Tagged in: NBA

DeAndre Jordan intends to sign with Los Angeles Lakers after trade, buyout

After finalizing a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons, three-time All-Star center DeAndre Jordan intends to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, sources told ESPN.

Detroit got Jordan, four second-round picks and $5.78 million in a deal with Brooklyn on Friday with the intention of buying out the remaining two years and $20 million on Jordan’s contract, sources told ESPN.

Once the buyout agreement is signed, Jordan will have to clear waivers before becoming a free agent and signing with the Lakers. His contract terms make it virtually impossible for Jordan to be claimed by a team.

Brooklyn got Jahlil Okafor and Sekou Doumbouya in the deal with Detroit, the Nets revealed Saturday.

They will send the Pistons their 2022 and 2027 second-round picks along with the more favorable 2024 second-rounder between the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies and the more favorable 2025 second-rounder between the Wizards and Golden State Warriors, sources said.

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Trading Jordan’s contract instead of buying it out offers the Nets financial relief in the short term, but also in the future with the repeater tax penalty starting in 2023.

“We appreciate everything DeAndre has contributed to our organization over the past two seasons both on and off the court and wish him and his family the best moving forward,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement.

Brooklyn had the option of waiving and stretching the $19.7 million owed on Jordan’s deal over five seasons; that would have represented a $3.9 million cap hit that would have lingered on the team’s books from 2021 to 2025.

The move could have saved the Nets money on their luxury tax bill for the next two years but cost them an extra $20 million in 2023-24 and could have reached $50 million in 2024-25 and 2025-26.

The Lakers have signed several veteran players to their bench — including eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard — and still have three-time All-Star Marc Gasol on the roster.

Jordan was part of a free-agent signing class with Brooklyn that included Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in 2019.

Initially, Jordan alternated at starting center with Jarrett Allen, who was eventually traded to Cleveland as part of the four-team deal that landed the Nets All-NBA guard James Harden.

Once the Nets acquired Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, Jordan’s role diminished. Jordan averaged 7.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 57 games played last season in Brooklyn.

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Luka Doncic signs five-year, $207 million supermax rookie extension with Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic has signed a landmark five-year, $207 million supermax rookie extension, the team revealed Tuesday.

Doncic, one of the most accomplished players in NBA history at 22 years old and rapidly evolving into the future face of the league, becomes the first player eligible for the designated rookie max extension upon signing because he has twice been voted first-team All-NBA.

The deal contains a player option in the final year, agent Bill Duffy of BDA Sports told ESPN on Monday.

A contingent of the franchise’s leaders landed in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Monday to formally present Doncic and Duffy with the contract, including Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, general manager Nico Harrison, coach Jason Kidd, assistant general manager Michael Finley, special adviser Dirk Nowitzki and director of player health and performance Casey Smith.

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“Today is a dream come true,” Doncic told ESPN in a statement. “The game of basketball has given me so much and has taken me to so many amazing places. I am humbled and excited to remain in Dallas as part of the Mavericks.

Doncic became the youngest MVP in EuroLeague history in 2017-18, when he led Real Madrid to a title before being selected with the third overall pick in the NBA draft, immediately getting traded from the Atlanta Hawks to the Mavericks for Trae Young and a future first-round pick.

Doncic won Rookie of the Year in 2018-19 and has been a first-team All-NBA selection the past two seasons.

Only four players in NBA history have made All-NBA first team multiple times before their 23rd birthday, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Doncic and Kevin Durant are the only players to accomplish the feat since the ABA-NBA merger.

Doncic, who led the Slovenian national team to its first Olympic berth and a fourth-place finish in Tokyo, has NBA career averages of 25.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game. His playoff production has been even more impressive, as he has averaged 33.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 9.5 assists in 13 postseason games.

Despite Doncic’s individual brilliance, the Mavericks are still trying to advance past the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Although Dallas has lost to the LA Clippers in each of the past two playoffs, Doncic dominated with five 40-point playoff performances, highlighted by a 43-point, 17-rebound, 13-assist outing that ended with the winning buzzer-beater in the Mavs’ Game 4 victory in 2020. He had a 46-point, 14-assist effort in last season’s Game 7 loss.

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Boston Celtics, Dennis Schroder agree on 1-year, $5.9 million deal

Free-agent point guard Dennis Schroder is headed to the Boston Celtics, he announced Tuesday on his Instagram account.

