Archive for the ‘ Milwaukee Bucks Blog ’ Category

Here’s the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the Bucks backcourt getting a bit more healthy:

Luke Ridnour

Veteran guard Luke Ridnour participated in the Bucks shootaround Friday morning at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

And if Ridnour has his way, he will be on the court Friday night when Milwaukee (2-5) meets the unbeaten Indiana Pacers (8-0).

Ridnour has not played this season due to a herniated disc in his back, an injury that cropped up just before the Bucks played the season opener in New York on Oct. 30.

His return would be welcome news for the Bucks, who have relied on rookie Nate Wolters for huge minutes at the point guard spot. That’s because 21-year-old point guard Brandon Knight is sidelined again due to a right hamstring injury he suffered in the season opener.

Larry Sanders

Already facing a challenging season, the road to success in 2013-14 just got even tougher for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Bucks center Larry Sanders underwent successful surgery on Monday to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, General Manager John Hammond announced.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Curt Crimmins, a hand specialist, at the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin. Sanders will be sidelined for approximately six weeks and updates will be provided when available.

Sanders injured his thumb on Nov. 3 while involved in an off-court incident.

Bucks may lose Carlos Delfino for season

The Milwaukee Bucks are rebuilding and need all the help they can get from the talent on their roster. But an injury may remove a key player from the rotation. Here’s the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

carlos delfino

Bucks forward Carlos Delfino posted on his personal website Sunday that his foot injury will require additional surgery and it is likely he will miss the entire 2013-’14 season.

Delfino injured his right foot in the playoffs last season when he was with the Houston Rockets and he underwent surgery in May. He was in a walking boot when the Bucks opened training camp and said he had suffered a setback in his recovery.

Delfino and Bucks team physician Michael Gordon traveled to North Carolina last week to consult with specialists about the injury. And it was determined Delfino will need another surgery to repair a fracture in his right foot, with recovery time estimated at four to six months.

Caron Butler fined $15,000 for obscene gesture

The NBA has rules about how players can express themselves. There is a code of conduct, and it is not to be broken.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Caron Butler has been fined $15,000 for making an obscene gesture during the Bucks’ 105-98 win over the Boston Celtics on Friday, Nov. 1, at TD Garden in Boston, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

Butler’s actions occurred with 3:54 remaining in the fourth quarter of the game.

Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks have requested waivers on guard Trey McKinney Jones and forwards Olek Czyz and Stephen Graham, General Manager John Hammond announced today.

Graham (6-6, 215) appeared in five preseason games and averaged 5.8 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. Czyz (6-7, 240) played in four contests during the preseason and averaged 4.8 points and 1.0 rebound, while McKinney Jones (6-5, 216) played in two games and averaged 1.5 points per game. All three players signed as free agents on Sept. 30.

The Bucks roster now stands at 15 players.

The Bucks have what appears to be a talented new player. That his name is hard to spell and pronounce just adds to the fun. Here’s Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

A buzz is building about Milwaukee Bucks rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Already he is being compared to Nicolas Batum, Paul George and Kevin Durant.

Not bad for a skinny 18-year-old from Greece, a player who is getting his first taste of NBA action during the current exhibition season.

But wait a second.

Coach Larry Drew is not ready to commit to putting the 6-foot-9 youngster into the playing rotation when the regular season begins next week.

The Bucks may want to be cautious when it comes to a player they value so highly.

John Henson

The Milwaukee Bucks have exercised the third-year contract option on John Henson (6-11, 220), and the fourth-year contract option on Brandon Knight (6-3, 189), General Manager John Hammond announced today.

Henson, 22, appeared in 63 games (nine starts) during his rookie season, averaging 6.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest. The 14th overall pick by Milwaukee in last year’s draft, Henson posted eight double-figure rebounding games in his rookie season, including 25 boards against Orlando on April 10 that stood as the high game by a rookie in the NBA last season. Henson added 17 points and seven blocks in that game, becoming the first NBA player with 17+ points, 25+ rebounds and 7+ blocks in a game since Shaquille O’Neal did so during the 2003-04 season. Henson also snared 18 rebounds at Miami on Nov. 21, giving him the top two single-game rebounding totals by a Bucks rookie in the last 25 years.

