Milwaukee Bucks: Grades for Ersan Ilyasova’s three-year, $21 million deal

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 05: (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 05: (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
2 of 5
PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 8: (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 8: (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /


Although Ilyasova finished last season on a veteran minimum deal with the 76ers having been bought out by the Hawks earlier in the season, this deal is very much in line with what Ilyasova has been earning for the majority of his NBA career.

Since returning to the NBA in Europe in 2009, Ilyasova has averaged an annual salary of just under $6.7 million, falling very much in line with his new three-year, $21 million deal.

An important note on those initially reported terms came from ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who suggests the final year of that contract will be non-guaranteed.

In terms of guaranteed money, that leaves Ilyasova earning $13.6 million over two years.

The timing of that non-guaranteed year is important too, as the Bucks could opt to have Ilyasova’s salary come off the Bucks in 2020 alongside costly deals for role players such as John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, and potentially even Tony Snell who will have a player option decision that summer.

In other words, this isn’t a deal that does anything to damage Milwaukee’s chance of building meaningful cap space in the relative near future, leaving the potential for a marquee signing in the summer before Giannis Antetokounmpo next hits free agency.

At this early juncture of free agency it’s difficult to get a truly accurate handle on where Ilyasova’s contract sits on the wider scale of value.

Paying a meaningful chunk of the mid-level for a 31-year-old backup does raise eyebrows, but Ilyasova offers valuable skill-sets on both ends at a position of great need on Milwaukee’s depth chart.

The likely debate will center around whether the Bucks acting so quickly priced themselves out of a potential bargain. That’s certainly possible considering there will be players left to settle for discount deals as free agency rumbles on, but if Ilyasova was the player the Bucks wanted to add, it may not have made sense to wait.

Ilyasova has a good relationship with the coaching staff in Milwaukee from their time together in Atlanta, has played alongside key Bucks players previously, filled a major role of need this offseason, will want to be in Milwaukee, and by all accounts was drawing meaningful interest from other teams too.

Ilyasova became an incredibly valuable contributor in Philadelphia late last season, and the Bucks may have been wary of the 76ers’ cap space providing a potential offer they wouldn’t have been able to compete with for the Turk.

At this current point, it’s safe to say that Ilyasova’s deal is fine but by no means represents great value. It’s not an Ed Davis-esque bargain, but it’s not a somewhat baffling Doug McDermott deal either.

Ilyasova is an incredibly steady and proven veteran contributor, who at that price will improve a rotation that was found out to be considerably thin during the playoffs.