Bucks trade Ilyasova to Pistons

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Charles F. Gardner
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
June 11, 2015

The Milwaukee Bucks traded power forward Ersan Ilyasova to the Detroit Pistons for forwards Caron Butler and Shawne Williams on Thursday, a move made to clear salary cap space for anticipated moves this summer.

Butler and Williams are highly unlikely to play for the Bucks, and both have non-guaranteed contracts for the 2015-'16 season. Butler, a Racine native, had a previous stint with the Bucks after being acquired in a trade with Phoenix before the 2013-'14 season.

The move gives the Bucks $22 million in salary cap room and signals the team's strong intention to keep restricted free agent Khris Middleton and to be in the mix for other free agents when the negotiating period begins July 1.

Ilyasova gives the Pistons some insurance in case they lose power forward Greg Monroe in free agency.

Ilyasova is owed $7.9 million for 2015-'16, the final fully guaranteed year of his four-year contract. He has a minimal guarantee for a fifth season.

Butler has a $4.5 million team option for next season and Williams has a non-guaranteed deal of $1.2 million.

Ilyasova was drafted by the Bucks with the 36th pick in 2005 and was the longest-tenured player on the roster. He played one season in Milwaukee (2006-'07) before spending two years with Regal FC Barcelona in the Spanish League, where he gained strength and improved his game. He returned to Milwaukee in 2009-'10 and spent the next six seasons with the Bucks.

The 28-year-old Ilyasova also represented his country by playing for the Turkish national team and was part of the squad that finished as runner-up to the U.S. in the 2010 World Championships.

Ilyasova averaged 10.7 points and 6.0 rebounds during his seven seasons in Milwaukee, including 11.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 58 games last season. He made 36 starts in 2014-'15 but also missed nine games due to a nasal fracture he suffered in Cleveland and 10 games after suffering a concussion in a Dec. 23 game against Charlotte.

“Ersan always represented this organization and this community in a first-class manner,” Bucks general manager John Hammond said. “He gave 100 percent night in and night out. We wish Ersan nothing but the best as he continues his career in Detroit.”

Ilyasova's role was expected to diminish after Milwaukee drafted forward Jabari Parker No. 2 overall last year, but Ilyasova returned to the starting lineup after Parker suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in December.

With the 20-year-old Parker progressing well in his recovery and expected to return next season, Ilyasova was not guaranteed regular playing time.

Injury issues plagued Ilyasova in his last two seasons with Milwaukee, and he suffered a right ankle sprain in the exhibition season in 2013-'14 that hampered him throughout the year and limited him to 55 games played.

Ilyasova was a “stretch 4” player and ranked second in the league in three-point field-goal percentage (45.5 percent) in 2011-'12 and fourth the following season (44.4 percent). But he fell off to 28.2 percent in 2013-'14.

The 35-year-old Butler, who completed his 13th NBA season a few weeks ago, said on Twitter: “Training to be the best I can be with whomever I contend with next season. Thank you Detroit.”

Butler was given his release by the Bucks near the trade deadline in 2014 so he could sign with a contending team, and he signed with Oklahoma City.

The Bucks are hoping to use draft picks and cap flexibility to improve their roster this summer. Milwaukee has the 17th pick in the June 25 draft.

The trade signals the Bucks' serious intention to re-sign Middleton, who had a breakout season in his second year with Milwaukee. The 6-foot-7 forward was acquired in a July 2013 trade with the Pistons.

Middleton, who turns 24 in August, was a strong perimeter threat and ranked 10th in the league in three-point shooting (40.7%) last season. He also improved his defense dramatically while showing late-game ability, hitting a pair of buzzer-beating three-pointers to win games against Phoenix and Miami.

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