Knight, 21, joins the Bucks this season after playing his first two years for the Detroit Pistons, where he was selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The third-year guard has started 135 of his 141 career games, with averages of 13.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per contest. An All-Rookie First Team selection in 2011-12, Knight also participated in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge at both the 2012 and 2013 NBA All-Star Weekends. In four preseason appearance for the Bucks, Knight has posted 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 22.5 minutes per game.

Under the terms of the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement, the first two years of a first round draft pick’s contract are guaranteed, while the third and fourth year of the contract are the team’s option.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Ekpe Udoh (6-10, 245) underwent a successful arthroscopic procedure to alleviate pain in his right knee on Thursday, General Manager John Hammond announced today.

The procedure was performed by Bucks orthopaedist Dr. Michael Gordon in Milwaukee. Udoh is expected to be sidelined for approximately 4-6 weeks.

Bucks

General Manager John Hammond announced today that Chris Gilmartin has been promoted to director of NBA scouting and that Luke Steele has been hired as advance scout.

Gilmartin enters his 17th season with the Bucks. He started his career with the franchise as the assistant video coordinator, then spent the last 10 seasons as the team’s advance scout. He served one season on the Milwaukee’s bench as an assistant coach, joining the staff in conjunction with Jim Boylan taking over as the 12th head coach in franchise history in January 2013. Gilmartin’s first association with the Bucks was in 1985 as a member of the promotions crew. He also served as a team attendant from 1987-89.

Born in New York City, Gilmartin is a 1993 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he served as a student assistant under head coaches Steve Yoder and Stu Jackson. Gilmartin returned to Milwaukee in 1995 after coaching in the college ranks and received his law degree (J.D.) from Marquette University in 1997. He worked part-time in the Bucks video department while attending law school. Gilmartin and his wife, Robyn, have three children.

Steele begins his first season with the Bucks as advance scout. He comes to Milwaukee from the Atlanta Hawks where he spent the last 12 seasons, most recently working as the senior video coordinator. Steele started his career with the Hawks as a basketball operations intern in 2001, right after graduating from the University of Florida. He also had experience as a media relations intern with the Orlando Magic while in college. Before transferring to Florida, Steele played two years of college basketball at Emory University. He and his wife, Andrea, have one child.

Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks announced their 2013 training camp roster today with the additions of Junior Cadougan, Olek Czyz (pronounced “Shiz”), Stephen Graham and Trey McKinney Jones.

Cadougan (6-1, 205) wrapped up a four-year career at Marquette this spring by averaging a career-best 8.5 points along with 2.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game during his senior season. The Toronto native finished his collegiate career ranked sixth on Marquette’s all-time wins list with 97 and eighth in assists with 435. Cadougan also participated with the Bucks entry in the 2013 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, where he appeared in two games for Milwaukee and totaled two points and three assists in 12 minutes of action.

Czyz (6-7, 240) joins the Bucks after spending the 2012-13 season with Virtus Roma in the Italian League, where he averaged 5.9 points and 3.7 rebounds in 50 games. A native of Poland, Czyz moved to the United States at the age of 14 and played collegiate basketball for both Duke (2008-09 through 2009-10) and the University of Nevada (2010-11 through 2011-12). A WAC All-Newcomer honoree following his junior season (first in Nevada), Czyz posted collegiate career averages of 10.3 points and 5.0 rebounds in 77 career games.

Despite going undrafted out of Oklahoma State in 2005, Graham (6-6, 215) has appeared in 239 NBA games over six seasons with Houston, Chicago, Cleveland, Portland, Indiana, Charlotte and New Jersey. He holds career averages of 4.0 points and 1.8 rebounds per contest. The Florida native spent the 2012-13 season with the Arecibo Captains in Puerto Rico, where he posted 8.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 14 games. Graham’s twin brother and college teammate Joey has also played in the NBA.

Milwaukee native McKinney Jones (6-5, 216) attended South Milwaukee High School before embarking on a four year collegiate career that included two years at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and his final two seasons as a Miami Hurricane. A 38.5 percent 3-point shooter during his two years in Miami, McKinney-Jones left the program ranked sixth in career 3-point percentage.

