Khris Middleton may never be the leading scorer with the Bucks (as long as Giannis Antetokounmpo is around), but we’re rocketing towards the possibility that he leads Team USA in output later this summer at the FIBA World Cup. With so many defections from the team, it looks ever more likely that Middleton one of the few NBA all-stars on the roster.
Alongside him presumably will be teammates Brook Lopez and, oddly enough, Pat Connaughton (who was given an invite to the select team last week). The last time Milwaukee fielded representation to the men’s senior team would be the days of Michael Redd, though guys like Xavier Munford played a role in Team USA’s qualifying campaign.
The national team has long been a place where the greats network giving rise to the theory of shadowy schemes hatched by players in an effort to shape their destinies together. Maybe Khris will follow in those footsteps, maybe not, but between him and the ever-likeable Lopez, we’re but a few steps removed from Team USA being Team Milwaukee Bucks and some other dudes.
Giannis is the Future in More Ways than One (Sports Illustrated)
The latest in Giannis temperature taking comes courtesy of SI’s Andrew Sharp waxing poetic about the continually weird place the Bucks and Antetokounmpo will find themselves between now and whatever agreement (or lack thereof) that they reach on another contract.
What will always throw a wrench in national projections of Giannis’s decision-making is the inability to separate the wheat (Giannis) from the NBA chaff (numerous other stars constantly on the move). There is now an expectation of what a star will demand, that a star will always be looking for the quickest escape hatch out of a situation, that the small market is once again dead. That proscription holds some truth, but neither you or I, or anyone else out there knows how much that applies to Giannis.
For now, he’s a Buck. That will have to continue to be good enough as the rocky seas of speculation continue to rock Milwaukee’s boat.
Lakers reportedly ‘hope’ Giannis Antetokounmpo hears good things about them from Kostas, but also see Kostas as a real prospect (Silver Screen & Roll)
Speaking of, who’d have thunk it, the Lakers — a franchise lately known for rank incompetence, back-biting, and unreserved scorn from across the league — have already dipped their toes into the Giannis sweepstakes via the acquisition of Kostas Antetokounmpo.
They can smokescreen about Kostas being a legit part of their on-court plans all they want. In reality, this is as thinly veiled as Dallas’s attempt to do the same when they selected Giannis’s brother 60th overall a year ago. Maybe LeBron will gas up Kostas so much as to overcome the bumbling of the organization writ large, but for now we can rest easy knowing the Bucks already trumped LA by getting an Antetokounmpo brother on the roster.
Inside a tense NBA owners meeting that might change free agency (ESPN)
One more piece dedicated to the unclear fluidity that is NBA free agency.
First, an acknowledgement that Bucks ownership appears to be leading the charge against the unknown:
“Marc Lasry, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, spoke of his concern of the gray areas of tampering rules; it was lost on no one in the room that Milwaukee’s franchise player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, could be the most sought-after star in free agency in 2021 if he does not sign an extension with the team before then.“
So, good, at least the team isn’t walking into the future eyes wide shut. The league wasn’t able to come to any sort of concrete agreement yet on how to address a landscape some would portray as run amok with others believing acknowledging the changed nature of free agency is but a fait accompli.
Whether the NBA comes to a decision between now and 2021 is up in the air, but I’d advise you keep an eye on this space as things develop.
Divisional Rankings: Can anyone in the Central Division take down the Milwaukee Bucks? (NBA.com)
Divisions don’t matter much, but what better time than now to begin taking the national temperature on those competitors closer to home?
While the hierarchy of a year ago seems set to hold next season, I do find each of the other Central Division teams interesting in their own ways. Cleveland and Chicago are at different stages of a rebuild, but part of the fun is the numerous young guys who will benefit from minute injections. Detroit has an odd roster and still should have enough raw talent to make it into the playoffs. Indiana conducted a pretty thorough changing of the guard around Victor Oladipo bringing in Malcolm Brogdon, TJ Warren, and Jeremy Lamb (among others).
The Bucks should hang onto the top spot, but the Central won’t be a complete cakewalk.
How badly do you want something? How hard are you willing to work? | Marques Johnson | TEDxUCLA (YouTube)
He’s my favorite, he’s your favorite, and he’s a joy to have back around the organization. Marques Johnson, ladies and gentlemen!
The Social Media Section
The Luke Maye Experience rumbles on in Oshkosh
#Bucks sign rookie forward Luke Maye (North Carolina). #NBA https://t.co/5lGAQaFU59— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) July 23, 2019
Appears Eric Bledsoe deleted everything on his Instagram account besides this
Khris bringing Bucks fandom to the children of Charleston
Ersan putting in some important offseason work
Cam Reynolds with a preview of his ball protection skills
Dann schreit der Elch “und ein”
Greg Monroe will sign a deal with Bayern Munich, per @Sportando pic.twitter.com/yPuvpf0Xi1— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) July 24, 2019
RIP Pau Gasol as a Buck: April 2019-July 2019
Free agent Pau Gasol has agreed to a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, league source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 24, 2019
Thank you for the video evidence, bigsack42
Giannis working on his shooting with Korver— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 23, 2019
(via bigsack42/IG) pic.twitter.com/YEJNfQtDjo
.@Giannis_An34 spending the week in Santa Barbara working on his body at P3, and his jumper with new teammate @KyleKorver! pic.twitter.com/9hK3x0pb6N— P3 (@P3sportscience) July 22, 2019
By my count, the Bucks have just training camp slots open having picked up Dragan Bender, Cam Reynolds, Frank Mason III, Luke Maye, and reportedly Rayjon Tucker in the last few weeks. Since the fifteen man regular roster is pretty much cemented and Milwaukee’s two-way slots filled don’t be surprised if the final guys are promising G-Leaguers already part of or looking to join the Wisconsin Herd.
GM Jon Horst has done a good job of securing the veteran help for the post-season while allowing a chance for bets on guys like DJ Wilson, Sterling Brown, Donte DiVincenzo, and Bender to potentially pay off. We saw last season that Mike Budenholzer won’t shy away from every chance to get his mainline guys some rest — and instead of 48 minutes of the Frazier and Bonzie show Milwaukee will have plenty of players able to fill in on a moments notice without a hypermassive drop in talent.
Not bad for a few months’ work.