Hawks vet Ilyasova deals with personal loss as he returns from injury


Hawks forward Ersan Ilyasova is dealing with a personal loss as he tries to work his way back into the playing rotation following a knee injury. 

Ilyasova’s father died in his native Turkey on Nov. 8, nine days after he went on the injured list because of a bone bruise in his left knee. 

“It is a part of life,” Ilyasova said after practice today. “At some point, you have to accept it. It’s tough at the beginning. It just happened recently. The whole situation is kind of tough. My dad was overseas and I am here and not being able to go over there. 

“My family, my sister and mom, took care of everything that was necessary. It’s still tough. I just try to move on. Obviously, his best memory is in my mind with me. Like I said, this is life. I just have to be tough enough and move forward.” 

Ilyasova missed 10 games, including eight straight, with the knee injury. He was the starting power forward to begin the season but first Mike Muscala and now Luke Babbitt took over that role. Ilyasova has been available to play the past three games but rookie Tyler Cavanaugh has played ahead of him. 

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said Ilyasova will have to regain his conditioning after missing time with the injury. The coach said he’s been pleased with the play of Babbitt and Cavanaugh. 

“He’s going to have to work through it,” Budenholzer said of Ilyasova. “It’s unfortunate between the knee and the timing of his (personal loss). Obviously, it affects you when you lose someone close to you.” 

The Hawks signed Ilyasova to a one-year, $6 million free-agent contract over the summer after he played 26 games for them following a February trade from the 76ers. The Hawks believed Ilyasova could help them with his 3-point shooting and defensive grit, as well as provide leadership for their young and rebuilding team. 

Ilyasova, 30, was off to a slow start in the four games before his injury: 10-for-36 shooting with averages of 8.2 points and 24.3 minutes. He played 18 minutes against the Kings in his return, didn’t play against the Celtics and logged seven minutes on Monday at the Spurs. 

“It’s a buildup,” he said. “I feel much better. I’m trying to get my rhythm back and hopefully be back out there and be productive.”


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