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NBA Sunday: Ilyasova Frustrated In Milwaukee?

Ersan Ilyasova says it was frustrating to hear his name in trade rumors and will be watching his team’s moves this summer

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Bucks’ Ersan Ilyasova Was Frustrated By Trade Deadline Rumors

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.

The sixth year pro says the combination of being included in trade rumors and the mounting losses was a personally frustrating situation to endure. Ilyasova says he’s glad the rumor period has passed and he’s looking forward to general manager John Hammond rebuilding a playoff caliber roster moving forward.

“When you go through a season like this and your name comes up [in rumors] it is a little frustrating,” Ilyasova told Basketball Insiders. “But I still feel myself as part of this franchise. I’m hopeful we can find the right pieces for the team so we can play much better because we really need it. I want to be part of a playoff team and that’s what I’m looking forward to, [the franchise] building a better team – a playoff team.

“It’s disappointing when you go through a season like this. Especially after last year when we made the playoffs and played against last year’s champions (Miami).”

Last season the Bucks made the playoffs but were swept by the Miami HEAT in the opening round. Last summer saw plenty of changes with Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings, Mike Dunleavy and J.J. Redick all departing  the organization during the offseason. Milwaukee also changed head coaches, hiring Larry Drew into the fold.

Despite the struggles, Ilyasova expects his teammates to play with pride down the stretch as they continue gaining familiarly with each other.

“We have to play for each other,” Ilyasova said. “Forget our record. It is what it is. We have to work on our game right now. Become one team, one piece. We have a lot of new guys. A new coach. If I’m not mistaken we had 11 new players on the roster. Now it is all about building chemistry, playing better down the stretch and getting ready for next season.”

Philadelphia 76ers Taking the Mounting Losses In Stride

Only two games separate the Philadelphia 76ers (15-51) from taking the crown as the league’s worst team from the Milwaukee Bucks this season. On Saturday the Sixers lost their 20th straight game, a 26-point drubbing , at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies in front of their dwindling home crowd.

While most projected the Sixers to occupy the league’s basement this season, many didn’t expect to see a losing streak of this magnitude to transpire in the process.

Despite the mounting losses and the eroding confidence in the club’s locker room these days, first year head coach Brett Brown fully admits he understood these were some of the lows he expected to encounter when he was hired by the organization last summer.

“This is not slit-your-wrist time. This is not even close to that,” Brown told Del Lynam of Comcast Sports.  “This is about building a program and understanding the short-term pain for a lot of long-term gain. To truly rebuild and grow something is going to take three to five years. That is just the way it goes. It is too talented a league and too well-coached. The experiences we are going through now will be distant memories when these guys start getting older. They will find positives in this season and Michael Carter-Williams will be better for it.

“I’ve been asked by so many people, ‘Why would you take the job and screw up your coaching percentage?’ As if I care about that. I knew what I was getting in to.”

This has been a season of adversity for the Sixers and their fan base, but there have been a few positives for the team this season.

There was the three game winning streak to start the season, which included a victory over the two-time defending champion Miami HEAT, point guard Michael Carter-Williams is on pace to be named Rookie of the Year and veteran forward Thaddeus Young continues to improve in every facet of his game.

With an active 20 game losing streak, the road doesn’t get much easier for Philadelphia over the next six games against Chicago (2), Houston, Indiana, New York and San Antonio.

Bucks Find Diamond In The Rough In Jeff Adrien?

The transition to the NBA is a rude awakening for most young guys. Players routinely go from always being an integral part of their respective teams at the middle school, prep and collegiate levels to being seldom played bench players in their early years as a professional.

For the vast majority of guys entering the league their stardom achieved at the levels leading to the NBA won’t translate into the same success at the next level. It is a harsh, but true reality. Because fitting into the NBA pecking order is all about finding, and maximizing, a niche. Whether it is providing lockdown perimeter defense, rebounding, energy, hustle, efficient scoring, steady ball handling, three-point shooting or even being a solid locker room personality guys have to maximize their role for longevity.

One player who may be finding a niche may be undersized power forward Jeff Adrien.

The 28 year old former University of Connecticut standout was acquired by the Milwaukee Bucks at the trade deadline from the Charlotte Bobcats.

In 12 games with the franchise Adrien has made his mark and earned the respect of head coach Larry Drew averaging 8.8 points and 7.7 rebounds on 53 percent shooting. The coaching staff isn’t the only segment of the Bucks enamored with Adrien’s recent run. Multiple Bucks players have praised Adrien’s aggressiveness and hustle on both sides of the floor.

The question now is does a 28 year old journeyman become a long term part of the team’s ongoing rebuilding project. Adrien is on the books for $916k this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova says Adrien has earned his respect and wouldn’t mind seeing him around with the franchise long term.

“He’s been playing really great,” Ilyasova told Basketball Insiders of Adrien. “He brings a lot of energy and effort to our team. Sometimes you go to a fresher place because of trades. Now we have a new addition, a  new soldier to be involved. Now we have to get our confidence up, but he has fit into our team chemistry fine.”

Adrien was undrafted out of UCONN in 2009 and has since logged action with Golden State, Houston, Charlotte and now Milwaukee.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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