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."
The Milwaukee Bucks will officially finish as the worst team in basketball for the 2013-14 NBA season.
The Bucks lost 110-100 in Toronto Monday evening, clinching the worst record in the league at 15-66. Philadelphia also pulled off a victory against the Boston Celtics that helped secure the chamber of mediocrity for Milwaukee this season.
By losing Monday, the Bucks are virtually guaranteed to finish in the top-four of the NBA Draft lottery and have a 25% chance of obtaining the first-overall pick in June. Milwaukee failed to win consecutive games this season, making them the third team in NBA history that did not accomplish the feat. The 1986-87 Los Angeles Clippers and the 2004-05 Atlanta Hawks are the other two teams.
In Monday’s game, Ramon Sessions led all Bucks players with 22 points, followed by 18 from Brandon Knight and 19 from Jeff Adrien. For Toronto, All-Star Demar DeRozan did not play in the game due to rest. Greivis Vasquez scored 25 points for the Raptors while also dishing out seven assists. Kyle Lowry – who didn’t play last time these two teams met in Milwaukee on April 5 – finished with 24 points and handed out five assists. Jonas Valancinuas dropped in 14 points and pulled down 13 rebounds as Toronto registered their franchise-best 48th win of the season. Toronto officially completed a four-game sweep of Milwaukee.
The Bucks will conclude their historically-bad season Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee wasn’t able to make up ground late to avoid embarking on a new historic mark for losses in a season. The Raptors went on to give Milwaukee their 63rd loss of the season by the final score of 102-98.
Even though they were down 28-22 at the end of the first quarter, the Bucks put together a stifling second to give them a 56-47 heading into halftime over the Toronto Raptors. Milwaukee’s bench managed to help cut Toronto’s lead, with 12 big points from John Henson.
“Our bench came in and really gave us some solid minutes.” Coach Larry Drew said after the game. “John had to play a lot of minutes tonight; I though he did a good job, too. That was a tough matchup for him, but I thought he did a good job.” The tough matchup Drew was referring to for Henson came from Jonas Valancinuas – who finished the game with 17 points, and 13 boards.
Henson helped contribute to the 38 points inside the paint Milwaukee registered in that first half (the Bucks totaled 64 when the game was over). He finished the night with 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
“I got in a rhythm, and whew I haven’t played like that in a long time. “ Henson said afterwards. The second-year forward also dished out a career-high six assists in the loss but mentioned how he was able to see the floor better thanks to teammate Zaza Pachulia.
“Learning from him really from a far and watching what he looks for and what he sees, it really helps out my game as well.” Henson said. Pachulia only managed to play nine minutes in the game due to early foul trouble.
The sophomore season for Henson hasn’t been the smoothest. The team has regressed from his rookie season, and just a few weeks ago, he admitted he was going through a bit of a sophomore slump.
“We want to win, but I think if we can play this competitive as a team every night, I think there are some better days to come. Hopefully we can look back on this and say this was kind of the turning point of what we did in this organization. That’s all you can hope for.”
After ending the first half on a positive note – including an 18-4 run to start the second half – Milwaukee wasn’t able to make up ground late to avoid embarking on a new historical mark for losses in a season. The Raptors went on to give Milwaukee their 63rd loss of the season by the final score of 102-98.
After winning the previous two games against Milwaukee, the Toronto Raptors come to Milwaukee Saturday night looking to win their third straight game against the Bucks this season. Unlike those last two games, though, Toronto will not have starting point guard Kyle Lowry and forward Amir Johnson available. For Milwaukee, last night they put together a nice run down the stretch in Chicago against the Bulls, but registered their 62nd loss of the season by the final score of 102-90. The Bucks’ worst record in franchise history came back in 1993-94 when the team finished 20-62. If Milwaukee can’t win tonight, they will secure a new franchise-worst record at the conclusion of this season.
Below are pre-game nuggets and quotes as you prepare for tonight’s matchup:
-O.J. Mayo, Miroslav Raduljica and Ekpe Udoh will not play tonight. All of them missed yesterday’s game in Chicago against the Bulls.
-For Toronto, Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson “probably” won’t play, according to coach Dwayne Casey. They both missed last night’s game against the Indiana Pacers.
- On Saturday morning, the Bucks announced they have signed Chris Wright to another 10-day contract. Wright played for the team in March and averaged 6.0 points per game in the two games he participated in.
- Jeff Adrien set a new career-high for points last night in Chicago scoring 21.
- The Bucks own a .652 all-time winning percentage against the Raptors, which stands as their best mark against any opponent.
- In the second matchup against the Raptors in Toronto, Ersan Ilyasova scored his then season-high for points with 29, while also snatching nine rebounds.
- Also in that second matchup, Toronto shot an efficient 63% from the field after the first quarter.
- Larry Drew on Chris Wright returning for a second 10-day contract: “Of the three guys [Tony Mitchell, D.J. Stephens, Chris Wright], we thought he was more of a fit for us. I though he did a good job this year, he really showed good energy. He had a really good showing against Sacramento and I had a really good conversation with him."
- Drew on if he saw Larry Sanders’ comments on the use of marijuana: “I did not see it.”
- Steve Novak on who he thinks will win between Wisconsin and Kentucky in the Final Four tonight: “I expected it to be a tie.”
The game will tip off at 7:30 CDT.