Ersan Ilyasova

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 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.”

Ersan Ilyasova Signs With Sixers

FEBRUARY 28: The Sixers have officially signed Ilyasova, the team announced in a press release. Assuming the contract is a rest-of-season, minimum salary deal, Ilyasova will count as approximately $357K towards the cap.

FEBRUARY 25: Ersan Ilyasova plans to sign with the Sixers once his buyout with the Hawks is complete, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

The 30-year-old stretch four played 53 games for Philadelphia last season before being traded to Atlanta at the deadline. He is having a typically productive season for the Hawks, averaging 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting .359 from 3-point range.

Ilyasova is making $6MM is the final year of his contract, but with about three quarters of the season gone, the buyout cost should be minimal. He will have to work out the arrangement with Atlanta by Thursday to be eligible to join the Sixers for the postseason.

Philadelphia, which already added former Hawk Marco Belinelli after a buyout, has a full roster and will have to waive someone before signing Ilyasova.

Hawks, Ersan Ilyasova Finalize Buyout

5:50pm: Ilyasova plans to sign a veteran’s minimum contract with the Sixers for the rest of the season once he clears waivers, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets.

3:05pm: The Hawks have officially waived Ilyasova, per a team release. He’s on track to clear waivers on Wednesday, at which point he’d be free to sign with the Sixers.

2:42pm: The Hawks and veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova have finalized their buyout agreement, reports Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). The team is expected to formally announce Ilyasova’s release soon.

We first heard last Friday that the Hawks were nearing a buyout for Ilyasova. While it took a few days for the two sides to make the agreement official, it was always expected to happen. In fact, Ilyasova has already worked on lining up a new team for after he clears waivers — a Sunday report indicated that he intends to return to the Sixers.

Ilyasova, 30, has had a solid year with the Hawks, averaging 10.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 46 contests (25.5 MPG). The stretch four has a shooting line of .459/.359/.800. All of those numbers are in the general ballpark of his career averages.

After they waive Ilyasova, the Hawks will be left with just 13 players on their NBA roster, meaning they’ll once again have to get back up to 14 players, the league-mandated minimum. Atlanta left itself with 13 players after buying out Marco Belinelli earlier this month, and eventually signed Antonius Cleveland to a 10-day contract to get back to 14.

As for the Sixers, Belinelli ended up on their roster after being bought out by the Hawks, filling their final open roster spot. Philadelphia will have to cut a player to officially sign Ilyasova.

Sixers Notes: Fultz, Brown, Holmes, Ilyasova

It’s time for rookie guard Markelle Fultz to break his public silence and address the issues that have limited him to just four games this season, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The things Fultz needs to explain, according to Pompey, are whether a scapular muscle imbalance forced him to change his shot or whether it was done on the advice of his trainer, Keith Williams, and what teammate Joel Embiid meant when he said of Fultz, “I don’t feel like a lot of people … have had his back.”

Williams has denied making changes to Fultz’s shot and some people in the organization don’t believe it happened, but Fultz could easily clear up the situation if the team made him available to the media. However, he hasn’t granted any interviews apart from a brief one on TNT. A grievance was filed through the Pro Basketball Writers Association, but the NBA sided with the Sixers. The team may be trying to protect Fultz, Pompey adds, but the silence is just leading to more speculation.

There’s more today out of Philadelphia:

  • This is the first time since coach Brett Brown took over five years ago that the Sixers haven’t dealt away or waived someone at the trade deadline, Pompey notes in a separate story. Not only did they keep their core intact, they added a shooter by picking up Marco Belinelli from the buyout market. “It’s something that from the city’s perspective, from the fans’ perspective and from the these guys’ perspective to take continuity and move it forward instead of hack away at it and chop it down,” Brown said. “We respect it. We appreciate it.”
  • Richaun Holmes made a rare appearance Saturday, relays Sarah Todd of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The back-up center had sat out seven of the past nine games, but was scheduled for some minutes as Brown tries to prepare his whole roster for the postseason. Holmes responded with impressive defense in a win over the Magic. “Right now my motivation is I know that Richaun has value, I know that he has things that he can bring to the table and I respect how he’s handled himself when he wasn’t playing that much,” Brown said. “I know it’s my job to keep him alive and tonight was an example of that and I thought he did very very well.”
  • The Sixers could be an option for Ersan Ilyasova once he completes a rumored buyout with the Hawks, according to Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports. Ilyasova spent 53 games in Philadelphia last season before being traded to Atlanta.

