The schedule for the 2014-15 NBA season was announced Wednesday afternoon. The opening game this year will feature the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs facing off October 28 at 8 p.m. ET.
The new-look and rebuilding Milwaukee Bucks will begin their season in Charlotte against the Hornets on October 29. It’s the 30th consecutive season they’ve started their campaign on the road. For the team’s schedule in it’s entirely, you can view it on the Bucks’ website here.
Here are some notable games to look forward to this season:
Jabari Parker returns home
One game that Jabari Parker already has listed on his mental schedule is the first time he plays against his hometown Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The Bucks will travel on the road to face the Bulls for the first time this season on January 10.
Kidd returns to Brooklyn
Head coach Jason Kidd will return to Brooklyn to coach against his former team the Brooklyn Nets on January 19. It's his first return to the city as an opposing coach after his split with the organization this past summer.
Lebron James and friends
Lebron James and his revamped Cleveland Cavaliers will face the Bucks for the first time this regular season on December 2 in Cleveland. James returns to the Central Division and will bring along (barring a rejection from league office) Kevin Love to mesh with All-Star Kyrie Irving. While James played for the Miami Heat the past four seasons, he helped sell-out nearly every game he appeared in on the road in Milwaukee.
Wiggins vs. Parker
We saw a little bit of it during Las Vegas Summer League, but the highly anticipated battle between Andrew Wiggins and Parker will once again happen on October 17 during the preseason, and November 26 during the regular season. Of course, Wiggins will be wearing a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey instead of a Cavaliers one (these team’s ain’t loyal). I think this matchup will be better than the first.
Brandon Jennings, Season 2
If you’re a Bucks fan and still have a distain for Brandon Jennings’ departure to Detroit, you can still let him know how you really feel in person on November 25 when him and the Detroit Pistons make their way to the Bradley Center.
The Bucks will make two appearances on national television (NBA TV) this upcoming season: December 29 at Charlotte, and January 15 against the New York Knicks in London.
For the All-Star break, the team will be off from February 12 until February 20 when they return from break and face the Denver Nuggets at home.
Longest road trip consists of 4 games: at Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, Los Angeles (Clippers).
Longest home stand consists of 5 games: Boston, Brooklyn, Sacramento, Denver, Atlanta.
In the month of December, the Bucks will be on the road for 10 of their 15 games during the holiday month. Four of those games include their longest road trip previously mentioned.
Sometimes the roughest moments can create the best. Whether you agree or not just yet, Jabari Parker is not only the perfect match for the Milwaukee Bucks, but for the community and entire state of Wisconsin.
I had an unfortunate mix up this morning on my way to WTMJ headquarters to head out with the station’s photographer to Parker’s introductory press conference. That forced me to drive my own vehicle toward downtown Milwaukee and sprint down the sidewalks of the city. All right, I didn't run in my suit, but I walked pretty fast.
Along the way I witnessed fans rushing down the block, too. I sped up because I wanted to be on time, they sped up because they knew it was.
There were a lot of emotions from fans and citizens in the city of Milwaukee as I sat in the upper level of Milwaukee Public Market Friday morning. One parent mentioned to me how ecstatic he is that his 12-year-old son will be able to watch a possible future multiple All-Star player in his home city. Another told me he cut out of his job mid-day to attend Parker’s press conference. He didn't get fired, so that’s a good sign (I followed up with him to make sure everything was cool).
Besides the NBA Draft lottery, that was the most electric scene I've been able to witness in some time. It wasn't the loudest crowd I've heard, that’s for sure (the building obviously had a capacity), but it was definitely the most positive and uplifting I've been able to be around in my three years following the Bucks. OK, it felt like I was sitting in church.
The Bucks need a lot of things. A scorer is on the Mt. Rushmore, but not just a regular scorer, they need somebody that’s willing to pick up the pace during the third and fourth quarter – critical moments in games that the team struggled with constantly last year that often ended in losses. The franchise needs a true leader, and a person that this team revolves around and feeds off of. They need a face. They need character. They needed Jabari Parker.
So what will Wes Edens and Marc Lasry do to keep Parker satisfied with the team in Milwaukee? That’s what matters the most. They've mentioned building the roster up through the draft, so who else will they add going forward to their core? Those are just a few quick thoughts that ran through my head today. They have their man and possible savior, but how will they feed and provide for him?