The deal is for one year and will be for the $5.9 million taxpayer midlevel exception, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Schroder, who turns 28 in September, was the last remaining significant unrestricted free agent on the market. He turned down a lucrative extension offer from the Los Angeles Lakers during the regular season, worth north of $80 million, to pursue a bigger contract this summer.

In Boston, Schroder joins a Celtics team with a hole at point guard in the wake of Kemba Walker being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, giving him an opportunity to boost his value when he will hit the market again as a free agent next summer.

“I’m proud to announce that for the 2021-22 season I’ll be playing for the Boston Celtics!” Schroder wrote on Instagram. “This is one of the best franchises in NBA history and it will be a honour to put on the green and white and do what I love! I’m going out there every night and leaving it all on the floor for the city!! Who’s ready?”

The Lakers had acquired Schroder in a trade with the Thunder at last year’s NBA draft in exchange for Danny Green and last year’s first-round pick.

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Schroder averaged 15.4 points and 5.8 assists in 61 games — all starts — for the Lakers, but he was mired in controversy after he missed 11 days late in the regular season after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

He told a German publication that he and LeBron James were the only Lakers players to not get vaccinated, before then telling local reporters upon his return that, “I’m the only guy that didn’t get vaccinated. I’ll just leave it at that.”

He then averaged 14.3 points but shot just 40% from the field and 30.3% from the 3-point line in the Lakers’ loss to the Phoenix Suns in six matches in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

“You got to go through the bulls— to get to the good s—,” Schroder told reporters in his end-of-season news conference after the Suns series.

By signing Schroder for the taxpayer midlevel exception, along with signing center Enes Kanter for a one-year minimum deal, Boston now is sitting a little over $4 million over the luxury tax line with 15 guaranteed contracts on its roster.

The Celtics are coming off a disappointing season that saw them conclude seventh in the East and lose in five games to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

After the season ended, longtime president of basketball operations Danny Ainge stepped aside, longtime coach Brad Stevens took his place and the Celtics hired Nets assistant Ime Udoka to replace him.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, is facing a massive payroll and luxury tax bill of close to $200 million even without Schroder, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, after trading for Russell Westbrook, signing Kendrick Nunn to a two-year deal worth $10 million, re-signing Talen Horton-Tucker to a three-year, $32 million deal and filling out the rest of the roster with one-year minimum deals, including contracts for future Hall of Famers Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.

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Kevin Durant signs 4-year, $198M extension with Brooklyn Nets, manager says

Kevin Durant has signed a multiyear extension with the Brooklyn Nets, the team announced Sunday morning.

The extension is for four years and worth the $198 million maximum, Durant’s longtime business manager and co-founder of Thirty Five Ventures and Boardroom, Rich Kleiman, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday.

Durant declined his 2022-23 player option and extended off his $42 million salary for the 2021-22 season. Durant, who led Team USA to its fourth consecutive Olympics gold with a win versus France on Saturday, was spectacular in his return to the court this season.

He missed his first season in Brooklyn while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals in Toronto while playing for the Golden State Warriors.

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He wound up playing only 35 regular-season games for Brooklyn last season due to a combination of COVID-19 absences and a hamstring injury, but Durant averaged 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists and made his 11th All-Star appearance.

Durant then averaged 34.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 12 playoff games for the Nets, including arguably the greatest performance of his legendary career — a 49-point, 17-rebound, 10-assist triple-double while playing all 48 minutes of a 114-108 triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He then played all 53 minutes of Brooklyn’s overtime loss in Game 7, scoring another 48 points — which included a game-tying shot in the final second of regulation to force the extra session.

“Kevin is a transcendent talent who continues to drive and push this franchise and the game of basketball globally,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement Sunday. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with him for years to come.”

The Nets are currently projected to spend $296 million next season in payroll and luxury taxes, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

That is the second-biggest total in NBA history (trailing only next season’s Warriors), as the Nets try to win the franchise’s first NBA championship around Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.

Irving joined Durant in Brooklyn as free agents two years ago, and the Nets executed a blockbuster trade with the Houston Rockets to land Harden in January.

Irving and Harden will also be eligible to sign contract extensions with Brooklyn this offseason.

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Los Angeles Lakers, Carmelo Anthony agree to one-year NBA free-agency contract

Free-agent forward Carmelo Anthony agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, Anthony’s manager, Bay Frazier, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The deal — one of several made by the Lakers on Tuesday — is for one campaign, according to Frazier. Anthony’s agent, Aaron Mintz of CAA Sports, completed the agreement with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka on Tuesday.

Anthony, who moved up to No. 10 on the NBA’s career scoring list last season, rehabbed his career in two seasons in Portland after being out of the league for a year following an ill-fated stint with the Houston Rockets.

