The Ersan Ilyasova Tour is about to begin.
Ilyasova, the Milwaukee Bucks talented young forward who is an unrestricted free agent, intends on meeting with representatives of several NBA teams over the next week.
“We plan on visiting three teams in the next week and maybe some after that,” said Tolga Tugsavul, one of Ilyasova’s representatives, in a telephone interview from Turkey. “We will be talking to some teams in Europe, too.”
Ilyasova is a coveted free agent. Just 25 years old, he is coming off a stellar season in which he averaged 13 points and 8.8 rebounds in just 27 minutes a game.
In the last 13 games, Ilyasova scored 16 or more points in eight of them. In that same span, he had eight games where he collected 10 or more rebounds.
Ilyasova raised eyebrows around the NBA with a monster game against Brooklyn, nee New Jersey. That’s when he scored 29 points and grabbed 25 rebounds.
The Bucks have presented Ilyasova with a guaranteed five-year contract, apparently between $7-8 million a year. That would make Ilyasova the second-highest paid player on the Bucks’ roster behind Monta Ellis, who’ll be paid $11 million this season.
However, at $8 million a season, Ilyasova would be paid just slightly more than backup guard Beno Udrih, who’ll be paid $7.8 next season. Udrih’s number paled in comparison to Ilyasova’s as he averaged a mere 5.9 points and 18 minutes a game as a non-starter.
Tugsavul made it quite clear the Bucks’ offer wasn’t acceptable for him.
“We’re looking for a better offer,” Tugsavul said succinctly.
While Tugsavul was guarded about Ilyasova’s intentions, some acquaintances of Ilyasova told The Journal Times he wasn’t particularly content in Milwaukee and would sign with another team that made a comparable or better offer than the Bucks.
Tugsavul wouldn’t divulge how much Ilyasova is seeking, but some people who have been involved with Ilyasova’s free-agent activities said it was $10 million a season.
Asked when he expected Ilyasova to select a team, Tugsavul said, “within the next 10 days.”
Bucks keeping busy
The Bucks have inquired about several other free agents, including centers Kwame Brown and Joel Przybilla and forward Carl Landry.
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Brown joined the Bucks in March as part of the Andrew Bogut trade with Golden State. But Brown never played for the Bucks because of a pectoral injury.
Landry averaged 12.5 points and 5.2 rebound in 41 games for New Orleans last season. The 6-foot-9 Landry is a former standout at Milwaukee Vincent High School who went on to play at Purdue.
Asked about the Bucks’ interest in Landry, Mark Bartelstein, Landry’s agent, said: “We’ve talked to them. We’ll see.”
Bartelstein said he’s also had discussions with the Bucks about Brown.
Asked how many teams had contacted him about Landry and Brown, Bartelstein said, “a bunch.”
The Bucks heavily pursued Przybilla before and during last season before the veteran center opted to sign with Portland.
Two other free agents who have been linked to the Bucks are guard Kirk Hinrich and forward C.J. Miles.
The Bucks were hoping to select Hinrich in the 2003 NBA draft but Chicago picked him with the seventh overall pick — one spot ahead of Milwaukee, which took T.J. Ford. Hinrich’s coach with the Bulls was Scott Skiles, currently the Bucks coach.
Hinrich played in 48 games last season for Atlanta — starting 31 — and averaged 4.8 points and 3.1 assists. The Bulls reportedly have a strong interest in Hinrich as well.
Miles was also a part-time-time starter last season, averaging 9.1 points and 2.1 rebounds for Utah.
The Atlanta Hawks will have two former University of Wisconsin stars on their NBA Summer League roster: forward Brian Butch and point guard Jordan Taylor.
Yet another former Badger standout, Marcus Landry, Carl’s brother, will be playing for the Phoenix Suns. Landry made a favorable impression on the Suns coaching staff in training camp last season before being the last cut. He wound up playing in China for the Shanghai Sharks.
“It was wonderful,” Landry said when asked how he liked playing for Shanghai. “I loved it.
“If things don’t work out (with the Suns or some other NBA team), I would really like to go back there again.”