Ersan Ilyasova reportedly wants out of Milwaukee

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Ersan Ilyasova is Milwaukee’s longest tenured player. He’s been there for the mediocre times, and he’s been there for the slightly worse than mediocre times.

Over the course of five and a half seasons, the 26 year old forward has had ample opportunity to see exactly how the Bucks operate on every level.

Basically, Ilyasova has seen some real…stuff. Perhaps he’s finally seen enough, in fact, as reported here in the Journal Times.

According to multiple sources, Ilyasova has expressed a desire to be traded, apparently having had his fill of the Bucks’ continual rebuilding project.

Ilyasova downplayed talk about him wanting out of Milwaukee and declined to comment on whether he or his agent, Andy Miller, had requested a trade.

Ilyasova made it clear, though, the Bucks’ revolving door policy with players has irritated him.

“The thing I’m upset about is each year, each season, we go through the same thing,” Ilyasova said. “Last year, we make the playoffs and now we start all over again. That’s really frustrating.

You’ll excuse Ilyasova for not fully understanding what plagues the Bucks. He’s been conditioned to believe that playoff appearances where you get swept by a half-awake Miami Heat team are the goal to strive for.

Milwaukee’s issues don’t stem from “starting all over again”, either. Teams that are starting over don’t sign O.J. Mayo, Gary Neal and Zaza Pachulia to a combined $16.5 million in salary in the offseason with no plan in place. Teams that are starting over don’t trade for the ghost of Caron Butler. The issue isn’t losing guys like Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis; it’s trying to replace them through the free agency minefield.

The Bucks refuse to bottom out and try to acquire any real difference-makers, and this is the result. They’re on the right path (for now) thanks to pure incompetence (thanks pure incompetence!) and injuries, but it’s understandable if Ilyasova doesn’t want to stick around to see how it plays out.

Ilyasova has three years and $24.2 million left on his deal, though, so moving him might not be so simple. Even if Milwaukee is willing to part with him, which they absolutely should be, Ilyasova’s value hasn’t been this low in quite some time, as he’s shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 29.3 percent from behind the arc while providing his usual brand of matador defense. Long-term investments are scary, and Ilyasova is streaky, injury prone, and basically all the things you don’t want a lengthy investment to be.

That being said, you have to imagine Ilyasova would benefit from playing anywhere that’s not Milwaukee at this point. Other teams realize this, and it sounds like Ilyasova is beginning to realize that himself.

You’d like to think that someone in Milwaukee’s organization would tell Ilyasova that things have to get worse before they get better, that it’s darkest before the dawn and whatnot, but that would require a certain amount of self-awareness that’s completely non-existent in that organization. Get out now and don’t ever look back, Ersan.

Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas undergoes surgery on dislocated thumb, out a month

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It was clear it was bad when it happened. Not because of the violence of the play by Draymond Green — no foul was called, and the hand is part of the ball by rule in these cases — but because of Jonas Valanciunas‘ reaction. The man was in a lot of pain.

With 8 minutes to go in the second quarter of the Raptors win Wednesday night, Valanciunas got the ball with Green on him and decided to back down the smaller player, Green reached in and swiped down knocking the ball away but getting Valanciunas’ hand in the process.

Thursday the Raptors announced that Valanciunas had surgery on his dislocated left thumb and will be out at least a month.

This is a blow to the Raptors’ frontline depth, although they still have plenty of talent up front. Serge Ibaka starts most nights at center, and at times the Raptors go small and put breakout player Pascal Siakam at the five. However, Valanciunas is their matchup for other bigger, more traditional centers, or sometimes coach Nick Nurse tries him to force a mismatch. Valanciunas is averaging 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a night playing nearly 19 minutes a night, the Raptors defense is 3 points per 100 possessions better, and the Raptors outscore opponents by 5.4 per 100 when he is on the court. It will not be easy to fill his minutes.

The Raptors are 23-7 and the team in first place in the East having just knocked off the Clippers and Warriors in back-to-back nights on the road. They look like contenders, but they could use Valanciunas to help them get through the regular season (he’s harder to play in the postseason, but we’re not there yet).

 

Hornets owner Michael Jordan: Smacking Malik Monk was ‘tap of endearment’

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Hornets owner Michael Jordan smacked guard Malik Monk on the back head of the head, because Monk prematurely ran on the court to celebrate Jeremy Lamb‘s game-winner against the Pistons last night. Charlotte received a technical foul for having too many men on the court, but held on for the victory.

Zach Aldridge of WCCB:

Some people took affront to Jordan putting his hands on Monk – to the point Jordan explained himself.

Associated Press:

Hornets owner Michael Jordan says lightly smacking the back of second-year guard Malik Monk’s head in closing seconds of Wednesday night’s win against the Pistons was a “tap of endearment.”

The Hornets owner, says “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!”

I doubt any other NBA owner could have gotten away with that.

But Jordan isn’t any other NBA owner.

He’s a former player, widely respected as the greatest of all-time. He’s black. He’s just 55, younger than most of his owner peers.

Jordan and Monk can relate in a way other owners and players can’t.

The power dynamic still isn’t balanced. Jordan is Monk’s boss. When initially watching the exchange, I worried Jordan crossed a line.

But both Jordan and Monk laughed it off. I believe this truly was acceptable in the context of their relationship.

LeBron James on consideration given to signing with Rockets: ‘Not much’

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For a while, it seemed LeBron Jamesfinalists in free agency last summer were the Lakers, Cavaliers, 76ers and Rockets.

LeBron obviously signed with the Lakers. Cleveland remains special to him. His agent met with Philadelphia.

And then there’s Houston.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

The Rockets – led by Chris Paul – reportedly recruited LeBron hard.

But LeBron reportedly previously said he didn’t like Houston as a city, and at this point, it’s impossible escape lifestyle as a key consideration for the superstar. He clearly enjoys Los Angeles.

I doubt LeBron regrets dropping the Rockets from consideration early. The main appeal would have been their direction path to championship contention, but they’ve been the NBA’s most disappointing team this season.

Which makes it even easier for LeBron to dismiss his Houston consideration.

2018 NBA playoff teams get new alternate jerseys (photos)

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Did your favorite team or player make the playoffs last season?

Well, someone thinks that might have you invested enough to buy yet another jersey.

Aaron Dodson of The Undefeated:

The Bucks jersey is the best – despite the advertisement patch intruding on the otherwise minimalist look. Milwaukee would be the runaway winner without the ad.

As is, I also really like the Pelicans, Pacers and Heat. I suspect Miami’s fuchsia Miami Vice edition will draw the most attention.

A few of these are rather plain, and that’s always disappointing in an alternate jersey. But I particularly dislike the Cavaliers and Spurs jerseys.