The 18-year veteran flourished in a bench role with the Blazers last season, averaging 13.4 points in 24.5 minutes per game while shooting a career-best 40.9% from 3. Anthony, 37, entered into the league with LeBron James in the famed 2003 draft class, and the two have kept a close friendship.

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Anthony has earned more than $260 million in salary in his career and is a 10-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA selection and three-time Olympic gold medalist.

Success has eluded him on the postseason stage, though. In 13 career playoff appearances, Anthony’s teams have made the conference finals just once, and he has yet to play in the NBA Finals.

After being traded by the New York Knicks to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017, Anthony had an up-and-down season with the Thunder as the team failed to meet expectations. He was traded to the Atlanta Hawks the next offseason, then instantly waived.

He signed with the Rockets, agreeing to play a long-anticipated bench role for the contenders led by James Harden and Chris Paul, but was waived after just 10 matches. Anthony wasn’t signed by another team that season, casting doubt on the future of his NBA career.

But the Blazers offered a lifeline, and Anthony accepted the role and opportunity to contribute to a Western Conference playoff team. He started all 58 games his first season with Portland as it dealt with a series of injuries, but he came off the bench in 66 of his 69 appearances last season.

A surefire future Hall of Famer, Anthony currently sits at 27,370 points, just 39 points behind Moses Malone for ninth. He won the scoring title with the Knicks in 2012-13, averaging 28.7 points. Anthony spent 10 consecutive seasons in the top 10 in scoring and finished as a runner-up for the scoring title twice in that stretch.

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New Orleans Pelicans officially name Willie Green as next head coach

The New Orleans Pelicans officially named Willie Green as their next head coach Thursday.

Green is coming off a stint as an assistant with the Phoenix Suns, who just made a run to the NBA Finals, which delayed the timing of the Pelicans’ announcement.

“After an extensive and collaborative search, Willie stood out among an impressive group of candidates as the best person to lead our team moving forward,” Pelicans governor Gayle Benson said in a statement.

“We are very happy to welcome Willie as our new head coach and we look forward to working with him to guide our team on the court as we work towards bringing a championship to New Orleans.”

Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin called Green, a 12-year NBA veteran, one of the “most respected assistant coaches in the NBA.”

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“He brings a vast amount of basketball knowledge and experience to our team as both a coach and former player, along with exceptional leadership qualities and an innate ability to connect with players, staff and fans alike,” Griffin said in a statement.

Green spent three seasons as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors before joining Phoenix.

“I want to thank Mrs. Benson, David Griffin, and the entire Pelicans organization for having faith in me to lead this talented group of players moving forward,” Green said. “It’s a blessing and an honor to get this opportunity in a special place like New Orleans. I look forward to getting to work and immersing myself and my family into the local community.”

As a player, Green made the playoffs in seven of his 12 seasons, including the lone year in New Orleans (2010-11), one of just seven playoff trips the team has made in franchise history.

That season, Green made it on a team coached by Monty Williams and led by point guard Chris Paul. Now the Pelicans are hiring Green away from a Suns team led by Williams and Paul.

Green replaces Stan Van Gundy, who mutually agreed to leave the Pelicans after just one campaign. The Pelicans went 31-41 last season, a disappointing result after the season started with playoff aspirations.

In the end, New Orleans didn’t even make the Western Conference play-in. At 39, Green becomes the third-youngest coach in the NBA behind Oklahoma City’s Mark Daigneault and Memphis’ Taylor Jenkins.

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The Milwaukee Bucks To First NBA Championship In 50 Years

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 50 points on Tuesday night to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA Championship in 50 years.

Only six other players have scored 50 points or more in the NBA Finals. Only one other player has done it to clinch the title: Bob Petit had 50 in 1958 to win it all for the (then) St. Louis Hawks.

Led by two-time league MVP Antetokounmpo, the Bucks dominated the early part of the game, rocking the Phoenix Suns back on their heels from the outset. But Suns’ floor general Chris Paul took them on a run that had Phoenix back in the lead by halftime.

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Antetokounmpo took over in the 3rd, going for 20 points in the period, a single-quarter feat of force no other player has achieved in the Finals since Michael Jordan did it 28 years ago.

Antetokounmpo ended the game with 50 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks and — possibly most remarkable for him — made 17 of his 19 free throws.

The final score was 104-98. Bucks in 6.

It was a sweet victory for Milwaukee, who got to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in front of their home crowd, tens of thousands of whom crowded outside Fiserv Forum to witness the win together on big screens.

