Scott Skiles and the Milwaukee Bucks, a couple a lot of people expected to break up this summer, decided that it was better to do it now rather than later. Skiles is out. It was not a firing, it was a mutual decision, both sides were ready to move on.
Which puts Jim Boylan in the big chair for a 16-16 Bucks team eyeing the playoffs in the East.
Boylan once took over for the Bulls in mid-season so he has some experience at it. And he’s already making some changes.
Like starting Ersan Ilyasova.
“I’m putting Ersan in the starting lineup and take Ekpe (Udoh) out,” Boylan told the Bucks official Web site. “Try to get Ersan a few more minutes, get him more comfortable out there. He’s a vital part of our success.”
Ilyasova has been playing nearly 23 minutes a game, giving them 9 points and 5.6 rebounds a game, plus shooting 39.7 percent from three. Ekpe Udoh was getting more than 20 minutes a game and giving them 4.9 points a game and he didn’t venture out near the arc and space the floor.
Look at it this way: The Bucks are +8.5 per 48 minutes when Ilyasova is on the court, and -1 when Udoh is (via 82games.com). Giving more run to the guy that helps you team win seems a prudent first move.
It’s really pretty simple long-term for Boylan — if you want the job prove you can win with this roster. The Bucks are currently tied with the Celtics for the seven and eight seeds in the East, and that would be a Celtics team looking like it might find its groove with Avery Bradley back. The Bucks are 2.5 games up on the current nine seed Sixers and five up on three other teams (Raptors, Pistons and Magic). They are in position to make the playoffs if they don’t backslide.
Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.
Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.
This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.
The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.
Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.
McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.
McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.
If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?
Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.
It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.
The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.
The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.
But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.
Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.
Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.