Zydrunas Ilgauskas Hopes To Decide Destination By This Weekend

Zydrunas Ilgauskas PartyFans who were worried about Zydrunas Ilgauskas not being bought out can breathe a little easier today. While the buyout agreement with the Washington Wizards has not been finalized yet, all indications are that the talks are progressing and everyone seems to expect an agreement happening within the next day or so.

This doesn’t mean Ilgauskas hasn’t already been thinking about his future. According to a report David Aldridge filed last night on NBA.com, Ilgauskas’ agent Herb Rudoy has every intention of speaking with as many teams as possible who are interested in acquiring Z. Aldridge writes:  

Once Ilgauskas is a free agent he can sign with any team and be eligible for the playoffs.

Ilgauskas’s agent, Herb Rudoy, said via text Tuesday that the two sides were “still working” on the buyout.

“Z has not made a decision, but I expect him to do so by the weekend,” Rudoy said in the text. Asked if he would speak with other teams besides Cleveland if the Wizards and/or the league gave him permission, Rudoy texted, “Yes I can and I will.”

Now, before anyone gets too worried about Rudoy talking with other teams, remember that in order to keep this thing legal and allowable under NBA rules, the Z camp must go through all the proper motions.

In fact, some of you may be wondering what, exactly, could all prevent Ilgauskas from returning to Cleveland. Well, the answer is, not much. Atlanta will make a run at Z and will be able to offer Ilgauskas an awful lot of money if they feel so inclined.

The Hawks are sitting there with their full $5,854,000 Mid-Level Exception at their disposal, while the Cavaliers only have their $1,990,000 Bi-Annual Exception to use. I don’t know as that Atlanta would really want to offer Z the full MLE. Of course the amount would be prorated and wouldn’t push them over the tax line this season, but if the Cavaliers offer the full 2 year Bi-Annual contract to Z, then you would have to assume the Hawks would also have to go to 2 years, and do they really want to commit $6 million to Ilgauskas for next season?

The biggest threat to Z’s return to Cleveland is really just the NBA finding something incriminating in terms of a prior arrangement. I would say it’s 50-50 whether or not Danny Ferry really talked to Z about coming back before the trade happened. I mean, on one hand, you can make a legit argument that he didn’t have to. He knew full well Z would never play for Washington and that he would seek a buyout, and then, the question is, where else is he going to go but Cleveland?

You don’t want to sound like this isn’t a decision for Z, and you certainly don’t want to imply that he owes Cleveland anything. Sure, Cleveland stood by him through everything in his career, and Cleveland gave him a lot of money when nobody else likely would have, but Z has also put up with a lot through the years, and now is his time to really do what he wants. But having said all that, this is his home. He is eternally a part of this franchise and this franchise is eternally a part of him. This is his home. The Cavs didn’t trade him because they don’t want him. Not because they don’t think he still has value to the team. No, none of that. They traded him because he had the $11 million expiring contract that could net the team Antawn Jamison. Z knows this. So to think that Ferry needed to make sure a prior agreement was in place is probably not 100% accurate.

On the other hand, nothing in life is guaranteed. It’s a serious risk any time you let a player out of your control. Just look at Carlos Boozer. If Ilgauskas doesn’t come back to Cleveland, it will adversely affect this team’s Championship chances. So would Ferry go out of his way to blatantly step around the NBA rules? According to Adrian Wojnarowski, of course he would. Why wouldn’t he? Everyone else in the NBA does. He writes:

Beyond the ordinary warnings that come on the trade call and with league memos, the NBA delivered a deeper admonition to the Cleveland Cavaliers: We’re watching on Zydrunas Ilgauskas, watching everything and don’t let us find a hint of evidence that a prearranged deal has been set up for his return once he gets his buyout with the Washington Wizards.

NBA officials ought to confess to an irrefutable truth: Unless teams are completely careless and foolish – Jerry Stackhouse declared he was taking a 30-day vacation and returning to Dallas before he’d even been traded – the league is powerless, if not unmotivated, to police itself.

NBA officials can’t catch teams. Truth be told, they don’t want to catch teams. This is a league full of side deals. Do you think teams clearing cap space aren’t working on potential deals with players? You’re kidding yourself. The phone calls come and go every day.

“No emails,” one agent said. “Never put anything in an email.”

There’s the NBA general manager who called an agent every week a season ago, trying to convince the rep to push his unhappy star to force a trade to his team. Discussions between executives and agents about the free-agent class of 2010 – even 2011 – are well under discussion. Yes, it’s called tampering, and it’s called about as often as the carry.

Well, that’s encouraging. Sure, the NBA likely won’t get in the way of teams tampering with LeBron, but hey, they also will turn a blind eye to any prearranged deals to get Ilgauskas back in Cleveland. And lest you think I’m stretching what Adrian is saying here, he goes on to explicitly say just that:

Here’s the one political thing the Cavs have going for them: Cleveland executives have watched numerous officials, from Knicks executives to Nets minority owners, publicly tamper with LeBron James and never heard an admonishment from the league office. It feeds a conspiracy belief that David Stern wants James in New York. So how could the NBA get in the way of Ilgauskas now, without it looking like the league has an agenda to derail the Cavs’ title chase and, ultimately, their re-signing of James?