New Milwaukee Bucks court design

Tonight at the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Bucks unveiled a new design for their new state-of-the-art playing surface at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

A renowned pop artist famous for his “LOVE” artwork, Indiana created the design for the Bucks court that was used at the MECCA Arena from 1977-87. Indiana’s original floor, with bright colors and a giant “M” flanking each side of the midcourt line, is recognized as one of the largest pieces of pop art ever produced and brought international recognition to Milwaukee as a progressive, forward-thinking city that appreciates art as much as it does sport.

The Bucks’ brand new home court at the BMO Harris Bradley Center takes inspiration from Indiana’s original pop art design, reproducing the world-famous “M’s” bracketing the midcourt line – this time in two shades of hand-stained Wisconsin hard maple – along with the simple, yet unmistakable “Milwaukee” adorning each baseline, just as in Indiana’s iconic work of original art. At center court is the Bucks logo, stripped down to the aggressive image of the eight-point white tail buck head that represents the powerful and focused approach of the team. Painted surfaces of the court are almost exclusively green, tying together all eras of the Bucks’ 46-year history.

Read NBA fan reaction or share your opinion in this basketball forum topic.

Caron Butler
Caron Butler reflects on his troubled childhood
He made it.

Butler, a native of Racine, had the kind of childhood that leads to other places than the National Basketball Association.

By the age of 15 he had been arrested 15 times. But he was able to right himself and later play for Maine Central Institute before winning a scholarship to play for two seasons at Connecticut. His NBA career has spanned 11 seasons, with one championship (Dallas) and two all-star selections.

“Seeing is believing,” Butler said. “I have been through a lot of adversity throughout my life. I was a kid and a young man who had always been told what I couldn’t accomplish, what I couldn’t do. And to be in this position, and doing this at a high level over these years, is extremely special.”

Reported by Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Caron Butler
Caron Butler
An older player on a young, rebuilding roster

Caron Butler is expected to provide more than points for a retooled Milwaukee Bucks team that is firmly committed to a young nucleus.

Butler was introduced Thursday as a member of the Bucks at a hometown news conference with family, friend and students at Racine Park High School, where he played.

“We talked about trying to build a championship-caliber team and we’re really excited about some of the young pieces we have on our roster,” Bucks general manager John Hammond said. “And, we’re not going to stray from that. But, also at that time, we talked about needing veteran players that can help us in that process. A veteran player that can mentor, a veteran player that can help young guys. We know Caron can do that.

“But, make no mistake, he’s here for a lot more than just that. We need him on the floor. We project him to be our starting small forward, project him to play a lot of minutes for our team, project him to help us win games.”

Reported by Jim Hoehn of the Associated Press

milwaukee bucks

Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond announced today that Jim Cleamons, Scott Williams and Josh Oppenheimer will complete Larry Drew’s coaching staff as assistant coaches. They join Bob Bender and Nick Van Exel, who were named to Drew’s coaching staff earlier in the summer. In addition, Scott Barthlama has been named head athletic trainer, Chris McKenzie has been named director of physical therapy and athletic trainer, and Robert Hackett has been named strength and conditioning coach.

“I’m excited to be able to assemble this strong coaching staff in Milwaukee,” said Drew. “Jim, Scott and Josh all bring their unique experiences to the Bucks bench as well as diverse coaching skills. I’m pleased to have our staff, including assistant coaches Bob Bender and Nick Van Exel, together as we prepare for the upcoming season.”

Jim Cleamons brings over 30 years of NBA experience and 10 NBA Championships to the Bucks bench. His most recent coaching assignment came in the Chinese Basketball Association with Zhejiang Guangsha, after spending much of the previous two decades assisting on Phil Jackson’s staffs with both the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. As a member of the Bulls coaching staff from 1989-96, Cleamons helped lead Chicago to four NBA titles in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1996, with the Bulls compiling a record of 414-160 (.721) over that span. He also teamed with Jackson on the Lakers bench from 1999-2004 and again from 2006-2011, with Los Angeles earning five more championships in that time frame (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010).

In addition to his time as assistant under Jackson, Cleamons also served as the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks during the 1996-97 season, and as an assistant under Byron Scott in New Orleans from 2004-2006. He also spent the 1998-99 season as the head coach of the Chicago Condors professional women’s team that played in the now defunct American Basketball League.

