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NBA PM: Does Jimmer Fredette Fit in Chicago?

If Jimmer Fredette signs with the Chicago Bulls as expected, will he fit in with the defensive-minded team? … Pau Gasol would take less money to play for a contender next season

Joel Brigham



What Jimmer Fredette Would Mean for Chicago

All day long on Friday, smart NBA people and trusted NBA reporters speculated that former Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette would end up with the Chicago Bulls for at least the remainder of the 2013-14 season. The transaction is far from official, but it really looks like Fredette will end up with Chicago as long as he clears waivers.

From a money standpoint for the Bulls, there would be zero risk involved in such an acquisition, but how, exactly, would Fredette’s skill set work under head coach Tom Thibodeau? It’s a question worth asking because for every potential positive there seems to be an equally important caveat. Jimmer is a buzzy name destined to be a fan-favorite in Chicago, but it’s fair to wonder how well he’ll actually fit on that roster.

First, the good stuff: Despite only playing 11.3 minutes per game this season, Fredette is nailing a three-point shot per game at a 49.3 percent clip. He’s a really good shooter, but his mojo has been a bit stunted in his third season in the league because of inconsistent playing time. He can get hot, which he proved as a star at Brigham Young University, where he averaged just shy of 30 points per game his junior season. But in the NBA, that heat hasn’t been as commonplace as the Kings would have hoped.

Those big college scoring numbers made him a lottery pick in 2011, but in a crowded guard rotation in Sacramento, he never really was handed the keys to the Kings’ castle. For the Bulls, though, with Derrick Rose out for the year and Kirk Hinrich losing steam weekly, there’s a great opportunity for Fredette to shine in Chicago. This is the place where point guards go to revive their careers (see: Nate Robinson and D.J. Augustin), so there’s a good chance that Fredette will see a huge bump in minutes and could very well have a good measure of success once he’s given the opportunity to see more consistent playing time.

It’s also worth noting that the Kings loved Fredette as a person. He’s a hard worker and a good human being, which fits well with the kind of personnel Chicago typically hires.

Defensively, however, Jimmer is no good. The Bulls are one of the league’s best defensive teams under Thibodeau, which has allowed them to hide bad perimeter defenders in the past (think Kyle Korver). However, with only about six weeks left of the regular season, it might not be all that easy to teach a bad defender the rotations in so short a time. He’s also not especially athletic, nor does he create his own shot or handle the ball particularly well.

There are clear deficiencies here, but since the Bulls are 27th in the league in three-point percentage and dead last in points scored, their primary concern right now is adding some help on the offensive end of the basketball court. That’s a place where Jimmer can do some damage, and should the Bulls sign him as expected, they’ll want him to step in immediately to start chipping away at those shortcomings.

Financially, the Bulls would give Fredette a pro-rated portion of the league minimum salary, which is enough to keep them comfortably under the luxury tax threshold this season. Currently only $600,000 short of that number, the Bulls aren’t likely to pursue a 14th player because of some uncertainty about a potential bonus for Taj Gibson, who could earn some extra cash for making one of the All-Defensive Teams. It’s not likely that he will make it since he’s a reserve, but the All-Defensive Second Team isn’t completely out of the question, so if Chicago were to sign a 14th player and Gibson were to earn his bonus, the Bulls would go over the luxury tax for a second consecutive year. The amount they’d be over would be tiny, but it would bump up their repeat taxpayer status unnecessarily in a year when they’re clearly not competing for a championship.

The Bulls can, however, offer a deal beyond this current season, perhaps as a team option, but that’s not likely considering Fredette’s value couldn’t really be any lower than it currently is. A strong audition with Chicago for a couple of months could earn him a lot of money in free agency, so he’d have little incentive to sign any sort of longer-term contract (unless the second year was a player option as injury insurance).

The Bulls also aren’t going to commit guaranteed money that could eat into their cap space this summer. Carmelo Anthony is a pipe dream at this point, but every couple of million dollars that goes toward someone else lowers their chances at adding another star.

It’s not yet a done deal, but it appears imminent at this point that Fredette will end up in Chicago. The Bulls also expressed interest in free agents Caron Butler and Danny Granger, since they’ve needed small forward depth since trading away Luol Deng. However, Butler and Granger opted to join Western Conference contenders. So now the Bulls turn to Fredette, who is one of the most intriguing players currently available.

For Fredette, signing with the Bulls makes a lot of sense. He’s joining a playoff team with playing time available and a need for him to explode offensively. In other words, this is the best thing that could have happened to him. This looks like a match made in heaven, at least for the next 8-10 weeks.

