Yesterday afternoon, Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania reported that Ersan Ilyasova plans to sign with the Sixers after completing a buyout with the Atlanta Hawks.
Once Hawks buyout is complete, forward Ersan Ilyasova plans to work toward finalizing agreement with the Philadelphia 76ers, league sources tell Yahoo.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 25, 2018
If everything goes according to Charania’s reporting, Ilyasova will start his second tenure as a 76er in the coming days.
In 2016, Bryan Colangelo orchestrated a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder to receive Ilyasova and a future first-round pick*, sending Jerami Grant to the Thunder. (Previously, an ardent Jerami Grant supporter, “he’s Draymond-lite” I told myself, I was livid at the time of this trade.)
During his first term, Ilyasova was a valuable pickup for the Sixers. You know how you watch Trevor Booker on the floor with Joel Embiid or Amir Johnson, and think to yourself, “Wow this Booker guy doesn’t have much purpose. I wish he could stretch the floor.”? Ilyasova did precisely that for Joel Embiid and the Sixers in the 2016-2017 season. That’s right, think of Ersan Ilyasova as the stylistic opposite of Trevor Booker: a floor-spacing forward vs. a paint constricting big.
The Sixers best lineup last season, in net points per 100 possessions, included Ilyasova. (Albeit, in a limited sample of 114 minutes.) His box score statistics with the Sixers were 14.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, with 44.0 FG%. He shot 5.6 3PA a game at a 35.9% clip.
If things go down as reported, Ilyasova would be a solid pickup for a Sixers team desperate for depth and floor spacing on the second unit. But his addition means there will be a casualty. Someone on an expiring contract will have to go. Players on an expiring: JJ Redick, Amir Johnson, Trevor Booker, Marco Belinelli. Out of that group, my guess would be Booker is the one to go.
I don’t want to take a shit on Booker. He’s a high energy big that can give his team extra possessions. There’s value in that. But he’s redundant on a team that places a premium on floor spacing, as well as a team already having two “energy” bigs in Johnson and the polarizing Richaun Holmes. Ilyasova is a much better compliment to this roster construction, and so, Booker is an appropriate price to pay. But! Maybe someone other than Booker parts ways with the Sixers.
(*The pick is now owed to Orlando.)