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MILWAUKEE -- After a long and rather uneventful offseason, the Milwaukee Bucks reconvened on Sunday for their annual media day. Training camp and practices begin Monday, followed by a trip to Abu Dhabi for two preseason games against the Atlanta Hawks early next month. Once they return from overseas, it will be time to begin another new season. 

Over the course of the day, players, head coach Mike Budenholzer and members of the front office discussed a number of topics, ranging from Khris Middleton's health status to their championship aspirations. 

Here's a round-up of some of the most interesting and important comments: 

Middleton won't be back for opening night

In the first round of the playoffs last season, Khris Middleton suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his knee and did not play again. Many inside and outside of the organization believe that if he was healthy the team could have beaten the Boston Celtics in the second round, and perhaps won back-to-back titles. 

That injury has long since healed, but Middleton's health is still a concern heading into this season. In the middle of July, Middleton underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist and is not expected to be ready for opening night. 

"The wrist injury happened sometime around All-Star break," Middleton said. "I just felt it during one game and it never went away. Wasn't too painful, just something that had to be fixed at some point. In regards to this season I don't think I'll be ready for the start of the season but hopefully soon after that.

"I would just say hopefully close to the start of the season. It's just one of those things where you have to feel it out, listen to my doctor, listen to my PT guy and go from there. Hopefully I won't miss too much of the season."

The good news for Middleton and the Bucks is that he was able to continue conditioning and strength work all summer and should be pretty close to game shape once he's cleared to get back on the court. It's obviously not ideal for him to miss training camp and the beginning of the season, but this is a veteran group that has spent so many years together and it won't be an issue to reintegrate him. 

Continuity, continuity, continuity

Time and again in this league we've seen teams make big changes after a disappointing early playoff exit. The Bucks decided to go the other way and are running it back with nearly the exact same roster. Heading into training camp they have 16 returning players, with Joe Ingles and first-round pick MarJon Beauchamp as the only new faces. 

Budenholzer said that is "by a decent number a record for me in my almost 30 years in the NBA." Both Budenholzer and GM Jon Horst spoke of the difficulty of keeping an experienced, high-level team together, and the excitement from having done so. 

"It's really hard to keep a good team together," Budenholzer said. "When you're winning at a high level, teams want your players, they come and take your players. I just can't say enough about how excited we are that we were able – if you have a really good team to keep it together. And it's because we believe in it. We've got a lot of runs with some of these guys… I think it speaks mostly to the belief and the quality of the players… We feel blessed; we have a really good team and now we have to get to work and be our best."

The players, likewise, were pleased with the front office's decision to bring back the team for another run. 

"Having everybody back puts us ahead," Jrue Holiday said. "Being comfortable with each other, fighting with each other during training camp and even before that – everybody pretty much being back here playing pick up and working out together gives us that camaraderie early… It's a good feeling, that's probably the first time in my career where damn near the whole team came back."

"I think we have something like 16 guys back, it's great," Giannis Antetokounmpo added. "I love playing with people that I have played with before and I know where they want, where they need the ball, how they operate, what kind of people they are. I think in the NBA some years you always build new relationships and once you're in the peak of that relationship and you figure out how to play with that guy, maybe he moves to a different team… "It's good to have the same people around. I think we are a team full of great human beings, great players."

While other Eastern Conference contenders have brought back their cores, no other team has this level of continuity up and down the roster. That should give the Bucks an edge, especially at the start of the season. And given how tight the race for seeding in the East figures to be, it could be the difference between home-court advantage in the first few rounds of the playoffs. 

Ingles arrives

One of the few new players in Milwaukee this season is veteran forward Joe Ingles, who signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the club in free agency. He won't actually be on the court any time soon, however, as he's still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the middle of last season. 

"We love guys with size and versatile skill sets," GM Jon Horst said. "He's big, he can shoot, he can pass, he's tough, he's been an above-average defender, he's a really smart defender. Just another playmaker and he's a high-character guy… He's played a lot of playoff basketball and we were really excited to get him."

Given his age (he'll turn 35 next month) and injury status, it's unclear how big of a role Ingles will play once he returns. But regardless of how many minutes he's out there each night, his shooting, playmaking and understanding of the game will give the Bucks' offense a big boost. 

