Ersan Ilyasova

Central Rumors: Cavs Roster, Kennard, Lopez

The Cavaliers plan to leave an open spot on the roster heading into training camp, Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Cleveland currently has 12 players on guaranteed deals and has filled both of its two-way slots. The Cavs are holding spots for both restricted free agent Rodney Hood, whose negotiations with the organization have stalled, and free agent guard David Nwaba, who has agreed to a contract but is still working out all the details, according to Vardon. Training-camp invitees will battle for the final spot on the 15-man roster, Vardon adds.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers will allow the remainder of their trade exception from the Kyrie Irving deal to expire on Wednesday but they still have two more exceptions, Vardon notes in the same piece. It has exceptions of $2.5MM and $1.3MM from the deal that sent Richard Jefferson and Kay Felder to the Hawks last season. Those exceptions expire on October 15th.
  • Pistons swingman Luke Kennard could have an expanded role in his second season, according to Ansar Khan of MLive.com. New coach Dwane Casey wants Kennard to handle the ball more often and become a playmaker, Khan continues. He could see action at three positions, though he will primarily back up Reggie Bullock at shooting guard, Khan adds.
  • Free agent acquisitions Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova fit the current NBA model of big men who can stretch the floor, Bucks GM Jon Horst declares in a video clip posted on the team’s Twitter feed“With Brook and Ersan, you have guys that have great size, that can shoot the three. They compete on both ends of the floor and have high basketball IQ,” Horst said.

Contract Details: Smart, Gay, Grant, Ilyasova

Marcus Smart‘s new deal with the Celtics will increase in value each season, beginning with an approximate salary of $11.7MM in 2018/19 and ending with a salary of nearly $14.4MM in 2021/22, per Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

The total value of the contract is $51,999,900, $100 shy of the reported value of $52MM, and it is fully guaranteed with no options.

Here are a few more details on contracts signed this summer, courtesy of Pincus:

  • The Spurs agreement with Rudy Gay is worth $10,087,200, the highest allowable salary San Antonio was permitted to pay him via his non-Bird rights (Twitter link).
  • Ersan Ilyasova‘s new deal with the Bucks will pay him an even $7MM over three seasons, with a yet-to-be determined guarantee amount and date on year three.
  • The agreement between Jerami Grant and the Thunder is worth just shy of $27.4MM, with a player option valued at approximately $9.3MM for the 2020/21 season.

Bucks Sign Forward Ersan Ilyasova

JULY 16, 7:25pm: The signing is official, per team press release.

JUNE 30, 11:04pm: Veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova has reached agreement on a three-year, $21MM contract with the Bucks, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The third year is non-guaranteed, league sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link).

The move represents a homecoming for the 31-year-old, who began his career in Milwaukee in 2006. Apart from two seasons in Spain, Ilyasova remained with the Bucks until they traded him to Detroit in 2015.

He started the 2017/18 season in Atlanta before agreeing to a buyout in late February and signing with the Sixers to provide shooting help in the playoffs. He averaged 9.3 points and 7.6 rebounds in 10 postseason games for Philadelphia.

Milwaukee will probably use its mid-level exception to add Ilyasova, unless it can arrange a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia or swing some other deals to clear cap room. Assuming Ilyasova’s first-year salary exceeds the taxpayer’s mid-level exception ($5.337MM) and he’s acquired via the MLE or a sign-and-trade, the Bucks would be hard-capped for the 2018/19 league year.

That hard cap could be a factor if another team makes an aggressive offer for restricted free agent Jabari Parker, as cap expert Albert Nahmad notes (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucks Notes: Ilyasova, Parker, Lopez, Zeller

The Bucks are thrilled to have Ersan Ilyasova back on the squad after three seasons without the former second-round pick.

“Ersan is a high IQ player, he can shoot the ball so he gives Giannis and the rest of the team space,” GM Jon Horst said (via the Behind the Buck Pass’ Twitter feed). “He’s competitive, he’s tough, and he knows our system, he knows our community, he knows our players. He was a guy we focused on in free agency, and we’ll be excited to add him.”

