BUCKS BEAT: UW's Berggren draws attention of NBA

2013-02-15T20:55:00Z BUCKS BEAT: UW's Berggren draws attention of NBAGERY WOELFEL gwoelfel@journaltimes.com Journal Times
February 15, 2013 8:55 pm  • 

Jared Berggren’s sterling play for the University of Wisconsin hasn’t gone unnoticed by NBA scouts.

The 6-foot-10, 235-pound Berggren, who is the Badgers’ leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, has been extended an invitation to play in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament at Portsmouth, Va.

The annual tournament is a showcase for college seniors who are considered potential second-round draft picks in the June draft. Several Wisconsin and Marquette players have participated in the PIT over the years and have used it as a springboard to the NBA, including Marquette’s Steve Novak, who is with the New York Knicks, and Wesley Matthews, who is with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Berggren raised some eyebrows last season when he outplayed Meyers Leonard of Illinois. Leonard was the 11th overall selection in the 2012 NBA draft, taken by Portland.

Berggren is averaging 11.7 points and 6.9 rebounds this season. He also has 47 blocks for the 17-8 Badgers.

Marquette point guard Junior Cadougan was not invited to the PIT, although he could still possibly be invited if some other players opt out or get injured.

The PIT runs from April 10-13.

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Bucks officials are breathing a sigh of relief. Larry Sanders, who has been sidelined with a bruised back and got a second opinion on the injury, learned Thursday that his test results were negative.

The 24-year-old Sanders has emerged as one of the NBA’s elite defenders, averaging 3.2 blocked shots and 8.5 rebounds. He has missed the last four games.

While doctors have cleared Sanders to play, he still is sore and his availability for the Bucks’ first game after the All-Star break — Tuesday against the Nets in Brooklyn — is unknown.

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Contrary to an ESPN report, the Bucks didn’t make a formal offer to Brandon Jennings while he was negotiating for a contract extension. According to two individuals, Bucks officials and Jennings’ former agent, Bill Duffy, did nothing more than exchange ideas.

ESPN reported the Bucks had offered Jennings a four-year, $40 million extension. That would be somewhat comparable to what some other young guards agreed to, including Philadelphia’s Jrue Holiday (four years, $44 million), Golden State’s Stephen Curry (four years, $44 million) and Denver’s Ty Lawson (four years, $48M).

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With the NBA trading deadline Thursday, the Bucks have been exploring their many options.

Some league officials claim the Bucks are willing to deal virtually anyone on their roster, although they say Monta Ellis, who has an opt-out after this season, and center Samuel Dalembert, who has an expiring contract, appear the most likely candidates to be traded.

Jennings, who has played horribly lately after switching agents (Duffy to Jeff Schwartz), has also been mentioned in trade whispers.

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I’ve heard for a few weeks now that Boston is salivating over Atlanta forward Josh Smith and would be receptive to unloading Brandon Bass and Jeff Green to obtain him.

It’s no secret Brooklyn wouldn’t mind Smith, either. The Nets, some league officials insist, apparently are offering forward Kris Humphries and swingman MarShon Brooks.

One team that hasn’t been publicly mentioned in the Smith Sweepstakes is Milwaukee, although there are whispers the Bucks are interested. The Bucks are in position to offer the Hawks as good of a deal as anyone for Smith, especially if Jennings or Ellis is involved. Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova, whom the Nets seriously courted during free agency last summer and are still interested in, could also come into play.

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Since his ouster in Milwaukee last month, ex-Bucks coach Scott Skiles has been hanging out in Bloomington, Ind., where Indiana University is located.

Interestingly, when Skiles became the Bucks coach five years ago, he bought his house from Tom Crean, Indiana’s head coach.

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Knicks forward Steve Novak, the former Brown Deer High School and Marquette University standout, is tabbed a co-favorite to win the 3-point contest during All-Star weekend in Houston. Bovada lists Novak’s and Stephen Curry’s odds of winning at 5/2.

Bovada has Portland’s Damian Lillard (at 13/2) to be the Rising Stars Challenge Most Valuable Player.

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Ellis, Jennings and Ilyasova aren’t the only enticing trade pieces for the Bucks. Beno Udrih ($7.8M), Dalembert ($6.7M) and Mike Dunleavy ($3.8M) all have expiring contracts.

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Let’s say Bucks big man Drew Gooden isn’t overly concerned about whether he gets traded by the deadline. After all, Gooden has been dScottealt five times at the deadline during his 11-year pro career.

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