Updated: Thursday, 12:04 a.m.
Ersan Ilyasova’s time with the Sixers is over after just 53 games.
The Sixers on Wednesday night sent Ilyasova to the Hawks in exchange for big man Tiago Splitter and a 2017 second-round pick, as well as the option to swap 2017 second-round selections.
The Sixers have not determined if they are going to keep Splitter or waive him, according to a source, as they have done with previous trades. Splitter’s contract will expire after this season.
Looking at the two picks, the Sixers will receive the Heat’s 2017 second-rounder. In addition, they will have rights to a pick swap of the Hawks’ 2017 second-round pick and the least favorable of the Jazz’s four second-round picks. That pick is between the Jazz, Knicks, Pistons and Warriors, and will most likely result in the Warriors’ selection at 60.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical first reported the trade.
Ilyasova has an expiring contract. Instead of letting it run out and getting nothing in return, the Sixers added to their mounting stockpile of picks. These picks will be important to keep in mind should the Sixers look to make a deal before the draft.
The Sixers acquired Ilyasova in November from the Thunder for Jerami Grant. The ninth-year veteran added instant leadership and accountability, both in practices and in games, which was needed upon the retirement of Elton Brand.
"I want to thank Ersan Ilyasova for his positive contributions to this organization both on and off the basketball court," president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said in a release by the team. "Ersan is a true professional whose daily examples of hard work, focus and consistency have helped facilitate the ongoing growth of our program and culture."
Ilyasova also served as a go-to for rookie Dario Saric. Not only do they play the same position, Ilyasova could help him navigate his first season in the league after a career in Europe. Ilyasova’s departure creates the opportunity for Saric to step back into the starting power forward role. Saric is averaging 16.1 points and 6.7 rebounds off the bench in his last 10 games.
Ilyasova quickly fit into the Sixers’ system upon being traded, scoring 21 points against the Cavaliers in his second game. He seamlessly slid into the starting lineup while Saric was moved to the second unit as he learned the NBA. Ilyasova ranked second on the team in scoring (14.3 points) and third in rebounds (5.9). He led the Sixers with 46 games in double-figure scoring (including 12 of 20-plus) and 10 double-doubles.
Ilyasova struggled as of late, though. This month, his shooting percentage dropped to 35.6 from the field (the first month below 40 percent) and 23.4 from three-point range. He scored a combined 10 points in the Sixers’ final two games before the All-Star break, going 4 for 16 from the field and 1 for 7 from three.
“I am not going to say it’s just because of free agency,” Ilyasova said last week (see story). “You have 82 games, you can’t play perfect. Sometimes you have good games and bad games. Last week, I was kind of out of rhythm and missed a lot of shots.”
After playing his first seven NBA seasons with the Bucks, the Hawks are now Ilyasova’s fifth team in two seasons.
Like Ilyasova, the 6-foot-11 Splitter is a veteran with international experience. Splitter, 32, is in his seventh NBA season. He has been sidelined all season, though, by calf and hip injuries. On the day of the trade, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported his return “is not imminent” but the Hawks did not expect him to miss the entire season.
Splitter most recently averaged 5.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in 16.1 minutes for the Hawks last season.
Brett Brown is very familiar with Splitter. He was on the Spurs’ coaching staff when Splitter began playing for the team in 2010. Splitter spent his first five seasons in San Antonio before being traded to the Hawks in 2015.
There could be more moves on the horizon for the Sixers. Wojnarowski also reported the Bulls are continuing to push for a Jahlil Okafor trade (see story).
The NBA trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m.