Ilyasova Signing Goes Official, Summer League Roster Additions, Milwaukee's "Big Three"

In terms of total contract value, Ersan Ilyasova officially became Milwaukee's highest-paid player today when he signed a 5-year extension worth up to $45 million.

Bucks Re-Sign Ersan Ilyasova | Bucks.com
A day after the July Moratorium officially ended, the Bucks put pen to paper and inked PF Ersan Ilyasova to a five-year contract extension. Terms of the deal were not immediately released, but they should become available in the near future. What we know for sure is that the contract's potential value tops out around $45 and the final season is a team option. Recent chatter has suggested the option year is the highest-salaried year, and that other incentives (which would further diminish the total amount of guaranteed money) may be included in that figure. As Frank has pointed out, a strict 5-year, $45 million deal with maximum 7.5% raises yields the following:

Year 1: $7.83 million
Year 2: $8.41
Year 3: $9.00
Year 4: $9.59
Year 5: $10.17 (Team Option)

This would leave the total guaranteed value of the contract at 4 years, $34.83 million, or roughly $8.7 million per year. That's a bit higher than the artificial limit many fans had established as their "contract comfort zone", but it's WAY more attractive than the 5-year windfall many of us jumped to admonish as soon as news broke.

Butch, Mbenga added to summer league roster | JSOnline
The Bucks kicked off the 2012 offseason by trading away one former star big man from the University of Wisconsin in Jon Leuer. Now they've taken a small step toward redemption by adding 27-year-old F/C Brian Butch to their summer league roster, which began a four-day camp today at the Cousins Center. Butch originally planned to join the Atlanta Hawks for summer league, but made the switch to Milwaukee after it became clear he didn't fit well in Atlanta's plans for the immediate future. Butch joined the New Orleans Hornets for training camp last season but was waived before the season began. Prior to that he spent some time in the D-League--and played quite well--averaging 15.3 points and 9.8 rebounds in 17 games. Butch is still a long shot to make Milwaukee's roster in a crowded frontcourt, but he could turn some heads as a floor-stretching backup center if he really tears up the competition in Las Vegas.

Joining Butch on the squad is DJ Mbenga, a 31-year-old center who has played for the Mavericks, Warriors, Lakers, and Hornets. He last played for New Orleans in the 2010-2011 season.

Ersan Ilyasova isn’t Tim Thomas so maybe everything isn’t awful | Bucksketball
History is not kind to Bucks fans looking for comparable deals to the one Ilyasova signed today. The franchise has made more than its fair share of mistakes on big-money free agents (in their defense, the current NBA salary market can make it tough to keep things reasonable), mistakes that can take years to fully recover from. But it's important to remember that every NBA player is different, and it's those subtle differences that make all the difference. Jeremy takes solace in the difference between Ilyasova and an oft-lamented free agent from the past:

But it’s hard to envision Ilyasova could ever have a career like Thomas. It’s hard not to envy the effort Ilyasova gives on each possession. Guys who hustle and treat every possession with the utmost importance the way Ilysaova does usually end up producing something that far exceeds what guys like Thomas ever do.

Investment in Ilyasova a better sign? - JSOnline
Michael Hunt is similarly encouraged by the factors differentiating Ersan from past Bucks signees, and points to their familiarity and comfort with him as a strong selling point. I suppose that's true--team chemistry has been a bigger issue than Milwaukee would probably have liked the last few years--but we can all agree that Ersan's production on the court should probably be the biggest factor in determining whether this contract is a boom or a bust.

The New Reality of "Big Threes" in the NBA | ESPN
Over the last few days ESPN has been running some interesting material on the rise and dominance of "Big Threes" in the NBA. First, Tom Haberstroh broke down the ten best trios in the NBA today (judged by top average PERs), and surprisingly enough, Milwaukee took home the #9 spot.

Even though Jennings and Ellis might chip the rim with all of their missed shots next season, the Bucks are quietly building a founding that is bordered with youngsters in the frontcourt (John Henson, Ekpe Udoh, and Larry Sanders). People forget that Ilyasova averaged 16 points and nine rebounds and shot better than 50 percent from 3-point range after the All-Star break. And he just turned 25.

Ilyasova led the Bucks in PER last year at 20.6, while Brandon Jennings (18.5) and Monta Ellis (17.5) rounded out the Bucks' Big Three for an average PER of 18.9.

Similarly, Bradford Doolittle used some basic age-modeled projects to predict the top Big Threes of the 2016 NBA season using Wins Above Replacement. The Bucks are tenth in his projections, led once again by Ilyasova, Jennings, and Ellis (though in WAR projections, Brandon is the most valuable of the three).

This looks like a pretty good projection for the Bucks, but if Jennings tops out at 11.5 WAR, he's not the franchise centerpiece you typically find on a championship team.

That may be true, Mr. Doolittle, but any point centered around the notion that the 2016 Milwaukee Bucks will be even close to a championship team is probably ancillary right now.

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