Don’t get me wrong, I’m in love with basketball and, further, in love with every little aspect of the Milwaukee Bucks, but a small part of me rejoices when the offseason arrives. In the past it would normally come on the back of a yet another mediocre season and seemed an oasis in a desert of middling basketball. That it hits us after such a wonderful season does dampen my excitement, but still it must be said: We’re free to do something other than obsess about this sport for a few months.
The break will feel even longer thanks to the success Milwaukee found last season: With the 30th overall pick in the draft much of the prospect discussion boils down to shots in the dark, the free agency start line is a month away and the Bucks are most likely in a market for their own players, then there’s the Donte DiVincenzo Summer League, and then... a lot of waiting.
There’s still plenty to discuss, plenty to theorize, plenty to break down, but the urgency isn’t there, the daily grind is gone, and now we get to find some other hobbies. Or we can just keep talking about the Bucks. That’s fine, too.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Unplugged: Bucks star sounds off about his playoff performance and team’s tough finish (The Athletic - Subscription Required)
A lot of Giannis quotes have been floating around this week courtesy of old friend Eric Nehm over at the Athletic and his piece compiling many of the conversations he and Giannis shared in the midst of the playoffs.
Giannis comes off in many of the ways we’ve come to expect: Thoughtful, competitive, always looking for ways to improve even as he closes in on his first MVP award. His work ethic needs no commenting on and he’ll have months to perfect whatever aspect of his game he thinks will get him to the next level. For us fans its a matter of watching from afar at clips of three-pointers, pretty post-moves, and crisp passes while we eagerly await his return.
A wider philosophical discussion I thought I’d toss in just because it will become increasingly relevant as days go by.
I appreciate the “do whatever it takes” mindset Kobe Bryant helped fan in Giannis, but I do worry how long Mamba Mentality can cope with a Finals-shaped vacuum. If there’s anything that drives Giannis off, it won’t be the city, it won’t be the franchise or the people involved: It’ll come down to cold calculations about whether a championship is reasonably in the offing. The “Ringz” train is set to pull into Milwaukee’s station any moment now.
Are the Bucks the NBA’s Team of the Future? (The Ringer)
The only thing that will really matter when discussing the above question is how long Giannis sticks around. If he does, then yes, the Bucks are the future. If not, this ship will sink quicker than a late-1800s liner in rough seas.
There’s no sense in agonizing right this second about how GM Jon Horst will reload this squad, but this is a core that got the Bucks to 60 wins. Maybe they lose a George Hill, maybe Nikola Mirotic walks, maybe a trade needs to be found to dump some salary, but if Horst can at least retain 2/3rds of Middleton, Brogdon, and Lopez, he should have a high enough floor to build another contender from the ashes of the 2018-2019 season.
Wait, I think I’ve heard this one before with Thon Maker, Jabari Parker, Michael Carter-Williams, Christian Wood, Jason Kidd, etc.
Giannis is a nice guy and a good teammate, so the above is in jest, but I think this is as good a time as any to reinforce the fact that Antetokounmpo is aware of NBA realities. I’m sure he was upset when guys close to him moved on from Milwaukee, but no signs of discontent have ever surfaced with any of management’s moves. With so much in the air for Milwaukee heading into free agency, remember that the team’s star will not be making his decision on an extension solely off of “bring everyone back”.
The Bucks may have lost, but Milwaukee definitely won (On Milwaukee) & 9 questions ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks’ franchise-altering offseason (On Milwaukee)
If there’s one thing I’ll remember from this season it was just how far and wide Bucks fandom spread. In years past you’d have your core group in Milwaukee, a few hoop fans outside of the city stretching to Madison, and then our international contingent courtesy of international players who’ve come through town.
I saw the shift happen mid-winter up here in Minneapolis with students aplenty rocking Bucks gear at the U of M. I saw so many of you comment about “spotted a guy in a Bucks shirt in (insert city here)!”. I saw the so-called Deer District morph from dream into raucous reality in the course of a few weeks. One of the greatest pleasures in being a fan is reveling in the highs and lows with others, and if Bucks success is measured on how wide a swath of society they bring together, I’d call this past season a resounding success.
The Social Media Section
When you’re mourning a season, you heal your wounds at theme parks
The Milwaukee Bucks went big at the park today! pic.twitter.com/sq9l1uaPEA— SF Great America (@SFGreat_America) May 29, 2019
Jimmy Kimmel was also en vogue this week
I’ll take “Players I didn’t expect to pop up on my timeline this week for 500, Alex”
Wonder what he means by that? Anyone got any guesses?
Malcolm Brogdon says he’ll remember this team as a fun group and one that had a much different culture with Bud than with the previous staff pic.twitter.com/BxTghb20t7— Justin Garcia (@tmjgarcia) May 27, 2019
George Hill: Honorary Wisconsinite
Will George Hill the Finals: “Nah, I don’t watch basketball. I’ll probably hunt or fish or something. I was at a baseball game yesterday and was going to chug a beer but didn’t think it was appropriate.”— Kane Pitman (@mkebucksaus) May 27, 2019
He also said he would easily beat @DavidBakhtiari crushing a beer.
Offseason = incomprehensible DJ Wilson Insta season
A surprisingly successful season for Milwaukee’s prodigal son comes to a close
So, um, what are you guys going to do with all this newfound free time? I’ve been busy running and catching up on my “to-read” list, and there’s the gorgeous weather we have to enjoy after a brutal winter.
Whatever it is you do to pass the time, I hope its enough to tide you over as we watch the Finals play out and eventually make our way to the Draft. We’re in the off-season, but the NBA never sleeps and the calendar is always moving.