Parker’s opportunity here can either flame out in the next few years if the team remains non-competitive, or he can reshape the franchise just as Kevin Durant did in Oklahoma City.
The second option seems more likely.
One of the cool things about covering the NBA Draft compared to the NFL Draft is not dealing with the enormous amount of mock drafts. Main reason for that: their draft is directly one month after the order is set and not a few months (paging Roger Goodell). Anyways, with mocks coming out like hot cakes in the next few days and weeks, I compiled picks from writers I respect to see what they think the Milwaukee Bucks will do with the second pick. If you didn’t read my thoughts on their options, do so. Feel free to click on their name and affiliation to read the rest of their mock.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
Pick: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
"If Wiggins is on the board, this becomes a tough decision. But the Bucks need another big man and an Embiid-Larry Sanders frontcourt has tremendous defensive promise. The question Milwaukee (and others) must answer: How bad is Embiid's back?"
Chad Ford of ESPN:
Pick: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
"Some in the Bucks organization really liked Embiid before his back injury. But there are questions about whether they will actually be able to get him in for a physical before the draft. If they can, he is likely the No. 1 pick with Wiggins off the board. If they cannot, Parker or Dante Exum could move into this spot. Parker is the safe pick, but there are concerns that he plays the same position as Giannis Antetokounmpo. Exum could be their point guard of the future, as they would like to move Brandon Knight to the 2."
Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk:
Pick: Jabari Parker, F, Duke
"Ideally, Joel Embiid will be given a clean bill of health, and I would put him in this slot. However, until that happens, Parker becomes Milwaukee’s best option at number 2. Parker will give them an instant boost in scoring, and the ability to play him inside or out should give the coaching staff plenty of lineup options."
Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead:
Pick: Jabari Parker, F, Duke
"It’s a wing league, the Bucks already have rim protectors in Henson and Sanders, Embiid’s back could be a question, his agent may not want his client on what is annually one of the worst teams … Parker starts from Day 1 and leads this team in scoring. In two years, when the Greek Freak is 21 and they add another lottery pick in 2015 … look out?"
Matt Moore, Zach Harper, and Gary Parrish of CBS Sports:
Moore: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Harper: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
Parrish: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Now that the Bucks have secured their draft spot for this upcoming June, it’s time to start looking at the possible selections they could make at second overall. Please, it’s going to be alright, this isn’t like the NFL when you’re force fed racks on racks of mocks. Besides, the draft is just next month, and that’ll get here shortly. So with that quick reminder and sigh of relief for many of you, here are the obvious three options and what I think of them:
Player: Jabari Parker
I don’t think many are taking this serious, but Parker’s character is what makes him the best player in this class and it’s not even close to me anymore. Did you read that Sports Illustrated piece he wrote? In the perfect world, if Wiggins heads to Cleveland (Wiggins and Manziel in the same state?) Parker has a solid chance of coming home to the Midwest (he’s a native of Chicago) and starting his career in Milwaukee. His scoring ability is already transferrable and right now, he can average roughly around 10-15 points per game. The Bucks need a scorer to go in their starting-five with Brandon Knight, but where would Parker fit with Giannis Antetokounmpo? I guess that’s the one question I have if he were selected. Still, factoring in the time, he has the chance to grow into the best player in the class on and off the court. I don’t want to compare him to Carmelo Anthony, but that’s who he reminds me and a lot of people of.
Player: Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins is in the debate alongside Duke’s Jabari Parker for the top selection and if you’d like to get saucy, Joel Embiid without the back concerns can be thrown in the fire, too. Fact is, his athleticism is straight-flexin-on-Instagram elite and he has the best upside in the class. Bringing in Wiggins would help diversify Milwaukee’s starting five, giving them a player who can honestly play at the first three starting spots. This specifically helps after we just witnessed all of the different lineup changes this past season. Spoiler: When my mock draft comes out, he’ll be the top pick.
Player: Joel Embiid
Embiid’s current stock is down compared to where it was around the beginning of the season due to a serious back injury. Back injuries are watched carefully and I’m sure John Hammond and his staff will find out as much as they can on it. He’ll go through different tests before the draft, but regardless, he still won’t be knocked out the top-10. He gets up the floor tremendously well for a seven-footer and can protect the rim. Pair that alongside an on-good-behavior Larry Sanders with John Henson and Giannis, and you have more length than Sidney Moncrief can handle saying in broadcasts. That group will have nicknames galore. Two other concerns with him that I have are regarding his inexperience playing the game itself, and ability to matchup up against grown men that have families to feed at the next level.
