The possibility of Deron Williams and the league’s top tier crossing the Atlantic to play their professional ball has all but consumed the day-to-day NBA chatter, but even the most solid bits of news on the subject come with a lack of permanence. Williams isn’t going to play in Turkey for the rest of his career; he’s playing ball, making some money, and applying pressure on the NBA’s owners, but his aspirations are to come back to the good ol’ US of A and pick up where he left off as soon as the lockout is resolved. There’s no real threat to the NBA product we’ve come to know and love because the domestic and foreign basketball products are functionally non-competitive.
However, a select group of NBAers, most of which are European or at the very least have experience playing professionally overseas, may potentially play the lockout waiting game by different rules. Such is the case with Milwaukee’s Ersan Ilyasova, who reportedly has agreed to a three-year deal with Fenerbahce Ulker that could keep him in his native Turkey without a contractual out to return to the NBA anytime soon (link via BrewHoop).
The reports detailing Ilyasova’s deal are still a bit shaky at this point, and as they’re confirmed and clarified we should have a better idea of his long-term intentions. His potential departure wouldn’t leave the Bucks in a particularly bad spot from a positional standpoint (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Drew Gooden, Jon Brockman, and Larry Sanders are all capable of filling minutes at power forward), but Ilyasova is nonetheless a young, solid rotation player. It does the Bucks no good to lose him outright, and though his production can largely be replaced, this would still be an unfortunate development for a franchise that can’t afford all that many bad breaks.
The Bucks aren’t a team with a ton of luxuries; they’re coming off of a terribly disappointing season, and though a healthy Andrew Bogut would do Milwaukee a lot of good, the team is still in a bit of a tough spot. Their pre-draft trade for Stephen Jackson, Beno Udrih, and Shaun Livingston helped to brighten the Bucks’ financial outlook, but they’re still a team without many clear avenues for immediate improvement or spare assets. They don’t need Ilyasova per se, but it sure couldn’t hurt to have him around, either as a player or a trade chip.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.