The possibility of Deron Williams and the league’s top tier crossing the Atlantic to play their professional ball has all but consumed the day-to-day NBA chatter, but even the most solid bits of news on the subject come with a lack of permanence. Williams isn’t going to play in Turkey for the rest of his career; he’s playing ball, making some money, and applying pressure on the NBA’s owners, but his aspirations are to come back to the good ol’ US of A and pick up where he left off as soon as the lockout is resolved. There’s no real threat to the NBA product we’ve come to know and love because the domestic and foreign basketball products are functionally non-competitive.
However, a select group of NBAers, most of which are European or at the very least have experience playing professionally overseas, may potentially play the lockout waiting game by different rules. Such is the case with Milwaukee’s Ersan Ilyasova, who reportedly has agreed to a three-year deal with Fenerbahce Ulker that could keep him in his native Turkey without a contractual out to return to the NBA anytime soon (link via BrewHoop).
The reports detailing Ilyasova’s deal are still a bit shaky at this point, and as they’re confirmed and clarified we should have a better idea of his long-term intentions. His potential departure wouldn’t leave the Bucks in a particularly bad spot from a positional standpoint (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Drew Gooden, Jon Brockman, and Larry Sanders are all capable of filling minutes at power forward), but Ilyasova is nonetheless a young, solid rotation player. It does the Bucks no good to lose him outright, and though his production can largely be replaced, this would still be an unfortunate development for a franchise that can’t afford all that many bad breaks.
The Bucks aren’t a team with a ton of luxuries; they’re coming off of a terribly disappointing season, and though a healthy Andrew Bogut would do Milwaukee a lot of good, the team is still in a bit of a tough spot. Their pre-draft trade for Stephen Jackson, Beno Udrih, and Shaun Livingston helped to brighten the Bucks’ financial outlook, but they’re still a team without many clear avenues for immediate improvement or spare assets. They don’t need Ilyasova per se, but it sure couldn’t hurt to have him around, either as a player or a trade chip.