Report: Milwaukee Bucks nearing 5-year, $45 million deal with Ersan Ilyasova

UPDATE: Gery Woelfel is reporting the fifth year is an option  year, making this essentially a 4-year, $36 million deal. Not as bad. Still … meh.

Ersan now has all of the suit money he needs. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

Well, here we are.

Reports have the Milwaukee Bucks near a contract agreement with Ersan Ilyasova. More specific reports have the Bucks near a five-year, $45 million contract with Ilyasova.

I’ve made my thoughts on the Bucks signing Ilyasova to a long term contract pretty clear, so I won’t rehash them here. I’d rather take a quick look at how this move, combined with the absence of a Kirk Hinrich signing (he’s verbally agreed to a deal with the Bulls according to reports) and the failed pursuit of Spencer Hawes seem to reflect Milwaukee’s overall foray into the free agent market this summer.

  • Ilyasova was overpaid.

That’s just the facts. Even if other teams were bidding on him and driving up the price, Ilyasova is now an overpaid basketball player. He still has value, his contract could still be moved one day, this isn’t the end of the world, but he’s still overpaid. That’s just what has now happened. The Bucks overpaid to keep one of their own free agents, as they’ve often done over the years.

So that’s a bummer. But it becomes more of a bummer when you pair that analysis with a reflection on Milwaukee’s other pursuits of veterans.

  • Kirk Hinrich joined a winning team.

Veterans join contenders. It happens every summer. We just saw it with Hinrich, we saw it earlier this week with Ray Allen, we saw it many years ago with Karl Malone and Gary Payton when they joined the Lakers and then when Payton joined the Heat. It’s a recurring theme every summer. Really good teams are nearly capped out, so they convince once prominent veterans to take a couple less dollars while playing for a title. Most veterans are at a point in their career in which money is less of an issue than quality of life/quality of time spent in the league. They’d rather be playing for something than nothing.

  • Spencer Hawes joined a team lacking for centers.

The Bucks have Sam Dalembert and a collection of power forwards. A center could possibly carve out 20 minutes nightly, though sporadically given Scott Skiles historically quirky playing time distribution. But the Sixers? They had Franny Elson, Tony Battie and a couple young guys up front last season and haven’t added much. Hawes could have smelled plenty of minutes, on a team that was in the playoffs last season available there. Despite the Bucks supposedly making a very aggressive offer, he chose the Sixers.

What can we learn here? If the Bucks are bringing someone on, there’s a good chance they’ll have to overpay. Milwaukee can’t really offer that much playing time up front or in the back court. A wing might be able to carve out some minutes, but that’s about it. The Bucks can’t offer a sure fire playoff team either – they’ve missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and are by no means a sure thing for this upcoming one . And, as I’m sure you know kind Milwaukeean, our city, while fine in its own way, isn’t exactly a premier weather or nightlife destination amongst basketball playing 20-35 year-olds.

The Bucks have done some damage on the trade market over the past few seasons, acquiring guys who made contributions like Carlos Delfino, Kurt Thomas and Ekpe Udoh. Those guys aren’t franchise changers, but they can make a difference. A small trade could plug the remaining few holes for the Bucks if they’re able to pull it off.

But if they want to keep pursuing the free agent route, it could be a path fraught with difficulty.

Categories: The Off Season



  1. should have let Ersan walk or did a sign and trade, paying him these dollars is an absolute waste and only dips into our flexibility next year.  I would much rather see Jennings or Ellis get extended.  Ersan made it clear its all about the money, so I expect to see a lazy Ersan now that he got paid.  2 good months and suddenly he becomes a 9mil/year player after 5 years of mediocrity?!?!?  The Bucks amaze me with their stupidity once again, it will never end.

    • MatthewSchwendinger

       @ismokeNUGGETS I would have much rather seen Jennings or Ellis extended as well. I wonder how much this contract will impact the re-signing of one or both of those guys…

  2. If we signed him for 5 years/35 mil I would be fine with it. That extra 10 million is going to kill our flexibility. At least sign Gerald Green!

    • MatthewSchwendinger

       @AvidBucksFan EXACTLY. I would be fine with 30-35, but this is way too f%$#ing much. Sorry about the potty mouth, but I think it’s justified. 

  3. Naturally if you are given the opportunity to re sign a Power Forward for an average of 9 million dollars annually on a roster with 5 PF’s already you have got to pull the trigger and get that deal done ASAP

  4.  bucks should go after G.Green 2 play the 3 Otherworldly athleticism… and now with more focus iam just saying why not

  5. “Ilyasova, 25, is unquestionably one of the most sought-after free agents available. He averaged nearly a double-double — 13 points and 8.8 rebounds — in just 27.6 minutes per game.
    Ilyasova thus became the first player to average at least 12 points and eight rebounds in fewer than 28 minutes since Portland center Arvydas Sabonis (14.5 and 8.1 in 23.8 minutes) during the 1995-96 season and Robert Parish (12.6 and 9.4 in 27.2) during the 1992-93 season. Both Sabonis and Parish are in the Hall of Fame.”

