ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — After staying relatively healthy for the early part of training camp, the Milwaukee Bucks were down three key players at practice Wednesday.
Point guard Brandon Knight was limited due to a strained groin, while center Larry Sanders (illness) and forward Ersan Ilyasova (knee) were held out.
Ilyasova played 27 minutes Tuesday in Milwaukee’s loss at Cleveland whereas Sanders and Knight have been out since Saturday. Knight was able to do a bit more at practice Wednesday, but he said his participation was minimal.
The Bucks will practice again Thursday before traveling to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to face the Minnesota Timberwolves in an exhibition game Friday.
"We’ll see how it goes," Knight said of when he expects to return. "I’m not exactly sure the timeline. Every day I’ll just keep doing more and see how it goes."
Knight said he suffered a more severe groin strain while in high school and isn’t concerned or worried that this strain will keep him on the sidelines for long. He first felt the injury while trying to explode for a steal in Saturday’s exhibition loss to the Bulls.
The 22-year-old battled a sore left hamstring during training camp last season before straining his right hamstring in the regular-season opener.
"I’m just happy it is nothing serious," Knight said. "For what I have, I think there’s a lot of time. Nothing that I’m really worried about."
If Knight is unable to play against the Timberwolves, Bucks coach Jason Kidd will have an opportunity to evaluate the other point guards on his roster. He started 6-foot-11 Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard Tuesday, while Nate Wolters and Jerryd Bayless played off the bench. Kendall Marshall was designated as the player to be a healthy scratch against the Cavaliers.
Point guard is one of the many positions or roles Kidd has to settle in the next few weeks.
"Kendall has been great," Kidd said. "I thought Bayless’ energy (Tuesday) was great. Nate, coming off his injury, I thought he looked good (Tuesday) too. We have guys that are playing well when they are in the game.
"It is a matter of there’s not enough time. There’s only 40 minutes and you can’t play them all. Last night Kendall sat for us to give different looks."
Experimenting: The NBA announced Tuesday that the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics will play a 44-minute exhibition game on Oct. 19 to "study the flow of a shorter game."
To reduce the game from the standard 48 minutes to 44, each quarter will be 11 minutes in length instead of 12.
"I don’t like it," Bucks forward Jared Dudley said. "It limits the role players, less minutes for them. It degrades their value."
Knight agreed that there’s no reason for the NBA to experiment with the length of individual games.
"For me, I think it should be what it has been throughout history," Knight said. "I don’t see why you would change it. If the greats and past players have played 48 minutes, we should keep it. I just say you keep it at 48."
While understanding the odds of a reduced schedule happening are slim due to the money and revenue that would be lost, Dudley feels cutting back on the number of games, especially back-to-backs, would have a greater impact.
"I think fans wouldn’t complain if there were 65 or 70 games," Dudley said. "If you shrink the minutes (in a game) it means less commercials too. That would be money lost too.
"I don’t think players are complaining about four minutes. I think you could eliminate some of the back-to-backs. The less back-to-backs would mean better quality of competition.
"I’m not saying go from 82 games to 62. 20 games might be too drastic, but if you went from 82 to 70, I don’t think it would be that big of a difference."
The number of back-to-backs — the Bucks will play on consecutive days 20 times this season — seems to be the biggest concern of players across the league.
"That’s always a concern, because we want to play forever," Knight said. "As players, we just have to find ways to limit stress on the body. The season is what it is. It has been that way. You have to know when your body needs a break."