Ersan Ilyasova

Rosters Announced For Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

Four qualifying tournaments to determine the final four teams in the men’s basketball pool at the Tokyo Olympics are set to tip off on Tuesday. In advance of the Olympic qualifiers, the 24 teams involved have officially set their 12-man rosters, according to a press release from FIBA.

More than two dozen current NBA players are participating in the tournament, and 11 of the 24 teams competing for Olympic spots have at least one current NBA players on their respective rosters. Of those clubs, Team Canada has the biggest contingent of NBA players — eight of the 12 players on Nick Nurse‘s squad finished the season on an NBA roster. Turkey is next with four NBA players.

The four qualifying tournaments will take place in Serbia, Lithuania, Croatia, and Canada. Only the winner of each six-team group will advance to Tokyo. Those four winners will join Japan, Nigeria, Argentina, Iran, France, Spain, Australia, and the U.S. in the 12-team Olympic tournament.

The teams that move onto the Olympics may tweak their rosters for Tokyo, depending on the availability of certain players. For instance, if Greece were to win its qualifying tournament, perhaps Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo – who remains active in the playoffs for now – would make an effort to join the team in Tokyo next month.

Here are the NBA players on the OQT rosters:

Belgrade, Serbia

Kaunas, Lithuania

Split, Croatia

Victoria, Canada

There are also many former NBA players among the 24 rosters, including Mario Hezonja (Croatia), Milos Teodosic (Serbia), Jan Vesely (Czech Republic), Timofey Mozgov (Russia), and Anthony Bennett (Canada).

To view the full rosters, be sure to visit FIBA’s official site and click through to each team from there.

Olympic Notes: Spain, Simmons, Nigeria, Turkey, Garland

Veteran center Pau Gasol, who has represented Spain in four Olympic tournaments so far, remains on track to be part of the team in Tokyo, per an Associated Press report. Gasol was one of 18 players included on Spain’s preliminary roster for the Tokyo games, joining his brother – Lakers center Marc Gasol – and Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio.

Timberwolves forward Juan Hernangomez, Pelicans big man Willy Hernangomez, and projected first-round pick Usman Garuba are among the other notable names on Spain’s preliminary roster, according to The Associated Press.

Here’s more on the Tokyo Olympics:

Jazz Notes: Conley, Snyder, Ilyasova, Mitchell

Mike Conley was a beloved figure during the 12 years he spent with the Grizzlies, so it’s going to be odd to face his old team in a playoff series, writes Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Conley will square off with 21-year-old point guard Ja Morant, who was drafted to replace him after he was traded to the Jazz in 2019.

“I know how great the fans are there when they’re rooting for you, but I don’t know what it’s like when they’re against you,” Conley said. “I’m looking forward to that. It’s a new chapter for me and it’ll be fun to compete in the city that was home for me for so long against the team that’s playing so well.”

Conley had one of his best seasons at age 33 and is coming off his first All-Star appearance. He had a difficult adjustment to Utah last season, but posted numbers this year that are typical of what he used to do in Memphis: 16.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game while shooting 44% from the field and 41% from three-point range.

“I felt really comfortable in my role this year, how I’m used and how I can be effective for our team,” Conley said. “I think the bubble kind of helped expedite that and now with everybody healthy … everybody has really bought into their roles so much that we feel really comfortable and confident with what we have, and we feel like we can go to bat with anybody.”

There’s more from Utah:

  • The new play-in tournament put the top-seeded Jazz in the awkward position of not knowing their first-round playoff opponent until late Friday night, notes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “It’s really different,” coach Quin Snyder said. “Some teams, they’ve known who they’re playing since early in the week. Their preparation is going to look very different from ours. Not knowing who you’re playing, you want to work, you’re ready to go, but at the same time be really smart about what it is that you’re doing.”
  • Ersan Ilyasova is the only player listed on Utah’s injury report for Game 1, tweets Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. He is dealing with an illness that is not related to COVID-19.
  • In case you missed it, Donovan Mitchell returned to practice Thursday and is hoping his sprained right ankle has healed enough for him to be active for the playoff opener.

