Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bucks Compete In 2013 Summer League Play

Bucks Summer League Play
The Bucks will again be one of 22 teams competing in the NBA's annual Summer League in Las Vegas. More than 60 games over 11 days will be held between the city's COX Pavilion and Thomas & Mack Center starting on July 12, with the introduction of a single-game elimination playoff format in 2013 guaranteeing each team at-least five match-ups. The first ever Summer League champion will be crowned following the tournament's championship game on July 22.

Milwaukee begins their Summer League slate on Saturday, July 13 against the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets are a powerhouse in the off-season league, competing in every contest since its inception in 2004. Racking up 24 wins in that time, Denver is the the most successful team on the Summer League circuit, though they won just a single game in 2012's campaign. The game between the Bucks and Denver will be the only game of the opening round that Milwaukee plays at the COX Pavilion.

The Bucks meet a familiar foe from last year's Summer League for their initial game at the Thomas & Mack Center on Sunday, July 14th. The New Orleans Pelicans placed 23 out-of 24 teams in Las Vegas in 2012, helped-along by a close loss to Milwaukee in both team's initial contest that year. They are hoping to reverse that first-game fortune this summer, as they take on the worst team from 2012's league on the first day of the tournament, the New York Knicks.

For their second head-to-head at the Thomas & Mack Center, the Bucks take on the overall winners of last year's Summer League, the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors were the only organization to go without a loss last July, earning five wins en-route. Victories over Miami and Chicago were features of their 2012 summer-run, though a 40-point trouncing of the Lakers was the highlight. Milwaukee and Golden State met twice during the regular season this past year. The Bucks took home wins on both occasions, once at home in February and again in March in Oakland.

In the 2012 Summer League, the Bucks were one of six teams to end the tournament with four-wins and a loss. A three-point drop to the Wizards in the second game of their schedule was the sole-loss for the team, though a pair of wins against Boston and Chicago to end the league did save-face.   

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bucks Offer Monta Ellis Two Year Extension | Will Ellis Accept The Offer?

Bucks Monta EllisThe ball is now in Monta's court, so-to-speak. On Friday the Bucks made their offer in negotiations with point guard Monta Ellis, putting a two-year extension worth over thirty-million dollars on the table. Ellis is expected to accept or reject the contract by June 20, and there are other options the 27-year old could be exploring.

June 20 marks the deadline to opt-into the final year of his current contract, or risk himself on the unrestricted free agent market. That contract is a carry-over from his time at Golden State, where he signed a six-year, and 66-million dollar deal in 2005. The option already put-in by the Warriors for the 2013 season guarantees Ellis 11-million dollars if stays and the extension offered by Milwaukee nets him another 25-million over the two-seasons.

Pushing 30, Ellis should be becoming injury-wary. The Bucks deal would provide support should anything catastrophic happen, something a year-by-year deal would fail to protect against. This free-agent cycle will likely be the last that Ellis sees himself as a high-profile target, however, as hitting the market at three-decades is a risky prospect. That fact may make the veteran weary of a deal that may symbolize the remainder of his career at its prime.

Should Ellis choose to stay in Milwaukee, it would provide the Bucks roster with its first sense of stability this off-season. In addition to Ellis, fellow guards J.J. Redick and Brandon Jennings will become free-agents this summer. The trio all but comprised the team's offensive threat in 2012, with Ellis leading the Bucks in scoring. He was also the only player to play all 82 games for the franchise last season.
The Bucks are not being overly optimistic about their chances of retaining their back-court in 2013, including Ellis. Guards have dominated the team's pre-draft workouts thus-far, and experts heavily predict the team's first-round pick on June 27th will come from that corps. Glen Rice Jr., Shane Larkin, and Dennis Schroeder are just a few of the names general manager John Hammond and new head coach Larry Drew have thrown out from those workouts, and both say they remain confident that the pieces will fall into place.
As for Ellis, some sources are already reporting counter-offers to the Bucks contract. A deal from Sacramento is carrying the most weight in the media this week, as recently hired head coach Mike Malone previously worked with the guard as an assistant in Oakland. The Kings are undergoing a renovation of their own, and Ellis could see an opportunity to become a leader in the newly owned franchise.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Milwaukee Bucks Hire Larry Drew As Head Coach

Larry Drew Milwaukee BucksThe Bucks have hired Larry Drew to fill the team's vacant head coaching spot. Just 10 days after his initial interview with the organization, Drew enters the position as the 13th head coach in franchise history, and is the conclusion of a tumultuous first month of the 2013 off-season. General manager John Hammond announced the news on Friday, telling reporters that he is excited to welcome the third coach under his tenure to Milwaukee.

Drew will mark the second hiring of a head coach by Hammond since 2008. Scott Skiles was put in the position that year, though he unexpectedly exited the team in January 2013. Assistant Jim Boylan was then quickly promoted to lead the Bucks through the remainder of the season. Despite a run into the first round of the playoffs, Boylan's interim contract was not renewed or expanded following the team's win-less postseason series against the Miami Heat in May.

Formerly at the helm of the Atlanta Hawks, Drew joined Houston assistant Kelvin Sampson as one of the final two contenders for the position in Milwaukee. Both have ties to the Bucks, Sampson working on the team's staff for three years starting in 2008, and Drew as an assistant in Atlanta during the pair's seven-game meeting to open the 2010 playoffs.

Enjoying six seasons with the Hawks as an assistant, Drew has found ample recent success with the team as their head coach for the past three years. Compiling a winning record during that time, the 58 year-old has taken the team into the postseason every year of his tenure, though a loss in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2011 was the closest he would get to a title. Losses in the first rounds of the 2012 and 2013 playoffs were not a step in the right direction according to Atlanta management, and the hiring of Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer to take over Drew's responsibilities confirmed the firing.

Drew doesn't leave with a grudge, however. Hawks general manager Danny Ferry aided the coach heavily in his negotiations with other organizations, including the unorthodox allowance of letting Drew interview while still under contract. The Kansas City native is also not unfamiliar with the idea of moving around, as his more than 30 years in the league as a player and coach have seen him with nearly 10 different teams. Exact details of Drew's new contract with the Bucks have not been released yet, though speculation has confirmed that the deal is guaranteed for three years with fourth year team option.

The closure of the hiring process comes just in time for Hammond to shift his attention to possible roster changes due to free agency this off-season; changes that could be effected by Drew's introduction to the team. Standout guard Brandon Jennings will enter the restricted market on July 1, and fellow guard Monta Ellis will chose on June 20th if he wishes to remain with the team on an option or become a free agent. Both have admitted that they remain undecided, though it was known that differences between Boylan and the pair made the eventual coaching choice a factor in their decisions.
Lead assistant to Drew in Atlanta Lester Conner touched on that subject in an interview on Friday. Conner told reporters that he knew Bucks fans and players alike would like Drew's coaching style, which Conner says plays to the team's strengths instead of trying too hard to improve their weaknesses.