Bucksketball Podcast

An optimistic look at the Ersan Ilyasova deal

| July 8, 2012

Category: The Off Season

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(I assure you, it’s not all hellfire and brimstone around these parts. And to prove it, new Bucksketball addition Jon Hartzell takes an optimistic look at how Ersan Ilyasova’s probable re-signing is quite all right. There’s room for a divergence of opinion, even if I make it seem as though there isn’t. – JS)

Ersan Ilyasova's hustle could help him earn his new deal. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Milwaukee Bucks are reportedly in the process of finalizing a five-year, $45 million contract with 25-year-old power forward Ersan Ilyasova. This contract, like so many Bucks contracts before it, is easy to berate, as the team is often forced to overpay. But let’s forget that the Bucks have been a bit of a dysfunctional organization for a moment and look optimistically at this deal.

First, here is a list of some power forwards that will make around $9 million next season:

  • Carlos Boozer – $15 million
  • Rashard Lewis – $13.7 million (bought out by New Orleans)
  • Anderson Varejao - $8.4 million
  • Tyrus Thomas – $8 million
  • Hedo Turkoglu – $11.4 million
  • David Lee – $12.7 million

Now, just because other teams over paid for these players doesn’t mean the Bucks needed to overpay for Ilyasova. But it is clear that there is precedent for middle-of-the-road bigs making this type of money, and if Ilyasova can recreate last season, he’ll be a much better value than any of the players above.

He is entering only his fifth season as a Buck after being selected No. 36 in the 2005 NBA Draft by former Bucks GM Larry Harris. Last year, Ilyasova played only 27 mpg and had career highs in scoring (13 ppg), rebounding (8.8 rpg), field goal percentage (.492), and three point percentage (.455). He was arguably the Bucks’ best player and is reportedly still only 25-years-old – there was some mystery surrounding him when he was drafted, but it’s kind of faded away.

If he can keep up those numbers and continue attacking the rim at a higher rate for the next five years, then this contract will be a bargain. Even if he doesn’t continue to play at an all-star level and just continues with his career averages – 9.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, .445 FG% –  he will be an overpaid, but solid, bench big that will be a much greater contributor than recent contract busts Tim Thomas, Dan Gadzuric, and Charlie Bell.

The best thing to come out of this deal, though, could be how it forces the Bucks to clear their ever-growing power forward glut, and the most likely man out is Drew Gooden and the three-years and $20 million remaining on his contract. Herb Kohl clearly wants to win now, but surely even he knows that spending nearly $16 million a year on two potentially average power forwards is ridiculous. A package of Gooden and Beno Udrih’s $7.3 million expiring contract could be used to bring back a serviceable wing player for a run at the 6th seed. Or Kohl could really swallow the bullet and amnesty Gooden, though it seems that the Bucks have no intention of just letting Gooden leave. That’s a lot of dollars for the Bucks to just swallow with no return.

Most agree that in order for this contract to be fair, Ilyasova will need to play like a top 10-15 power forward in the league. If he doesn’t, then the Bucks will have overpaid once again for a role player and will be able to add another bad contract to their history books. But if the Ilyasova we saw last year is the same Ilyasova that will come to play starter minutes for the next five years, then the Bucks will have just gotten a top-10, near all-star caliber power forward at a market priced contract.

One of those scenarios is a lot less sad than the other.

The Bucks need shooting. He provides shooting. The Bucks need rebounding. He provides rebounding. The Bucks need to get Gooden off the floor. This helps. If the Bucks are truly trying to be a shot-blocking, fastbreak-running team, then a stretch four with elite rebounding skills fits well. For our own sanity’s sake, let’s assume he will bring the same level of intensity and skill this season until we have a reason to be proven otherwise.

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About the Author ()

Jon Hartzell is a writer/producer at NBA.com who likes the Bucks.

Comments (20)

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  1. flyingking says:

    How incredibly stupid. This guy isn’t worth anywhere NEAR this.He isn’t even entertaining. How SAD.
    By the way, every player you list, is on a LOSING team, save Boozer. And Boozer’s gonna get amnestied.
    So what does this prove? Shitty teams will overpay for mediocre talent that can’t even make the playoffs, let alone win championships. Kohl wants to win now? He always wants to win now. How’s that working out?
    God, this team BLOWS.

    • sillybilly says:

       @flyingking
      hahaha, “he isn’t even entertaining”….
      I think that for good portions of last season Ilyasova hustling his brains out was the most entertaining aspect of the Milwaukee Bucks.
       
       @jonhartzel Nice article.

      • flyingking says:

         @sillybilly that would explain the all-time low attendance figures and tv ratings.

        • sillybilly says:

           @flyingking 
          Yep it was solely Ilyasova’s unentertaining play that led to low attendance figures.

    • BuckNuggets says:

      While I always enjoy watching teams with guys who work hard (which Ersan certainly does), I get what you’re saying. Your average NBA fan doesn’t go to a game so that he can tell his grandkids about the time he saw Ersan Ilyasova play. For nine million per season, you’d hope to get a more dynamic player. However, if his three point shooting stays at 45% (and not his career 36%), if he continues to hit the boards with the same relentless determination he did last year (unlike the previous season where he averaged nearly three less rebounds a game in 2.5 less minutes of action), if he builds upon his career highs in FG%, ORB, Asst., and Blocks, if last season is an indicator of things to come and not a statistical outlier produced by a highly motivated player in a contract year (eg: Charlie Villanueva or John Salmons), then I think we can be excited about the next five years of Ersan in Milwaukee. If not, Hammonds has proven he is pretty good at unloading horrible contracts onto some other team. How’s that for being optimistic?

