Draft and free agency rumor fun! Ersan Ilyasova a possible target for Wizards, Hammond balks at backcourt's inefficiency

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

With the draft and free agency approaching, the rumor mill is naturally starting to heat up.

Woelfel: Bucks talking Ersan deal for Wizards #3 pick?
Speaking to Sparky Fifer and voice of the Bucks Ted Davis on WSSP 1250, Gery Woelfel suggests that the Wizards are rumored to be interested in acquiring Ersan Ilyasova and another player for their third overall pick in June 27 draft (note that he also emphasized about five times this is just a rumor). The devil is of course in the details, but it's safe to say that any deal netting the Bucks a top-five pick without involving Larry Sanders or John Henson would seem like a clear win for a Milwaukee team in desperate need of long-term difference-makers. If it didn't require them to sacrifice the 15th overall pick either? Well that's a home run, even if it requires them to take back salary in the form of Emeka Okafor and/or Trevor Ariza. The same can't be said from the Washington perspective unfortunately.

So presumably we shouldn't get our hopes up too high for this kind of deal, but the basic concept has some merit for both sides. John Wall has been agitating lately for the Wizards to acquire a stretch four, and there's an argument to be made for Washington adding a proven commodity like Ilyasova rather than yet another youngster--particularly when you consider the sort of talent available at #3. While a young wing like Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo would be a huge get for a Bucks team in desperate need of a potential young star, both would be blocked by Bradley Beal in Washington. The Wizards would of course have other options at #3--Otto Porter, Anthony Bennett and Alex Len to name a few--but in general you'd guess that Ernie Grunfeld is looking to add veteran talent in order to escape the lottery spin cycle they've been in the past few seasons. My guess is the Wiz would ultimately insist at minimum on getting the 15th pick back as well, but that doesn't have to be a deal-breaker for the Bucks.

And would the Bucks really have the guts to deal one of their most productive players? If the past and Herb Kohl's recent comments are any indication--hint: they are--the Bucks are never going to offload all their (remaining) veteran talent for the sex appeal of draft picks. But John Hammond and Jeff Weltman have always talked up the value of top-five picks specifically, and with the team putting major stock in John Henson's development, there's a clear argument to be made for cashing in on the more productive Ilyasova while his value is still high. That's been a huge problem for the Bucks over the years: they never sell high, which speaks to the team's often crippling fear of dealing veteran talent. But in that light the Wizards' ability to toss an Okafor or Ariza into the deal could offer cover for a Bucks' team needing to maintain some semblance of veteran presence on the roster. None of them are as good as Ilyasova, but they're still rotation players that would help fill out the roster. Long story short: stay tuned, but don't get your hopes up too high, either.

WSSP: Hammond talks Larry Drew, free agency, draft
In theory, this should be the time for the Bucks to be going through the usual motions with regard to their soon-to-be free agent guards. You know, saying stuff about how much they like Monta Ellis--they did make him a max extension offer after all--and letting everyone know that they'll match any offer sheet for Brandon Jennings. Not because they have to believe all those things (well, with Ellis you'd hope they do), but because that's the sort of stuff you say to keep things cordial and keep your options open.

But speaking to WSSP's Mike Wickett and Chuck Freimund this week, Hammond once again didn't sound like someone enamored with the backcourt that delivered him decidedly middling results over the past 100 or so games. And to be honest, that's a rather encouraging sign. Responding to a question about the Bucks' lack of scoring efficiency in the backcourt, Hammond seemed to all but close the door on a Jennings/Ellis reunion in 13/14.

"We have to become more efficient. I don't think you can win consistently playing that style of basketball. So we realized, I think the players realize, and as an organization we realize that we have to be much more efficient."

Hammond went on to suggest he was less worried about the Bucks' lack of size defensively in the backcourt than with their inefficiency offensively, which is a bit interesting considering that Jennings in particular has been awful defensively over the past two seasons (in fairness, that's probably an effort/focus size more than a size thing). Either way, it's impossible to reconcile the desire for improved efficiency with the Jennings/Ellis combo in the backcourt, so that's at least something to take solace in, right? And if the Bucks have been trying to get Monta to bite on taking another $25 million over two years on top of the $11 million owed to him as part of his current deal, that probably says something about the Bucks interest in Jennings, right?

In that light it's not hard to connect the dots on earlier talk of the Bucks preferring Ellis to Jennings, though if Monta wants out of Milwaukee at all costs there won't be anything the Bucks can do about it. Not that the Bucks should necessarily complain--think of it as Monta saving the Bucks from themselves. In which case the Bucks may well work their way back to Jennings, who may not have the easiest time finding another club to throw down huge dollars for him. That's especially true if teams like Dallas and Utah find point guards through the draft or otherwise choose to spend their cap money elsewhere.

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