Milwaukee Bucks Rumors: Draft pick may be used to trade Tony Snell, Ersan Ilyasova

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 22: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 22: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks are rumored to be offering draft compensation in an attempt to get off either Tony Snell or Ersan Ilyasova‘s contracts.

With the NBA Draft coming up on Thursday, and the NBA’s marquee trade of the summer already agreed with Anthony Davis set to join the Lakers, the league’s busiest transaction period of the year has well and truly arrived. For the Milwaukee Bucks, it may well prove to be even busier than for most, though.

With three of Milwaukee’s starters set to hit free agency, along with a couple of notable reserves, the Bucks aren’t just preparing for the decision facing them with the 30th overall pick, but also attempting to juggle their complex salary cap situation.

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As a result, it would be no real surprise if the Bucks were to explore all options in terms of increasing their flexibility and maximizing the restrictive financial situation they’re facing up to. With future draft assets at a premium too, it’s crucial that the Bucks make the most of the avenues for improvement they do have at their disposal.

Unsurprisingly, one such route to improved flexibility would come in shedding the non-essential salary of contracted role players, and according to Marc Stein of The New York Times, that’s a process that the Bucks are set to explore over the course of the week.

Prior to Stein’s report on Monday afternoon, our own Dan Larsen had already taken a detailed look at the possibility of the Bucks trading their pick, and the various considerations and difficulties that would have to be taken into such a scenario.

Snell and Ilyasova stood out as the obvious candidates for the Bucks to shop around, with Snell owed $11.3 million next season and likely to opt in to a player option for the following year, and Ilyasova under contract for $7 million next season.

The Bucks have little motivation to take back any meaningful salary in a trade considering they’re trying to clear space to re-sign key free agents, meaning dealing to a team with cap space or in exchange for non or partially guaranteed contracts would be their priority.

Stein’s mention of draft compensation is interesting considering how restricted the Bucks are in that department by future obligations. In all likelihood, that compensation would come in the form of the 30th overall pick in Thursday’s draft, although the Stepien rule would mean the Bucks would have to select a player for a trade partner rather than simply trading the pick ahead of time.

Still, the path to making such a deal is far from straightforward. Snell’s deal is significant enough in dollar amount and duration that it’s difficult to imagine a team willing to bite the bullet for the final pick of the first round. On the other hand, Ilyasova enjoyed a solid season and has a much more manageable deal that could intrigue teams, yet the Bucks don’t have an abundance of frontcourt depth and may well leave themselves exposed by dealing him away.

Strong depth on the wing makes Snell considerably more expendable, but all told the key phrase in Stein’s report is that the Bucks are “offering draft compensation this week in hopes of finding a team willing to take on the contract of Tony Snell or Ersan Ilyasova via trade.”

It’s no surprise that the Bucks are hoping to make such a deal, but there’s little reason to be confident in the possibility of Milwaukee finding a trade that will work for them.

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It’s a fluid scenario that could certainly develop over the next few days, but for now I wouldn’t expect dealing Snell or Ilyasova to be particularly simple.