Jrue Holiday and Josh Richardson win NBA Cares Community Assist Award for January, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday and Dallas Mavericks guard Josh Richardson are co-winners of the January NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente in recognition of their efforts to immediately provide support for those impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in their new team markets, the NBA announced today. The award recognizes players each month who best reflect the passion that the league and NBA players share for giving back to their communities.

After joining the Bucks in November, Jrue and his wife, Lauren, partnered with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation to identify small, women- and Black-owned businesses most in need of assistance. After reviewing grant requests, the Holiday family announced funding for seven local businesses in January – Amri Counseling Services, Carter’s Quality Care, Hands at Home, Jamaican Season Island Restaurant, Kid’s Kingdom, Legacy Home Health Services and The SW Retreat – that provide a variety of services in southeastern Wisconsin, including assisted living, home health, childcare, mental health and substance abuse services, hospitality and more.

Similarly, Richardson, who joined the Mavericks shortly before the start of the 2020-21 season, quickly sought to make an impact in the greater Dallas area, surprising dozens of frontline health care workers from UT Southwestern Medical Center with Reebok sneakers, team merchandise and a surprise video message thanking them for their ongoing efforts to keep the community safe. He also visited a Dallas Independent School District first grade class as a guest reader, surprising the students and encouraging them to embrace reading and education during the particular challenges of this school year.

The Chris Finch Timberwolves coaching era begins

The Timberwolves today named former Raptors assistant Chris Finch as their new head coach today. Via the Star Tribune:

The punching bag has been removed. That easy target after every blowout or close loss, the young coach who clearly was overmatched by the job and probably should have never been put in that position to begin with, knowing this experiment was doomed to fail. Because it always fails with this sad-sack organization.

The spotlight now shifts to a level higher in the organizational flowchart. This becomes Gersson Rosas’ mess entirely. He has his coach, his roster, his hand-picked front office, his philosophy on style of play, and his rear end on the line now that he has fired Ryan Saunders.

The clock is ticking. On Rosas. On Karl-Anthony Towns. On the whole operation. But especially Rosas, the Timberwolves president of basketball operations whose brief tenure has been nothing short of chaotic.

Teams sometimes tend to rally when a new coach is brought on. At least for a few games. But real judgment on how a new coach is doing is best started after, say, a month or two at earliest.

Giannis Antetokounmpo named a 2021 NBA All-Star Game starter

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has been named a starter for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, the league announced today. This marks the fifth straight season that Antetokounmpo has been selected as an All-Star Game starter.

Fans, media and players once again determined the starters for the All-Star Game, which will take place on Sunday, March 7 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, with fans accounting for 50% of the vote while the media and players accounted for 25% each. Among Eastern Conference frontcourt players, Antetokounmpo received the second-most fan votes, the second-most player votes and the most media votes.

In his eighth NBA season, Antetokounmpo, the league’s two-time reigning Most Valuable Player and the 2019-20 Defensive Player of the Year, is averaging 28.2 points (7th in the NBA), 11.4 rebounds (7th in the NBA), 5.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game while shooting 56.3% from the field. He’s one of only two players in the league this season averaging 25.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game while his 19 doubles-doubles are tied for the fifth-most and his four triple-doubles rank as the fifth-most in the NBA.

Joining Antetokounmpo as starters for the 70th NBA All-Star Game are Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Luka Dončić (Dallas Mavericks), Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets), LeBron James (LA Lakers), Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers) and Nikola Jokić (Denver Nuggets).

The rosters for the NBA All-Star Game will be determined through the NBA All-Star Draft, where the two team captains, Durant and James, will select from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference and make their picks without regard to conference affiliation. The reserves for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, selected by the NBA head coaches, will be announced on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Wizards vs. Bucks game scheduled for January 22, 2021 is postponed

The NBA game scheduled for Friday, January 22, 2021 between the Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum has been postponed in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety Protocols.

The game is being postponed due to the number of unavailable players for the Wizards, contact tracing for other players on their roster, and the length of time preceding the game during which the team was unable to practice.