Gasol Would Take Less Money for Chance to Win

The Los Angeles Lakers are, to put it bluntly, in a rough place this year, and at this point in a lost season it’s really easy for veteran players to get frustrated. For someone like Pau Gasol, who has championship rings, plenty of competitive drive and not a lot of peak years left in his career, the last six weeks of a losing season can be hard to swallow. But Gasol has never been the kind of guy to act out or cry about a raw deal.

In fact, he’s taking this frustrating year in Los Angeles pretty gracefully, even after not getting traded to a better team at the deadline last week.

“Here I am. I’m still here. I’ve been in L.A. for six and half seasons and I’m going to see out my contract here. I’m happy,” Gasol wrote for his personal website’s blog (translation courtesy of

“The trade deadline has passed. There’s good news and bad. The good news is I’m the master of my fate now. The bad news is it’s not for too long, until I sign my next contract, which is not really bad news, it’s just the way it is.”

Gasol doesn’t know what his future holds in L.A., but the way he talks it sounds like he’s interested in exploring his options as fully as possible when he hits free agency this summer.

“I’m a free agent with no restrictions,” he said. “That means I can go wherever I want. The Lakers don’t have any bargaining rights. My franchise has the chance of offering me more money and a longer contract, but that’s not all that’s going to matter as far as my decision.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that he wants out of L.A. In fact, he seems pretty open to a return.

“Honestly I’m not ruling out renewing my contract, I’m just open to every option,” Gasol said. “My decision will be based purely on sporting considerations. It couldn’t be any other way. I want to be in a team with a real chance of winning a ring and where I can help to compete for it. I would like to win another championship. The financial side comes second at this stage of my career.”

He may give up money to play in a winning situation next season, but for now he’s just trying to get through the rest of this season and prove he still has enough in the tank to contribute for a contender next year.

“From now until the end of the season I’ll focus on helping the team, as I always said,” Gasol said. “It’s a very delicate situation and I’ve just recovered from an injury, which came along at a very unfortunate time, like they always do. I know I always say this, but life’s like that. I always think of it this way: I try to do things the best way I can and I try to help my team to win. It’s simple. It’s real. I can’t lie, there’s a lot at stake in the next months. I want to keep playing at the highest level for many reasons.”

Gasol has had an incredible run in L.A., and with his stint there coming to an end soon, he appears to be as gracious and open-minded as he possibly could be at this point in his career. Older players, especially ones who have already won rings, can be like that. Whatever comes for Gasol next season, the Lakers have been lucky to have him on their side for so long. It’s just a pity that his last season with the team had to be so dismal.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.


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NBA Daily: Jonathan Isaac Proving to be Key Part of Orlando’s Future

Basketball Insiders spoke with Jonathan Isaac about his rookie season, injuries, areas to improve on, his faith and more.

James Blancarte



On January 13, the Orlando Magic were eliminated from playoff contention. This date served as a formality as the team has known for quite some time that any postseason hopes had long since sailed. The Magic started the year off on a winning note and held an 8-4 record in early November. However, the team lost their next nine games and never really recovered.

Many factors play a role in a young but talented team like the Magic having another season end like this. Injuries to franchise cornerstone Aaron Gordon as well as forward Evan Fournier and forward Jonathan Isaac magnified the team’s issues.

Isaac, a rookie selected sixth overall in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, started the season off reasonably well. On November 10, in 21 minutes of action, he registered an 11-point, six-rebound, one-assist, one-steal, two-block all-around effort against the Phoenix Suns to help the Magic get to that 8-4 record. Isaac then suffered an ankle injury midway through his next game and wouldn’t play again until December 17, by which time the team was already 11-20 with athe season quickly going sideways. From November until March, Isaac would only play in three games until finally returning to consistent action in the month of March with the season all but decided.

Basketball Insiders spoke to Isaac recently to discuss how he has pushed through this season, staying healthy, his impressive skill set and more.

“I’ve had a lot of time off from being injured so, I think my body is holding up fine along with how much I’ve played. I haven’t played a full season,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders “I feel good. I feel good.”

Isaac talked about what part of his game he feels strongly about and has improved on.

“I think defensively,” Isaac said. “I didn’t expect myself to make strides defensively like I have. I’ve been able to just be able to just do different things and help this team defensively and I didn’t expect that coming in so, that would be the one thing.”

Magic Head Coach Frank Vogel was effusive in his praise of Isaac’s defense and also focused on the rookie’s great defensive potential.

