Although the Milwaukee Bucks are facing an injury crisis and need all the bodies they can get, they will be without two of their young players for a little while. The team announced that they have assigned Georgios Kalaitzakis and transferred Sandro Mamukelashvili to the Wisconsin Herd, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic.
Kalaitzakis didn’t play much through the first four regular-season games for the Bucks, playing a total of 20 minutes across three games. In those garbage time minutes, the 22-year-old posted 2.7 points and 1.7 rebounds per game and made three of his seven shots. It was always unlikely that he’d play significant minutes early on, but the writing was on the wall for the 60th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft when he wasn’t getting minutes during this stretch of injuries.
The opposite can be said about Mamukelashvili, who played more than expected this early in the season due to the rash of injuries that the Bucks have sustained. He’s played in all four games, averaging about 12.5 minutes per game (50 minutes total), and posted 3.5 points and 2.0 rebounds. He has looked overmatched at times, but that’s to be expected from rookies, especially second-rounders.
Instant reactions to the Milwaukee Bucks assigning Sandro Mamukelashvili and Georgios Kalaitzakis to the Wisconsin Herd
Let’s start with how this impacts the Bucks in the short term because we’re all about the here and now. Kalaitzakis isn’t much of a loss to the Bucks rotation as he couldn’t even crack it with the Bucks desperately needing minutes from wherever they could get them.
Mamukelashvili is the more interesting one being sent to the Herd as the G League affiliate begins training camp today. Due to the Bucks needing any semblance of help in the frontcourt, Mamukelashvili was thrust into a small rotational role where he’d play actual minutes outside of garbage time. It was a pretty limited role, never seeing more than 10 minutes in a game except against the Miami Heat where it was a blowout early and he saw over 27 minutes.
He looked especially overmatched against the Pacers and their dominant frontcourt duo in Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. However, he was still a big body that provided an interior presence offensively when the Bucks sorely needed it. So from that angle, it’s a bit of a surprise.
However, this is also a good sign for the Bucks’ health that they’re willing to send Mamukelashvili down as they begin a three-game homestand tomorrow against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Before their game against the Indiana Pacers, Bobby Portis was not listed on the injury report but ended up not playing (a similar situation happened with Rodney Hood as well).
This likely means that Portis is going to be available and ready to play against the T’Wolves while also being potential good news for the health of Brook Lopez, who hasn’t played since the season-opening win against the Brooklyn Nets with back soreness. Head coach Mike Budenholzer said that Lopez would be out for the entirety of the three-game road trip the Bucks just concluded, so the Bucks may be getting some badly needed reinforcements.
It is interesting that they didn’t send down Justin Robinson, their other two-way contract player and I wonder if that says a little bit about the health of Jrue Holiday after he sat out against the Pacers with an ankle sprain. It could also be about keeping an extra ball-handler on the roster as Robinson has looked surprisingly decent in his minutes.
Long term, this is a good move for the development of both players. Kalaitzakis wasn’t going to get rotation minutes with the Bucks at any point and that was clear from this four-game stretch. He’s still very raw offensively and although he competes on defense, that’s not enough to crack the rotation at this point.
Mamukelashvili wasn’t going to be able to show his full complement of skills playing spot rotation minutes like he has been and it’ll be good for him to develop his unique passing and ball-handling skills in the G League where his development will be the priority. It was good that he got some experience against the best competition in the world, but for his long-term future, going to the G League would be best.
It was a positive first few games in Mamukelashvili’s NBA career and it looks like the Bucks could have a potential rotation player on their hands if they handle his development properly. He has shown a good feel for getting offensive rebounds and his playmaking skills are very unique for a player of his size.
I hope we get to see more from Mamukelashvili and Kalaitzakis with the Herd as they appear to be intriguing prospects. If even one of them can turn into a decent rotation player like Jordan Nwora has, the Bucks will have yet another cheap rotation option which is key for contending teams to stay at the top.
Good luck to both Mamukelashvili and Kalaitzakis as they start training camp with the Herd and we look forward to them being back with the Bucks again soon.