The Bucks’ last — and only other championship — came in 1971, when they were led by another all-time great big man named Lou Alcindor, who later became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. After three more seasons Abdul-Jabbar went to the Lakers.

Antetokounmpo could have done the same thing once he was with the Bucks for three years. He could have left small market Milwaukee for the lights of L.A. or New York, but he stayed a Buck and signed a new contract in 2016.

In 2020, he redoubled his commitment and signed a $228 million contract, declaring in a Twitter post, “This is my home, this is my city.”

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Giannis Antetokounmpo still awed by block, but ready to shift focus to Game 5 of NBA Finals

Two days after Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ridiculous block of Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton’s dunk attempt late in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the Milwaukee Bucks superstar still can’t explain precisely how he pulled it off.

“It’s incredible what your body is [able] to do,” Antetokounmpo said Friday. “When you think about winning, you go to the extreme.

“I cannot explain the play. But, at the end of the day, that’s in the past. When you talk about the past, that’s your ego talking. It’s in the past. It’s over with.

“I got to move on. I got to keep making winning plays. I got to keep competing. I got to keep finding ways to help my team be great. Great moment. I appreciate the moment. Great moment. [But] we got to move on.”

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The basketball world, on the other side, has done little moving on in the 40 or so hours since Antetokounmpo’s rejection with 74 seconds to go in Game 4, preserving Milwaukee’s two-point lead at the time and helping the Bucks even the series at two games apiece as it shifts back here for Game 5 on Saturday night.

There have been comparisons to LeBron James’ epic block of Andre Iguodala’s layup in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, and debates rage over which of them was the more impressive play, along with other great blocks from past playoffs.

For Antetokounmpo, the focus is on something much more tangible: getting a triumph in Game 5, which would allow Milwaukee to have the opportunity to claim its first championship in a half-century with a win back at Fiserv Forum Tuesday night in Game 6.

It’s an approach that has come from past experiences and learning about the perils of feeling too good after one strong performance.

“I think I would say life. Usually, from my experience, when I think about like, ‘Oh, yeah, I did this, I’m so great, I had 30, I had 25-10-10,’ whatever the case might be. … Usually, the next day, you’re going to suck, you know?” Antetokounmpo said with a smile. “Simple as that. The next few days you’re going to be terrible.

“I figured out a mindset to have that when you focus on the past, that’s your ego. ‘I did this. We were able to beat this team 4-0. I did this in the past. I won that in the past.’ When I focus on the future, it’s my pride. ‘Yeah, next game, Game 5, I do this and this and this. I’m going to dominate.’ That’s your pride talking. It doesn’t happen. You’re right here.

“I kind of try to focus on the moment, in the present. That’s humility. That’s being humble. That’s not setting no expectation. That’s going out there, enjoying the game, competing at a high level. I think I’ve had people throughout my life that helped me with that. But that is a skill that I’ve tried to, like, kind of … master it. It’s been working so far, so I’m not going to stop.”

If Antetokounmpo’s play is any guide, he shouldn’t be changing much of anything about his approach.

Through the first four matches of these NBA Finals, Antetokounmpo is averaging 32.3 points, 14.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists and has generally been able to get whatever he’s wanted.

Even in Game 4, after which he admitted he could’ve been more aggressive, he finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocks in 43 minutes.

More importantly for the Bucks, they have been able to dig themselves out of an 0-2 hole to begin a playoff series for the second time in these playoffs and to recover from a deficit in the series for a third consecutive time.

The past two postseasons, the Bucks have faltered when challenged — first by the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 Eastern Conference finals, then last year in the conference semifinals by the Miami Heat in the NBA’s bubble.

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Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo returns from knee injury in Game 1 loss

As the Milwaukee Bucks played their first NBA Finals match in nearly half a century Tuesday night versus the Phoenix Suns, they did so with superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in the starting lineup.

Antetokounmpo, who suffered a hyperextended left knee on an awkward and ugly-looking fall in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals a week ago against the Hawks in Atlanta, played 35 minutes in the opener and battled throughout. He concluded with 20 points, 17 rebounds and four assists, but the Suns took a 1-0 lead via a 118-105 victory.

Antetokounmpo was listed as doubtful for Games 5 and 6 of the East finals, and he was ruled out early in the afternoon before each of those games. On Tuesday, however, Antetokounmpo was upgraded from doubtful to questionable on the league’s initial injury report, which is released at 1:30 p.m. ET.

