There’s never really a chance to relax with the condensed NBA offseason; with training camp underway and the regular season opener 20 days out, it was time to truly focus on the 2020-21 season. While media day gives fans and the press a chance to see players and coaches for the first time, there was some intrigue on how COVID-19 restrictions would affect it this year. For the first day, there was a limited number of those attending and no livestream to watch, so our quotes and answers came from the various members of the Bucks beat. Today we had Coach Mike Budenholzer, Khris Middleton, and new guys Jrue Holiday, DJ Augustin, and Torrey Craig. So, what were the main takeaways from today:
Giannis was not present to speak with the media
There isn’t a larger elephant in the room when it comes to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the supermax extension. As of writing, there is no official decision on whether Giannis will sign the supermax or not and we don’t seem to be any closer to knowing when. Giannis did not speak to the media via zoom and based on Eric Nehm’s tweet, we don’t know if he will.
We do not have a schedule beyond today.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) December 3, 2020
Today, we are scheduled to speak with Mike Budenholzer, D.J. Augustin, Torrey Craig, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton. https://t.co/vSEcTX74KR
This could be intentional on both Milwaukee and Giannis’ part to not have him speak since the majority of obvious questions would relate to the extension. I am not able to try and talk you out of panicking or be the ever-optimistic person because I don’t know what he’s going to do. While we don’t have any clues, we at least know Khris Middleton feels the same way we all do.
Khris Middleton on Giannis contract decision:— Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) December 3, 2020
"My situation last year [Giannis] told me how he felt and that's all I can do in return. I think we are more than friends at this point, we spent eight years together, we've been through a lot together"
Coach Bud has some words
Coach Bud was the first to speak to the media and decided he was going to stir Bucks twitter into a frenzy in regards to the mentality of the season.
Mike Budenholzer says the #Bucks goal is a title and they have the type of team that can compete for one, but:— Scott Grodsky (@ScottGrodsky) December 3, 2020
“To think that a season is championship or bust is certainly not how we’ve approached it.”
I understand what he is trying to do. He hopes to lower the expectation and ease the burden on his players. It makes sense to not set up your players to fail and not get “old takes exposed” in the future. He truly doesn’t care about his comments to the media. However, I disagree with not looking at this season as championship or bust. This was a team that has had the best record in the NBA regular season the last two seasons, this is a team that has the two-time MVP and DPOY on its roster who may or may not leave after the season. This is a team who most would say is the favorite to win the Eastern Conference and is in the top-5 of championship contenders. The mentality should be championship or bust because at this stage, not winning a championship would be considered disappointing. That mentality would be fine for this team two years ago when Budenholzer first took over; it’s not for a team who have made win-now moves and have increased their expectations.
Khris Middleton taking on a leadership role
With Giannis not available for the media, Milwaukee went with another senior member of the team in Khris Middleton. Khris is starting his 8th season on the Bucks and is currently the team’s highest paid player. We’ve seen him rise as a player during his Bucks journey and now he’s joined with Giannis as the longest tenured Buck. But as Milwaukee went a bit younger in their bench with the losses of George Hill, Ersan Ilyasova (for now) and Robin Lopez, he is looked at as one of the veterans. This makes his message about the missed opportunity and importance of winning during their window more prominent.
Does Khris Middleton feel pressure to win now?— Scott Grodsky (@ScottGrodsky) December 3, 2020
“Definitely. There’s always a sense of urgency to win...we got to take advantage of this time while we can.” pic.twitter.com/V1GABo901Y
Middleton taking on more of a leadership by example role will be something that might have been swept under the rug before, but will be more noticeable this season.
Jrue Holiday is off to a strong start
When Milwaukee traded for Jrue Holiday, we all knew or heard of stories about how he is the ideal teammate and overall good person. Today was another example and Jrue has said all the right things when it came to joining Milwaukee.
.@Jrue_Holiday11 on joining @Khris22m & @Giannis_An34:— Stephen Watson (@WISN_Watson) December 3, 2020
“I want a chance to put a ring on my finger and you can see in their eyes they do too.”
Holiday called the @Bucks a ‘perfect fit’ with a winning culture. Important to note Holiday was the 2020 NBA Teammate of the Year. pic.twitter.com/BUwPQVvWCK
It’s always good when your key offseason addition feels welcomed especially as he has his own long term future to consider. But Jrue is a high quality defender and will bring toughness and he wanted people to remember that as well.
Jrue Holiday on joining Milwaukee: “Honestly, adding me, we have this extra toughness."— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) December 3, 2020
Milwaukee gave up a lot to have Holiday but between the comments he’s made and the person he is, this was as good of a start as he could have.
Torrey Craig is a dog, and the fans will love him
When Milwaukee announced that it was signing Torrey Craig, that seemed to be a coup of sorts with the way the whole of NBA twitter was talking about him. Craig is a defender that is going to give other team fits and he WILL make sure Milwaukee has the right mentality
Says the Bucks need to adopt an underdog mentality similar to what his Nuggets teams had— Justin Garcia (@tmjgarcia) December 3, 2020
Says his mentality is 'no complaints, no excuses'— Justin Garcia (@tmjgarcia) December 3, 2020
I am not a big fan of taking on the underdog mentality when you probably aren’t the underdog, but if that is going to get this team to be a problem for opposing team’s offense, I’ll take it.
DJ Augustin is really happy to be on a winner again
DJ Augustin has had an interesting career, he started with the not great Charlotte Bobcats before bouncing around a few teams, then playing with the Orlando Magic. While the Magic got better during his time there, he hasn’t truly been on a title contending team since the 2015-16 Oklahoma City Thunder team that blew the 3-1 to the Golden State Warriors. Augustin will be relied on as the team’s point guard during crunch time and he seems to see the quality of this Bucks roster.
DJ Augustin on joining this Milwaukee roster:— Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) December 3, 2020
"It's gonna be great playing with Giannis, all these guys I'm excited to play with, everybody has such unique talent. This is the first time I've been on a team like that with so many guys that can do so many things"
So those were some highlights from Day 1 of media week, we are not sure how many more players or staff will talk but make sure to follow our threads and twitter page for more updates. Media day always seem like the dawn of some optimism and other than THAT situation, it seems as though spirits are in a good, positive mood,.