The Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks completed a trade sending Ersan Ilyasova to the Pistons, and Caron Butler and Shawne Williams to Milwaukee. Both Butler and Williams are on non-guaranteed contracts, and will probably be waived by the Bucks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. This transaction could leave Milwaukee with approximately $22 million in salary to spend this summer.
This salary space gives Milwaukee wiggle room regarding restricted free agent Khris Middleton, who can sign a contract worth 25 percent of the cap set for 2015-2016, which makes him an even tougher target for the Los Angeles Lakers to pry away. The Bucks dumped the remaining $7.9 million Ilyasova is guaranteed. The final year of his contract is a team option in '16-17 worth $8.4 million.
The Lakers desperately need talent in the wings, particularly at small forward, but the top players at the position are nearly all restricted free agents. Middleton was already a longshot to sign away from the young nucleus of players gathered in Milwaukee, but now the door might be permanently shot on his availability. If a team does offer him a maximum-level contract, it will likely start in the $15 million per year range (pending on the final salary cap figures), which is certainly pricey, but the Bucks created extra breathing room if push comes to shove. With the salary cap expected to balloon once the new NBA TV deal kicks in, that figure could look even better down the road.
This development only makes the market for signing a free agent small forward that much more competitive and difficult for the Lakers to maneuver. On the flip side, acquiring Ilyasova could be the final nail in Greg Monroe's career with the Pistons. The unrestricted free agent big man may be on his way out, and the Pistons already have a backup plan with Ersan filling in as a "stretch" four next to Andre Drummond. Monroe might be a player the Lakers look at, but with the possibility of having either Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor alongside Julius Randle to build forward with, he seems like an unlikely candidate for the franchise.