The rumblings of Ersan Ilyasova heading to Europe have apparently grown from scooter a block away to motorcycle in your driveway. According to IAmGm.com, Ilyasova is looking to move on to Turkish club Fenerbahce Ulker. There’s one catch though: Ilysaova would still need to get out of his current contract with the Bucks which runs for one more season.
There is precedent for the Bucks letting an unhappy player out of a contract, as the team amicably parted ways with Roko Ukic in January of 2010 so he could play with … wait for it … FENERBAHCE ULKER!
Of course, Ukic was a little used third string point guard and Ilyasova has been a starter on and off for the past two seasons, so the team may object a bit more this time around.
Last season was one filled with complication for the Turkish forward. After coming off a very strong summer in which he was the best player on his silver medal winning Turkey squad, expectations were high for Ilyasova, even with the Bucks having added Drew Gooden. Whether it was Gooden’s presence or somethign else, Ilyasova struggled to transition back to the American game early in the season.
He seemed unsure of himself early on in a way he hadn’t when he returned to Milwaukee the previous fall. It was most evident in regard to his pump-fake, a weapon he used very effectively two seasons ago, became his crutch. Coach Scott Skiles chided his decision making on the perimeter, saying he seemed unsure of when to fake or pass. His feel appeared off. Instead of being aggressive, he was pump-faking. Instead of making a quick pass, he’d fake. Instead of shooting a shot, he’d fake.
The sudden disappearance of his three-point shot, what had originally made him so appealing, couldn’t have helped any. At the end of the 2009-10 season, Skiles said the team expected Ilyasova to take a leap forward in the coming year or two, hopefully consistently making 37 or 38 percent of his threes. But he regressed from 09-10 last season, making just 29.8% of his threes, down from 33.6%.
In addition to struggling on the court, Ilyasova was one of the many Bucks plagued with injuries last season. He missed a career high 22 games while battling a concussion for the majority of the second half of the season before he was able to return for the Bucks final four games.
Ilyasova reportedly hasn’t been enthused with Milwaukee’s repeated attempts to upgrade the power forward position he has been manning since returning to Milwaukee from Europe in 2009, so if he is able to get out, it comes as no surprise.
How will the Bucks respond? The aforementioned Ukic was let go once he forefitted his salary, and it’s possible the same could happen here. But some teams have been hesitant to let their players leave so easily. Portland forced Rudy Fernandez into honoring his contract last season, ending up with an under performing, unhappy wing on their team. They’ve since traded him to Dallas.
Milwaukee is well stocked at the four with Gooden, restricted free agent Luc Mbah a Moute, new draft pick Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer and the undersized Jon Brockman. If Ilyasova does leave, that could bode well for former Wisconsin Badger Leuer, who has a similar skill set. There have even been some rumblings that native Milwaukeean Carl Landry may be interested in joining the Bucks when the lockout ends.
With the lockout looking like it won’t be ending any time soon, we won’t have a resolution on the matter for some time. Sadly, this has been the most interesting piece of Bucks news since the draft ended, which paints the picture of lockout despair very well.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.