  2. JustinNixon says:

    Now we just trade Gooden for Thad Young by fudging some numbers.. they need size now that they released Brand and we probably need a starting SF(but I have confidence in you Harris).. ’cause if we go into this season with four power forwards and Henson doesn’t get playing time I will not be a happy camper
     
    Good to see the deal is comparable to Ryan Anderson’s.. similar players, so I guess that is what the market dictated

  3. AnaheimAmigos says:

    Jeremy’s Freudian slip was to use “resigning” instead of “re-signing”. We know which one makes you happier…

  4. MatthewSchwendinger says:

    I think this is a very positive article…I am just not sure I wanted the Bucks $45 million to find out if he’ll keep it up though. Brandon Jennings should be pissed…this is his money. 

  5. Funnyman4WI says:

    I believe that the Bucks retained Ilyasova for a fair cost and not from looking over the comparable ”power forwards”  listed, two of them are small forwards and one is a center.  I pay close attention to the NBA and the Bucks.  I am a little worried that Ersan will get lazy and not live of to his contract, but look at it from a wider spectrum.  The mid-level exception is somewhere around $6 million a year.  That is meant for average players.  Do you consider Ilyasova average?  I don’t and he has the potential to be an all-star.  $9 million is a lot, but not too much.  This could be a bargain.

  6. Bizzucks says:

    It’s hard to be positive about this one.  I like Ersan but the overpaying has to stop, and this would’ve been a perfect opportunity due to the glutten of PF’s we have.  Sorry Ers

  7. JustinNixon says:

    We are now paying over $20 million+/yr to our power forwards(and that’s just because I consider Sanders a backup center).. so we have that going for us

  8. coolexplosion1 says:

    Every single one of the above listed contracts, except, perhaps, Anderson Varejao, the team is regretting and they are going nowhere:
     
    Carlos Boozer: Look on ESPNChicago and see all of the hate for this contract. It is completely unmovable and the Bulls made a rash decision when they struck out on everyone else in 2010. The Bulls window may already be closed and part of the reason is that they can’t afford anyone, partly because of this atrocious deal.Rashard Lewis: Was only worth it the first two years of his deal. Was traded for Gilbert Arenas so the Magic could dump his contract. Huge, huge mistake. Will likely sign for the veteran minimum this year.Anderson Varejao: Pretty much the only deal that is even close to reasonable, but the Cavs are on a steep rebuild.Tyrus Thomas: Horrible deal. Was a backup on the worst team in the history of league. Nobody wants him. The Bobcats paid him for his potential and they are kicking themselves. He will likely be amnestied sooner or later.Hedo Turkoglu: The Magic are demanding that any team getting Dwight Howard must take back Hedo to get him off their books. The Raptors signed him to a completely inflated deal, the Suns traded for him, and the Magic stupidly took him back. He is worth about the mid-level exception.
    David Lee: An offensive beast who plays barely any defense. He played in New York, so his career was inflated. He is currently clogging up Golden State’s cap.

  9. coolexplosion1 says:

    Every single one of the above listed contracts, except, perhaps, Anderson Varejao, the team is regretting and they are going nowhere:
     
    Carlos Boozer: Look on ESPNChicago and see all of the hate for this contract. It is completely unmovable and the Bulls made a rash decision when they struck out on everyone else in 2010. The Bulls window may already be closed and part of the reason is that they can’t afford anyone, partly because of this atrocious deal.
     
    Rashard Lewis: Was only worth it the first two years of his deal. Was traded for Gilbert Arenas so the Magic could dump his contract. Huge, huge mistake. Will likely sign for the veteran minimum this year.Anderson
     
    Varejao: Pretty much the only deal that is even close to reasonable, but the Cavs are on a steep rebuild.
     
     
    Tyrus Thomas: Horrible deal. Was a backup on the worst team in the history of league. Nobody wants him. The Bobcats paid him for his potential and they are kicking themselves. He will likely be amnestied sooner or later.
     
    Hedo Turkoglu: The Magic are demanding that any team getting Dwight Howard must take back Hedo to get him off their books. The Raptors signed him to a completely inflated deal, the Suns traded for him, and the Magic stupidly took him back. He is worth about the mid-level exception.
     
     
    David Lee: An offensive beast who plays barely any defense. He played in New York, so his career was inflated. He is currently clogging up Golden State’s cap.

  10. sillybilly says:

    Ilyasova, Udoh, Gooden, Sanders, Henson…..
    Are we really planning on keeping all of these guys?  Who should we move and how could we get value in return?  Offer up your most realistic/entertaining scenarios for daydreaming fodder…
     
    …….I see the Bucks  trading Ilyasova to the Nets after they are unable to land DHoward.

    • PattiRafalskiDavison says:

       @sillybilly We have two positions that these guys cover…PF and Center.  Dalembert, Gooden the guys with most experience through Henson with no NBA experience.  We already moved two power forwards to make room for Dalembert and Henderson.  I’m okay with holding these cards for now and see how they match up.  There are a lot of minutes, games and injuries to overcome in a season.  Let’s hope our biggest problem this year is that everyone stays healthy!

  11. ThisIsntUnicef says:

    I don’t mind the deal. I am hoping that the Bucks give Jennings his due, or at least attempt to do so. 

  12. Machu46 says:

    I’d like to bring back Jennings, Ilyasova, and Mbah A Moute (if the contract is right for him).  Everyone else I wouldn’t really miss too much.  But I love the way that Ilyasova plays and every good team needs a guy with swagger like Jennings has.  If not for one horrible month this season, Jennings would have had a great year.