Milwaukee agreed to terms on a three-year, $21MM deal as free agency began last weekend. Here’s more from Milwaukee:

  • Horst discussed the Jabari Parker‘s pending restricted free agency during an appearance on NBATV (h/t Adam McGee of Behind the Buck Pass). “We’ve had great conversations [with Parker and his agent], we’re in contact every day. I think the market will dictate some of it, but we’ll continue to work on it and we’ll see how it turns out,” Horst said.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com examines why Brook Lopez didn’t fetch a more lucrative deal than the one-year, $3.4MM contract he agreed to with the Bucks. While Lopez will provide Milwaukee with a proven scorer in the paint, his lack of foot speed will make it difficult for him to have a defensive impact. Pelton notes that the big man’s ability to shoot from behind the arc will help the team space the floor on offense.
  • The arrival of Lopez likely means Tyler Zeller‘s time in Milwaukee will come to an end, Pelton speculates in the same piece. Zeller’s $1.9MM salary is non-guaranteed and the Bucks will have to be careful in the margins if they plan on making an offer to Parker without going into the luxury tax. If the Bucks waive both Zeller and Brandon Jennings, whose $2.2MM salary does not become guaranteed until August 1, they’d have approximately $11.5MM of financial wiggle room below the luxury tax line.

Sixers Notes: Ennis, Ilyasova, Bird, Milton

The Sixers have their eyes on free agent forward James Ennis, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley, but landing him won’t be easy. Detroit owns Early Bird rights on Ennis and has made re-signing him a priority.

Ennis, 28, came to the Pistons at the trade deadline after beginning the season in Memphis. He was a part-time starter in Detroit and averaged 7.5 points per game. He earned a little more than $3MM this season.

The Rockets and Nets have also expressed interest in Ennis, according to Begley. The Pelicans would also like to sign him, but the growing interest may push him outside their price range, adds Scott Kushner of The Advocate (Twitter link). Ennis played nine games in New Orleans at the end of the 2015/16 season.

There’s more from Philadelphia on the first day of free agency:

  • The Sixers talked to veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova about a return before he signed a three-year, $21MM deal with the Bucks, according to Gery Woelful of The Racine Journal Times (Twitter link). The Lakers, Timberwolves and Raptors were other options for Ilyasova.
  • The Sixers are among the teams showing interest in Celtics shooting guard Jabari Bird, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, who adds that the Wolves are also considering an offer. Bird was a two-way player for Boston this season, appearing in 13 NBA games and averaging 3.0 points in 8.0 minutes per night. He was a big scorer for the Celtics’ G League affiliate in Maine, posting a 19.3/5.8/2.7 line in 20 games. Boston submitted a qualifying offer this week, making Bird a restricted free agent.
  • Second-round pick Shake Milton will be held out of summer league play because of a stress fracture in his back, reports Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The team plans to re-evaluate him in three weeks. His injury occurred during pre-draft workouts.
  • Justin Anderson had surgery on his left leg due to recurring tibial stress syndrome, the team announced on its website. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks, then again in six to eight weeks. Anderson has spent the past season and a half in Philadelphia and appeared in 38 games this year.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers have made it quite clear that they’re ready and willing to accelerate their timeline and make a serious bid for an elite free agent. That’s ambitious and admirable, but to assume that a player like LeBron James is around the corner is like buying lottery tickets to fund your retirement.

It’s commendable that the Sixers have their sights set on big fish, but let’s assume that the King decides to re-up in Cleveland and Philly is forced to see their original process through to the end. Sure, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid weren’t enough to win the East in their first ever playoff appearances, that doesn’t mean the organization is in any less of an enviable place than they were a month ago.

In the event that Philly strikes out in their pursuit of James, they’d be wise to continue what they set out to do in 2017/18, surround their obnoxiously promising young core with solid veterans capable of helping them flourish into superstars.

J.J. Redick, SG, 34 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $23MM deal in 2017
The idea to overpay Redick for a one-year contract last summer was brilliant. The team was able to complement its young core with a capable veteran scorer while getting a feel for what the next phase of the process was. It turns out the next phase involves winning, though, which involves paying to keep the club’s young core in tact. Since July, when Redick signed his monster contract, the Sixers have extended both Embiid and Robert Covington, eating up $35MM in salary that they didn’t need to worry about this time last. While the club still has piles of cap room for 2018/19, Philadelphia may look to lock Redick down at a discounted rate now that the roster is looking less and less like a science fair project and more like a contender.

Marco Belinelli, SG, 32 (Up) – Signed to a one-year deal in 2018
Belinelli landed with the Hawks last offseason, a hired gun on a short-term deal, and eventually became one of the buyout market’s most desirable pieces. The Sixers prudently added the shooting guard in February and gave him a months-long opportunity to show what he’s capable of contributing to a contender. Belinelli is still young enough to command a contract in the $8MM-$10MM range and may be able to parlay his success in Philly into a longer-term contract. That could very well put him right back in a Sixers uniform.