He's a career 40.8 percent 3-point shooter and has averaged four-plus assists four different times as a point forward. The Bucks' lack of offensive creation and shot-making outside of their big three (Giannis, Middleton, Holiday) was glaring in their loss to the Celtics last season and Ingles should help alleviate that issue. Of course, that all hinges on him being healthy and ready for significant minutes in the playoffs. 

It's unclear when Ingles will play again, and he didn't want to commit to any sort of timeline. Neither did Horst, who said it's too early in the process to know for sure,  but did note that a January return is more realistic than December. 

"Just gonna keep taking it week-by-week at the moment and trying to tick these boxes off as we go," Ingles said. "Obviously the end goal is to get out there as soon as possible, with saying that as healthy as I can as well. There's been some ups and downs for sure, probably downs that I'd never thought I'd go through but it's a part of the process. It comes with the job, injuries, and hopefully my injuries are behind me now and I can go ahead and help this team."

Giannis' status in the game

In the last four seasons, Giannis Antetokounmpo has won a title, two MVPs, a Finals MVP, had two more top-four MVP finishes, won Defensive Player of the Year, made four All-NBA First Teams, four All-Defensive First Teams and four All-Star Games. 

Last season he averaged 29.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.4 blocks, registering his second 29/10/5/1 season; no other player officially has one (Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar likely would make the list if blocks were a recorded stat in their day). Despite coming up short against the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs, he put up historic numbers in that series, registering a triple-double and three 40-point, 10-rebound games. 

"Playoff basketball is when everything becomes more and more difficult and it becomes harder and harder," Budenholzer said. "For him to raise his game in that moment, in that time, it speaks to just the growth of his game. His ability to play in the halfcourt, his ability to read the defense, play and score and be efficient against a very, very good defensive team in Boston.

"You think he's gonna continue to improve and continue and get better and be even more prepared for the playoffs when they come this season. To do it in those times when basketball is at its hardest it really speaks to where he's at as a player."

At this stage in his career he is widely recognized as the best player in the game. When CBS Sports' annual NBA top 100 players list was released earlier this month, he checked in at No. 1. But for all his accomplishments and production, he doesn't believe he's at the top of the mountain right now, saying the honor belongs to Steph Curry for leading the Golden State Warriors to a championship last season. 

"Do I believe that I'm one of the best players in the league in the way I help my team be great and win games? "Yeah I do," Giannis said. "I'm mature enough, I'm old enough to understand that. Do I believe I'm the best in the world? No. I think the best player in the world is the person that is the last one standing, the person that takes his team to the finish line and helps them win games and become champion.

"Two years ago when we did that, yeah, when I was sleeping in my bad I was like 'Ah yeah, maybe I'm the best player in the world.' But now, no. In my opinion, the way I view it, the winner is the best. The guy who wins is the best... I believe that the best player in the world is Steph Curry until the next player."

That answer felt a bit strategic, a way to deflect attention for himself and his team, but even at his self-effacing best, Giannis acknowledged he is one of the game's best. There's no reason to expect that will change any time soon. 

Championship expectations

The Bucks were one of the favorites to win it all last season before Middleton's injury, and nearly beat the eventual Eastern Conference champs without him. It's little surprise, then, that after bringing back the entire team they are once again one of the main contenders. Per Caesars Sportsbook, they have the third-best title odds at +650 behind only the Celtics and Warriors. 

"We all feel if we had a healthy team we had a very good chance to win," Bucks co-owner Wes Edens said. "The bulk of what we had last year is back this year, we have Ingles and a few new additions to it but the core is young and very talented and if we're healthy come next spring we think we have a really, really good chance to compete and win another one."

That mindset runs from the top of the organization all the way down through the front office, the players and the staff. The primary objective in Milwaukee is to get back to the top and win another championship. 

"I've won two MVPs which gave me a lot of joy and I'm a very competitive person, I always try to be better, come back more improved, more motivated," Giannis said. "But the joy that winning a championship for this city was 20 times more. I just try to focus as much as I can to get that, to help my team win a trophy.

"A lot of people are gonna have expectations for us, we might achieve it, we might not. But at the end of the day it's what our goals are, which is to win a championship. So any expectation out there it doesn't really matter because as a group that's all we think about."