Chinese standout piques Bucks’ curiosity

CHICAGO – It seems like the Milwaukee Bucks have been looking forever for knockdown perimeter shooters.

Just in the last three years, the Bucks have made some major investments in an attempt to cure their long-range ailments. To wit:

  • In the 2015 draft, they expended their first-round pick – the 17th overall selection – on Rashad Vaughn. Vaughn never panned out and is now out of the league.
  • Also, in the summer of 2015, the Bucks swung a deal with the Toronto Raptors for shooting guard Greivis Vasquez. The Bucks paid a steep price, giving the Raptors their second-round pick Norman Powell and their No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft. The latter turned out to be OG Anunoby, who wound up starting all 10 of the Raptors’ playoff games this season..
  • -Then, in the summer of 2016, the Bucks signed free agent forward Mirza Teletovic to a three-year, $31.5 million contract. Teletovic struggled in his first season with the Bucks, averaging just 6.4 points and shooting a mere 34 percent on 3-pointers. After playing 10 games this season, the Bucks waived Teletovic because of a blood disorder.

You can safely assume the Bucks will renew their search for quality 3-point shooters this summer via the draft, free agency or trade. In fact, the Bucks already have shown interest in Abudushalamu Abudurexiti, a sharp-shooting 6-foot-9 small forward from China.

Abudurexiti has been flying under the radar and isn’t likely to appear on any mock drafts. But several NBA teams are well aware of him, including the Bucks. They, along with a handful of teams, recently observed Abudurexiti working out in Phoenix.

The Bucks are expected to be among a few teams that will be able to work him out prior to the June 21 draft. The 21-year-old Abudurexiti, who wasn’t invited to the NBA’s pre-draft camp here in Chicago, is heading back to China and won’t return to the U.S until a few days before the draft.

Abudurexiti played for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association last season. He averaged 6.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in 19 minutes a game. He also played for the Chinese national team at the 2017 FIBA World Cup qualification tournament and scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a 92-81 victory over South Korea.

Pre-draft camp moving again?

The NBA pre-draft camp has been going on since the mid ‘80s.

It has been primarily held in Chicago, although at various venues, with an occasional pit-stop in Orlando.

While Chicago seems like the ideal geographic location for all 30 NBA teams as none of them have to travel overly far, the future of the camp in the Windy City is murky. There are whispers the camp could be moved to the East Coast and specifically to Baltimore, which is the headquarters for Under Armour, the major sponsor of the NBA pre-draft camp.

Pistons prepare for changes

The Pistons are in the midst of a major overhaul, looking to hire a president of basketball operations and head coach.

The scuttlebutt is the Pistons intend to first hire a president of basketball operations, allegedly someone who was a former player, and then a head coach. Among the suspects who have surfaced on the rumor mill for the former position are ex-Pistons star guard Chauncey Billups, NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki VandeWeghe, Denver general manager Arturas Karnishovas and Memphis vice president of player personnel Ed Stefanski.

Both Pistons positions opened when Stan Van Gundy was dismissed last week.

Going into overtime

While the Bucks have turned over their head coaching reins to Mike Budenholzer, members of Joe Prunty’s staff are here in Chicago working at the pre-draft camp. … According to some NBA officials, Kelvin Sampson is the clear frontrunner for the Orlando Magic head coaching job. Sampson, now the head coach at the University of Houston, was once an assistant coach under Scott Skiles in Milwaukee. Orlando execs John Hammond and Jeff Weltman were the Bucks GM and assistant GM, respectively, at that time. … Bucks forward Jabari Parker spoke with draft prospects at the NBA Combine earlier this week, talking about the importance of community service. Parker is a finalist for the NBA Cares Community Assist award. … There has been talk, even among some media members, that Parker couldn’t join teammates Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton in meeting Budenholzer the other day because Parker is now a free agent. Not so. Parker doesn’t technically become a free agent until July 1. …. It is believed Budenholzer will bring his entire coaching staff with him from Atlanta to Milwaukee. That staff includes former Bucks forward Darvin Ham whom, I’m told, has offers to be the lead assistant for two other teams.

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