Ersan Ilyasova, PF, 31 (Down) – Signed to a one-year deal in 2018
There are few players who fill an unheralded role more brilliantly than Ilyasova but that hasn’t helped him find any stability since getting traded away from Milwaukee in 2015. In the three years since, the veteran has plied his scrappy trade for five franchises, proving at every step along the way that he’s a solid rotation piece. Unfortunately for Ilyasova, the contenders that he could benefit most tend to be the ones with the least amount of cap space, so he may need to take a discount if he wants to win.

Amir Johnson, C, 31 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $11MM deal in 2017
The Sixers are in a drastically different place than they were when they inked Johnson, a reliable if unexciting veteran, to an eight-digit contract. For one, the win-now Eastern Conference contender need not get creative just to meet the league’s salary floor and they also don’t need to be quite as cautious when it comes to Embiid insurance. If Johnson wants to remain in Philadelphia – or on any serious playoff team – he may need to take a significant pay cut.

Richaun Holmes, C, 24 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $5MM deal in 2015
Thanks to Embiid’s reasonably healthy season, the Sixers didn’t utilize Holmes as much as they did the year prior but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t still high on the athletic big man’s long-term role with the franchise. Picking up his $1.6MM team option is a no-brainer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sixers Will Pursue Top Free Agents

Luxury tax concerns won’t scare the Sixers away from chasing elite talent this summer, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

LeBron James tops the list of targets and is rumored to be considering Philadelphia as a possible destination. GM Brian Colangelo estimates the team will have about $25MM in cap room, but more could be opened to meet James’ demand for a maximum deal starting around $35MM a year.

“I think the bar is very high for us in terms of who we are going to put on this team,” said Sixers co-managing partner Josh Harris. “But on the other hand, for a certain small number of players, like we are going to go after them hard. People have asked me about the luxury tax. I don’t have any problem spending for good players.”

Pompey shares a few other notes about the Sixers’ offseason:

  • The franchise is planning to pursue Oklahoma City’s Paul George as well as James. George has expressed a desire to play in Los Angeles, but could be swayed by the young talent in place in Philadelphia. His defense and outside shooting would make him an attractive fit alongside Ben Simmons.
  • The Sixers will make a play for Spurs star Kawhi Leonard if he becomes available in trade. Leonard has a good relationship with coach Brett Brown, but Pompey cites the risk of trading for him without a guarantee that he will sign an extension. Leonard can opt out of a $20.1MM salary next summer.
  • Creating room for a max contract means renouncing the rights to free agents J.J. Redick, Amir Johnson, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. The Sixers could try to bring them back with the mid-level exception and minimum contracts, but they may all get better offers elsewhere. Redick signed a one-year, $23MM deal to come to Philadelphia last summer and is probably seeking a longer arrangement at age 33. Pompey expects him to get an offer in the $12MM to $15MM range. Johnson, 31, will also be searching for a long-term contract.

Bucks Notes: Antetokounmpo, Henson, Rodgers, Ilyasova

The Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo are both envisioning a long-term relationship, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Antetokounmpo will be 26 when his current contract expires after the 2020/21 season, and he hopes to sign another long-term deal in Milwaukee.

“Definitely. That’s one of my goals,” Antetokounmpo said about spending his career with one franchise.Kobe [Bryant] did it. Tim Duncan did it. Dirk Nowitzki did it. I just want to be one of those guys … that stays for the city, play for the city for 20 years.”

That view is shared by the Bucks, who want to hold onto their MVP candidate for as long they can. Antetokounmpo is coming off his best NBA season, averaging 26.9 points and 10.0 rebounds per game and leading the team to its third playoff appearance in the past four seasons. Bucks president Peter Feigin calls him a “unicorn” and says the franchise is doing all it can to maximize Antetokounmpo’s appeal.

“I think all of us feel like extremely lucky and have a big responsibility to do fantastic things for him, for the team, for the league,” Feigin said. “So we spend a lot of time and just being as innovative as we can and [discussing] how do we really take his likability and just blow it out of the sky.”