“His defense is out of this world. I mean it’s really something else,” Vogel said. “Just watch him play and everybody’s getting a taste of it right now. They haven’t seen him a whole lot but he’s an elite defender right now at 20-years old and the sky’s the limit for what he can be on that end of the floor.

While Isaac hasn’t logged a huge number of minutes on the floor this season, he has impressed in his limited action. As Coach Vogel stated, anyone who has taken the time to watch Isaac play this season has noticed his ability to guard other big men and his overall defensive impact.

“I think I’ve been able to do a good job on most of the people that I’ve had to guard,” Isaac said.

Missing Isaac’s defense impact and overall contributions partially explains why the Magic cooled off after their hot start. However, with the playoffs no longer an option, younger players like Isaac now have the opportunity to play with less attention and pressure. While it can be argued that the Magic aren’t really playing for anything, the truth is these late-season games can be an opportunity to develop these younger players and determine what to work on during the offseason.

There is more to Isaac than just basketball, however. Isaac discussed other parts of his life that are important to him, including religion and his faith.

“[M]y faith in Jesus is something that I put a lot of emphasis on,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a part of me.”

Isaac did not hesitate to credit his faith when asked if it helped him push through his injuries.

“I would say definitely,” Isaac said. “Especially with getting injured so early in the season and being out for 40 games. That’s a lot on somebody’s mental capacity and then just staying positive, staying joyful in times where joy doesn’t seem like it’s the right emotion to have. And I definitely [attribute] that to my faith.”

Looking forward, both Vogel and Isaac discussed the future and what the young big man can improve on.

“Offensively, he’s grown in confidence, he’s gained so he’s going to give us a big lift and our future’s bright with him,” Vogel stated.

Isaac gave a hint of his offseason training plans when asked what he looks forward to working on.

“I would say consistency with my jump shot. Really working on my three-ball and I would say ball-handling,” Isaac stated.

When asked if there was anything more he wanted to add, Isaac simply smiled and said, “Oh no, I think I got to get to church right now,” as the team prepared to play later that evening.

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Tyronn Lue’s Health Concerns Latest Bump In The Road For Cavaliers

Spencer Davies outlines Tyronn Lue’s decision to take a leave of absence to deal with health issues and covers the reaction around the NBA.

Spencer Davies



The win-loss record is not where they want it to be.

The performances have not been up to par with what they expect.

With that said, one thing is for certain: There is no other team that will have been more battle tested going into the playoffs than the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Day after day and week after week, there’s always something going on with the team. Between in-house arguments, on-court miscommunication, roster turnover, and more, it has been one giant roller coaster of a season.

Monday morning, another twist was added to the ride. In a statement released by the Cavaliers organization, Tyronn Lue and general manager Koby Altman announced that the head coach would be taking a leave of absence to address his health:

“After many conversations with our doctors and Koby and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season.

“I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is. While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team.

“I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards. I greatly appreciate Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, our medical team and the organization’s support throughout.”

There were multiple instances where Lue either missed part of a half or an entire game this season. The symptoms are definitely not to be taken lightly. According to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, Lue attempted to return to the bench Saturday night in Chicago but the team didn’t allow him to. Evidently, Lue was “coughing up blood” some nights.

Seeing it first hand after postgame press conferences, Lue was visibly exhausted and stress could likely be playing a part. He’s been fighting through the tough times the team has been going through and avoided stepping away twice this season.

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford had his own battle with health problems earlier this season and temporarily left the team for those reasons. He has attempted to reach out to Lue, a friend and former player of his.

Other head coaches around the league—Joe Prunty, Steve Kerr, and Luke Walton—have all gone to bat for Lue when discussing the rigors of an NBA schedule and the toll it takes.

Altman supports the decision for Lue to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

“We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues,” he said.

LeBron James is glad that Lue is going to take some time to get better.

“Obviously, health is the most important with everything in life,” James said Monday after shootaround. “Not surprised by it at all. I knew he was struggling, but he was never not himself. He was just dealing with it the best way he could, but he was never not himself when he was around.

“It doesn’t matter what’s going on here. We play a great sport, our coaches get to coach a great sport, and you guys get to cover a great sports. But health is most important right now and that’s what our coach is doing right now and we’re all in favor for it.”

The latest piece of news is a blow to the already injury-ridden Cleveland group. Assistant coach Larry Drew will take over duties until Lue returns.

The good news for the Cavaliers is that Kevin Love can potentially return to the mix as soon as Monday night against Milwaukee.

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NBA Daily: Calderón’s Late NBA Start

Jose Calderón might be the only player in the league who didn’t grow up dreaming of playing in the NBA.

Joel Brigham



There are a lot of different ways to get to the NBA, but most of them involve lifelong scouting and an unceasing dream to play in the world’s premier basketball league.

Cleveland Cavaliers guard José Calderón didn’t really have either of those things.

“I never even thought of the NBA when I was a kid,” Calderón told Basketball Insiders. “I grew up in a small town in Spain, and I played basketball because my dad played and I loved it. I was having fun, always playing with the older guys because I was good at that age, but I never really even thought about playing any sort of professional basketball.”

Having grown up in Villanueva de la Serena, Spain, Calderón watched his father play for Doncel La Serena, which was his hometown team as a child. He was something of a prodigy, having attended practices and games with his father from a young age, and as burgeoning teenager he left home to play professionally for the lower-level Vitoria-Gasteiz team.

“They wanted to sign me at 13 years old, and we didn’t even know that they could sign people that young,” Calderón remembers. “So I did that, and I tried to get better. I tried to advance into the older clubs, but I never really did think about the NBA at all, honestly.”

That changed as he got older, though, especially after Spain finished 5th in the 2002 FIBA World Championship and Calderón started to get some stateside recognition.

“After that summer, [my agent and I] got a call from Milwaukee asking about my situation, and asked would I think about coming to play over here. It was sort of a let’s-see-what-happens sort of situation, but I couldn’t at that time because I was under contract. That was the first time I was really approached.”

As his teammates from the Spanish National Team made their way to the NBA, Calderón grew increasingly intrigued.

“Pau Gasol obviously opened a lot of doors for us,” he said. “Raul Lopez came, too. I was just playing basketball, though. I didn’t know anything about scouts. Later, when we started to get the calls from Toronto, I started to realize how possible it really was. That’s when I thought, ‘Hey, why not?’”

Despite being eligible for a few drafts in a row, Calderón never did get drafted, which was fine by him. Growing up the way he did, Calderón never had any dreams of his hearing his name called by Commissioner Stern, so playing his way through most of his deal with TAU Vitoria was no big deal for him. He could take or leave the NBA.

“Not getting drafted was the perfect situation for me,” he said. “In my satiation, coming from Europe, I was already playing professionally for a good team and making some good money. That was perfect for me at the time, and I was happy to be a free agent at 23, choosing where I was going to sign instead of going in the second round and having to play for one team.”

He signed with the Raptors in 2005 since they were the most aggressive in recruiting him to the NBA. As a 23-year-old rookie, he wasn’t overwhelmed physically the way a lot of rookies are, but he did find his new league challenging in other ways.

“The hardest part was just having to start over,” he said. “You start over from zero. It doesn’t matter if the other players know you or don’t, you have to prove yourself all over again. You could be the MVP of Europe, but to get respect in the NBA you have to gain it on the court.”

The talent differential was immediately noticeable, as well.

“There are so many guys out there that are better than you. It’s not just like a guy or two; there are six, seven guys on the floor any given time that are better than you.”

That meant making some changes in the way that Calderón played. He was asked to do a lot more offensively for his EuroLeague team. Playing with so many talented scorers completely changed his approach.

“I went from taking 20 shots a game to doing something else, and as a point guard in the NBA I had to approach that point guard role even more, to make those guys respect my game, to make them want to play with me. I had to be able to pass the ball, to do something different from all the other players, so I became a fast-first point guard to make sure we always played as a team. That’s how I get to where I am as a professional.”

Now 36 years old, Calderón is one of the league’s oldest players, making it easy for him to look back at where he came from to transform into the player he is today.

“I’ve grown so much, but I was lucky to be given the opportunity,” he said. “When you arrive from Europe, whether you’re good or bad, it doesn’t always matter if you don’t have the opportunity. Toronto gave me the opportunity to play 20 minutes a night, and that’s a lot. I made a lot of mistakes, but they let me play through those mistakes. All those little things added up for me, and I learned a lot.”

He owns two silver medals and a bronze in the three Olympics he’s participated in over the course of his career, as well as gold medals in FIBA World Cup and EuroBasket, but he’s never won an NBA championship. Joining up with LeBron James improves those odds, but that’s the thing that would really put an exclamation point on an excellent career.

Calderón could have stayed in Spain and been fine. He jokes that while the NBA has been very good to him, he and his family could have stayed in Europe and he could have made good money playing basketball there. He’s been happy with his career, though, however unorthodox his journey here, and he hopes his most prestigious accolades are yet to come.

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