    •  @Matthewjp well dang sign up Ersan for the HOF today then.. and Sabonis is in the Hall for what he did as a Lithuanian, not as a Trailblazer

      •  @JustinNixon 
        And Parrish is in the HOF mostly for what he did prior to the ’92-’93 season.

    •  @Matthewjp I get that he was great, but those guys had a number of great seasons. He has had one.
      No one doubts that Ersan had a special year last year, but people doubt that he’ll keep that production up.

      •  @jeremyschmidt what people? the bucks, cavaliers, raptors and nets all think he will keep it up if they were offering him multiyear contracts and the bucks being the small market have to take a chance.
        If he keeps up the efficiency that he had last year then the bucks get a player that can provide rebounding and scoring, without needing the ball a lot, while still letting jennings or ellis get their shots and keep them happy

  6. I am going to say this again(this time as an angry Bucks fan).. why are we so hell bent on signing mediocre talent to high value contracts? The words “aggressively pursued Spencer Hawes” scares the tar outta me.. He is a scrub.. Just a big body.. not a talent at any part of the game.. he is slow, a bad defender, shoots less than 50% (but loves to shoot 3 pointers), a poor rebounder for his size.. and to top it off all of a sudden he has an injury history….DUDE WHERE DO I SIGN UP?
    I hate to say things like this but Kwame Brown or Stiemsma would give similar production at a cheaper cost

  7. *Looks for silver lining*
    Perhaps this means they’re looking to move Gooden for a wing?

  8.  @JustinNixon Spencer Hawes is actually a pretty darn good player. Would have much rather had him on the Bucks than Ersan right now. Not saying Hawes is worth 9 million a year but he’s worth just as much as Ersan and Hawes addresses a need where Ilyasova is hampering player development now with all the other young PF’s on this Bucks roster.

    •  @Teddddd 
      Idk, I like Hawes but he doesn’t really provide a skillset that the other Bucks bigs dont already have. While Ersan happens to be a great tall shooter (at least last year he was), which is a very valuable and harder to come across skill in the nba. Unlike the other PFs that the bucks have Ersan can spread the floor offensively. If he keeps playing the way he did last year he might be worth 8 mil a year, but thats a BIG IF.
      So we missed out on Hinrich, he would only be competing to fill the role currently filled by Beno, so what’s the point anyway? Also I find it hard to believe that between Sanders and Henson, neither of those two can develop into serviceable backup centers as the season progesses.

      •  @sillybilly Hawes actually shoots about the same percentage as Ersan does, Ersan’s 45% 3 point shooting season was most likely a statistical aberration and they are both at about 49% from the floor in general with the majority of Spencer’s baskets coming from midrange. Hawes is a decent shot blocker (1.3 per game last year) Ers is a low post defensive liability, he cant body with the bigs much at all, taking charges is his best defensive skill and he’s very apt at that but as we saw in games with actual 5’s Ersan couldnt even stay on the court. Ex) as Jeremy has cited b4 the Knicks game where Chandler absolutely bullied Ersan off of the court in the biggest game of the season. That’s an instance where having a true center would help, hopefully Dalembert fills that void. Still leaves about 20 minutes a game where the Bucks need a Center though because I dont see Sammy playing more than an average of 28 mins.
        Small ball is what’s “in” across the NBA right now but Ersan can not play the 5 at all, my guess is that Henson will also struggle if he has to play the 5 due to his rail thin frame. Gooden can try but he is also a liability defensively as last line of defense, Sanders gets in foul trouble far too often in his limited minutes and apparently he thinks he’s Kendrick Perkins nowadays too with the way he was pickin up T’s at the end of the year so I dont see him as an effective 5. Ekpe might be able to fill in at the backup 5 i’d say he’s the Bucks best option for that right now.
        Regardless I think it would have been nice to have Hawes to play the 5 for let’s say 7 million a year instead of Ersan adding to the Power Forward logjam for 9 Million a year. Hawes is no bum, if you can play defense for Doug Collins then you can fit in and play defense for Scott Skiles as well.

        •  @Teddddd  <a href=”″>Title</a>

        •  @Teddddd since we didn’t get Hawes don’t feel like I have to defend my opinion.. the article is interesting.. the fan responses are priceless.. these are Philly fans

        •  @JustinNixon that is pretty funny, they’re having basically the same conversations we all are on here

        • PattiRafalskiDavison

           @Teddddd  @JustinNixon Oh no…has it come to this?  Are we the mirror image of Philly fans? 

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