In light of an imbalanced roster that currently includes just three obvious guards, the Milwaukee Bucks are reportedly pushing hard to unload power forward Ersan Ilyasova:
Bucks are still shopping Ilyasova and, as an NBA official added "shopping him hard."— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) July 14, 2014
This wouldn't be shocking news by any means. Ilyasova was among the most frequently mentioned names on the Bucks' roster in terms of trade bait prior to the draft, and he might have been dealt before last season's trade deadline if not for an injury-plagued season tanking his trade value. Following the selection of Jabari Parker, who by all indications will begin his Bucks career as a power forward, Ilyasova's future with the Bucks looks as shaky as it ever has.
Still, for the moment it's unclear what "shopping him hard" really means. Is Milwaukee so desperate to dump Ilyasova and his $7.9M salary as to include, say, a second-round pick in order to move him? Or is John Hammond just exploring the market for Ilyasova to a greater degree than he previously had? Some recent developments offer a few clues and wrinkles:
- Rumors of Ilyasova favoritism on the part of Herb Kohl seemed to pop up whenever a trade was floated and ultimately failed to materialize. It's hard to say how true those rumors really were (same as the trade chatter itself), but if Kohl did block potential transactions, that obstacle is now gone.
- Jason Kidd has developed this strange habit of name-dropping Ilyasova at every possible opportunity, which is kind of strange. Naturally, speculation has risen that either Kidd loves Ilyasova (fueled by spotty reports that he pushed for the Nets to acquire him last season) or the organization is going out of its way to pump up Ersan's publicity in hopes of creating a stronger market.
- With stretch 4's becoming more and more commonplace on NBA rosters, it's basically become a legitimate practice to follow the movement of sweet-shooting big men around the league and look for holes to fill. Houston, one of those teams that always seems to be in pursuit of floor-spacing bigs, wasn't shy about its pursuit of Chris Bosh, but Bosh's return to Miami left them scrambling (they've since added Trevor Ariza, but he doesn't make much sense as a PF next to Dwight Howard). The Golden State Warriors remain a suitor for Kevin Love, but the asking price appears too steep for their tastes. The Suns will likely look to replace the production they got from Channing Frye, now a member of the Orlando Magic, and they've got a lot of cap space to conceivably take on Ilyasova's deal (which effectively expires after next season) without giving much of anything up. While there hasn't been any overt indication of interest from either of these squads this summer, taking advantage of the minor market collapse could work to the Bucks' advantage. This is all purely speculative at this point, but the will and means are obviously there for Milwaukee, which would seem to suggest that Ilyasova will find his way out of town sooner than later.