Best Potential Trade Scenarios, Packages and Landing Spots for Ersan Ilyasova
The Turkish power forward wants out, according to the Journal Times:
Ilyasova is arguably the Bucks’ best trading chip and several teams are believed to be interested in him. 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.
The 2013-14 campaign has been filled with struggles for the stretch 4, though he still maintains his admiration for the franchise that originally drafted him, per the same Journal Times article: "I really like this team because it was my first team in the NBA; I was drafted by them. And I have huge respect for Senator Kohl. He was always up there for me during all those seasons."
Unfortunately, the positive feelings don't extend to the court.
Not only has he been beset by injuries during a season that has seen Milwaukee fail to reach double-digit wins before the All-Star break, but he's also averaged only 10.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Most problematic is his shooting, as his three-point percentage has plummeted from 44.4 percent last year to a putrid 29.3 percent this season.
It's depressed his value, to the point that some of these trades might not seem like they're leaving Milwaukee with enough in return. But remember, tanking is good for this organization, and any help it can get in the future is beneficial.
Charlotte Bobcats receive: Ersan Ilyasova, Gary Neal
Milwaukee Bucks receive: Ben Gordon, 2014 second-round pick
The Charlotte Bobcats are going to be aggressive buyers at the Feb. 20 deadline, and it's been widely reported that they have their sights set on Evan Turner. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer is one of those who made such rumors clear, explaining the following:
The Bobcats have assets they could throw into trades. They could have as many as three first-round picks in what should be a rich 2014 draft – their own and picks potentially owed them by the Portland Trail Blazers and Detroit Pistons.
Fortunately, the 'Cats wouldn't have to give up any first-round selections to acquire Ilyasova.
All it would take is parting ways with Ben Gordon, who isn't particularly attractive as a player but has a massive, eight-figure salary coming off the books at the conclusion of the 2013-14 campaign. Oh, and a second-round pick would be needed, which figures to be fairly close to the middle of the latter round.
For the Bucks, the reason for pulling the trigger is rather obvious.
Both assets help them rebuild in the future, and the extra cap space is a nice luxury as they plan on pursuing mid-level free agents. Plus, general manager John Hammond seems to have a strange affinity for second-round picks, as he's already acquired some from the Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings.
Why not gain one more and be owed a selection by over 20 percent of the league?
The Bobcats shouldn't have all that much interest in Ilyasova, especially because his contributions would eventually be subsumed by Cody Zeller. Instead, it's Neal who makes this deal worth committing to, as the sharp-shooting 2-guard would help shore up one of the team's biggest weaknesses.
Houston Rockets receive: Ersan Ilyasova, Gary Neal
Milwaukee Bucks receive: Omer Asik, Donatas Motiejunas, 2014 second-round pick
Just as was the case with the Bobcats, the Houston Rockets are less interested in Ilyasova and more concerned with Neal.
Who would've thought that at the beginning of the 2013-14 campaign?
Heading into the season, Ilyasova was still viewed as a high-quality stretch 4, and the Rockets needed exactly that. He hadn't slumped, and Terrence Jones hadn't broken out and left them with a solid starter at their prior position of need.
Now, the Rockets are still looking for a trade, but the desired type of player has shifted. Here's Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
Morey would not discuss goals for the trade deadline, but several other individuals with knowledge of the team's thinking said the Rockets already sought to land a backup wing who is strong defensively and can catch-and-shoot, rather than a power forward (considered a priority before the season) or a perimeter player who creates off the dribble.
The 2-guard is scoring 10.2 points per game on 38.9 percent shooting from the field, but he's also hitting 36.4 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Most importantly, he can create his own looks off the bounce, especially when we're talking about mid-range shots.
Milwaukee might not be thrilled to receive yet another big man, but the rim-protecting potential of an Omer Asik-Larry Sanders-John Henson trio is off the charts. The team would always have a shot-blocking big man on the court.
Donatas Motiejunas isn't particularly attractive either, but the second-round pick does help the rebuilding process and add to Hammond's collection.