A 15-year NBA veteran and three-time NBA Champion with the Chicago Bulls, Scott Williams spent the 2012-13 season as an assistant coach to for the Idaho Stampede of the D-League. As a player, he appeared in 746 career games with the Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers, holding career averages of 5.1 points and 4.7 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per game. Williams appeared in 94 playoff games in eight postseason appearances, including 17 games with Milwaukee in its run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001.

Williams’ playing career spanned from 1990, signing with Chicago after a four-year college career at the University of North Carolina (1986-90), until 2005, playing his final season with the Cavaliers. Williams transitioned to a career in television, broadcasting games as an analyst for the Cavs for two seasons prior to joining the Bucks television broadcast team for the 2007-08 season. From 2008-12, Williams was the television color analyst for the Phoenix Suns.

Josh Oppenheimer begins his first season as an NBA assistant coach/player development, coming to the Bucks with over 30 years of basketball playing, coaching and skill development training experience. Oppenheimer played collegiately at the University of Rhode Island and later Northern Arizona before embarking on a professional career in the United States and Europe, including six seasons with Maccabi Tel Aviv. He has coaching experience in the college ranks at Duquesne, Delaware, DePaul and Kent State, and most recently ran his own basketball skill training company, Excel Basketball.

Head Athletic Trainer Scott Barthlama begins his sixth season with the Bucks and first in his current role. He spent the previous five years as the assistant athletic trainer and assistant strength and conditioning coach in Milwaukee.

Prior to joining the Bucks, Barthlama spent 10 seasons on Northwestern University’s athletic training staff, where he was a certified athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach for men’s basketball along with men’s and women’s golf.

He graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology as well as secondary physical education and received his Master of Science degree in athletic medicine from the University of Oregon. Barthlama is a member of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association (NATA), and is a performance enhancement specialist and a corrective exercise specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

Chris McKenzie joins the Bucks as the Director of Physical Therapy and Athletic Trainer. He has over 25 years of experience working in the field of sports medicine, most recently at The Ohio State University. He served as an adjunct assistant professor in the College of Medicine, Department of Orthopedics, as well as a clinical instructor in the School of Allied Medical Professions, Division of Physical Therapy.

His rehabilitation experience includes working with athletes from the NBA, NFL, MLB, USFL and Olympic programs, as well as all levels of collegiate and amateur sports. He also has professional baseball experience conducting research for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians.

He received his bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Ohio University and his Masters of Health Science, orthopedic physical therapy, from Indianapolis University (IN). In 2007, McKenzie was honored as the “Outstanding Physical Therapist of the Year” by the Ohio Physical Therapy Association.

Milwaukee native Robert Hackett joins the Bucks as head strength and conditioning coach after serving in a similar role with the Dallas Mavericks for 11 seasons, including the NBA Championship season in 2011. From 1995-2002, Hackett was the strength and conditioning coach for the Memphis Grizzlies. Prior to his work in the NBA, he designed and directed the strength and conditioning programs at the University of Wisconsin for the men’s and women’s basketball, football and track teams. He also served as an assistant track coach for three years for the Badgers. Hackett graduated from the University of Wisconsin and competed for the Badger track team where he was NCAA Champion in the 100 and 200 meter races and a three-time USA Olympic Trial Qualifier.

caron butler

Butler will be starting his 12th pro season this fall and believes he has plenty to offer to a revamped Bucks squad.

“Everything was handled the right way, in a very classy way,” Butler said of the Suns. “The Bucks had made inquiries about me, and I thought this would be a great opportunity for me and my family. My son (Caron Jr.) will be in eighth grade this year in Racine.”

Even though Butler was a starter for a Clippers team that won a franchise-record 56 games last season, he played just 24 minutes a game.

“After I got back healthy, I actually wanted to play more,” Butler said. “I had to accept the role I was given.

“I felt I was back to my old self. It’s never been hard for me to score. As long as I’m out there, I’ll find a way.”

Reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Suns trade Caron Butler to Bucks

Suns trade Caron Butler to Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks have acquired two-time All-Star forward Caron Butler (6-7, 228) from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for guard Ish Smith (6-0, 175) and center Viacheslav Kravtsov (7-0, 260), General Manager John Hammond announced today.