If the decision were up to me, as most of you probably could tell, my pick would be Jabari Parker. Milwaukee is in a great spot, though. Having the option of getting one of the three benefits them a lot. I wouldn’t touch Embiid because there aren’t many players historically who clear through back problems in the NBA.
Be on the lookout for my mock draft coming soon once I finish watching tape, and thank you to those who watched my NBA Draft lottery reaction video. It truly means a lot.
Mallory Edens had a lot to talk about with her friends at school this morning at the lunch table. Last night she represented the Milwaukee Bucks in New York City for the NBA Draft lottery and although the Bucks received the second overall pick, much of the focus shifted to the 18-year old who is set to graduate from high school next month. She even has a parody Twitter account now so she knows it’s real. Yes.
Everybody is writing about her stardom, but not many people are talking about what's going on in her mentions. So let’s take a look at some of the crazy and random things people had to say about Mallory today:
Fun fact: Mallory had a few hundred followers before last night’s game. At this current time, she has 41,817. Go ahead and add to this number by following her.
The Milwaukee Bucks were awarded the second overall pick in the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft. In downtown Milwaukee at Upper 90 Sports Pub, I hung out with fans to get their instant reactions. This was definitely one of the best experiences of my journalistic career so far.
We all have started to wonder whether or not Larry Drew will be brought back as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks next season. Drew just wrapped up his first season in the city, but the Bucks just finished with a franchise-worst 15-67 record.
Believe me, there was no way in you know what before the season that you could convince me I’d actually be giving this kid a grade. Giannis’ game was so raw to me that I considered him a buried bench player with a d-league stint for most of his first season. Basically, I was expecting this grade to be incomplete. Well, hey, he showed some unreal potential and skill that I never thought I’d see. Antetokounmpo played in 77 games this year and made 23 (!) starts. Every game he made a “wow” play. Whether that was from blocking a shot, throwing down a ridiculous dunk, or doing things like going coast-to-coast in just three steps. He gave himself a D-minus, but he’s being hard on himself.
Adrien provided the Bucks with their most physical presence inside for the season. After playing sparingly with Charlotte for half the season, he saw increased minutes in Milwaukee and proved to be a valuable force. Adrien battled inside and often got into it with opposing players in the post, but that’s what this team needed, honestly. The trade sending him to Milwaukee might’ve been the best thing to happen to him.
A tearful homecoming in Racine for the Wisconsin native quickly went sour after Butler clearly became displeased with playing time at the midway point. While with Milwaukee, Caron served as the team’s leader in a youthful locker room and averaged 11 points in 34 games. Milwaukee then waived the veteran he then signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Delfino didn’t play in a single game this season due to a foot fracture.
John Henson subliminally got a smack to his face this season. As one of the “young core pieces” for the franchise going forward, Henson mostly sat on the bench in his second season behind Zaza Pachulia, Jeff Adrien, and an injury nagged Ersan Ilyasova. This season Henson averaged 11.1 points and pulled down 7.1 rebounds per game. Sadly, Henson shot a putrid 51% this season at the line. You know the potential is there with more playing time, but he needs to get stronger, too. That should definitely be one of his goals this offseason.
To Ersan’s credit, he was never healthy this entire season as he dealt with a troublesome ankle injury. Ilyasova shot a career low 28.2% from three point range and only played in 55 games. It’s just too bad that the team decided to shut him down late in the season instead of earlier.
Just three minutes into his first season in Milwaukee, Brandon Knight sustained a hamstring injury in New York that kept him out for the next three games. For the most part, that ended up being one of the minimal negatives for him going forward. Knight was one of the few constants for the squad on the offensive side. He did struggle with turnovers, but benefited playing alongside Nate Wolters and veteran Ramon Sessions. At the end of the season, he averaged 17.9 points (31 in the finale against the Hawks), and 4.9 assists. Both of which were career-highs. Even though he shot just 32% from three, he improved from the field making 42% of his attempts.