Jazz Notes: Ilyasova, Fans, Mitchell, Gobert

Ersan Ilyasova, who signed with the Jazz earlier this week, won’t get rushed into action, according to Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Ilyasova bided his time in free agency, waiting for an opportunity this season, until Utah came calling.

“I think he’s anxious to contribute in any way that he can,” coach Quin Snyder said. “We don’t expect him to show up and be ready to go right away. That’s not to say that he won’t be in many senses, but there’s an adjustment period, and we’re patient with him. I want him to be patient with himself.”

Ilyasova jumped at the chance to join the team with the league’s best record, as a story posted on the team’s website notes. The veteran forward played for the Bucks the past two seasons.

“The communication is there. They trust each other,” he said. “I watched the games before — the way they play and the chemistry is at a high level. When you see the way they play, share the ball, move the ball, everybody back each other, this is what it takes to win a championship.”

We have more on the Jazz:

  • The team will allow more fans into Vivint Smart Home Arena during the second half of the season, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Utah will host a max of 5,600 fans into the arena, which has a capacity of 18,300.
  • An article in The Athletic last spring suggested that the relationship between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert was irreparably damaged after Mitchell believed he contracted COVID-19 from his teammate. However, the two All-Stars are on very good terms now and that earlier report actually helped them patch things up, Mitchell told Jones in an in-depth article. “It brought out a level of determination in both of us that we never had,” Mitchell said. “I never had a controversy like that. Here we were, the two pillars of the team, and we had to go to the playoffs in two months. It brought out a different level of tenacity in both of us.”
  • Are Gobert and Jordan Clarkson the frontrunners for Defensive Player of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year, respectively? Join our discussion on the NBA’s 2020/21 awards right here.

Jazz Sign Ersan Ilyasova

MARCH 10: The Jazz have officially signed Ilyasova, according to’s transactions log.

MARCH 9: Free agent power forward Ersan Ilyasova has agreed to a sign a rest-of-season, minimum-salary contract with the Jazz, sources tell Jordan Schultz of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Schultz, Ilyasova is expected to officially sign on Wednesday after completing the COVID-19 protocol.

Ilyasova, who made his NBA debut back in 2006, has appeared in over 800 regular season contests for the Bucks and five other teams. In 2019/20, he averaged 6.6 PPG and 4.8 RPG with a .466/.365/.828 shooting line in 63 games (15.7 MPG) for Milwaukee.

Last season’s 36.5% mark from three-point range matches Ilyasova’s career rate, and his ability to stretch the floor from the power forward spot has been valuable over the years. While he’s not the most switchable or versatile defender, the 33-year-old has shown an uncanny knack over the years for taking charges on the defensive end.

Utah has had plenty of success this season with a forward rotation that includes Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and Georges Niang, so it’s unclear if Ilyasova will see action outside of garbage time or if he’ll simply provide some extra frontcourt depth.

The Jazz had been carrying 13 players on standard contracts since waiving Shaquille Harrison on February 24. Since the NBA allows teams to dip below the required 14-player minimum for only two weeks at a time, they needed to add a player before the second half got underway this week, as we detailed on Monday. After signing Ilyasova, Utah will still have an open spot on its 15-man roster, but won’t have to fill it immediately — or at all.

Ilyasova will earn $17,567 per day for the rest of the regular season, with Utah’s cap hit working out to $11,100 per day. The exact rest-of-season figures will depend on when he officially signs — assuming it happens on Wednesday, he’ll earn $1,194,542 with a cap charge of $754,783.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins‘ diminished mobility, brought on by back-to-back Achilles and ACL injuries, is behind the Rocketsdecision to cut ties with him in the next few days, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Cousins had been filling the role the team envisioned when it signed him, Iko adds, serving as a backup to starting center Christian Wood and spacing the offense while playing in short bursts. However, an ankle injury that has kept Wood off the court since February 4 pushed Cousins into a starting role that he wasn’t ready to handle.

Coach Stephen Silas is working to build a defensive identity in his first season in Houston, and Cousins’ inability to cover ground was getting in the way. With Cousins defending, opponents were shooting an incredible 63.4% on shots from six feet and closer.

