3:11pm: The trade is official, the Pistons and Bucks have announced. “Ersan Ilyasova is a player we have coveted since we got to Detroit,” said Van Gundy. “Not only is he a proficient three-point shooter that can stretch the floor, he is a high-energy, hard-playing guy who fits extremely well with how we want to play. We are excited about what he can add to our team. We appreciate the contributions of Caron and Shawne. Caron, in particular, is difficult to say goodbye to. Not only did he play well for us, his leadership went above and beyond. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a single player have a more a positive impact on a team than Caron did on ours. He is a special person and we will always respect and appreciate what he did here.”
2:13pm: The Bucks and Pistons have agreed to a trade that will send Ersan Ilyasova to Detroit for Caron Butler and Shawne Williams, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The move will give Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy a new stretch power forward of the sort that he so often employed when he was coach of the Magic. It’ll also set up Butler, a Wisconsin native, for his second stint with the Bucks after he spent the first half of the 2013/14 with Milwaukee, providing the Bucks keep him. Williams is also a stretch four who started 22 games for the Heat early this past season, but he saw little playing time in Detroit after the Pistons claimed him off Waivers.
The swap will give the Bucks a chance to clear salary, Wojnarowski notes (on Twitter). Butler is due $4.5MM next season, but that salary wouldn’t become guaranteed until June 30th. Williams likewise is without a guarantee for next season, but his minimum salary wouldn’t become fully guaranteed until January. Ilyasova is due a fully guaranteed $7.9MM next season, with $400K of his $8.4MM salary for 2015/16 guaranteed.
The deal is a further signal that soon-to-be free agent Greg Monroe will be elsewhere next season, tweets Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, since Ilyasova plays his position. It also ostensibly gives the team more motivation to acquire a small forward, with the power forward slot accounted for and Butler on his way out of town, Ellis surmises.
It doesn’t appear as though either team will have a chance to create a trade exception, since Milwaukee is under the cap and the Pistons need both the salaries of Butler and Williams to match for Ilyasova. The Bucks will instead have the chance to benefit from an additional chunk of cap flexibility equivalent to Ilyasova’s salary. That gives Milwaukee only about $36MM in commitments for next season against a projected $67.1MM cap, leaving enough room to re-sign restricted free agent Khris Middleton to a max deal and still have enough money left over for another marquee restricted free agent. Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times speculates that the Bucks will prioritize the addition of a perimeter shooter to offset the loss of what Ilyasova delivered in that regard (Twitter link).
Ilyasova acknowledged that trades are a part of the business when Woelfel asked for his reaction to the news (Twitter link). That Milwaukee would send him out is no surprise, since his name has been in rumors almost ever since he re-signed with the Bucks on a five-year, $40MM deal in July 2012. The team dangled him in trade talk as recently as the deadline in February, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reported then.
The 28-year-old Ilyasova is coming off a bounceback season in which he shot 38.9% from three-point range and averaged 11.5 points per game, but he did so in just 22.7 minutes per night, his lowest since he was a rookie in 2006/07. Butler, 35, put up 5.9 PPG in 20.8 MPG for Detroit. Williams saw less than 10 MPG for the Pistons after knocking down 39.5% of his three-pointers in 21.0 MPG for the Heat. Should the Bucks seek outside shooting, they could do worse than keeping Williams on the minimum salary, though that’s just my speculation.