Milwaukee Bucks: Ersan Ilyasova’s contract unlikely to be guaranteed

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 24 (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 24 (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Ersan Ilyasova’s third stint with the Milwaukee Bucks is clouded with uncertainty and we dive into the factors behind whether the Bucks should guarantee his contract for next season.

The Milwaukee Bucks will soon have a decision to make on Ersan Ilyasova and the $7 million he’s guaranteed for the 2020-21 season.

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has currently put a stop on the 2019-20 season and the Bucks’ focus, and the NBA’s at large, is currently on trying to salvage the end of the campaign in some way, if and when progress is made in being able to resume daily normal life.

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Ilyasova’s guarantee date of June 27 is currently in limbo with the league shut down at the moment, as is the case with player and team options having to be picked before the start of the next league calendar.

Given Bucks general manager Jon Horst’s track record for prizing flexibility, it’s very easy to envision the Bucks will decline guaranteeing the $7 million the Turkish veteran will be owed next season.

And given all of the uncertainty over how this season stoppage will affect the salary cap moving forward, it only enhances Ilyasova’s chances of being a cap casualty in some shape or fashion, especially as the Bucks were on the precipice of being a luxury tax team heading into next season.

That doesn’t mean that the door would be completely shut on a potential return for Ilyasova, as we saw in the case of George Hill last year. But we’re likely past the days of the 32-year-old earning more than exception-level deals or playing at the veteran minimum from here on out in his career.

But going down that route obviously leaves Ilyasova at risk of getting wooed by another team and suddenly, the Bucks’ forward depth would become a big question as it regards their entire roster.

Fellow veteran Marvin Williams, whom the Bucks picked up on the buyout market and who took over Ilyasova’s spot in the Bucks’ rotation under head coach Mike Budenholzer, will jump back into the open market. That leaves third-year forward D.J. Wilson behind superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and considering he’s just played just 280 minutes on the season, with the majority of it coming during garbage time, that simply isn’t sufficient cover behind the reigning MVP.

Under Budenholzer, the Bucks have prioritized keeping Antetokounmpo’s workload down, which has helped with the caliber of great depth the Bucks’ front office has amassed over the last couple of years. Ilyasova certainly made his mark in that regard behind the Greek superstar, and has enjoyed a Milwaukee homecoming that very few envisioned would come about when the clock struck midnight on July 1, 2018 for free agency.

The reactions and general consensus to Ilyasova’s three-year, $21 million deal at the time was deemed to be a overpay, but fast forward roughly two years later and Ilyasova’s reliability off the bench has quelled those concerns.

But as Ilyasova’s role changed significantly just before the season stoppage, the timing of it certainly didn’t seem to be coincidental, given his financial future and the guarantee date.

NBA will require a 25-day window to prep players for return. dark. Next

For now, everyone’s favorite charge-taking forward will hope to contend for this year’s title with the Bucks in the event the season does continue in some form. But like everything in the world, the future is very much uncertain as it relates to his time in Milwaukee.