Hawks, Ersan Ilyasova Nearing Buyout

The Hawks are nearing an agreement on a buyout with veteran power forward Ersan Ilyasova, reports Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link). Assuming the buyout is finalized by March 1, Ilyasova would retain his postseason eligibility for a new team.

Frequently mentioned as a probable trade candidate in the weeks leading up to this month’s deadline, Ilyasova ultimately stayed in Atlanta through February 8. He was immediately identified as a potential candidate for a buyout, particularly with teammate Marco Belinelli quickly reaching a buyout agreement of his own with the Hawks. However, early indications were that Ilyasova wasn’t desperate to get out of Atlanta.

Ilyasova, 30, has had a solid year with the Hawks, averaging 10.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 46 contests (25.5 MPG). The stretch four has a shooting line of .459/.359/.800. All of those numbers are in the general ballpark of his career averages.

While Amick (via Twitter) names the Bucks and Raptors as potential suitors for Ilyaosva, the big man’s skill set would appeal to a number of playoff-bound teams. He should draw plenty of interest if he reaches the open market, with Amick noting that other teams could get involved.

The Hawks are currently carrying 14 players on their NBA roster, so if they finalize a buyout with Ilyasova, they’d have to eventually sign another player to get back up to that league-mandated minimum.

Raptors Notes: Roster, Buyout Targets, Carter

With the NBA schedule set to resume following the All-Star break, the Raptors currently hold the No. 1 spot in the East and this year’s squad looks capable of setting a new franchise record for wins in a regular season. As head coach Dwane Casey tells Shaun Powell of, the Raptors have built their roster without luring any big names to Toronto.

“It’s not like we’ve gone outside and got a superstar free agent,” Casey said. “We’ve done it organically by growing our young players and the rewarding part was people questioning what we were trying to do. We’re not there yet. We haven’t arrived. But we’ve done it the traditional way. A lot of guys around the league are partnering up, adding superstars, superstars and superstars. We’ve developed players, starting with DeMar [DeRozan].”

During the past couple postseasons, the Raptors’ lack of starpower has been an issue, with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and the Cavaliers ending the club’s season in back-to-back years. While we wait to see if the Raps can get over the hump this spring, let’s round up a few more notes out of Toronto…

  • Within a piece on the Raptors storylines to watch down the stretch, Josh Lewenberg of discusses possible buyout targets for the club, noting that Toronto didn’t have interest in Joe Johnson or Brandan Wright, who landed with the Rockets.
  • The Raps are keeping an eye out for veteran wing insurance, since C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby have both battled minor injuries, according to Lewenberg, who noted earlier this week that Arron Afflalo may be a target for Toronto. Lewenberg adds that stretch fours like Channing Frye and Ersan Ilyasova may also be nice fits, but they probably won’t receive buyouts, and would be long shots to choose Toronto even if they do reach free agency.
  • After an early-February report indicated that the Raptors had interest in Vince Carter, Lewenberg recently suggested that idea is on hold for now. He goes into more detail in his latest article, writing that the club has decided “this is not the right time” for a Carter reunion. The organization doesn’t want the media coverage of such a signing to overshadow the accomplishments of this year’s squad, Lewenberg explains. The Raps haven’t ruled out the idea of an eventual reunion, but it’s “on the back burner for now,” tweets Michael Grange of
  • Earlier this week, we asked whether the Raptors will hold onto the No. 1 seed in the East.

