Is Ersan Worth It?July 9, 2012
The Bucks kept Ersan Ilyasova with a reported 5-year contract worth $45 million. The last year is a reported team option but even a 4-year deal worth an average of $9 million is a substantial commitment. The question remains: is Ilyasova worth it? Only time will tell, but in the current NBA economy, the quick answer is yes. A player is worth whatever he can get and it’s not as if the Bucks were bidding against themselves. The Nets were the most vocal competition for the free agent’s services, but not likely the only other team with interest in Ilyasova.
Ilyasova averaged 13 points and almost 9 rebounds per game last season. He became the first player since Arvydas Sabonis in 1995-’96 to post those kind of numbers in 28 minutes or less per game. He was among the league leaders by hitting 45% of his 3’s, a dramatic improvement from earlier in is career.
Bucks Owner Herb Kohl is an Ersan fan and didn’t want to see him blossom elsewhere. If he overpaid, well, he’s the one writing the checks. Why do I feel like the NBA is turning into a league of a few superpowers and the Bucks are in danger of becoming Switzerland? The Heat’s championship made the superstar alliances even more fashionable. It’s hard for the Bucks to have one star, let alone an alliance of three. The Bucks are hoping that Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings will become home-grown stars and make Milwaukee an attractive place to play.
There were times last season that Ilyasova played like a star. We’re talking more than just a few games. His numbers were impressive. 20 double-doubles including a 29 point, 25 rebound explosion February 19th against New Jersey. No wonder the Nets wanted him! He scored at least 20 points 11 times and over 30 twice. He grabbed at least 10 rebounds 25 times.
If the Bucks had let Ersan go, fans would have said the Bucks weren’t willing to lock up young players (Ersan is only 25) and were not committed to winning. If he’s just okay from here on out, the Bucks will hear that they overpaid. It was a true no-win situation for the franchise. For the record, Ryan Anderson just got a nearly identical, $9 million per year deal prompting a sign-and trade from Orlando to New Orleans. Like it or not, agree with it or not—the market for young “stretch 4’s” is set.
Having said that, Ilyasova must now do his part. He can’t be inconsistent anymore. He has to be among the team’s best players every night. And I’m finding it hard to believe the Bucks can keep all of those power forwards. Drew Gooden seems the most likely trade candidate.
Was Ilyasova just making a contract push or was it a sign of great things to come. Will he turn into Tim Thomas and be a tease early in his career but not live up to his big salary later? Or is he on the cusp of stardom and actually a bargain by NBA standards? The Bucks have a lot riding on the answer.
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