The Bucks signed Mayo to a three-year, $24 million deal last offseason, and he was expected to be the replacement for Monta Ellis in the frontcourt. Well, that lasted for only a short period before adding a bit too much mayo near the holiday season. And best believe opposing team’s and play-by-play crews took note of it, along with beat writers. After the conditioning issues, he came down with a pretty bad flu and fell out of favor in the rotation going forward. On March 24 against the Los Angeles Clippers, he sprained his ankle and missed the last 11 games of the season.
Middleton was another constant like Brandon Knight for Milwaukee this season. He appeared in every single game (the only player on the squad to do so) and showcased good shooting ability. His positive first season in Milwaukee helped John Hammond in favor when examining the Brandon Jennings swap from last summer. Overall, despite a shooting slump and benching, he produced a pretty solid season in Milwaukee.
Neal left a championship-caliber organization in San Antonio and decided to sign with Milwaukee hoping for an increased role. Welp, nothing like that happened, at all. Before his locker room spat with Larry Sanders in Phoenix, Neal pouted and attempted shots as if the rest of his teammates were invisible. The signing was just a bad fit from the start. I was there when he first talked to the media in Milwaukee, dang, that feels like just yesterday.
Early this season, Zaza missed time (28 games) due to a fractured foot. He played under Larry Drew in Atlanta and provided leadership in the locker room for his team in Milwaukee all season. With more athletic big men in the league, Pachulia struggled defensively. On the other end, he still passed the ball very sound around the basket and shot well from the free throw line. A fair season overall, I’d say.
Raduljica appeared in only 48 games this season and showed some potential with his 7’0, 250 pound frame. Yet he’s still very raw as a rookie player adapting to the NBA game at age 26.
Luke started all 82 games for the Timberwolves in 2012-’13, and was then dealt to Milwaukee. Struggling with a back injury during his time in Milwaukee, he still managed to make a fair amount of starts for the Bucks. The team then dealt him at the deadline to Charlotte with Gary Neal.
Picture the ideal season a player is supposed to have after signing a new contract. Now picture the exact opposite of that, because that’s what Larry Sanders had. I’ve only been on the earth for 21 years, but man, Sanders had one of the worst life-after-getting-paid seasons in professional sports. From the bar fight, to the fracturing of his right orbital bone, to the weed, it’s been bad. He dropped the ball this season after his new deal and USA basketball invite. Right now, he has to earn the respect of a lot of fans back. A quite offseason and improved 2014-’15 could do that, but we’ll see.
With Caron Butler leaving to Oklahoma City, Sessions brought a positive veteran vibe to a young team searching for an identity. He was headed towards the playoffs with the Bobcats but then unfortunately went to the other side of spectrum in Milwaukee. Still, Sessions played well and provided what the Bucks acquired him for. In 28 games, he averaged 15.8 points and gave out 4.8 assists per game.
Ekpe was supposed to be a solid contributor for Milwaukee off the bench, but a knee injury bothered him for the entire season, making him a non-factor. His rookie deal is up, and most likely won’t return to the team next season.
Wolters exceeded the expectations most people had for him. Known for scoring at South Dakota State, he played a different role and attacked the rim well while operating the floor smoothly alongside Brandon Knight. It wasn’t an easy first season for him, though. On his first night against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden, Wolters played 30 minutes right off the bat. Then, coach Larry Drew didn’t play him during the season for a very strange and unknown reason. Then, suddenly, Wolters returned to the floor and started January 31 in Orlando against the Magic. He stayed in the starting lineup until fracturing his hand against the Golden State Warriors, ending his rookie season. The most impressive stat for Nate is that he had an assist to turnover ratio of 3.28 to 1.
Wright played on a pair of 10-day contracts before the Bucks eventually signed him to a two-year non-guaranteed deal.
Earlier Wednesday afternoon, current Milwaukee Bucks owner Senator Herb Kohl made waves around the country by announcing an agreement with Wesley Edens and Marc Larsy to purchase his basketball franchise for $550 million. It made lead stories, breaking news, and trending topics across the globe.
With all of the recent news surrounding the day, it shifted away from the fact the Milwaukee played their regular-season finale against the Atlanta Hawks at 7pm, and that even Kevin Vanderkolk – who played the team’s mascot Bango for the last 13 years – also worked his last game for the team.
With all of the historic distractions, it wasn’t easy for the Bucks to focus and keep their eyes on the game.
