Kyle Korver is just the latest name across the wire choosing to gamble his coming season with the Milwaukee Bucks. In less than 18 months the Bucks have gone from first-round out to certified ring-chaser destination. Yes, we are living in the year 2019.
It’s impressive how old this team got in a hurry. Just a few seasons ago the motto was “own the future” predicated on the rise of Giannis, hopes in Jabari Parker, whatever Thon Maker may have turned out to be, and a bevy of projects in DJ Wilson, Sterling Brown, and numerous two-way players.
Now Milwaukee will go into 2019-2020 with 22 year-old Donte DiVincenzo the youngest player on the roster. As of my count, 10 of the squad members are 25+ in age (with plenty of variance in-between) while Giannis Antetokounmpo sits at his youthful 24 years. Jon Horst & Co. sure weren’t messing around when they said they were in it to win right now; Milwaukee’s youth movement is officially at an end.
The Rise of the Next Antetokounmpo (Bleacher Report Mag)
To say that the Antetokounmpo family has led a life of relative chaos since Giannis’s drafting in 2013 would be an understatement. Their story is well-known, and oddly enough we’re already at the point where the youngest son, Alex, is quickly approaching his own date with destiny following in the footsteps of three brothers with pro careers.
This piece by Mirin Fader goes deep on Alex, and in the process highlights the close relationship he has with Giannis and the complexities of an individual finding his own voice amid the churn of life turned upside down ten times over. It’s really worth your time, if only to marvel once more the luck Milwaukee has had calling this family one of its own.
‘It’s Khris Middleton Day, y’all’: NBA star honored with Porter-Gaud jersey retirement (Charleston Post & Courier)
Khris Middleton’s dream summer continued on this past week after being honored by his former high school with a jersey retirement and by his hometown of Charleston with a key to the city. He’s paid back into the community many times over with youth basketball camps, pledges of financial contributions to assist underserved youth, and his annual “Khristmas” drive to help Charleston families make the most of the holidays.
Not bad Khris, not bad at all.
I feel like one of the under discussed aspects of Milwaukee’s offseason will be how Giannis’s increasingly heavy load of media responsibilities, constant training, and probable inclusion in the FIBA World Cup will affect his play.
Part of the territory that comes with superstardom is the loss in schedule flexibility. Will he be able to come off such a dominant season and do himself one better? For his sake and the team’s I hope there’s been plenty of rest and relaxation built into his summer if indeed he plans on a MVP repeat and a Finals win a year from now.
Kyle Korver signs with Eastern Conference rival Milwaukee Bucks (Liberty Ballers)
Threw this one in the queue simply as a reminder that maybe the most important aspect of signing Kyle Korver is denying his services to Milwaukee’s rivals (and who doesn’t like lurking around the “enemy” comment sections when even benignly bad things happen to their team?).
We’re a long ways away from Frank Mason’s height at the apex of college basketball — a stint with the Kings gone awry and a two-way contract ways away, to be exact — but in the grand scheme of things we’re not that far removed from a time when Mason looked worthy of a bet in the NBA.
He was an explosive scorer coming out of high school and steadily made a transition to point guard at Kansas and... there’s not been much since. Having only converted to the one a few years ago it isn’t shocking he hadn’t broken through at an NBA level. Perhaps a year spent between Milwaukee and Oshkosh honing his craft and playing third-string backup will do his game some good.
The Social Media Section
Not the time or place to really get into this, but the latest from “things that make you go ‘Hmmmmm...’”
JR Smith denying he enjoyed any of that sweet sweet Kopp’s custard last week
JR: “Ayo George Hill when did Bron get taller and shave his beard?”— Rohan Katti (@rkattijr) July 18, 2019
Hill: “Man you haven’t played with Bron in over a year. That’s Giannis and you’re in Milwaukee”
We finally have the Taylor Jenkins replacement
The Bucks are adding the veteran assistant Chad Forcier to Mike Budenholzer's coaching staff, league sources say— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 17, 2019
Wes Matthews contract info for those interested
The Milwaukee Bucks signed Wesley Matthews to a two-year, $5.26 million deal, which includes a player option Year 2, league sources told @TheAthleticNBA.— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) July 15, 2019
Pat Connaughton will either remain in the league for 20 years simply as a “great teammate” or will quickly transition to the Bucks sideline reporter gig
"I've been in Milwaukee pretty much my whole career and it's felt like home!"— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 18, 2019
EXCLUSIVE: @pconnaughton scored the first interview with @khris22m after he re-signed his contract!! pic.twitter.com/LkPS9FEvTf
Rachel Nichols one-on-one SZN!
Money was so tight when @Giannis_An34 grew up, when he & his brother played basketball, they'd often make sure to play in separate games so they could share a pair of shoes between them. Now, Giannis is MVP, and debuting a signature shoe of his own - we caught up for a 1-on-1: pic.twitter.com/wHTouVuiQM— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 16, 2019
Good for Elijah if he can snag on with an NBA team after his Summer League showing
Former BYU guard Elijah Bryant has multiple NBA offers, League Sources tell The Athletic....he is considering his options and hopes to make a decision soon. Bryant has a strong showing in summer league for the Milwaukee Bucks— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) July 18, 2019
Adding Thanasis to our weekly social media rotation
Every series of DJ Wilson Insta posts is a treasure (plus workout pics)
I’ve never seen Eric without a headband
The last thing needing battening down for Milwaukee is figuring how, if at all, to fill it’s 15th roster spot. Bonzie Colson’s future is unclear having had his two-way slot hijacked, He’d be eligible for a $1.45 million minimum deal having only one year of experience under his belt, but keeping a slot open for trade flexibility and the ability to snap up waived players holds value all its own.
For now, unless someone unexpected suddenly becomes available, it feels like the Bucks may stand pat. Perhaps JR Smith will throw his lot in, though that would make a lot of veteran guards/wings needing minutes for Mike Budenholzer to balance. Alternatively, Milwaukee can hold tight until training camp and make it an open competition among invitees for that opportunity a la Christian Wood a year ago.
We’re in an interesting position as a franchise trying to strike the balance between accumulating and utilizing the talents of ring-chasers while trying to not fully give up on internal development. What the right mix is remains unknown, but you can’t blame GM Jon Horst for giving the Bucks numerous post-season lottery tickets to go along with the level of play Giannis and Khris bring to the floor.
Now we just have to lock down JR.