Bucks' Ilyasova has seen them come and go

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By Charles F. Gardner
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Sunday, March 2, 2014

MILWAUKEE--Ersan Ilyasova keeps plugging along.

He is the longest-tenured Milwaukee Bucks player on the roster, arriving in the second round of the 2005 draft.

In all his time in Milwaukee he has played on just two playoff teams, the 2009-’10 team that lost to Atlanta in the first round and last year’s squad that bowed out in four opening-round games to the Miami Heat.

So you can’t blame him if he would like to be part of a winning program, either with the Bucks or elsewhere.

A recent nba.com story pointed out that of the 60 players chosen in the 2005 draft—including Andrew Bogut as the top overall pick by Milwaukee—the only one still with his original team is Ilyasova.

He still puts in a hard night’s work, often battling more physical power forwards as he plays the stretch-4 role. Ilyasova contributed 20 points in a victory over Philadelphia earlier this week and had nine points and a team-high 11 rebounds in the Bucks’ 101-96 loss at Indiana on Thursday night.

“This is all about building the chemistry now and moving forward,” Ilyasova said.

Ilyasova has played with 67 teammates since the 2006-’07 season, even though he left the NBA for two years to play with Regal FC Barcelona in Spain.

When he returned to start the 2009-’10 season, the Bucks were under new management, with John Hammond in charge rather than Larry Harris.

But the Bucks elected to bring him back and signed him to a three-year deal. When that contract expired in 2012 and he became a free agent, Ilyasova chose to sign a four-year, $32 million deal with Milwaukee.

He has played with John Salmons, Corey Maggette, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, among others. He has played with Luke Ridnour on two occasions, three years apart.

“I’ve seen a lot,” Ilyasova said. “Even last year being in the playoffs and we were hoping we were going to build on it.

“I came back to Milwaukee and it was like a new team. It’s really frustrating but at some point we have to find stability. We have a great organization. We have good fans, but we just have to be consistent with what we do.

“At some point I’m hoping we find the right pieces. I feel really comfortable being with the Milwaukee Bucks. We’ve had a lot of change, but I hope we find the right players.”

The newest teammates for Ilyasova are Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien, acquired in a trade with Charlotte last week.

This is a second stint in Milwaukee for Sessions, but he did not play with Ilyasova the first time because Sessions was here from 2007-’09 while Ilyasova was in Spain.

Ilyasova has struggled with his shooting touch this season, hitting just 38.6% overall and 30.3% from three-point range. Particularly puzzling is his three-point percentage, after he ranked in the top five in the league in that category each of the previous two years.

He was fourth in the league last season at 44.4% and second the previous year at 45.5%.

Ilyasova is averaging 10.5 points and 6.1 rebounds while playing in 45 of the Bucks’ 56 games thus far.

“Our fans, you have to give credit that they come and support us even with our record,” Ilyasova said. “It’s really great, especially with the weather right now in Milwaukee.

“But hopefully we’re going to build on it and be better.”

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