Memphis Grizzlies receive: Ersan Ilyasova
Milwaukee Bucks receive: Tayshaun Prince, 2015 second-round pick
Do the Bucks have any use for Tayshaun Prince, who has looked completely and utterly washed up during his time with the Memphis Grizzlies?
Not on the court, but he'd be a valuable presence in the locker room and while serving as a mentor for the myriad of young players on the Milwaukee roster. Then there's the second-round pick, the appeal of which you should understand by now.
Prince's shooting has been horrific, and his overall offensive game has been, well, offensive. But he's only under contract through the end of the 2014-15 season, so the Bucks could milk the veteran-ness out of him, then either let his deal run its course or ship him off as an expiring contract in another trade.
For the Grizz, the advantage of acquiring Ilyasova is more obvious.
Although he's been slumping, there's solid reason to believe he'd turn things around in a new location. No longer surrounded by the futility of losing and after receiving a chance to get healthy over the All-Star break, Ilyasova should be able to regain his shooting form from past seasons.
And that's exactly what Memphis needs.
Basketball-Reference.com shows that the Grizzlies enter the break with 52 fewer makes from beyond the arc than every other team in the NBA. They also rank No. 26 in three-point percentage, which just isn't going to cut it when already being selective with shots.
A stretch 4 would do wonders for the team's offense, which needs to continue improving if the Grizzlies are going to elevate into the Western Conference playoffs.
Phoenix Suns receive: Ersan Ilyasova, Gary Neal
Milwaukee Bucks receive: Emeka Okafor, 2014 second-round pick
The Phoenix Suns aren't ready to compete with the Western Conference elite quite yet, but a few tweaks could have them looking stronger.
Ilyasova and Neal aren't enough to push them over the top, though.
However, they'd just increase the depth for this organization and raise the overall quality of the rotation. Both fit in with the offensive mentality employed in the desert, and management would be able to live with their salaries because it has the luxury of adding so many quality rookies in the coming years.
Ilyasova's status as a stretch 4 has been appealing to most teams featured thus far, but let's not overlook the work he can do on the boards. Phoenix ranks No. 13 in offensive rebound percentage and No. 27 in defensive-rebounding percentage, according to Basketball-Reference.com, so help from the Turkish forward would be much appreciated.
That said, I'd understand if Phoenix displayed hesitance, solely because Neal and Ilyasova are paid so much more than they're worth. But if the Suns can't deal Emeka Okafor's expiring contract elsewhere, it would be better to pull the trigger than sit still.
The Bucks' package from the desert-based organization is almost identical to what they would receive from the Bobcats, so the same justification applies.
Okafor's expiring contract is slightly larger than Gordon's, but the second-round pick should also come a few spots later in the draft-day proceedings.
Let's consider those a wash.
San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs receive: Ersan Ilyasova
Milwaukee Bucks receive: Matt Bonner, Jeff Ayres, 2014 second-round pick, 2016 second-round pick
No coach is better at resuscitating careers than Gregg Popovich.
Just ask Boris Diaw or Danny Green, both of whom were struggling to stick in the NBA before the San Antonio Spurs head coach got his hands on them.
And Ilyasova's career isn't even struggling for breath.
He's having a tough season, but this still feels more like an aberration than anything else, one created by injuries, a lack of protection in the lineup and an overall negative mentality in Milwaukee. Imagining Popovich milking the talent out of him is scary for the rest of the league.
Matt Bonner and Jeff Ayres are playing a combined 25.6 minutes per game for the Spurs, so Ilyasova could just take over for them without forcing San Antonio to skip a beat. If he became the stretch 4 we watched the last two seasons, especially while playing alongside significantly more talent, the Spurs would just get even more dangerous.
As for contract status, the Bucks would be stuck eating $1.8 million in salary, as Ayre's deal runs through the end of the 2014-15 season. But they'd also free up nearly $4 million from Bonner's expiring contract.
San Antonio doesn't need to make a move, but it's not hard to see this one helping out the Western Conference contenders.