If the Milwaukee Bucks decide to make a trade before this week’s NBA Draft, it will most likely involve veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova, reports Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times.
Owners of the No. 2 overall pick — as well as three second-round selections — in the draft on Thursday, Milwaukee seems to be angling to add at least one more first-rounder. “Behind the scenes, the Bucks’ brass has been busy. They’ve been discussing several trade possibilities and, if you believe some NBA officials, they’ll consummate at least one deal,” Woelfel writes.
Among the Bucks’ many trade candidates, which reportedly include John Henson and Brandon Knight, Ilyasova stands out as the most logical option. Currently entering the third year of a five-year, $40 million contract, he’s one of Milwaukee’s highest-paid players but would still likely garner interest from potential suitors.
Woelfel lists the Suns, Thunder and Rockets as possible options for the floor-spacing forward, while adding that a late first-round pick seems to be the target. Phoenix is known to be dangling its final two first-rounders, No. 18 and No. 27, while OKC also has a pair of picks, No. 21 and No. 29. Houston, arguably the most logical fit, picks No. 25 this year.
Any of those deals would make some sense, and while Ilyasova isn’t cheap, he’s not outrageously overpaid. There may be three years left on the contract, but two of those are guaranteed at $7.9 million, while the third year is only partially guaranteed for $400,000. So it’s really more of a two-year commitment with a team option, which offers some flexibility for whoever adds him.
That’s all good news for Milwaukee, which could possibly want to get out of Ilyasova’s contract to free up frontcourt opportunities for Henson and other young players.
In 55 games last season, Ilyasova averaged 11.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, but his shooting numbers dropped significantly across the board. Usually a streaky shooter who gets hot near the end of the season, that never came for Ilyasova in 2013-14 and he finished the year shooting 28 percent from three and 41 percent overall.