Sixers Trade Ersan Ilyasova to Atlanta

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

With the 3:00pm Thursday trade deadline fast approaching, Sixers fans have been on the edge of their seats waiting to see what moves general manager Bryan Colangelo has in mind to move the franchise forward. While Jahlil Okafor to Chicago rumors are heating up, the first Woj bomb struck Wednesday involving another member of the crowded frontcourt.

In the end, the Sixers will be sending Ersan Ilyasova to the Hawks in exchange for Tiago Splitter, Miami’s 2017 2nd-round pick, and the right to swap Atlanta’s 2nd-round pick for Golden State’s 2nd-round pick. Presently, the Heat selected would be 43rd overall, while the Sixers would be moving up from 60th to 50th as a result of the swap.

Ilyasova and Splitter are both expiring contracts separated by about $150k, so there are no major salary cap implications. However, given that Splitter has missed the entire season with hip and calf injuries, his contract is insured; Philadelphia will therefore save some money on a prorated basis over the rest of the season.

Ilyasova was certainly a positive contributor during his brief time with the Sixers. He fit nicely alongside Joel Embiid, shooting 35.9% from three, and his -3.0 net rating was second-best on the team behind Embiid himself. You also can’t say he didn’t try on the defensive end of the floor, as evidenced by his league-leading 25 charges taken.

Still, I won’t miss Ilyasova regularly leading the team in field goals attempted or spacing out in critical moments and leaving a man wide open. Brett Brown will never say on the record, but I would love to know why he repeatedly left Ilyasova in the game for key defensive possessions out of timeouts.

Bryan Colangelo did well here for a few reasons. First, turning 30 years old in May, Ersan will be seeking a long-term deal and the Sixers weren’t in a position to offer that to someone who doesn’t fit the career arc of the rest of their roster. Getting a couple assets for a guy who will be gone in a few months is good business.

Also, Ilyasova’s departure means we’ll be seeing even more Dario Saric down the stretch. Saric has found his footing lately, scoring 18 points in each of his late 5 games and recording double-doubles in the last two. The added playing time could be an additional boost for his Rookie of the Year hopes, if Embiid doesn’t make a quick return to the court.

Finally, although the Sixers have the Sacramento swap rights to offset the typical “wins hurt the team” narrative from the past couple years, they still will need every lottery ball they can accumulate. Keeping Ilyasova around might have won the Sixers an extra game or two, and we’ve seen how one or two extra wins can make a huge difference come lottery time.

In effect, Bryan Colangelo turned Jerami Grant and the last pick in the draft into a late 1st-round pick and two mid 2nd-round picks. I may not believe a word that comes out of the man’s mouth, but I can’t deny he’s doing a fine job on the trade market. We’ll see what other moves he has in store by Thursday afternoon. Until then, enjoy Atlanta and have fun in the playoffs, Ersan.

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