The Summer of Giannis “Carmen Sandiego” Antetokounmpo continues with fans and media alike keeping track of his expansive travel itinerary. First it was Disney, then it was California, he’ll probably make a stop or two back in Greece, and who knows where else he may turn up? Part of the beauty of superstardom is being recognizable in quarters around the globe, and for us there’s the added bonus that where Giannis goes, the Bucks — and Milwaukee by extension — goes with him. We couldn’t ask for a better global ambassador.
In the spirit of travel, we’ll be checking in on a Fresno outing, all the spots Khris Middleton could land in free agency, the travails of travel by trade, and much more.
Normally I’d be a bit confused as to why Giannis would choose to visit Fresno, California of all places (nothing against the city, it’s just... Fresno), but then I found out that Brook Lopez is a native son and it all made a lot more sense.
I’m sure the fact that his significant other Mariah is from the area had a much smaller role to play in Antetokounmpo’s travel plans.
Regardless, our star is out and about among us peasants at farmers markets nationwide, grabbing fresh cucumbers, drinking locally-sourced smoothies, and proving to children that he’s no imposter.
Potential Free Agency Landing Spots for Milwaukee Bucks’ Khris Middleton (Bleacher Report)
The hardest part about figuring out Khris Middleton’s destination this summer is the relative unknown about what he’s looking for in a team. Money will assuredly be the leading factor, but would he want to prioritize a place with an even bigger role, a young team lacking leadership that he could bring, or are the intangibles like the city itself going to win out?
Middleton has spent the vast majority of his career in Milwaukee first on his rookie deal and then on a value extension, so if the Bucks are willing to plop down the highest dollar amount it’s unlikely he’d leave. But, with Milwaukee tight on cap room as it is there may be interest in whittling down the contract size by a few hairs; much will rest on whether the free agent market tolerates that kind of manuever or if a miserly approach drives Khris to new pastures.
Bucks GM, Jon Horst looks back on Thon Maker trade (Pick & Roll)
Thought this was an interesting bit of insight into the approach of GM Jon Horst to the vagaries of roster-construction. Namely, while his top goal is to improve the team, a desire to keep his players’ livelihoods in mind (as long as the team isn’t impacted) runs just beneath the surface.
The Thon Maker trade request fits just that bill: Thon was a critical part of the locker room who felt he needed a different opportunity elsewhere. Instead of spurning Maker’s request, Horst kept Thon abreast of discussions in trying to find the right fit for everyone involved. Milwaukee would bring in Nikola Mirotic while Maker got a fresh start in Detroit and while no transaction will be perfect, it’s the small off-court touches like that which point to Horst’s competence as an executive in the modern NBA.
Can the Lakers Find a Long-Term Path to Giannis Antetokounmpo? (Bleacher Report)
Your weekly “what Giannis angle are the national vultures pushing?” check-in, courtesy of Bleacher Report.
This week’s culprit is none other than the decrepit, laughingstock, stab-you-in-the-back-and-smile-while-doing-it Los Angeles Lakers! Don’t worry too much, though. As you’ll see in the article, there isn’t much of a concrete plan other than “have money, be the Lakers, and hope Giannis likes us”. I’m sure Giannis would loving nothing more than to play alongside a near-retirement LeBron James and *squints at notes* $40 million a year player Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Sterling Brown says Milwaukee Bucks have unfinished business next season (Sporting News/NBA)
If there will be one thing that extend’s Milwaukee’s championship window in the Giannis-era it’ll be neither attracting star free agents or regularly swinging blockbuster trades. It’ll be the likes of Sterling Brown and the improvements he can add to his game season over season.
His 2018-2019 campaign was a step in the right direction (season in review will be on its way!), and another off-season honing his strengths while blunting weaknesses should make our shutdown, downtown, slam it down guard that much better. As he grows, so does the flexibility Jon Horst will have hedging bets elsewhere to keep the team competitive. To avoid a top-heavy roster the Bucks need Sterling Brown more than ever.
The Social Media Section
An Antetokounmpo trip to Fresno in a couple of tweets:
I forgot my wallet in Milwaukee is it free lol?? https://t.co/8yUwYAIfRT— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) June 6, 2019
I’m coming in where are you guys located?! https://t.co/JnAuEf93MV— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) June 6, 2019
I’m just trying to get some free pizza man https://t.co/xNCsqlP2aD— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) June 6, 2019
Where is the best elote man in Fresno?— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) June 6, 2019
Wonder what NBA player Tim Frazier is up to
No Bonzie, thank YOU for that Hawks game. It was genuinely awesome.
Looks like Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton will get a shot to represent Team USA! (this story about Middleton’s national team desires is now relevant again)
ESPN Sources: Among additional players expected to join USA Basketball’s training camp in August on way to a roster spot in September’s FIBA World Cup in China: Bradley Beal, Eric Gordon, Kyle Kuzma, Damian Lillard, Brook Lopez, Kevin Love, CJ McCollum and Jayson Tatum.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 5, 2019
Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton has accepted an invitation to the 18-man Team USA training camp in August, league source tells ESPN. Team USA is fielding a roster to bring to the FIBA World Cup in China in September.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 5, 2019
“Antetokounmpo passes out to Antetokounmpo... Antetokounmpo sets the pick, Antetokounmpo drives, finds Antetokounmpo in the paint... NICK CALATHES FOR THREE!”
Good Guy Giannis checking in on Bucks all-timer John Henson via public social media
With travels on my mind, I should note that I made the journey from Minneapolis to Milwaukee for the first time all year. Over the course of four days I stopped to enjoy a ButterBurger, sat and read in the peace and quiet around a small stream, and made my first sojourn to the Fiserv Forum where I picked up my first new-era designed piece of team merchandise.
What struck me is just how much staying power the Bucks have had even after their season is over. Sure, we’re only a few weeks removed from the inglorious end, but I saw far more Bucks shirts at the Brewers game I attended than I ever expected, and the same could be said of the students at my old high school.
That prevalence will fade over the summer, but the contours are in place for things to fire right back up again in the fall when basketball returns; something that couldn’t be said about any consecutive Bucks seasons in years.