY GOOD. Bledsoe and Brogdon are fearless on offense and so mentally and physically tough on defense. Maybe LeBron got out of the East just in time.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) March 2, 2019
Our friends over at Denver Stiffs were wildin’ last week
Riley’s 2018-2019 Weekly Prediction Record: 38-25
Finally, our mostly local nightmare is quickly coming to a close as the Bucks put the finishing touches on their last extended road trip West of the season. That means no more 1:00 AM Central start times, no more blasting our eyes with excessive screen time in dark environments, and no more needing to sacrifice watching the Bucks in lieu of something called “work”.
Nothing comes easy in the NBA as the Bucks already showed earlier this season in their sole meeting with the Phoenix Suns, so not even games against tanking teams are guarantees. With a day of much-needed rest in the bank, though, it’s in Milwaukee’s best interest to blow the doors off their opponents early and coast to rest as often as they can.
The first opportunity to do just that comes tonight in Arizona against the Suns. Then it’s back home to face the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday. Afterwards the Bucks will immediately take flight to Texas for a showdown with the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.
A revenge win over the Suns feels inevitable, but the three after that each offer hazards of their own. Indiana is holding onto the three seed with both hands, Charlotte has played Milwaukee tight each time the teams have met, and the Spurs are going full-tilt for a playoff berth. I anticipate a 2-2 week if only because of injury trouble and worthy competition resulting in losses to the Pacers and Spurs.
I’m willing to sacrifice in the short-term and deal with an even tighter playoff picture in the medium-term in order to have a shot at better health in the long-term, and I have a feeling that may be a feeling shared within the organization.