Nets And Cavs Among Potential Ersan Ilyasova Suitors, Monta Ellis' Future, NBA Draft Blather

Ersan Ilyasova could end up taking Kris Humphries' old job with the Nets.

Woelfel: Nets frontrunners for Ersan?
Even factoring in cap holds for free agents Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace, the New Jersey Nets figure to have a boatload of cap room this summer and they might be preparing to throw some of it Ersan Ilyasova's way. Gery Woelfel writes:

While the Bucks want to retain Ilyasova, it’s unclear whether the feeling is mutual. That’s why some NBA officials believe the New Jersey Nets — who scouted Ilyasova rather extensively late in the season — are the front-runners for his services.

Ilyasova was the Bucks' most productive player a season ago, but re-signing him could prove a risky proposition given his prior inconsistencies. Is he really the guy who averaged 16 ppg and 9 rpg on 62% true shooting over the season's final three months, or was his productivity mostly just a contract year aberration? As usual, the answer is probably somewhere in between; Ilyasova's a fine complementary player but probably not someone you want to bank on as your second or third best player night in and night out. His departure certainly wouldn't help the Bucks' short-term ambitions, but it would probably be preferable to ponying up four years and $40 million.

At this point it seems like most of us are more fearful of the Bucks overpaying Ersan than seeing another team steal him away, which speaks to both a) the skepticism Bucks fans have about Ilyasova's long-term potential and b) concerns that the Bucks could once again be backing themselves into a fiscal corner to retain a non-elite player (see the cases of Michael Redd, Bobby Simmons and Mo Williams). While John Hammond hasn't been afraid to let his own free agents walk in the past, the calculus is more challenging this summer with the franchise clearly prioritizing an immediate return to the playoffs over everything else. Ilyasova's return has been one of the Bucks' stated priorities for some time now, but their resolve--and common sense--will no doubt be tested starting July 1.

Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico writes that no fewer than 12 teams could have eyes for Ersan, with the Cavs also among the potential suitors. As for the Nets, It's no secret that they're desperate to convince Williams they can surround him with the talent needed to win now, which has seen them linked with seemingly every free agent-to-be at one point or another. It's all part of the grand plan: if the Nets can keep Williams, then suddenly the Dwight Howard-to-New Jersey-Brooklyn scenario becomes far more likely. If Williams bolts, then everything's shot to hell.

Until then, Brooklyn is pursuing seemingly everyone--except perhaps incumbent Nets power forward Kris Humphries. Among others, the Nets would supposedly be interested in Rudy Gay (and the cap-killing $54 million owed him over the next three seasons), while there's also been talk of Andrei Kirilenko and Nenad Krstic leaving CSKA Moscow for the greener pastures of Brooklyn. Oh by the way, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov used to bankroll CSKA before taking over the Nets. Needless to say, the Nets don't have the cap dollars to make all of those things happen, but they'll be motivated to spend and Ilyasova could certainly be among the beneficiaries.

Where 55 Happens: Hypothetical Blazers-Bucks Trade Maes Sense For Both Teams
Dan offers up a much more thorough analysis of why a hypothetical Monta Ellis for Wes Matthews/#11 deal would make sense.

The Bucks might not be ready to cut ties with Ellis; it’s unlikely they traded their franchise center just for the chance to flip the haul a half-season later. And like always, the fate of the roster is tied up in the direction Kohl wants to take the franchise. But this trade idea can certainly be made out as a win-win, satisfying the needs of both franchises while positioning them for future success.

I agree with Dan that a deal like this is probably a long shot given the team's apparent feelings about Ellis, but I think it would offer up a compelling compromise between staying competitive now, adding a young piece for the future, and making sure the Bucks aren't left empty-handed when Ellis potentially becomes a free agent in 12 months.

ESPN: Why Jeremy Lamb trumps Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Love him or hate him, Doug Gottlieb is always an interesting read around draft time if only because he isn't afraid to go against the group-think grain (see his stuff from 2011 and 2010, Insider only). A week ago he published his top 30 draft board and this week he offers up some more explanations for why he's less impressed than most with Thomas Robinson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but more upbeat about Meyers Leonard, Royce White and Jeremy Lamb. On Leonard:

If Leonard -- whose shoulders are sculpted, legs are injury-free and jumper is solid from 17 feet -- locks in with an organization, he has a chance to be an All-Star. Look at Roy Hibbert with the Indiana Pacers. Now consider that Leonard is a far better athlete, just less developed after two years in college instead of Hibbert's four. Leonard has a position, has the makeup for that position and simply needs the right voice in his ear to help him mature.
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