The January 10, 2021 Heat vs. Celtics NBA game in Boston postponed for coronavirus safety reasons

The National Basketball Association game scheduled for tonight between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics at TD Garden has been postponed in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety Protocols.

Because of ongoing contact tracing with the Heat, the team does not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with tonight’s game against the Celtics.

Giannis Antetokounmpo signs massive contract extension with Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo yesterday signed a multi-year extension with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Per multiple reports, Giannis’ contract extension is a “supermax” deal for five years, $228 million.

“This is a big moment for me and my family and I want to thank the Bucks organization for believing in us,” said Antetokounmpo. “You took a chance on us eight years ago and now putting my signature on a contract like this is unreal – but it’s all because of hard work. This is my home and I’m going to continue working hard and do my best to make the Bucks, our fans and the city proud. Let’s have fun, win and make these years count.

“Giannis is a once in a generation player and we are beyond excited for him to remain with the Bucks,” said Bucks Co-Owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan. “Giannis positively impacts everyone around him on and off the court and he brings a staggering dedication to winning and leadership to our organization. His work ethic and desire to be the best epitomize what the Bucks stand for and what our future holds. We thank Giannis and his family for their long-term commitment to Milwaukee and we look forward to many years of success. This is a momentous day for the Bucks, our fans and the state of Wisconsin.”

“Giannis’ NBA career began as an 18-year old from the Sepolia neighborhood north of Athens, Greece,” Bucks General Manager Jon Horst said. “Through hard work, determination and an unequaled desire to be the best, Giannis has developed into a relentlessly driven, 26-year old, two-time Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year and four-time All-Star for the Milwaukee Bucks. He’s an incredible teammate, a kind and caring person, an affable member of the Milwaukee community, and the leader of our team who sets the tone for our organization. We are thrilled for Giannis and his family and are tremendously proud to sign him to this well-deserved contract extension.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo agrees to Bucks contract extension

The Milwaukee Bucks will be retaining the services of Giannis Antetokounmpo for years to come.

On Tuesday, the superstar forward tweeted that he has agreed to sign the Bucks’ contract extension offer.

Per multiple reports, it’s a super-max deal for five years, $228 million.

Many NBA teams whose future plans were to target Giannis in free agency must now sigh in dispair, and focus their attention elsewhere.

This is a major win for Milwaukee. It will also make their free agent signing efforts easier.

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Four-team NBA trade sends Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe to Pelicans, Jrue Holiday to Bucks

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the team has completed a four-team trade with the Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Pelicans have acquired Steven Adams (via Oklahoma City) and Eric Bledsoe (via Milwaukee), as well as two future first round draft picks from Milwaukee and the right to swap two additional future first round picks with the Bucks.

In exchange, the Bucks have acquired Jrue Holiday and the draft rights to Sam Merrill, the 60th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft (via New Orleans).

Also, the Nuggets have acquired the draft rights to R.J. Hampton, the 24th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft (via Milwaukee).

And the Thunder have acquired a future first round draft pick (via Denver), George Hill (via Milwaukee), Zylan Cheatham, Josh Gray, Darius Miller and Kenrich Williams (via New Orleans) as well as two second round draft picks from the Pelicans (2023 via Washington, 2024 via Charlotte).

“Jrue Holiday’s contributions to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region, both on and off the floor, serve as shining examples to everyone in our Pelicans family,” stated Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin. “They are a statement of what we want to represent and, frankly, what we have to live up to moving forward. He and his wife Lauren have worked tirelessly to affect the quality of life of those around them and we are honored to have been a part of their journey. We are also thankful for the positive impact that Darius, Kenrich, Josh and Zylan have had on our organization and we wish them nothing but success in their future efforts.”