“We’re very excited to welcome Caron back home,” said Hammond. “He is an accomplished veteran player who started 78 games last season for a 56-win team in Los Angeles. Caron gives us depth at the small forward position and will be a mentor for our younger players.”

According to the Associated Press, “The Suns acquired Butler and point guard Eric Bledsoe from the Clippers on July 10 in a three-team trade that sent the Suns’ Jared Dudley and Milwaukee’s J.J. Redick to Los Angeles. Milwaukee got two second-round draft picks in the deal. Butler signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the Clippers in December of 2011. A starter for the Clippers the last two seasons, Butler has averaged 15.5 points in stops that included Miami, the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington, Dallas and the Clippers.”

According to ESPN.com (on Butler), “the 33-year-old has since been working out in Phoenix and was a featured player at the podium when the Suns recently unveiled a new uniform design. Sources, however, say McDonough has consented to allow Butler to realize a lifelong dream of playing for Milwaukee with the trade. The Bucks signed Carlos Delfino earlier in the summer but are said to covet another small forward as he recovers from foot surgery. Butler’s arrival will ensure new coach Larry Drew has a veteran to start the season at the 3-spot as opposed to relying on youngsters Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo.”

An 11-year professional, Butler played in 78 games (all starts) last season for the Los Angeles Clippers. He averaged 10.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 24.1 minutes per game, while connecting on 38.8 percent (128-330) of his 3-point attempts. For his career, Butler has averaged 15.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He has played 730 NBA regular season games (697 starts) with five teams including Miami, the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington, Dallas and the Los Angeles Clippers. His best statistical season came in 2007-08 when he averaged 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists while shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 90.1 percent from the free throw line in 58 games for Washington.

Butler, 33, has averaged double figures in scoring in 10 of his 11 NBA campaigns and reached the postseason on six occasions, including winning an NBA Championship with Dallas in 2011. He was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team twice (2007, 2008), but did not play in 2008 due to injury.

Originally selected by Miami with the 10th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, Butler played collegiately at UConn where he was named to The Sporting News All-America Second Team as a sophomore. He played high school basketball at Racine Park and later at Maine Central Institute, and his uniform numbers 54 and 25, respectively, have been retired by both schools.

“We would like to thank Caron for his professionalism and wish him the best with the Milwaukee Bucks,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough. “This deal gives us significant cap space as well as the flexibility to trade for another exciting player, which is how we were able to acquire Eric Bledsoe. It also provides us with two young players in our efforts to build a team capable of sustainable success.”

Kravtsov, a 6-11, 254-pound center, played five seasons professionally in his native Ukraine before signing with the Detroit Pistons last summer. Kravtsov joins his countryman and 2013 first-round draft pick Alex Len, giving Phoenix both of the only two Ukrainians currently on an NBA roster.

A rookie in 2012-13 with Detroit, Kravtsov played in 25 contests and improved over the course of the season, making 17 of those appearances after the All-Star break including his first career double-double effort. Earlier this summer, he played on the Pistons summer league squad in Orlando and averaged 10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while shooting 54.5 percent (6-11) from the field in two games. Kravtsov was dealt to the Bucks on July 31 as part of the trade that sent Brandon Jennings to Detroit.

Smith, a three-year NBA veteran with five teams, played in a career-high 52 games in 2012-13; the first 36 with the Orlando Magic before being traded to the Bucks where he played in 16 games, in addition to appearing in each of Milwaukee’s four playoff contests against the Miami Heat.

A four-year collegiate performer at Wake Forest University, Smith finished his career ranked second all-time among Demon Deacons in assists with 612 and became the first player in program history to post over 1,000 points and 600 assists. As a senior, he averaged 13.2 points, 6.0 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals to earn Second Team All-ACC honors.

larry sanders

The Milwaukee Bucks have signed Larry Sanders (6-11, 235) to a multi-year contract extension, General Manager John Hammond announced today. Sanders had a breakout year for the Bucks in 2012-13 when he posted career highs across the board with averages of 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game (2nd in the NBA). According to multiple reports, the extension is for four years, $44 million.

