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Ersan Ilyasova Deal Reportedly Includes "Only" $32 Million Guaranteed, Youngsters Prepare For Vegas Summer League

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That "NBA Green" shirt makes more sense now, doesn't it?
That "NBA Green" shirt makes more sense now, doesn't it?

While we still don't know the exact structure of Ersan Ilyasova's new contract, Chad Ford's offseason report card provides some very good news regarding the money the Bucks are now on the hook for:

While the numbers say five years, $45 million, the deal is much closer to four years, $32 million in guaranteed money. Ilyasova wanted more, but the Bucks held their ground, the market dried up, and they got him for a reasonable number.

The team option year can't jump to $13 million given the value of the remainder of the deal, so aside from the option year I can only assume there's a few million in incentives included in the original $45 million figure. As noted the other day, an escalating five year deal totaling $45 million with max 7.5% raises would start around $7.8 million and peak at $10.2 million in the final season. So if you back out the first four years at $35 million, then the other few million in non-guaranteed dollars would likely be in the form of incentives in the deal's first four seasons.

And while the difference between five years and $45 million vs. four years and $32 million is "only" $1 million in annualized terms, the net effect is hardly trivial. Overall it represents nearly a third of the total possible value of the deal, which is big for a player who probably isn't good enough to be considered an automatic starter for the next half-decade. It doesn't make Ersan cheap, but for a productive, youngish unrestricted free agent it's pretty reasonable--assuming of course that you think Ersan going forward will be a reasonable facsimile of the guy we saw last season.

The other item of note from Ford's piece is that he expects more news from the Bucks soon. He notes Udrih is on the trading block, which makes sense for a number of reasons: 1) Though he finished the year with a more regular spot in the rotation, he also voiced frustration over his minutes earlier in the season 2) His expiring $7 million contract is movable, even if it's not a valuable asset per se and 3) The Bucks' reported interest in combo guards Kirk Hinrich (now back in Chicago) and Randy Foye offered a not-so-subtle hint that the Bucks were looking to add a player capable of replacing Udrih in the guard rotation.

Ford also notes that Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are looking for extensions, though we haven't heard much else on this topic other than allusions to the Bucks planning to talk to their respective agents about it this summer. Given the Bucks' willingness to pay Ilyasova, I'd be surprised if they weren't willing to shell out even more to lock up Jennings, who for all his flaws is now the face of the franchise on and off the court. The fact that Jennings will only be a restricted free agent next summer means it's not essential that the Bucks sort things out this summer, but there are strategic reasons to be proactive as well.

One reason would be to work something out in case Jennings makes a major leap next season, and it could also be advantageous to extend Jennings before the market moves against the Bucks. Fellow class of 2009er Ty Lawson says he expects to finalize a new deal this summer, and it's difficult to imagine him settling for less than teammate Danilo Galinari, who re-upped for four years and $42 million last summer. There's little doubt Lawson is more valuable than Gallinari, and while most impartial observers would probably take Lawson over Jennings, don't expect Jennings' agent Bill Duffy to accept that line of reasoning in a negotiation. Many would point to Mike Conley's five year, $47 million deal or Goran Dragic's recent four year, $34 million contract as the best precedents for a new Jennings deal, but the bottom line is that a $12+ million per season deal for Lawson would set a new, painfully high precedent for young, good-but-not-great point guards like Lawson, Jennings, and Jrue Holiday.

JS | Tough rookie year behind Bucks forward Harris
Some good content from the JS during the Bucks' pre-Vegas camp, with Tom Enlund profiling Tobias Harris and his hopes for a much-improved sophomore season.

"I want to continue to work on my perimeter skills, being on the outside as a three-man that can (also) post up," said Harris. "That's what we've been working on. That's what the coaches have really been focusing on.

"I just want to play my game, define my role and become an even more complete player than I was last year. This whole off-season I've been working on my weaknesses, and I want to win."

For more on Harris, check out Jim Paschke's feature on Harris and Larry Sanders and a Newsday story describing Harris is helping kids back home on Long Island. The JS also has good reads on Sanders' hopes for the coming season and the odyssey of former Badger Brian Butch, who was added to the Bucks' Vegas roster last week. The 27-year-old Butch has yet to play in an NBA game but has proven himself as an excellent rebounder and dangerous perimeter big man in the D-League. | Boeder on Doron Lamb
Alex takes a look at the Bucks' newest sharp-shooter, while's Press Pass features Lamb and John Henson answering fan questions about anything and everything. Also be sure to check out Paschke's report on the rookies' first days of mini-camp.