Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst started his Wednesday in Turkey, made a stop in Amsterdam then landed in Spain to do some scouting. Before calling it a day, though, Horst wanted to make sure he cleared the air regarding some recent reports about his team.
Those reports surfaced on Tuesday and involved forward Jabari Parker and the status of head coach Joe Prunty.
In a radio interview on AM-1250 (WSSP), Gery Woelfel, the Milwaukee Basketball Insider for the station, reported that the Bucks had been “very close” to trading Parker at the trade deadline and that there was almost no chance he would remain in Milwaukee next season.
The other report, from Marc Stein of The New York Times, speculated on Prunty’s position as head coach following this season and mentioned that, according to league sources, Jeff Van Gundy and Kevin McHale are already on the Bucks’ list of candidates.
Horst wanted to make it clear that neither one of those reports were true and called into WSSP to say as much.
“Yesterday I saw a couple things came out about our team,” Horst said on the radio. “Rumors are part of this business and I think there are always people who are way on the outside that desperately want a voice and some attention and want to kind of make a name for themselves and have an opinion on stuff and make comments, but when guys are continuously wrong and kind of make egregious statements that are negative and kind of affect our players or our coach, I feel like I have a responsibility to stick up for those guys and stick up for the organization.”
Regarding Parker, Horst made it clear both on the radio and in a separate interview with the Journal Sentinel on Wednesday that the Bucks never had any intention of trading Parker, which echoed a “fake news” claim made Tuesday by Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry, son of Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry.
After supporting and aiding Parker through his second torn left ACL of his young career, the Bucks were intent on seeing how he could fit back with the team and hoped he would be able to provide the boost of a new player without the need to trade for one.
Of course, that doesn’t mean other teams didn’t inquire about Parker or other players on the Bucks. Horst considers it a compliment that other teams are interested in the Bucks’ players. That doesn’t mean those talks are meaningful or actually get anywhere though.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t listen,” Horst said told the Journal Sentinel, reaffirming that the team never had any intention of dealing Parker.
When it comes to Parker’s future, Horst is not in a position to discuss that since the negotiating window is not open between the Bucks and Parker, though there is no reason to believe the team has soured on Parker. The two sides had positive discussions in the summer and fall, but ultimately did not come to an agreement on an extension to Parker’s rookie contract ahead of the deadline in October.
Considering Parker’s injury history, along with the fact that each year only a handful of players receive such extensions in the fall, doesn’t make Parker’s situation unique or imply any issues between the two sides. Parker will be a restricted free agent this summer with the Bucks able to match any offer he receives.
When it comes to The New York Times report, the main issue Horst took was that the Bucks supposedly had compiled a list of candidates for their coaching position currently occupied by Prunty. That flew in the face of what Horst has said all along, including in a Q&A with the Journal Sentinel in January.
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“We were very specific, intentional and transparent with Joe early on,” Horst told the Journal Sentinel. “We’re not going to go through a search, we’re not going to start any of that stuff until after the season is over. You and your staff have every opportunity to be part of our broader search in the off-season for the eventual coach.’ That’s what we’ve done. We’ve honored that.”
That doesn’t mean the Bucks are sitting on their hands until the end of the season, though. As a team that could potentially have one of the most intriguing vacancies in the league, the Bucks are receiving inquiries from interested parties. Like any business, they are receiving information and processing it internally, but there is no active search and no list of candidates.