Still getting a lot of questions about Zydrunas Ilgauskas and what will happen next. Here are Z’s options and a timetable according to the best of my knowledge. Hopefully we can put the topic to rest soon.
Zydrunas has been bought out from his contract, and has been waived. He must clear waivers in order to become a free agent. This is not an issue as any team that wants to claim him would have to have $11.5 million dollars of cap room left. You can guess how many teams have that kind of room- none. This means that after the 48 hour window is over Zydrunas would be free to sign a deal with any team he chooses. If Zydrunas chooses to sign with the Cavaliers, he would have to wait until March 21st to join the Cavs. Yes, he would still be eligible for the playoffs.
Zydrunas could choose to sign with any team he wants for a pro-rated portion of the veteran’s minimum salary. Teams can also use whatever amounts they have left under the cap, or use their salary exceptions if they still have them. The Cavaliers will offer Zydrunas their Bi-Annual Exception of around $1.9 million.
Teams said to be interested in Zydrunas and what they can offer him:
Dallas- The Mavericks have Brendan Heywood and Erick Dampier at the center spot. Zydrunas would be an upgrade there and probably even start. They only have the Bi-Annual to offer Z, so they can’t ‘outbid’ the Cavs for Ilgauskas.
Denver- The team with the best shot to knock the Lakers off in the West would love to add Zydrunas. That would give them a front line of Nene and Z to counter Bynum and Gasol. If Denver had the full Mid-Level to offer it might be a tougher decision for Z. As it is they can only offer the Bi-Annual, or the same as Cleveland.
Atlanta- The Hawks actually can outbid Cleveland for Ilgauskas. Would they? I have to imagine they will offer as much as they can. I don’t think that Zydrunas would start over Al Horford. I also question whether Ilgauskas feels they are truly a championship contender. Don’t think for a moment that Z is signing anywhere that he doesn’t believe has a good chance to win the prize.
Utah- I’d put the Jazz in the same category as the Hawks. Actually, I don’t think they have as strong a chance as Atlanta to reach the Finals. They can offer Z more money than the Cavs though.
There are so many reasons to believe that the Cavs are the strong favorites. There is so much to be said for familiarity. Especially this late in the season. He has good friends here. They all want him back. The only way I could see Zydrunas signing somewhere else is if he is truly angry at the Cavaliers for trading him, and wants to spite them. I just can’t see that happening. Not with all that he’s been through here.
His agent says that Z will decide by the end of the weekend where he will play. I expect Z to announce his intent to play with the Cavs. Enjoy the vacation Big Z. Stay in shape. Play with those new sons of yours.