NBA Rumor: Bucks Front Office

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One of the more curious developments during the recent draft was the Bucks’ decision to trade their first pick – No. 31 overall – to Indiana for two, late-second round picks and two future second rounds picks. This was deep draft class and there were several promising prospects still available at 31. “Why did they do that?’’ an NBA executive said. “M-o-n-e-y. They (Bucks officials) won’t admit it, but they didn’t want to pay guaranteed money for that pick (No. 31). It’s common practice these days to guarantee top 40 picks.’’

“I’m definitely not over it,” Bucks General Manager Jon Horst told The Washington Post before a 129-124 road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. “We’re all regretful we didn’t win that series. I don’t think anyone will be over it until you get an opportunity to right the ship. That’s why we do this: Every competitor wants a chance to work and get better than they were last time. [Budenholzer] has done that. Giannis has done that. All our players have. Hopefully you can see that from what our front office did in the offseason too.”

“I’m pained by it, yes,” Horst said of Brogdon’s departure. “Malcolm is a great person and a great player. I wish him the best in Indiana. But I don’t feel like we were forced to do anything that we didn’t want to. We made a trade with Tony Snell that freed us up to match any offers. We have an ownership group that has allowed us to do whatever we need to do [financially]. The decision on Malcolm really came down to what we thought we could get in return. Do we want to pay for what we think his market could be or do we want to see if we could get something that helps us now and going forward?”

“Jon’s strong leadership and savvy decision-making ability have been instrumental as we continue to build the Bucks into a championship-caliber organization,” said Bucks owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan. “He has brought smart processes to our basketball operations and together with Head Coach Mike Budenholzer and President Peter Feigin, Jon has done an incredible job connecting the basketball and business sides of our organization. We are excited about the future of our team and confident in Jon leading us to the highest level.”

While Horst was elated with becoming the Bucks GM, he rankled many front office executives and their agents. Horst agreed to a paltry annual salary of $500,000, according to several NBA officials. One person who knows Horst claimed he wasn’t even paid that much. “That was insulting to every GM in our league,’’ an NBA executive said earlier this week. “It was the lowest salary for a GM in our league – by far. The next lowest (GM) was paid $1 million.’’

Not surprisingly, word is circulating the NBA that Horst is seeking a raise via a contract extension. He has just one year left on his original three-year deal. Sources said the Bucks owners are amenable to working out a new deal in light of the Bucks’ banner season that saw them win a league-high 60 regular season games before being upset by Toronto in the Eastern Conference Finals. “If you asked me what would be a fair deal for him (Horst), I’d say around $3 million (a year),’’ an NBA executive said. “That’s about the average salary for a GM and I think he’s regarded as an average GM. “But knowing those guys (the owners) I don’t think he’s going to get even that.’’

Just over a decade before the Milwaukee Bucks made him one of the youngest general managers in the NBA in 2017, Jon Horst worked as a superintendent at a trailer park in Rochester, Mich., putting up scaffolding, pouring concrete and one summer painting the entire clubhouse. The worst part for the then-22-year-old student-athlete? Move-out day. “They get evicted, and you’ve got to go, like, clean out their place,” Horst recalled in a recent phone interview. “[I’ve] seen stuff that you can’t imagine … just cleaning out someone’s trailer.”

2 years ago via ESPN

Jon Horst, Masai Ujiri top candidates for Executive of the Year

The votes for Executive of the Year are in. Unlike the other major awards, it is not voted on by the media but instead by the teams themselves. Each team gets one vote and you can’t vote for yourself. It’s a bit of a complicated award as often it’s a product of moves over multiple seasons that typically earn peer recognition. Milwaukee Bucks GM Jon Horst, who is in only his second season, and Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri are expected to be two of the top candidates. Both oversaw wide-ranging changes to upgrade their teams, changing coaches and core players.

How long Newton will remain in Milwaukee is now the question. The scuttlebutt among some NBA officials is the New Orleans Pelicans are interested in Newton’s services as their next general manager. The Pelicans fired their former general manager, Dell Demps, a month ago and have had Danny Ferry serve as the interim GM. While some believe Ferry may be the front-runner for the Pelicans’ GM job, they also say Newton could to be in the mix because of his success in Milwaukee and Minnesota.

“Quite honestly, I’ve fired people in our organization because they can’t get excited about working for a franchise that has a brand new arena (the Fiserv Forum opened in downtown Milwaukee this season), a brand new practice facility, Giannis Antetokounmpo as a superstar, Mike Budenholzer as a head coach and the ownership that we have (Marc Lasry and Wes Edens led the group that bought the Bucks for $550 million in April 2014). And I say, ‘If you can’t get excited, and wake up in the morning to be part of that, then you don’t belong.’ That’s from a staffing perspective, and a player perspective, on down. That’s the culture. That’s the filter that we’ve tried to establish.”