Adams, 7-0, 265, has spent his entire seven-year career in Oklahoma City, appearing in 530 career regular season games with the Thunder, holding career averages of 9.8 points on .589 shooting from the field, 7.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.0 blocks. The New Zealand native appeared in 63 games in 2019-20, averaging 10.9 points on .592 shooting from the floor, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 blocks. Selected 12th overall out of the University of Pittsburgh in the 2013 NBA Draft, Adams ranks fifth all-time in OKC/Seattle franchise history in blocks (531) and first in field goal percentage.

Bledsoe, 6-1, 214, appeared in 61 regular season games for Milwaukee last season, averaging 14.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 0.9 steals. Selected 18th overall out of the University of Kentucky in the 2010 NBA Draft, Bledsoe has appeared in 631 career regular season games with the LA Clippers, Phoenix and Milwaukee, holding averages of 14.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals. The Birmingham, Alabama native is coming off back-to-back seasons with NBA All-Defensive Team honors after being named to the First Team in 2019 and Second Team in 2020.

“Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe are not only fiercely competitive and driven to succeed at the highest levels, they are proven winners with a team-first mentality,” Griffin added. “As we continue to build towards the sustainable success our ownership demands and our fans so richly deserve, we are grateful to be able to do so with such high-quality teammates and human beings.”

Holiday, who was originally acquired by New Orleans in 2013, has appeared in 415 regular season games in a Pelicans uniform, averaging 17.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.5 steals over the last seven seasons. Holiday leaves the franchise ranked fourth all-time in games played (415), minutes (13,913), and points (7,321), third in steals (638), second in assists (2,833) and the leader in three-point field goals made (628). While in New Orleans, Holiday helped lead the Pelicans to two playoff appearances in 2015 and 2018, was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team in 2018 and Second Team in 2019, and was the recipient of the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award this past season.

Cheatham, 6-5, 220, spent his rookie season as a two-way player for New Orleans after going undrafted out of Arizona State in 2019, appearing in four games with the Pelicans. Cheatham played in 34 games for the Erie BayHawks of the NBA G League last season, averaging 16.3 points on .530 shooting from the field, 11.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals.

Gray, 6-0, 180, was a two-way player for New Orleans last season, appearing in two games with the Pelicans. The LSU product appeared in 37 games with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA G League, averaging 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 2.3 steals.

Miller, 6-6, 225, missed the 2019-20 season after recovering from a ruptured right Achilles tendon. The University of Kentucky product has appeared in 253 career regular season games, all with New Orleans, holding averages of 6.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists. In 2018-19, Miller appeared in 69 games, posting averages of 8.2 points (career-high), 1.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists. In addition to his NBA experience, Miller has also played overseas in Germany, where he won three consecutive German League championships with Brose Bamberg from 2015-17.

Williams, 6-6, 210, appeared in 85 games for New Orleans from 2018-20, averaging 4.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists. In 2019-20, the TCU product appeared in 39 games for the Pelicans, averaging 3.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

Merrill, 6-5, 205, completed a four-year collegiate career at Utah State, appearing in 131 career games, averaging 16.8 points while shooting .420 from three-point range, 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 steals. Most recently, Merrill appeared in 32 games during his 2019-20 senior campaign, averaging 19.7 points while shooting .410 from three-point range, 4.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists, while earning All-Mountain West First Team honors.

DJ Augustin reportedly agrees to sign with Bucks

Veteran guard DJ Augustin will be joining a contender.

Per multiple reports, the 33-year-old will be signing a 3-year, $21 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Drafted by Charlotte with the 9th pick in the 2008 NBA draft, Augustin’s NBA career average is 9.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.

Last season, playing for the Orlando Magic, he averaged 10.5 points and 4.6 assists.

Magic and Bucks trade second round draft picks

The Orlando Magic have acquired two future second round draft picks from the Milwaukee Bucks (a second round pick owed to Milwaukee from Indiana in either 2022, 2023 or 2024 and Milwaukee’s second round pick in 2026) in exchange for the Magic’s second round draft pick (45th overall) in the 2020 NBA Draft.

The 2020 NBA draft, which like many other 2020 events, had to be rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will take place tonight.