(WNFL) - Many pre-season pundits have the Milwaukee Bucks missing the N-B-A playoffs and heading toward the Draft Lottery -- where a strong field of college talent awaits next June. However, Bucks' owner Herb Kohl vowed yesterday not to tank games to grab a higher draft spot. Kohl introduced his 15 players to a group of business leaders attending the Bucks' annual Tip-Off Luncheon. Milwaukee finished eighth in the Eastern Conference a year ago, and was quickly swept from the first-round of the playoffs by the two-time defending league champion Miami Heat. The Bucks responded by bringing in an existing N-B-A head coach, Larry Drew of Atlanta, and 11 new players. Fourth-year center Larry Sanders highlights the returning players. Racine native Caron Butler, a two-time All-Star, is among the new veterans. The Bucks' first-round draft choice, forward Giannis Antetokoumnpo (yah-niss ante-toe-koom'-po) of Greece, turned some heads with solid play during the pre-season. Kohl said all the new players were brought in for one reason -- to win games.Bucks' power forward Ersan Ilyasova practiced yesterday for the first time since he sprained his right ankle in an exhibition at Cleveland October eighth. If all goes well at practice today, Ilyasova could be ready for tomorrow night's regular season opener in New York against the Knicks. He made it through a five-on-five scrimmage yesterday. Ilyasova says he feels much better, and his return to the lineup is a day-to-day proposition for now. Meanwhile, two other Bucks' starters returned to practice yesterday. Point guard Brandon Knight was out for most of last week with a bad hamstring, and small forward Caron Butler is coming off a sprained left ankle. Coach Larry Drew joked that he didn't recognized some of the faces on the practice floor -- but he was glad to see everyone back. Drew says he'll have both a big lineup and a small lineup ready for a Knicks' team which has also had pre-season injury problems. Power forward Amare Stoudemire did not play in an exhibition loss to the Bucks last week. Forward Kenyon Martin returned last weekend, and he's expected to play in tomorrow night's opener.
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