Punch Bowl Social will bring its restaurant, bar and entertainment concept to the upcoming Entertainment Block adjacent to the Milwaukee Bucks’ new world-class arena in spring of 2019. The Punch Bowl Social award-winning lifestyle brand, selected as a Fast Company 2018 Most Innovative Company, has garnered recognition for its industry-changing, remarkably balanced execution of the “eatertainment” concept, pairing made-from-scratch dishes and craft beverages with social gaming and activities. Punch Bowl Social Milwaukee will comprise 24,000 square feet over two stories at 320 West Highland Ave., including an outdoor 1,249-square-foot deck on the upper level. The Entertainment Block, being developed by Head of the Herd Real Estate Development LLC, is slated to open in spring of 2019.

The second overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Parker has appeared in 183 career games for the Bucks over his four-year career. He averaged 15.3 points 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, while shooting 49 percent from the field and 74.7 percent from the free throw line. “Jabari and I express our sincere gratitude to Jon Horst and Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan for working side-by-side with us throughout the free agency period,” said Mark Bartelstein, CEO, Priority Sports & Entertainment. From the moment the Bucks drafted Jabari with the No. 2 pick in the 2014 Draft, they have gone out of their way to treat Jabari as a member of the Bucks family, and this is another perfect example of doing exactly that, and we’re very appreciative.”

“I am extremely grateful to the Bucks and the incredible fans of Milwaukee for showing me so much love and encouragement,” Parker said. “Specifically, I’d like to thank Jon, Marc, Wes and Jamie for giving me my start in the NBA and supporting me throughout my career. Thank you to my teammates for being like brothers to me. Also, the medical and performance staff led by Troy Flanagan and Suki Hobson deserve my unending thanks for their dedication in helping me get stronger and healthier every day.”

The Milwaukee Bucks today named Mike Budenholzer as the team’s new head coach. “We are thrilled to welcome Mike Budenholzer as the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks,” said Bucks General Manager Jon Horst. “Mike has played a key role in building successful teams throughout his career. He’s widely respected and has shown a special ability to teach and develop players. His leadership, basketball intellect, championship-level experience and communication skills make him the right fit to take our team to the next level.”

Budenholzer, 48, most recently served as head coach of the Atlanta Hawks where he guided the team to a 213-197 (.520) record over the last five seasons, including four playoff appearances and a franchise best 60-22 record in 2014-15. He was named NBA Coach of the Year following the 2014-15 campaign that saw the Hawks reach the Eastern Conference Finals. “I’m extremely grateful to the Bucks ownership group and Jon Horst to be named the next head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks,” Budenholzer said. “There are terrific people throughout the organization and together we have a tremendous opportunity to take the Bucks to the next level. I look forward to working with our group of young and exciting players and helping us evolve in many ways to succeed on the court. The venues are also in place with an incredible, new state-of-the art arena and first-class Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center. The tremendously supportive fans in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin are waiting and ready. Now it’s up to us to put all the pieces together, and I can’t wait to get started.”

In late May 2017, everything changed. Hammond left for the Orlando Magic, the Bucks underwent a search for a new general manager instead of promoting assistant GM Justin Zanik and after nearly a month, ownership decided to hire Horst, who had been with the team for nine seasons and had most recently been Milwaukee’s director of basketball operations. It was just the beginning of a whirlwind first season for the new general manager. “It’s definitely different sitting in this chair,” Horst said. “I don’t know that you could fully ever prepare or understand what a job like this is until you have it, until you learn it and live it.”

That summer wasn’t just about managing the roster, though, as Horst also had to put together a staff, including accounting for the franchise’s new G League developmental team and finding an assistant general manager to support him in his new role, a position that went to Milt Newton. “What I’m proud about and the things I think we did well, is every day that I’ve been in this job for these 10 months we’ve gotten better and better at having processes, making decisions, being collaborative, building a culture,” Horst said.