Silas liked Cousins and the veteran presence he brought to the locker room, Iko writes. Several young players sought advice from him, especially rookie Jae’Sean Tate. But Cousins’ inability to handle more minutes convinced the team that it needs to go in a different direction at center.

There’s more on the Cousins situation:

  • The Rockets will be forced to re-run last year’s small-ball experiment until Wood is ready to return, Iko notes in the same story. Justin Patton, who signed a two-way deal on Friday, could see some playing time, and Houston will consider the free agent market, with Dewayne Dedmon and Ersan Ilyasova as possibilities.
  • The Lakers will be among the teams to pursue Cousins, sources tell Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer (Twitter link). He adds that sources expect the market for Cousins to be limited because of his struggles so far, but the 30-year-old offers significant upside for any team that needs depth in the frontcourt. Cousins signed with the Lakers last season, but wasn’t able to play because of an ACL injury.
  • Cousins would consider joining the Heat if he reaches free agency, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. A source confirms Cousins’ interest.
  • The Raptors could use help at center, but Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports doesn’t expect them to make a play for Cousins (Twitter link). He notes that Toronto opted to sign Aron Baynes and Alex Len during the offseason when Cousins was available.

Bucks Release Ersan Ilyasova

8:10pm: The Bucks have confirmed they’ve requested waivers on Ilyasova.

2:07pm: The Bucks are waiving forward Ersan Ilyasova before his salary for 2020/21 becomes guaranteed, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Ilyasova is under contract for $7MM in ’20/21, the final year of his deal. However, that amount is fully non-guaranteed until tomorrow, so Milwaukee can avoid being on the hook for his salary by releasing him now.

On its surface, the decision isn’t a surprising one. Ilyasova saw his role reduced in 2019/20, as he recorded 6.6 PPG and 4.8 RPG in 63 games, playing just 15.7 minutes per contest. In the postseason, he logged just 23 minutes in three games.

However, the implications of waiving him are worth noting. He was expected to be moved to Sacramento part of the deal that would have sent Bogdan Bogdanovic to Milwaukee in a sign-and-trade.

However, that deal reportedly fell apart on Wednesday. With Ilyasova hitting waivers, it will be very difficult for the two sides to rekindle that agreement, since his $7MM expiring contract was important for salary-matching purposes. In other words, the Bucks’ decision to cut Ilyasova suggests they really are moving on from Bogdanovic.

Ilyasova will be an unrestricted free agent able to sign outright with any team, assuming he goes unclaimed on waivers this weekend.

Bucks’ Sign-And-Trade For Bogdanovic In Peril

The agreement between the Bucks and Kings that would send Bogdan Bogdanovic to Milwaukee in a sign-and-trade is in peril, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, who reports that there was never an agreement from Bogdanovic to join the Bucks.

That element of the deal has become a major issue, according to Amick, who hears from a high-ranking team official that it’s not clear whether the move will be completed when free agency opens. The deal, which was reported late on Monday night, would send Bogdanovic and Justin James to the Bucks in exchange for Ersan Ilyasova, D.J. Wilson, and Donte DiVincenzo.

It’s hard to know what to make of this update. As I pointed out on Monday night when the story broke, it’s very unusual for a deal that involves a free agent changing teams to be reported several days before free agency actually begins. The NBA’s tampering rules would technically prohibit the Bucks from having any contact with Bogdanovic before Friday, so on one hand, a miscommunication wouldn’t be a major surprise.

On the other hand, it’s very unlikely that the Bucks and Kings would have agreed to a deal involving five players and overlooked the fact that Bogdanovic wasn’t fully on board with it. If Bogdanovic never agreed, it’s also odd that there wasn’t any real pushback on Monday’s reporting until now.

As Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report observes (via Twitter), it sounds like either someone “badly” messed up or the Kings and Bucks took heat from the NBA for leaking a deal involving a free agent well before the start of free agency and are now trying to walk it back.

Needless to say, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this situation this week to see if the Bucks, Kings, and Bogdanovic eventually work something out or if it falls apart entirely.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucks To Acquire Bogdan Bogdanovic From Kings In Sign-And-Trade

UPDATE: This deal has fallen apart. Read the details here.