There’s more today from Milwaukee:

  • John Henson is sitting out his second straight playoff game with back issues, the Bucks announced this morning (Twitter link). Milwaukee’s starting center averaged 9.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in the first two games of the series with Boston.
  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has become a limited partner in the Bucks’ ownership group, relays Rob Demovsky of ESPN. A longtime NBA fan, Rodgers was introduced to the crowd in his new role during Friday’s Game 3. “I am excited and honored to deepen my connection to the region by joining Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, Jamie Dinan, Mike Fascitelli and the ownership group of the Milwaukee Bucks,” Rodgers said. “As a huge fan of the NBA and the sport of basketball, this is a dream come true for me, and I look forward to furthering my affinity for Wisconsin sports as a minority owner in a team I love and support.”
  • Sixers forward Ersan Ilyasova gave serious consideration to the Bucks after his buyout from Atlanta, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Ilyasova broke into the NBA with Milwaukee and his family still lives there, but he was more excited about the opportunity in Philadelphia.

Sixers Notes: Ilyasova, Belinelli, Brown, Hinkie

The Sixers, who raised NBA tanking to a new level during their “Trust the Process” years, got an assist this season from another tanking team, notes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. The additions of Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli, who were both bought out by the Hawks, gave Philadelphia massive production off the bench in Saturday’s playoff opener.

Ilyasova posted 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Belinelli scored 25 points and was 4 of 7 from 3-point range. Although he drew interest from the Bucks, Cavaliers, Warriors and Raptors after his buyout, Ilyasova said it was an easy decision to come to Philadelphia.

“I think it’s all about fitting in the right situation,” he said. “Me and Marco, the way this team plays, we fit in perfectly in the system. … “When you look at the locker room and see the guys we have, obviously when [Joel Embiid] gets back, the sky’s the limit.”

There’s more today from Philadelphia:

  • When it comes to trusting the process, no one had to do it more than coach Brett Brown, who amassed a historically bad won-loss record in his first few years on the bench, Shelburne adds in the same story. The former Spurs assistant, who was 55-253 heading into this season, said he never lost faith in what the organization was trying to accomplish. “For whatever reason, I have found peace with what we have been doing since I’ve had the job,” Brown said. “We have tried to stay steady throughout it all. And I hope I still do. I really mean that. You had to have a vision and a calling. But we want more. Ultimately, we’re trying to grow something that can produce a championship.”
  • Co-managing partner Josh Harris also focused on winning a title in a chat with Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Harris called it “painful” to rebuild for three and a half years, but added that the organization never wavered from its plan. “I’m greedy,” he said. “I want to win an NBA championship. “I’m not going to be satisfied until that happens.”
  • Former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, credited as the architect of the tanking strategy, remains on good terms with the organization, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. “Sam is a smart guy,” Harris said. “He’s a great strategist, and he certainly positioned the team, as best he could, to achieve success through the rebuild process. He also brought in some good people who are still with us. We continue to have a good relationship with him. We’re glad he was a part of it.”

Atlantic Notes: LeBron, Ilyasova, Raptors, Russell

LeBron James shot down a rumor that he spent part of the All-Star break in Philadelphia checking out possible schools for his children, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The report, which James called “disgusting,” started with Sixers TV analyst Alaa Abdelnaby, who said his brother told him a Philly-area superintendent relayed that James was looking at private schools in the region.

“Pennsylvania? Nah. What are you talking about?” James said. “Over the All-Star break, I was on vacation and then went to Los Angeles.”

There has been speculation that Philadelphia is one of the destinations James will consider in free agency this summer, with a company from the city buying billboards near Quicken Loans Arena urging him to join the Sixers.

There’s more today from the Atlantic Division:

  • Ersan Ilyasova held his first workout with the Sixers today since returning to Philadelphia following a buyout with the Hawks, and his ex-teammates were thrilled to see him again, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’m happy that we got him back,” Joel Embiid said. “I thought we should have kept him last year and re-signed him this summer. But I’m glad that he’s back and I’m excited.” Ilyasova played 53 games for the Sixers last season before being dealt to Atlanta.
  • The Raptors don’t expect to pick up anybody on the buyout market, tweets Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet. He adds that the team doesn’t see any players who would be good fits for the limited roles it has available. Toronto saved about $1MM by trading Bruno Caboclo‘s expiring contract to the Kings last month for Malachi Richardson and was hoping to use that money on a buyout, adds Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun (via Twitter). The Raptors may wind up with a slightly larger tax bill for next season due to Richardson’s $1.57MM salary for 2018/19.
  • Fully recovered from knee surgery, D’Angelo Russell is showing why the Nets traded for him over the summer, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. It took a while for Russell to return to form following the operation, but he is averaging 14.5 points and 5.3 assists over the past 11 games. “Oh man, it was only a matter of time,” said teammate Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. “That’s D’Angelo’s game. He can score, he can pass, play-make. There isn’t much he can’t do. “It just feels good to have him back.”