“I would just point to a lot of the things in the business that have progressively gotten better. You can’t expect to have them in place and ready the moment you get in even if I were someone who had been a general manager for 13 years instead of someone who had just been in the NBA for 13 years. You’re not going to come into a new environment, hire a completely new staff and start working with all your processes and decision-making things in place. It takes time to get things implemented. I’m proud of the way that we’ve done that and that we’re going to continue to do that.”
3 years ago via ESPN

They not only hope to one day hang his jersey at the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center — a sparkling new arena that cost more than a half-billion dollars to construct and is set to become the Bucks’ new home starting in 2018-19 — but they’ve made Antetokounmpo the centerpiece of almost every major decision the organization makes, as the Bucks look to make a splash on a worldwide scale. “What we call ‘The Giannis Effect’ really kind of took place 18 months ago, maybe two years ago, where you had this guy who had a skill set that was unlike anything ever,” Feigin said. “Now it’s really kind of grasping it and leveraging it and marketing it [in] a big, strong way, and marketing it to the world, which is different because he’s really attractive to the world.”
3 years ago via ESPN

What makes Antetokounmpo’s situation unique is his status as an international superstar, one who has become the basketball-playing face of his native Greece. That status, Feigin explains, completely flipped the Bucks’ marketing strategy. “We were all about, ‘Hey, we’ve got to really focus on Milwaukee, we’ve got to focus on the state of Wisconsin. We’ve got to focus on the region of the Midwest. Then we’re going to become the national team, and then international,'” he said. “Well, overnight we became one of the top international kind of teams on every metric: on games viewed, on digital views, on video views. So how do you leverage that and take that great awareness and excitement and now funnel it down to the local level?”

The Bucks must explore every avenue to try to upgrade the talent around Antetokounmpo. Despite the all-star starter being in the first year of a four-year contract extension, he is already on the clock in terms of figuring out what his future will look like beyond that. “Right now, I’m just trying to focus on basketball and getting better, and helping my team win,” Antetokounmpo said. “But of course, the front office, whenever they’re about to make a move, [they let me know] so I can feel comfortable. “They know one of my characteristics is being loyal to my teammates, to my coaching staff, they always try to inform me, that’s pretty much it.”

On Monday, the Bucks made a move to shore up their front line, acquiring Tyler Zeller from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Rashad Vaughn and a future second-round pick. “We saw an opportunity to add someone who has, I think, legitimate NBA center size, someone who is a proven NBA player, another floor spacer, a guy who has recently shown that he can shoot the ball from the corner three,” general manager Jon Horst said Tuesday. “Analytically he’s a very good rebounder and efficient scorer around the rim as well. Coach (Joe) Prunty has coached him when he was with Cleveland and John Henson played with him, so we did our due diligence.

The Bucks are probably going to be in the market to fill a need equally as important: a shooter – especially with Mirza Teletovic’s future up in the air. Teletovic is sidelined indefinitely with blood clots in both of his lungs. “They (the Bucks) are a pretty good team,’’ said a veteran NBA advanced scout, who saw the Bucks up close and personal in recent weeks. “They can be really good on defense with their length, and they attack the basket pretty well on offense with Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and they have some good mid-range shooters like (Kris) Middleton and (Tony) Snell. “They just don’t have outside shooters. I see that as their biggest weakness.’’

With salaries having skyrocketed over the summer, thanks in large measure to an extremely lucrative television contract, multiple sources claim Jabari Parker will be seeking a contract similar to the one he expected to receive prior to his latest injury – a max contract of five years for anywhere between $146 million (25 percent of the salary cap) to $175M (30 percent of the cap). It will be perhaps the biggest assignment new Bucks general manager Jon Horst, who had been the team’s director of basketball operations before his shocking promotion to GM, will ever have deal with in his role. It won’t be for Mark Bartelstein, Parker’s new agent. Bartelstein, who heads up Chicago-based Priority Sports and Entertainment, is a longtime agent and regarded as one of the premier agents in sports.

The Milwaukee Bucks Basketball Operations department has expanded with the following additions: Milt Newton as Assistant General Manager, David Mincberg as Director of Basketball Strategy, Tony Bollier as Director of Basketball Operations and Ronald Dupree as Scout. The team also named Frank Johnson as Assistant Coach. “Our basketball operations department continues to take shape and I’m very excited about the additions of Milt, David, Tony and Ronald,” said General Manager Jon Horst. “Together they bring a wealth of experience that will serve our organization extremely well. I look forward to working with them as we continue to assemble a championship-caliber organization.”

When the smoke cleared, the survivor was Horst, the Bucks’ director of basketball operations since 2008, when he moved from Detroit as a Hammond and Joe Dumars protégé. “Jon’s extremely bright, a high character person who stands for what he believes in, and he has a great knowledge of this business at a young age,” Hammond said last week. “You think about how young Jon is, but he’s never done anything else in this workaday world except the NBA. He’s very deserving of the opportunity and I expect him to do extremely well.”

