ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — The Milwaukee Bucks are coming off a very busy week, and they haven’t even started training camp.
In the span of a few days, the team locked up one of their franchise forwards to a long-term extension; lost their best guard for much of the year to a hamstring injury; and added a veteran scorer to a promising frontcourt.
It is up to coach Jason Kidd to start figuring out how to put the pieces together.
“We don’t have positions. ‘Out of position’ is something we don’t look at,” Kidd said Monday. “We have a lot of different ways that we can go. We’re going to look at all the possibilities during training camp .”
It starts on Tuesday in Madison.
“This time last week, we felt like we had a tremendous offseason,” co-owner Wes Edens said at media day at the team’s training facility.
Edens said he is still optimistic. Young forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker are talented team building blocks. Returning to playoffs remains the goal for a franchise that could be nearing the end of a rebuilding period.
But a postseason run this year could prove challenging after guard Khris Middleton tore his left hamstring during a workout on Sept. 20 after slipping on a wet spot on the practice floor. One of the team’s best outside shooters, Middleton averaged a career-high 18.2 points last season.
Middleton said he was scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday in New York, and that he had no timeline on when their leading scorer could resume basketball activities. The Bucks have estimated that Middleton could be out six months, a timetable that would have Middleton back with a month left in the regular season in March.
Hours before Middleton got hurt, the Bucks signed Antetokounmpo to a four-year, $100 million contract extension.
“It was a real roller coaster, right? One of the real bright spots from the franchise, not just for the year but in its history was signing Giannis to a long-term deal,” Edens said. “And then Khris has worked so hard in the offseason, in phenomenal shape, and literally slips on a wet spot and has this injury.”
A couple days later, the Bucks acquired forward Michael Beasley from the Houston Rockets for backup point guard Tyler Ennis. Beasley gives the Bucks another scoring option in the frontcourt. At 6-foot-9, 235 pounds, the eight-year veteran also fits in with the Bucks’ desire to add versatile players.
“If I’ve got to sit at the end of the bench and be the biggest cheerleader, that’s what I’m going to do,” Beasley said. “But as far as my role, where I fit in, just off the top of my head — run and jump, (be) athletic, block shots”.
Beasley averaged 12.8 points and 4.9 rebounds in 20 games for Houston last season after starting the year playing in China. Beasley has a career scoring average in the NBA of 13.0 points.
But he doesn’t directly replace Middleton.
Kidd figures that Beasley could play both forward spots, and possibly center in situations if the Bucks decide to play with a smaller lineup.
Then again, the presence of Beasley also makes it easier for Kidd to hand even more ball-handling duties to the 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo, a role in which he blossomed last season.
The Bucks also added Matthew Dellavedova and 17-year veteran Jason Terry to the backcourt in the offseason, and drafted rookie Malcolm Brogdon in the second round of the draft out of Virginia.
“You lose a major player like Khris and at the end of the day, how do you come out of this,” general manager John Hammond said. “Can we be better at the end of the day, and more importantly can we be better in the future? I think time will tell.”
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