Desperate for cap relief ahead of NBA free agency, could the Milwaukee Bucks send Ersan Ilyasova or Tony Snell away in the near future?
Ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft, teams across the league are seeing their names be lumped into trade rumors. Whether it’s to move up in the draft, gain an additional asset or provide some cap relief, the options are plentiful. The Milwaukee Bucks fit into the latter category.
Facing huge free agency decisions in regards to Brook Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon and likely Khris Middleton, Bucks general manager Jon Horst is going to need every bit of cap space he can find. The New York Times‘ Marc Stein reports the Bucks are dangling draft capital in an effort to entice teams to trade for the contracts of Tony Snell and/or Ersan Ilyasova.
Set to make almost $18.4 million between them next season, Snell and Ilyasova could become cap casualties during the early stages of the offseason. Milwaukee holds the 30th overall selection in this year’s draft. With an emphasis being placed on remaining in contention for the foreseeable future, would trading either or both of the two role players make sense?
First and foremost, getting both Snell and Ilyasova’s contracts off the books would be huge for the Bucks. Ilyasova is due to make $7 million in 2019-20 and has another $7 million season in 2020-21, though it’s not guaranteed. Snell is making $11.4 million next season and has a player option for 2020-21 with a cap hit of nearly $12.4 million.
In short, moving Ilyasova would save a healthy chunk against the cap this season and eliminate the need to face another tough decision regarding him a year from now. Not having to pay Snell would free up cap space not only this season, but also prevent the team from being on the hook for his salary the following year, should he pick up his $12.2 million player option.
Another thing to keep in mind: The 30th pick in this draft is far less valuable than one in the lottery. Is the final player selected in the first round more likely than Brogdon or Lopez to help Milwaukee remain an elite team? It’s something to keep in mind.
On the other hand, the Bucks have been known to find talent later in the draft. For example, the aforementioned Brogdon was the 36th overall selection in 2016. Trading pick No. 30 means risking missing out on another opportunity at finding a hidden gem on a team-friendly salary.
While losing the Snell/Ilyasova contracts sounds like a great idea, there’s also some production being lost. Ilyasova averaged 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game off the bench last season. He also canned triples at a 36.3 percent rate. Snell added 6.0 points per contest and shot 39.7 percent from deep. There’s some value that’ll need to be replaced there.
Putting Tony Snell, Ersan Ilyasova and the 30th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft on the trade block may not be a bad idea for the Milwaukee Bucks. Although losing anywhere between 1-3 bench pieces may deplete the team’s depth a bit, it may ensure the re-signing of a core player.
Dynasties, or simply great NBA teams, are faced with difficult decisions regarding money. It costs a lot to keep a team running at its peak. There will be casualties in the process. If recent rumors are any indication, it appears the Bucks are joining that trend.