“I would like to think that their concentration was there,” Coach Drew said in his last post-game press conference of the season. “But I think I would be lying if I said that it was. This was a big day with all that happened. I’m sure for some of these guys it is new to them in terms of the team being sold and new ownership coming in.”
After scoring a season-high 39 points in the first quarter, the Bucks held a 63-58 lead at halftime. Atlanta’s late second quarter serge continued in the second half as they pulled themselves back into the game. Eventually pulling away late and giving themselves a win by the final score of 111-103 as they now get set to take on the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs.
“I think all of those things just weighed in today, I just wanted those guys to just play, and play hard.” Drew said. “We’ve had stretches; we just haven’t been able to consistently keep it that way. We were able to do it for three quarters and then it just fell apart at the end.”
Milwaukee once held a 14-point lead in the game, but the Hawks went on to give the Bucks their 67th loss of the season – the most an NBA team has recorded in a regular season since 2009-10. Things obviously didn’t work out as planned for Larry Drew in his first season, but he says there wasn’t one thing specifically that went to show for why things got sour.
“I think it was a combination of things. I think maturity had something to do with it, the strength, athleticism, all of those things factors in.” Drew said. “Particularly during the latter part of the game when the game gets more physical, when it slows down, when it becomes a half-court game,”
Drew’s team has been plagued by injuries all season long. From Larry Sanders’ bar fight incident, to Carlos Delfino not even taking a step on the floor at all. The vision he had for this year’s team was never there.
“As a coach you need to improvise when those type of things do happen. It started off with the Carlos Delfino situation, we had situations with Larry. We dealt with injuries all season long. Guys were out of position and our young guys had to play right away. We tried to improvise with what we had.”
After a historically bad first season as coach, Drew says he will now be able to recharge and take a step back for a moment.
He will need it.
New Milwaukee Bucks prospective owners Wes Edens (left) and Marc Lasry (right) speaking at Wednesday's press conference.
Herb Kohl purchased the Milwaukee Bucks for $18 million back in 1985, starting his 29-year tenure as owner. For the last few months, he has been searching for potential investors to take the franchise off his hands.
Today, he announced that he has entered into a signed purchased agreement with two prospective owners in Marc Lasry and Wesley R. Edens. The sale of his lifelong team is for approximately $550 million and will now await league approval at league meetings Thursday.
“My priority has always been and will continue to be keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is and will continue to be the home of the Bucks.” Kohl said Wednesday afternoon inside the atrium of the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
“This state has great sports fans and deserves a championship caliber team. I believe these two men are the right people, and the right fit, at the right time. Both men are familiar with the sports landscape in Wisconsin, and have attended sporting events in both Milwaukee and Green Bay.” Kohl said.
Marc Lasry is the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and a Co-founder of Avenue Capital Group. Lasry obtained his B.A. in History from Clark University in 1981 and a J.D. from New York Law School in 1984.
Wesley R. Edens graduated from Oregon State University and obtained his B.S. in Finance. Currently, he sits as a Principle, Founder and Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Fortress Investment Group LLC.
“Mark and I are lifelong basketball fans and competitive guys. It’s been a very a competitive process and we’re very happy to be sitting where we are right now as prospective owners. He [Senator Kohl] is a crazed Bucks fan and he’s all about the team, the community, and winning. We’re really looking forward to the experience of being an owner,” Edens said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. We have a big vision, and we are very inspired to be carrying that forward today.”
Throughout the entire process, Kohl has let it be known that plans for a new arena needed to be made before a sale went through. The BMO Harris Bradley Center opened on October 1, 1988, and has served as an entertainment center in the city of Milwaukee ever since. From concerts, sporting events, to Miley Cyrus tours, it has served its purpose well downtown.
Wednesday, it was announced that a total of at least $100 million will be contributed towards a new arena for the franchise in the future. Edens projects that the plans for it will begin in a few years. Milwaukee has until 2019 to reach an agreement for a new building after obtaining a two-year extension from the NBA. Their deadline was originally set for 2017.
On top of the contributions from Lasry and Edens, Kohl will also be adding $100 million of his own private money towards the mission.
"As a public servant, philanthropist and owner of the Bucks, Senator Herb Kohl has had an extraordinary impact on his home city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement regarding Kohl’s contribution.
“His historic and unprecedented $100 million gift to the city of Milwaukee to secure the future of this franchise emphatically underscores his passion, commitment and generosity to his community."