The Milwaukee Bucks have acted quickly in NBA Free Agency to ensure the return of former Buck and veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova on a three-year, $21 million deal.
The Milwaukee Bucks wasted no time in making a deal in the early hours of Sunday morning, as free agency opened and they reportedly secured the signature and return of a former Buck.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ersan Ilyasova will be returning to the Bucks on a three-year-deal worth $21 million.
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Ilyasova was drafted by the Bucks with the 35th pick of the 2005 NBA Draft, and has previously had two separate spells with the franchise.
The 31-year-old first suited up for the Bucks in 2006 as a rookie, before returning to Europe and spending two seasons in Spain with Barcelona.
The Turkish native returned Stateside in 2009, and spent six full seasons in Milwaukee before being traded prior to the 2015 NBA Draft in a move designed to clear cap space.
In the time since leaving Milwaukee, Ilyasova has played for the Pistons, Magic, Thunder, 76ers (twice), and perhaps most significantly with the Hawks. Ilyasova’s time with Atlanta is particularly notable as it saw Ilyasova play under now Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer and the majority of his current coaching staff.
Ilyasova is known for being an outstanding positional defender, who consistently ranks among the league leaders in charges drawn over the course of an NBA season, and his consistency on that end combined with his veteran leadership will likely make him a key piece of Budenholzer’s plans to reshape the Bucks on that end of the floor.
The addition of Ilyasova also resolves the Bucks most significant need heading into the offseason, as the departure of Mirza Teletovic had left Milwaukee without any experienced power forward options coming off the bench. Of course, the Bucks’ depth at that position may be further weakened if Jabari Parker leaves in free agency, and therefore adding Ilyasova offers some valuable security.
Ilyasova’s three-year, $21 million deal falls under the Bucks’ non-taxpayer mid-level exception, and as Bobby Marks of ESPN noted it places them under a hard cap for the remainder of the season.
Whether the Ilyasova signing leads to the departure of Parker remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt it leaves less room to offer him a meaningful deal and puts a potential replacement already in place.
For Ilyasova, the deal should be a massive cause for celebration. Not only does the move see Ilyasova reunited with a coaching staff that holds him in such high regard, but it sees him return to the city where his family have continued to live since his 2015 departure.
Speaking prior to a road game in Milwaukee at the start of 2017, Ilyasova shared his enthusiasm at having the chance to see his family mid-season and noted of the city:
"“I kind of grew up there. It’s a lot of time spent.”"
The Bucks’ remaining moves in free agency will now likely have to wait until any final decisions are made on Parker’s future, but for the moment Ilyasova is set to return to Milwaukee to suit up for the Bucks again in their new arena.