Jon Horst: I never had a schedule in mind. But since I started working in the NBA, I had a dream of ending up on top of a basketball operations and had a goal to run a franchise. My approach has always been to be the best at what you do, in your current role. Excel at it, embrace it, and then when other opportunities present themselves, people will look to you. I’ve done that every step of the way, and I’ve gotten opportunities to advance. Although I’m 34 years old, this is my 13th season working with an NBA team, from starting as an intern all the way to being general manager of a franchise. So, I do have quite a bit of experience in the league. With all due respect, people will be watching to see if you have the heft to say “no” to Jason Kidd or to the owners who are signing your paycheck. How you address those concerns? JH: Obviously, ownership is ownership. Jason Kidd is our coach. They’re going to be involved in everything we do. But in taking this job, we talked about these things. Ultimately, I’ve been hired to run the basketball operations for the Milwaukee Bucks, to have the final say and to make the final decisions. I’m going to operate as such, and I have their support in doing that. The only way you can really set aside those concerns is by living it every day and watching the transactions unfold.
4 years ago via ESPN

New York Knicks Director of Pro Player Personnel Mark Hughes has interviewed for the Milwaukee Bucks’ assistant general manager opening, per league sources. Hughes, a veteran executive with the Knicks organization since 2007, also interviewed for the Atlanta Hawks GM position earlier in the offseason. He has been one of the key figures in the Knicks’ recent draft success, which includes Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, the recently re-signed Tim Hardaway Jr., Channing Frye and Danilo Gallinari.

The latter has since been a consultant for some NBA teams and now has emerged as a serious candidate for the Milwaukee Bucks’ vacant assistant general manager’s position. Newton, who had been Washington’s vice president of player personnel before working in Minnesota, met with Bucks officials earlier this week in Las Vegas. Among the Bucks’ contingent was recently-hired general manager Jon Horst and head coach Jason Kidd. Newton is one of several individuals under consideration for the assistant GM job, which became vacant when the Bucks fired Justin Zanik.

If there is anyone in the Milwaukee Bucks’ basketball operations who should be dubbed “Mr. Buck,’’ it’s Dave Babcock. Babcock has been with the organization for two decades and has exhibited unfailing loyalty, having passed on several offers from other teams over the years. During his 20-year tenure with the Bucks, Babcock has had several titles, most recently vice president of player personnel. However, sources said Babcock was recently stripped of the title by the Bucks hierarchy and is now a regional scout for the NBA team. He and wife, Dori, are expected to move to Arizona.

Zanik was shown the door as the Milwaukee Bucks assistant general manager last week, shortly after he had been one of the three finalists for the general manager’s position vacated by John Hammond’s departure to Orlando. Now, NBA sources said Monday night that the Bucks have jettisoned several more officials, including Billy McKinney, the team’s longtime director of scouting, and Chris Gilmartin, the team’s director of pro scouting. McKinney, who is well respected in the league, came to the Bucks from Detroit nine years ago from Detroit with Hammond. Prior to that, McKinney also worked in the front office for Chicago and Minnesota.

Jon Horst, 34, might have been a surprise pick to replace Hammond among observers outside the organization. But there was a sense of familiarity when the franchise formally introduced Horst as the new general manager on Monday. “There was a process that we went through. It may seem like a surprising outcome. I’ve been asked that question by other people,” co-owner Wes Edens said as Horst smiled next to him. “At the end of it all, it was never really a surprise for us.”

Justin Zanik has left the Bucks after having once been considered the heir-apparent for the GM job when he arrived from the Utah Jazz a year ago. Edens praised Zanik’s contributions, which included overseeing draft prep in the period between general managers.

“Our No. 1 priority is building a championship-caliber organization and we believe Jon is the right person to be our General Manager,” said Bucks owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan. “He has been an integral part of basketball operations for the last nine years, and has helped advise us on every major basketball decision since we purchased the team. Jon is very talented, capable, organized and someone we have leaned on for his strategic thinking and ability to execute our vision.”
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September 16, 2021 | 8:36 pm EDT Update
NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo was in Greece for a meeting with the country’s prime minister Thursday and a special ceremony to bestow Greek citizenship on his mother Veronica and younger brother Alex. Antetokounmpo, who led the Milwaukee Bucks to the NBA championship in July, attended the ceremony at the official residence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The 26-year-old Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, the son of Nigerian immigrants. He was granted Greek citizenship in 2013, allowing him to travel to the United States and join the Bucks later that year.
“We always felt Greek, but now we have an official stamp and we are happy,” Antetokounmpo told reporters after the ceremony. “Alex and my mom are Greek citizens now.” Antetokounmpo also traveled to Greece in August with his brother Thanassis, carrying the Larry O’Brien NBA championship trophy. He took the trophy to the ancient Acropolis in Athens to celebrate with members of his family.
September 16, 2021 | 8:07 pm EDT Update