NBA buyout rumors: Best fits for Ersan Ilyasova, the Hawks' soon-to-be free agent
Several playoff contenders could use the services of Ilyasova, who's nearing a buyout agreement
The NBA moved up the trade deadline this season, which means that the buyout market has been extended for about two extra weeks. Teams have until March 1 to sign players and have them eligible to play in the postseason, so there will likely be some dominoes falling over the next week.
One reportedly already fell on Friday, as Sam Amick of USA Today reports that the Hawks are nearing a buyout agreement with forward Ersan Ilyasova, which would make him a free agent able to sign with any team except for Atlanta.
Ilyasova is a 30-year-old stretch-four who's been something of a mercenary over the past few seasons. After spending his first seven NBA seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, he's played for the Pistons, Magic, Thunder Sixers and Hawks over the past three years. He's a 37 percent career 3-point shooter, and is averaging 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 26 minutes per game for the Hawks this season.
Let's take a look at which teams would be the best fit for Ilyasova moving forward.
Amick reported that a reunion with Milwaukee might be in the cards, and it makes sense. The Bucks are among the worst in the league in 3-point percentage, makes and attempts, so adding a proven 3-point threat would do wonders for their offense. They need to surround Giannis Antetokounmpo with as much shooting as possible, and Ilyasova fits the bill. It would also give the Bucks some flexibility at the power forward position, as Jabari Parker continues to ease his way back from ACL surgery.
Another team Amick mentioned was Toronto, which is gearing up for a playoff run as a potential No. 1 seed. The Raptors' bench unit has been lights-out this season, but lurking in the back of everyone's mind are the playoff struggles that we've seen in years past. Adding Ilyasova would give the Raptors another scorer and 3-point shooter, something they've been lacking in postseason games in which Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have struggled.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are preparing for a run to the Western Conference finals, and to get there they're likely either going to run into Golden State or Houston along the way, probably both. In order to beat them the Thunder are going to need scoring, which is scarce outside of the Big Three of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. OKC's bench unit features virtually no shooting outside of Alex Abrines and sometimes Patrick Patterson, so picking up a floor-spacer like Ilyasova wouldn't be a bad idea. Ilyasova only played three games with the Thunder last season before being traded to Philly, so hopefully there's no bad blood there.
Speaking of Philly, the 76ers need shooting to surround their dynamic duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and right now JJ Redick is pretty much the only one providing it (Robert Covington has dropped off considerably from his early-season marksmanship). Ilyasova would bolster the bench and provide offense for a team that's looking to make some hay in a possible first-round playoff matchup with a heavy hitter.
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