Ersan Ilyasova, 25, is an unrestricted free agent and, given his propensity to crash the boards and shoot the ball effectively, expects to receive a big contract this offseason. Ilyasova’s tantalizing skills has the San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors intrigued according to Fred Kerber of the New York Post.
Ilyasova’s combination of rebounding and shooting make him an exceedingly rare commodity on the open market. When you factor in his age his value skyrockets even further. Hoopshype ranked him as the 13th best free agent and Zach Lowe of The Point Forward slotted him as the second best power forward behind Most Improved Player Ryan Anderson.
Ilyasova is an essential partner in pick-and-pop situations because he can knock down 16-foot jumpers and step outside the arc and still convert with the same frequency. That kind of dual threat would bolster the Spurs’ already successful pick-and-roll attack (or any offense for that matter).
There is a few concerning questions though: Is Ilyasova’s 3-point shooting sustainable? Ilyasova converted on 34% of his 3-pointers prior to this season; this year he shot better than Matt Bonner.
Will he continue to defend the post effectively? Ilyasova allowed an impressive 36% shooting against post-ups (h/t Zach Lowe). That kind of stout post defense is pretty hard to replicate.
If he proves his naysayers wrong and answers either one of those questions with a resounding “yes”, much less both, then he will likely evolve into a substantial value for whatever team signs him. The fact that he is an unrestricted free agent only adds icing to the cake.
Yet if we are thinking realistically, the chances that the Spurs sign Ilyasova are incredibly small. San Antonio’s full Mid-Level Exception (~$5 million) isn’t enough to get a deal done nor do they have cap space to fall back on. A player of Ilyasova’s caliber and skill set doesn’t come around often and NBA teams are smart enough to realize this. They’ll beat out the Spurs by sheer attrition and conviction.
Signing Ilyasova sounds great in theory — I can’t find a significant caveat to the contrary — but, in reality, it’s not going to happen. Unfortunately.