The Brooklyn Nets were one of a few teams interested in power forward Ersan Ilyasova last summer following his sensation 2011-2012 season, but they missed out when he signed a 5-year, $40 million contract with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Nets made up for that loss--and burned some of their significant cap space--by inking PF Kris Humphries to a two-year deal worth $12 million annually.
But while the Nets find themselves comfortably settled in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and have gotten production from Humphries reasonably in line his career performance, they are reportedly not done with their pursuit of the Turkish forward. According to Racine Journal-Times writer Gery Woelfel, speaking on WSSP in Milwaukee, the Nets are trying to find a way to get a deal done:
Ersan Ilyasova, you know, during the summer was courted by a handful of teams, by the Bucks but most seriously by the Bucks, Nets and Raptors and I have it on very good authority that the Nets are still trying to pursue Ersan and trying to figure out a way in which to obtain him. I think that's something to keep an eye on as we got forward here.
Woelfel goes on to speculate who the Bucks might receive in return as part of a deal for Ersan, discussing guards MarShon Brooks and Tyshawn Taylor with host Steve Fifer. Woelfel liked the sound of a Brooks acquisition, because, as Gery will tell you, any player not playing for the Milwaukee Bucks is probably pretty good.
First things first: Ersan Ilyasova can't be traded until January 15, as opposed to the December 15 limit for most free-agent signings. Because Ersan received a raise of more than 20% via Bird rights, he qualifies for condition that was known as "Base Year Compensation" in the old CBA, meaning his trade prohibition expires a month later.
What's more, there isn't a great way to match salaries with Brooklyn. Everyone on the Nets' roster makes either more than $9.6 million or less than $3.1 million. The Bucks have a $2.5 million trade exception at their disposal, but any deal would almost certainly have to include another team (possible), or see Milwaukee acquire one of Brooklyn's top-priced players (unlikely).
Beyond the logistics, there's the simple question of whether the Bucks would be interested in dealing Ilyasova just one year into his new deal. Ersan has shaken off his terrible start to a certain extent, but his production, particularly on offense, is still below even career averages. Would they see a deal shipping out Ersan this soon as "selling low"? Or would they jump at the chance to unload a big contract tied to a player who still hasn't seized the starting role in a crowded frontcourt?
This isn't going to be the last Ilyasova-centered rumor we hear this season: stretch-4s are coveted by nearly every NBA team, and Ersan's phenomenal production from last year is still fresh enough in GM's minds that there are sure to be a few who think they can recapture that magic. But for now, any potential deal between the Nets and Bucks would require a little hocus pocus in itself.