2017/18 Buyout Market Summary

With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, much attention is being paid to what is expected to be several weeks of busy buyout market activity. The last day that a player can be waived from their current team and still be eligible to play in the postseason with a new team is March 1.

Below are a series of lists breaking down the veterans who have already been bought out – or simply waived – by their respective teams since the trade deadline, along with those who are expected to be, and several more who really ought to be considered possible buyout candidates even if no reports have come out explicitly stating as much.

As the weeks unfold, we may see new names surface as buyout candidates, in such cases (and whenever a player is formally bought out) we’ll update the list.

Potential buyout candidates:

Expected to be bought out or released:

  • None

Veterans who have been bought out or released:

Hawks Notes: Ilyasova, Dorsey, Bembry

There has been considerable speculation that the Hawks will look into possible buyout options with forward Ersan Ilyasova, and rightfully so. Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted as much shortly after the trade deadline.

At this point, however, the parties haven’t discussed such an arrangement. Hours after that initial tweet, Cunningham tweeted that Ilyasova himself isn’t looking for a buyout, so long as the team is playing to win games. On Friday, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution chipped in with a note that the 30-year-old hasn’t been approached about one either.

Ilyasova, who signed a one-year, $6MM deal with the club in the offseason, has averaged 10.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Hawks. He’d be a valuable addition to any contender looking to add versatile frontcourt depth heading into the final stretch of the season.

A testament to Ilyasova’s value is the fact that, as Cunningham mentioned in one of his aforementioned tweets, the team did have trade offers for him — he simply invoked his right to reject them.

There’s more out of Atlanta:

O’Connor’s Latest: Thunder, Bradley, Simmons

When we relayed the latest rumors on the Thunder‘s search for wing help on Tuesday, Avery Bradley was one player we mentioned, with a report suggesting Oklahoma City has done its due diligence on the Clippers guard. It wasn’t the first time Bradley’s name has surfaced as a potential OKC target, and multiple league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that Bradley’s name “keeps popping up” as a player of major interest to the Thunder.

As O’Connor observes, one deal that would make sense on paper and would work financially is Bradley for Alex Abrines and Terrance Ferguson. However, the Thunder are reportedly very reluctant to part with Ferguson, recognizing that they’ll need inexpensive role players for the next few years if they hope to keep their current core together.

Still, some sort of deal involving Abrines could be possible. O’Connor hears from a league executive that Clippers director of pro player personnel Johnny Rogers – who played and broadcasted in Spain – “loves” Abrines, a former Barcelona standout.

O’Connor shares a few more items of interest in his latest piece for The Ringer, so let’s round them up…

  • Although the Thunder have kicked the tires on Magic swingman Jonathon Simmons, multiple sources tell O’Connor that Simmons isn’t expected to be available — at least not for what Oklahoma City would offer.
  • Two front office sources have informed O’Connor that the Thunder would be among the frontrunners to sign Joe Johnson if he’s bought out by the Jazz this month.
  • The Hawks have had some trouble gaining traction on deals for some of their veterans, according to O’Connor, who says that the Thunder and Pacers are among Atlanta’s potential trade partners for players like Marco Belinelli, Dewayne Dedmon, or Ersan Ilyasova. O’Connor notes that the Hawks had interest in T.J. Leaf prior to last year’s draft, but he’s skeptical that the Pacers would surrender the rookie forward for a veteran rental.

Southeast Notes: Whiteside, Vucevic, Ilyasova

The Heat have been aggressive on the trade market, but don’t expect them to deal Hassan Whiteside without a significant haul coming back in return, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. The franchise knows all too well how much of a role the 28-year-old has played in the team’s emergence as a defensive force.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra has reined in his inconsistent big man’s minutes this year, a luxury he can afford with other options like Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo on the roster.

Despite the decreased workload, Whiteside is as efficient as ever, posting 14.4 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in just 25.8 minutes of action. Those are per-36 rates of 20.0 and 16.4, respectively, up from 18.8 and 15.6 per-36 in 2016/17.

There’s more from the Southeast Division: