Basketball Insiders: Week in Review 3/23/14

We independently review everything we recommend based on our strict editorial guidelines. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn More

Ilyasova Frustrated In Milwaukee?

By Lang Greene

The Milwaukee Bucks (13-53) are currently on pace to record the worst record in the league this season. Of course with large doses of losing comes frustration and an active front office attempting to reverse the process and build for a better future.

At the trade deadline the Bucks traded guards Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for guard Ramon Sessions and forward Jeff Adrien. Roughly a week later the team waived veteran forward Caron Butler.

While the Bucks didn’t make a ton of moves at the deadline there were more than enough trade rumors swirling around the franchise in the month prior. One player who was prominently featured in the trade deadline rumor circuit was forward Ersan Ilyasova.

Click Here For More


Who Has To Show Big In The Tournament?

By Steve Kyler

The 2014 March Madness Tournament will get underway tomorrow with the play-in “first round” games and with the full “second round” getting underway on Thursday.

While the tournament rarely impacts a player’s NBA draft stock significantly, the March Tournament is a chance to put an exclamation point on a player’s college career or it can open more doors for questions. At this point in the process most NBA teams have done their homework on players, but the tournament is a big stage for teams to either validate what they believe about a player or to illustrate what they don’t like about a player.

There are a few players that need to show up big in the tournament, if only to silence some of their critics, here are a few of them:

Click Here For More


Fredette Still Working Way Into Bulls’ Rotation

By Joel Brigham

A few weeks ago, when winter buyout free agents were hitting the open market and latching onto playoff teams, a lot of fans got really excited about potentially valuable players joining their favorite team at a time of year when there just wasn’t much else going in the NBA.

During that time, few players sparked more excitement than Chicago’s Jimmer Fredette, because a charismatic former lottery pick bringing shooting and three-point efficiency to a solid playoff team severely lacking in both is admittedly pretty newsworthy.

So far, though, the marriage has been relatively uneventful, as Fredette has only played in four games for the Bulls since signing at the beginning of the month. Even when he does see the floor, it’s in garbage time.

Of course, he’s learning a new system, new city and new teammates, which takes a lot longer than two-and-a-half weeks, but he still feels pretty confident that he’ll be a major contributor for the Bulls by the time the postseason rolls around.

Click Here For More


Anthony Davis Emerges as Superstar

By Alex Kennedy

Until one week ago, Anthony Davis couldn’t purchase alcoholic beverages or check into a room at many hotels. The New Orleans Pelicans power forward just turned 21 years old on March 11, which is a terrifying thought for the rest of the NBA.

It’s easy to forget how young Davis is because he has quickly become one of the league’s best players in just his second NBA season. Four years ago, Davis was a high school student in Chicago. Today, he’s an NBA All-Star and one of the most productive players in basketball.

Click Here For More


NBA Power Rankings: Sparkling Spurs

 By Moke Hamilton

The New York Knicks may not have any cap space this summer, but that surely did not stop the team from making what may be the biggest acquisition that the league sees this year.

On Tuesday, Phil Jackson will officially be announced as the president of basketball operations for the Knicks and that is the major storyline after 20 weeks of the 2013-14 NBA season. Interestingly enough, though, as Zen-mania took over Gotham City, the Knicks have quietly pieced together a season-high six-game win streak and have kept their playoff hopes alive. With the longest current win-streak in the Eastern Conference, they need some help from the Atlanta Hawks to get into the postseason, but impossible is nothing.

Out West, the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs have risen to the top of our hearts as the Houston Rockets seem to have run out of fuel. After the Rockets posted a very impressive 4-0 week during Week 19, an 0-3 road trip last week has James Harden’s team licking its wounds.

Meanwhile, the defending champion Miami HEAT have been doing a fair amount of wound-licking themselves. Losers of five of their last seven, the HEAT still trail the Indiana Pacers, who visit Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

Click Here For More


Phil Jackson States Goals as Knicks President

By Yannis Koutroupis

Move over Carmelo Anthony, you’re no longer the New York Knicks’ biggest star. That distinction now belongs to Hall of Fame head coach Phil Jackson, who was officially introduced on Tuesday as the team’s new president.

For a franchise that has not been a serious title contender since the late 1990s, Jackson provides hope, credibility and most importantly a much needed change in direction. Knicks fans have become increasingly impatient and frustrated with the state of the team. Most of the criticism has landed on the desk of team owner James Dolan and rightfully so. He’s had full autonomy over personnel moves, but that now lies with Jackson.

Click Here For More


Can the Bulls Bring Over Nikola Mirotic?

By Nate Duncan

One enormous benefit of Phil Jackson’s hiring by the New York Knicks is that it has quelled the breathless speculation of Carmelo Anthony joining the Chicago Bulls this summer as a free agent. Assuming Anthony does not join the Bulls, their prime addition this summer would likely be Real Madrid power forward Nikola Mirotic. The 23-year-old Mirotic was the Spanish ACB League MVP in 2012-13 and has only improved this season. Much ink has been spilled elsewhere on his game (including my own after an in-person scouting trip last June), but it will suffice to say that his combination of shooting, skill, agility and feel are top-notch for the power forward position.

Click Here For More


Chris Babb and the Real Life of a 10-Day Contract

By Jessica Camerato

Chris Babb couldn’t sleep. He lay in bed, restless with a replay from that night’s game repeatedly running through his mind. The Boston Celtics had landed an hour earlier from a road loss against the Indiana Pacers, but Babb hadn’t left that moment behind. Why did he commit that turnover? Why did he force the pass? Why didn’t he just play basketball like he knew how?

Around 2 a.m. Babb left the hotel where he has been staying during his pair of 10-day contracts and drove to the Celtics practice facility in search of clarity. He let himself into the dark, empty gym, flipped on the lights and began blasting music from his iPhone. The minutes – and the shots – began to pass. By the time he was nearing 4 a.m. he had put up, he estimates, five to six hundred shots. His arms felt weak, but his mindset was strong.

Click Here For More


2014 Cap Space Projections – Atlantic Division

By Eric Pincus

The 2013-14 regular season is starting to wind down with some teams fighting for playoff position — others for the best possible position in May’s NBA Draft lottery.

Looking ahead to the 2014 offseason, a number of teams in the Southeast and Southwest divisions could have significant cap room this summer.

The league’s early projections for next year’s salary cap is $62.9 million, up from this year’s $58.7 million.  The luxury tax threshold is also expected to climb to approximately $75.7 million from $71.7 million.

In the third part of a series, where do the five teams in the Atlantic Division stand this offseason?

Click Here For More


Phil Jackson’s First 100 Days in Office

By Tommy Beer

It has been all hugs and handshakes in and around Madison Square Garden this week. The New York Knicks have won seven straight games, breathing life into a nightmarish season once assumed to be dead as a doornail. And, more importantly for the long-term future of the franchise, the organization officially announced Phil Jackson has been hired as president of the basketball operations.

At the introductory press conference, owner Jim Dolan shockingly proclaimed that he would “willingly and gratefully” cede control to Jackson, and that Jackson will “be in charge of all basketball decisions.” It was sweet music to Knicks fans ears.

Nevertheless, once the applause dies down, Jackson will have to start the actual, arduous process of rebuilding the Knicks from league-wide laughingstock into legit contender. Listed below are the central issues Jackson will have to address during his first 100 days in office.

Click Here For More


Lakers: Fix It Now Or Fix It Later

By Jabari Davis

Even though much of the Los Angeles Lakers’ fanbase appeared to favor a return to the franchise in some form or fashion for Phil Jackson, his ultimate hiring by the New York Knicks had to finally provide a sense of closure. Not that seeing the 13-time (11 as a coach, two as a member of the Knicks) champion casually take his talents back to familiar stomping grounds was the preferred outcome of most, but no longer having Jackson as a viable option at least gives them the ability to finally move on. Whether fans like it or not, the fate of their future still rests in the hands of owner Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak.

Click Here For More