“By combining his God-given ability with hard work and determination, Larry has developed into one of the top young defensive players in the league,” said Hammond. “He is a very important part of what we are doing in Milwaukee, and we’re excited to announce his contract extension.”

The 24-year-old center is entering his fourth year with the Bucks and owns career averages of 6.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. Last season, he notched a team-leading 26 double-doubles, one of which was his first career triple-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds and a franchise-record-tying 10 blocks at Minnesota on Nov. 30. Sanders and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the only players in Bucks history with a 10-block game. He finished the season with 201 blocks – just the fourth 200-block season in Bucks history and the first since Elmore Smith in 1975-76 – and had a string of 40 consecutive games with at least one blocked shot from Nov. 28 – March 4, the longest streak by a Buck in the last 25 years. Beginning with the 10 blocks at Minnesota, Sanders swatted 22 shots over a three-game stretch from Nov. 30 - Dec. 3 which stands as the most blocks in a three-game span in Bucks history, and he blocked four or more shots in five consecutive games from Jan. 2 - 9, which was the longest such streak since Abdul-Jabbar had a five-game streak in 1973.

Sanders, the 15th-overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, finished third in Most Improved Player voting after the 2012-13 season and earned the attention of USA Basketball with his play last year. He was invited to attend the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp in Las Vegas in July.

Community involvement is a priority of Sanders’ commitment to Milwaukee. He is active in supporting the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee and earned the organization’s Community Champion Award in March after donating a scoreboard to the Pieper-Hillside location. He has also distributed Thanksgiving meals at the House of Peace, donated toys to patients at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, tickets to all Bucks home games for Milwaukee youth and community groups, and he hosts an annual “Larry Sanders Basketball Camp” for kids in his hometown of Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Bucks add Jim Cleamons to coaching staff

Bucks add Jim Cleamons to coaching staff

Former Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls assistant Jim Cleamons has been hired as the Bucks lead assistant coach, joining Bob Bender, Nick Van Exel, Scott Williams and Josh Oppenheimer on coach Larry Drew’s staff.

Cleamons was a guard on the Lakers’ championship team in 1971-’72 and later served as an assistant to Phil Jackson on the Lakers staff from 1999-2004 and again from 2006-’11. Cleamons also was an assistant to Jackson with the Chicago Bulls for seven seasons, winning four titles during the Michael Jordan era in the Windy City.

The 63-year-old Cleamons has been connected with 10 NBA championship teams (one as a player with the Lakers and five as a coach, and the four titles with the Bulls).

Reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

larry sanders

Larry Sanders has made big strides in the past year.

And the Milwaukee Bucks are banking on his ability to leap to another level as a team leader and major defensive presence in the middle.

A league source indicated Friday that Sanders and the Bucks were near agreement on a four-year, $44 million contract extension.

Only final details remained to be settled on a deal that will keep the 6-foot-11 Sanders in Milwaukee through the 2017-’18 season.

Sanders, in the final year of his rookie-scale contract, will be paid $3 million next season. But he will make $11 million per year in the next four years, showing the high hopes the Bucks have placed in the 24-year-old center.

Reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Milwaukee Bucks begin rebuilding project

OJ Mayo

If anyone had predicted a few months ago that guard O.J. Mayo would be the Milwaukee Bucks’ highest-paid player next season, the remark likely would have generated a few laughs.

Strange but true.

The 25-year-old guard signed a three-year, $24 million free-agent deal with Milwaukee last month and his $8 million salary is tops on the team for the 2013-’14 season, just above the $7.9 million owed to power forward Ersan Ilyasova.

The Bucks tried to sign point guard Jeff Teague to a four-year, $32 million deal but had the offer matched by the Atlanta Hawks.

Instead they made a trade with Detroit that landed 21-year-old point guard Brandon Knight, who is still on his rookie-scale contract and will make $2.9 million next season.

Bucks general manager John Hammond worked tirelessly during July to reshape the roster and start a rebuilding process that he hopes will pay dividends in the future.

The approach was to acquire young talent to build around 24-year-old Larry Sanders and 22-year-old John Henson; and also to sign veterans (Zaza Pachulia, Luke Ridnour and Carlos Delfino) to contribute and provide leadership in the locker room.

Reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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