The Bucks will acquire restricted free agent swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic from the Kings in a sign-and-trade deal once free agency opens, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Sources tell Wojnarowski that Milwaukee will send Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson, and Ersan Ilyasova to Sacramento in the deal, while the Bucks will also receive forward Justin James from the Kings (Twitter links).

Multiple reports in recent weeks indicated that the Bucks had interest in Bogdanovic and would pursue him in a sign-and-trade scenario. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reiterated that interest tonight in the wake of Milwaukee’s agreement to acquire Jrue Holiday, tweeting that Bogdanovic was also being eyed by the Hawks.

Still, even in the wake of O’Connor’s report, we didn’t expect to learn so early in the week that the Kings and Bucks have already reached an agreement. Since Bogdanovic will technically be a free agent, he and Milwaukee aren’t supposed to have any contact until Friday, so the NBA likely won’t be thrilled that news of this deal has already leaked.

Bogdanovic enjoyed arguably the best season of his three-year NBA career in 2019/20, averaging 15.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 3.4 APG on .440/.372/.741 shooting in 61 contests (29.0 MPG). He earned a promotion to the starting lineup in January, displacing Buddy Hield, and helped lead the Kings to a 16-12 record during his 28 games as a starter.

Re-signing Bogdanovic was believed to be a priority for the Kings, so it’s a little surprising that the team is prepared to move him in a sign-and-trade deal. However, former general manager Vlade Divac seemed more committed to the 28-year-old Serbian than new GM Monte McNair.

The Kings’ willingness to move on from Bogdanovic is good news for the Bucks, who have reshaped their lineup with this move and the acquisition of Holiday, putting themselves in a great position to sell Giannis Antetokounmpo on signing a five-year, super-max contract extension this fall.

As for the Kings, they’re likely not viewing Ilyasova’s expiring $7MM contract as a major asset, and Wilson is coming off a disappointing third season. DiVincenzo is the headliner of their package, having averaged 9.2 PPG and 4.8 RPG on .455/.336/.733 in 66 games (23.0 MPG) last year for Milwaukee. He’s a strong perimeter defender who – at age 23 – still has plenty of room to improve and is under contract for two more years before reaching restricted free agency.

It’s not yet clear what Bogdanovic’s new contract with the Bucks will look like, but the deal must span at least three seasons, with a guaranteed first year. Based on Milwaukee’s outgoing salary, he could receive a starting salary of up to approximately $18MM, assuming Ilyasova’s salary becomes guaranteed. However, the Bucks will have to be conscious of the hard cap — as a result of acquiring a player via sign-and-trade, they’ll be unable to surpass a team salary of $138,928,000 in 2020/21.

The base year compensation rule will also apply to Bogdanovic’s new deal and will complicate salary-matching to some extent, though the inclusion of James should prevent it from becoming an issue for Sacramento.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Cousins, Cap Projections, Two-Way Players, Hard Cap

DeMarcus Cousins is still recovering from the torn ACL in his left knee and may not be ready to play when the 2020/21 season begins in December, Austin Kent of SLAM reports. Cousins missed all of last season after suffering the injury during a summer workout. Cousins’ agent Jeff Schwartz told Kent that his client is focused on returning at full strength. Cousins, who is an unrestricted free agent, received offers prior to the restart but chose to continue his rehab.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • The Knicks are in the best position in terms of cap space next offseason, Danny Leroux of The Athletic notes. Depending upon what they do this offseason, New York might have enough room for two max players. The Spurs, Hornets, Hawks and Heat could also be in good position to sign a max player. Leroux breaks down every team’s cap situation and what kind of spending power they might have in 2021.
  • There’s a good chance that two-way players will be able to remain with their NBA teams for more than 45 days during the upcoming season, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. With a condensed offseason as well as coronavirus concerns, team executives are seeking more roster flexibility, Stein adds.
  • With a flat luxury-tax line and hard cap, several teams will be forced into hard decisions in the coming weeks, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. The hard cap of $138.9MM could force the Lakers to decide between trying to re-sign Rajon Rondo and spending their $9.3MM mid-level exception on another free agent, Marks notes. The hard cap figure could also force the Bucks to waive Ersan Ilyasova, who has a non-guaranteed $7MM contract, Marks adds.