Ersan Ilyasova is poised to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and at 25 years old, he'll be one of the more intriguing power forwards on the market. Earning increased playing time in Milwaukee this season after Andrew Bogut went down, Ilyasova has averaged 14.4 points and 11.1 rebounds in 17 games since the start of February.
The emergence of Ilyasova means the Bucks have a decision to make, says Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times. Bidding for Ilyasova figures to be competitive this offseason, and the Bucks already have two forwards (Drew Gooden and Luc Mbah a Moute) under contract through 2014/15. If the Bucks hope to outbid potential suitors for the unrestricted free agent, they'd need to commit to long-term deals for three solid but unspectacular forwards with similar skillsets.
Another factor in the Bucks' decision is the interest Ilyasova is drawing overseas. We heard last month that the 24-year-old has received offers from five European teams that wanted to buy him out of his Bucks' contract, and those clubs figure to pursue him again this summer. One NBA exec told Woelfel that he wouldn't be surprised if Ilyasova returned to Turkey, his home country, where he may be able to earn a tax-free annual salary of $5MM.
Considering the Bucks may lose Ilyasova for nothing in the offseason, Woelfel wonders if the team would trade him now. The Bucks are three games back of the Knicks for the final playoff spot in the East, so I can't see them becoming sellers at the deadline. But Ilyasova, who earns just $2.54MM this season, would be an attractive trade chip for contenders in need of size.