The aggressive pursuit of Steve Nash is dominating basketball headlines North of the border right now, and rightfully so. Besides the whole Canadiana thing, Nash can still take a low level team like the Raptors and have them in playoff contention, even at the age of 38.

But while Nash gets all of the hype and most of the media attention, there are a few other names out there to keep an eye on. As ESPN reported on Sunday, a large backloaded contract offer, termed a “poison pill” contract, could still get Jeremy Lin out of New York City, and the Raptors are mentioned in that report.

Acquiring one of Nash or Lin would certainly be a major splash for the Raptors and would generate a ton of buzz around the team.

But one name that I feel isn’t getting enough attention is Ersan Ilyasova. The young Bucks forward has steadily progressed over the last six years (four of which have been spent in the NBA) since joining the Association as a 19-year-old for the 2006-2007 season.

While many seem him as more of a power forward or a “tweener,” I’ve always thought that the 6’9, 235-pound Ilyasova could thrive in extended minutes at the three-spot.

I’m in total support of throwing money at a 38-year-old Nash, who should still have a couple of solid seasons left in the tank. I can understand why Jeremy Lin makes sense from a business standpoint, and see how he could help on the court as well. But if you want to finally lock up the small forward position for the forseeable future, the Raptors should be going hard after Ilyasova.

The Turkish forward averaged 13 points and 8.8 rebounds for the Bucks this past season, shooting an impressive 49.2 per cent from the field and a staggering 45.5 per cent from behind the arc.

His career averages of about 10 points, six boards and 44.5 per cent shooting (35.7% from three) don’t exactly jump off the page, but his averages per 36 minutes and his Player Efficiency Rating of 20.5 in 2011-2012 have to be raising some eyebrows. For the record, Ilyasova has put up career averages of nearly 16 points, 10 rebounds and a steal per 36 minutes, while committing about four fouls and 1.6 turnovers. In addition, he’s a versatile defender who defends very well in the post.

Most intriguing of all is that he turned just 25-years-old in May.

There are some rumblings that the Raptors are one of four teams (along with Bucks, Spurs and Cavaliers) at least kicking the tires on the unrestricted free agent, and if you ask me, that should be as exciting a possibility as anyone not named Nash this summer.

Comments (15)

  1. An interesting option. Could we trade Kleiza for him?

    • I WISH…but I don’t think there’s any chance in hell the Bucks would even consider that deal. Ideally, if the Raptors actually landed Ilyasova, I’d prefer they amnesty Kleiza.

      • Actually, Kleiza IS the one to be amnestied!
        Nobody in the world – at the moment – is willing to get him.
        He’s going to be useless, and the dollars owed to his contract are the worst spent dollars for the team.
        I bet he will really get amnistied.

  2. This is the guy I want the Raptors to pursue. If Nash does sign with the Raps, we can then amnesty/trade Calderon. Then we have a great small forward who can rebound, score and shoot. Adding just these two would be a great fit to the roster.

    Nash and Ilyasova are the two I really want.

  3. Nash + Ilyasova would make us a playoff team. I would be thrilled if we could get those 2 guys.

  4. YES. I’ve been hoping they’d go after him this offseason. Versatile, solid defender and he’s still young. He and Nash were my two top guys for the raps to go after.

    I’d agree with amnesty on Kleiza for him.

  5. Can we talk more about Nash?

    • sure! i love the idea of signing nash.
      he is a great fit both long and short term.
      short term, he will make the raps a much more efficient offensive team and casey will be able to hide him the same way he did with calderon. but didnt you that already?
      long term benefit is a bit more tricky. i really hope if he comes in here he will make turn his teammates into better performers.
      he can make bargs, for example, a 40% 3PT shooter. such a shooter at 4 position is a very rare commodity. just watch ryan anderson and ersan ilyasova.
      i believe there is a value in playing borderline playoff level basketball. moreover so with such a superstar and all out team player like nash.

  6. This would be a nice addition to the team as a small forward … If they could amnesty Klieza rather then Calderon that would be a bonus.

    It would be hard to believe Calderon couldn’t bring in at least a late round pick.

    Let’s see … I hope Nash makes up his mind soon.

    • he is not a sf. he is not a good ball handler and has poor lateral quickness to play the 3. he is a stretch 4.

  7. I really hope the rapts pursue Lin I love Nash but Lin can grow with the team for the next 5-7 years

  8. I’ve been dreaming of Nash and Ilyasova coming to the Raps, and Jose and Kleiza leaving. That is all I want. Well, that and Deron and Dwight to go to Dallas and leave the conference.

    • I agree that Dwight and Deron leaving the conference is very important to our future success…cheering for Cuban on this one.

  9. Can he defend the 3? If so, go for it. He’s cheaper and will win you more games than Wallace or Batum, and you don’t have to give up good assets like for Gay or Igoudala. He’s on the right side of ‘veteran’ but still young, so unlike Marion you won’t just be waiting until his legs give out. Our biggest offensive weakness was shooting, so between him, Nash and T. Ross we’ll have made pretty decent imrovements there.

  10. I watched this guy torch the Raptors for 30/10 last year at the ACC. He may be completely awkward, and look a lot like the second coming of Frankenstein, but this guy is an effortless ball player. Sign him up BC!

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