Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE
The latest buzz suggests that despite their recent struggles, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis aren't likely to be run out of town quite yet. But Steve Kyler of Hoops World writes that the surging Ersan Ilyasova is a "dark horse' candidate to be moved by deadline day.
Writing at Hoops World, Steve Kyler reports that Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis aren't likely to be dealt ahead of the February 21 trade deadline. So for everyone exasperated by the pair's recent play...well, you may have to put up with them for at least a couple more months.
The Bucks aren't good enough to consider anyone untouchable of course (Larry Sanders comes closest), but some types of players are easier to deal than others, and I wouldn't put Ellis and Jennings in the "easy to deal" category even without monster contracts weighing them down. They're both polarizing talents whose appeal would seem limited to a relatively narrow subset of teams, and the Bucks can hardly afford to give them away either, particularly Jennings.
Kyler also writes that usual suspects Sam Dalembert and Drew Gooden remain quite available, which of course everyone has been saying/assuming for quite some time. Gooden's contract ($6.7m per season through 2015) unfortunately make him a cap albatross unlikely to fetch anything other than another bad contract, and the fact that he's barely played this season won't make moving him any easier. Dalembert's size and expiring deal make him far more appealing, though his recent contributions and the absence of Larry Sanders might make the Bucks think twice about simply giving him away. I don't want to scare anyone, but let's not forget that the combination of Sanders' absence and Dalembert's foul trouble meant that Joel Przybilla actually had to play basketball on Monday. Scary, eh?
But the most interesting name Kyler mentions is probably Ersan Ilyasova.
Ilyasova has market value; both the Raptors and the Nets have made overtures for him. However, it does not look like either is eager to pay a premium to the Bucks for their troubles. If there is a dark horse play at the deadline it might be Ilyasova, especially if Toronto and Brooklyn swing and miss on other options.
Chad Ford previously suggested the Bucks were open to dealing Ilyasova, and the Nets' interest has been regularly reported going back to last summer. How the Nets would make it worth the Bucks' while is less clear, as an underproducing Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks aren't exactly a knock-your-socks-off type pairing. That's especially true now that Ilyasova's game has started to come around, offering a welcome reminder as to why the Bucks gave him $32 million in guaranteed money in the first place. Ilyasova's still liable to get beat up by bigger guys down low and he's not rebounding quite like he did a year ago, but he's been lethal from three point range over the past three months (53% in December, 51% in January, 43% in February) and his February numbers are a healthy 15.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.7 steals, 2.2 apg and just 1.0 turnover per game on .538/.429/.826 shooting.
In short, he's earning his paycheck and once again an asset for a Bucks team in desperate need of guys who can make jump shots, and that's precisely why he has value around the league as well. Any team with a big, space-eating center can use a scrappy, floor-stretching complementary guy like Ilyasova, though his inability to create his own shot becomes especially problematic when his jumper isn't falling. That's not an issue at the moment, but it's perfectly conceivable that Ilyasova slides into another one of his extended funks next month, next year, whenever.
And that's what scared me so much about Ersan last summer as well. When things are going well he's a perfectly reasonable complement to an athletic, defensive minded center such as Sanders. But as much as I like Ersan's game during the purple patches, I've always had this nagging sense that he's not the long-term solution. Maybe that's because John Henson will develop into a better option (wouldn't it be nice), maybe it's because Ilyasova just won't keep up what he's doing now (and did last spring, too). Sell high or hold the course? It's a call John Hammond will have to make by February 21 on Ilyasova--and everyone else on the Bucks' roster.