With eight more regular season games in the NBA’s resumption plans, Ersan Ilyasova will have an opportunity to leap forward in the Milwaukee Bucks’ record books.
Sunday marked 15 years to the day since the Milwaukee Bucks drafted a Turkish second rounder by the name of Ersan Ilyasova, and although the journey has had some detours along the way, when the NBA season (hopefully) resumes next month, both parties will still be together.
Of course, it’s very possible that Ilyasova’s time with the Bucks could be nearing an end for the final time.
The Bucks hold what essentially acts like a team option for the final season on Ilyasova’s current deal, with the $7 million he’s owed for next year not set to be guaranteed until free agency opens on October 18.
With the Bucks almost certainly set to stare down the luxury tax this offseason in an uncertain financial climate for the league, that suddenly seems like a lot of money for a veteran who is certainly in the declining phase of his career.
The situation could prove a little less black and white, though, as Ilyasova’s future may end up closely tied to Marvin Williams’ decisions when he hits free agency, and the Bucks’ wider confidence in being able to find higher caliber options with limited resources in a weak free agent pool and a financially bruising market.
Whatever Ilyasova’s future holds beyond the current season, though, the short runaway that remains in the NBA’s plans for the regular season at least opens up the doors for him to really cement his place in franchise history alongside some truly elite company.
Ersan Ilyasova could join some of the Milwaukee Bucks’ greatest legends in the top-5 of games played for the franchise.
Ilyasova currently ranks eighth all-time in terms of games played with 576 regular season contests for the Bucks over his career to date. But with the eight seeding games the Bucks will play to close out their regular season, Ilyasova has been afforded just enough games to give him the opportunity to jump over multiple franchise legends.
If Ilyasova plays in seven of the Bucks’ eight games, he would move all the way up to fifth all-time in games played, overtaking the trio of Michael Redd (578), Paul Pressey (580), and Brian Winters (582).
In other words, only Junior Bridgeman, Sidney Moncrief, Bob Dandridge, and Jon McGlocklin will have played more regular season games as a Buck, with all four of those players, of course, having had their numbers retired by Milwaukee.
If Ilyasova was to remain with the Bucks for next season, it would take only 13 more games for him to overtake McGlocklin to move into fourth, and 36 additional games to jump up into third place ahead of Dandridge.
As my colleague Jordan Treske explored not too long ago, Ilyasova’s Bucks’ legacy may be a little unusual but it is an increasingly notable one in the franchise’s wider history.
For as polarizing as he has been at times over the years, Ilyasova may yet finish his time in Milwaukee as an NBA champion and in the top 5 in Bucks history in terms of games played. With that in mind, the last memories of Ilyasova may yet prove to be much more glowing than the contemporary reactions often have been throughout his Bucks tenure.