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Then about two hours before the game, Antetokounmpo was on the court testing out his knee, going through some shooting and dribbling drills to see if it would feel good enough to go versus the Suns.

During his pregame media availability, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer declined to get into specifics regarding where Antetokounmpo was at in his recovery.

Antetokounmpo, 26, who averaged 28.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists in the 15 postseason games leading into the Finals, is coming off a third straight first-team All-NBA season and fifth straight All-Star campaign for the Bucks.

The two-time league MVP signed a five-year supermax contract extension with Milwaukee in December to remain with the franchise for the foreseeable future, a move that came in the wake of the Bucks sending several future first-round picks to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for star guard Jrue Holiday.

The Bucks are in the Finals for the first time since 1974 and hoping to win their first NBA championship since 1971, when Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were starring for Milwaukee. The Suns, on the other hand, have never won an NBA title and are in the Finals for the first time since 1993, when Charles Barkley’s team lost to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in six games.

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Khris Middleton lifts Milwaukee Bucks past Atlanta Hawks, into NBA Finals

The Milwaukee Bucks are headed to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974 — and they secured the final wins of the series without star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Milwaukee defeated the Atlanta Hawks 118-107 in Game 6 on Saturday behind 32 points from Khris Middleton. Jrue Holiday added 27 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists.

After the final buzzer sounded and the Bucks swarmed the center of the court, putting on caps and T-shirts that announced them as Eastern Conference champions, players hugged each other and laughed. Coaches embraced.

“It feels awesome,” Holiday said. “I’m still kind of on this high, but I’m going to the Finals. It’s cool to think as a little kid, this is what you watch the playoffs for. This is all the moments that I felt as a little kid watching TV. I lived them and went through them and now I get to go to the Finals and see what this is about.”

Antetokounmpo, who has been out since injuring his knee in the third quarter of Game 4 when he landed awkwardly after contesting an alley-oop, was in the middle of it all — a triumphant fist raised in the air.

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Thursday marked the end of a slew of Milwaukee playoff runs that were cut short or went awry. In the 2019 postseason, the Bucks swept the Detroit Pistons, defeated the Boston Celtics in five games and built a 2-0 lead versus the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals. Then, after losing back-to-back games only once during the entire regular season, the Bucks lost four consecutive games to the Raptors and were eliminated.

Last season in the NBA’s bubble, the Bucks fizzled to a disappointing end in the playoffs.

Milwaukee earned the No. 1 seed and defeated the Orlando Magic in five games. But Antetokounmpo sprained his ankle in Game 3 of the team’s series against the Miami Heat.

He gave it a go in Game 4, but re-sprained his ankle in that game and was unable to play in Game 5, when Milwaukee was eliminated. Back then, Antetokounmpo said that “nobody was going to be happy” with the outcome of Milwaukee’s 2019-20 playoff run. He said he hoped the Bucks could learn from that loss.

It appears they did — and those losses, Middleton said, made their success this season that much better.

“It’s been a long journey,” Middleton said. “But it’s been a great journey. It’s been worth it. After winning 15 games in our first year here and seven years not making the playoffs, to the last two years thinking we had a chance and just didn’t do enough and now we’re here. This is what we’ve worked for.”

The Bucks avenged last season’s loss and rolled the Heat in four matches in the first round. Midway through that series, starting guard Donte DiVincenzo injured his ankle. He had season-ending surgery on a ligament in his left ankle in June and P.J. Tucker slid into a starting role.

Still, Milwaukee kept rolling. After falling down 3-2 in a wild series versus the betting title favorite Brooklyn Nets, the Bucks outlasted them in a seven-game series. And after losing at home for the first time in the playoffs in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Bucks battled back, including winning two games without Antetokounmpo.

All the while, Antetokounmpo stood — almost never sitting down — on the sidelines in black shorts and a Bucks warm-up shirt. A protective sleeve swaddled his hyperextended left knee. But even injured and unable to play, Antetokounmpo was in the middle of the celebration. His longest hug was reserved for his brother and teammate, Thanasis.

“There’s a bittersweetness to him not being able to play these last two games,” Budenholzer said. “Khris and Giannis are the key to this team, to this organization. To have the opportunity to coach them and come here three years ago and try to build something special, those two guys are special, and it starts with them.”

And while there has been no public decision on whether or not Antetokounmpo will be available to play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, one thing is certain: The Bucks are sitting atop a hill that Antetokounmpo has envisioned summiting for years.

Now, they have just one more leg to complete. “We ain’t did nothing yet,” Tucker said.

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