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Light-hearted Bucks keep good vibe going with group chat
6:06 PM ET
  • Eric WoodyardESPN

Nearly two months have passed since members of the Milwaukee Bucks last suited up for an actual game. However, the NBA’s best team remains in regular contact via group chat.

All except for brothers Brook and Robin Lopez.

Why? Because they don’t own iPhones.

“I have an Android,” Robin Lopez admitted while laughing during Tuesday’s video conference call with reporters. “So I’m kind of out of the loop on something like that.”

Like other teams throughout the league, the Bucks are staying in shape with in-home workouts while under quarantine and remaining optimistic about the resumption of the NBA season.

If the season doesn’t resume, Bucks guard Pat Connaughton doesn’t see this as a missed opportunity because he believes the franchise is trying to sustain long-term success and not be labeled as a one-hit wonder, so to speak.

“The chemistry that we built throughout the first however many games it was, wasn’t something that was built to only last for that,” Connaughton said. “I’ve kind of said a few things similar. Everyone’s contract situation is different, but I do believe Milwaukee and the Bucks in general has built something that will hopefully last for years to come, not just a one-and-done thing.

“So, I think that keeps everybody optimistic. Obviously, we want to finish what we started this year and we want to get back out there and we want to try to compete for a championship, but I do believe that it’s not ‘this was our year to do it.’ I think it’s bigger than that. It’s being built for the future. It’s being built for the next few years and years to come and things of that nature, so I think all of us are optimistic and hopeful that it will happen. I think the NBA is doing everything that they can to try to make it happen as well as the players’ association.”

All of the messages are in blue bubbles inside Milwaukee’s iPhone-only group chat. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is the funnyman of the bunch.

“Giannis actually has a lot of jokes in the group chat,” guard Eric Bledsoe said.

The Bucks are a light-hearted bunch, even implementing a WWE-style pregame routine before each contest. So it makes sense that they would enjoy communicating in this fashion as opposed to formal video calls like other organizations. It’s better that way for things to remain authentic to them within the circle.

“We’re confident in the chemistry that we’ve built,” Connaughton said. “We’re confident in the relationships that we have with each other on the team and I don’t think it’s tied to having to do Zoom calls every week to stay in touch. I feel like that can be forced from time to time.

“There’s never really been a time where you can get away without knowing what’s going to happen, so I think to a degree, maybe slightly different than the Dennis Rodman vacation, but to a degree there is a good thing.”

Milwaukee has $129 million in committed salary for next season, $10 million below the tax threshold, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

The Bucks can offer Antetokounmpo the supermax immediately, and if he doesn’t accept, can then plan to play out the 2020-21 season with him on an expiring contract unless he demands a trade. They also have free-agent decisions with several players this offseason: Kyle Korver, Marvin Williams and Connaughton are unrestricted; Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez have player options; and Sterling Brown is restricted.

Milwaukee also could be impacted if there is a decrease to the salary cap as a result of the loss in revenue due to the pandemic.

When guys are able to return to the team’s practice facility and continue playing basketball, the Lopez brothers will have missed out on the jokes, FaceTime calls and other comments within the group chat. It doesn’t bother them one bit, though.

“We’re the weird twins in our own little corner,” Robin said, laughing.

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