Well, if that doesn’t warm your heart as a Cavs fan, I don’t know what will.

I think the funniest part of this is that for years we’ve had to listen to people put down Z’s game. From analysts, to commentators, to bloggers, etc, we’ve heard time and time again how Z was not an impact player, how he was just along for the ride like everyone else on this roster, and how at the end of the day he was just a slow, lumbering, white guy who had the luxury of being tall. But now all of the sudden, teams are lining up to get their hands on Z. Some, like Atlanta and Dallas, are doing so because they believe Z can truly help them. Other coaches, like Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson, are publicly (and in Rivers’ case, hypocritically) criticizing the prospects of Z returning to Cleveland. Well, if you think back to the way Phil Jackson was practically making fun of Ilgauskas in ABC’s audio of his time outs during one of last season’s matchups, I’m surprised he cares so much now.

The bottom line is this: Ilgauskas is likely to be bought out in the next day or two, and if everything works out right, he will listen to other teams for a couple days before announcing his intentions this weekend of returning to Cleveland. And you know what, considering that it’s been the Cavaliers who have believed in Ilgauskas and never doubted his impact on the game of basketball, I’m not going to apologize for this. Yes, the loophole is atrocious and needs to be fixed. Nobody is denying that. And it probably will be fixed in the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement. But for now, it’s legal, and I’m encouraged by the direction this story is headed.

  • http://www.msblsim.com boogeyman

    It’d be in tune with the Cleveland storyline if Z signed with someone else and went on to win a championship. I’m just sayin’…

  • http://www.msblsim.com boogeyman

    …But I agree with you Andrew the NBA and it’s rules are a shamockery if teams don’t break them then just step over them. Stern has agendas it’s been proven but the fact that his officials are the worst of any professional sports organization plus have been shown to be corruptable shouldn’t be lost on people. Don’t even get me started on all of the nonsense with other NBA teams (cough-hack-puke NY) when it comes to LeBron James but what can you do that’s the system they’ve built.

  • Kunal

    way to be negative boogeyman, I can’t wait for Z to be back, it’s been weird watching games and not seeing him play. COME HOME Z!

  • http://twitter.com/WayneEmbrysKids WayneEmbrysKids

    I know they’re severely restricted in what they can offer Z because they have now lost his Bird rights, but I personally hope that he gets a deal that goes into next year. I think Lebron will want to be there for Z’s farewell game.

  • JK

    I was always on Z’s side, he deserves this.

  • http://www.msblsim.com boogeyman

    @3 Just because I said what your thinking don’t be a hatah! I personally think Big Z will return home but at the same time you just never know. Until the Big Fella is back I won’t count my Lithuanian Bean Stalks thank you very much! ;)

  • dweb

    i NEED big z back. the team doesnt seem the same, the games dont feel the same, even austin carr doesnt sound the same without big z out there. a few weeks ago, when cleveland played new jersey, i had to watch the new jersey broadcast and the commentators (one of whom is fratello) ranked the top 5 cavs all time. not one mention of Z. i understand he isnt flashy or brash, but hes been such a gentlemen in a league filled with prima donnas and jerks. i want, nay, i NEED big z to finish his career with the franchise that has stuck by him and that he has stuck by. it would only be fitting.

  • Matt#2

    Z:Cavs
    Bonham:Zep

  • humboldt

    If we step back and look at ferry, Rudoy’s, Z’s intentionally ambiguous statements over the past couple weeks you can connect the dots. They have done a great job of consistently saying (and not saying) all the right things. Overwhelming odds are that Z is coming back.

  • Tron

    I would have to say the only team that could be appealing to Z if interested would be Denver. With Z on that team, they have legitamate title aspirations as well. However, I don’t see it happening. A tell tale sign is the fact that while all this has been going down, Z has been hanging out with his wife and kids in his swank Avon Lake residence. No vacations, no flying around, nothing. He knows the fans here love him, and the franchise has been good to him, no way he signs with another team, no matter how much money they offer. He’s rich as hell already, and he may be one of the only athletes left to really show a love and devotion to “his” city. His loyalty lies with the Cavs.

  • Harv 21

    No, Addled Austin Carr sounds exactly the same.

    BTW, wonder how often when he is of the air Fred McLeod yells “Too Easy!” I’m thinking typically:
    – after 10 minute oil change
    – pouring raman noodles into cup
    – watching girls hit on players at hotel bar during road trips

  • The Other Tim

    “the NBA likely won’t get in the way of teams tampering with LeBron,”

    Not to mention shoe companies. A contract clause that puts more money on the table if he plays in a bigger market? Please.

  • Harv 21

    off the air

  • Matt#2

    i have zero idea what risk/reward calculus would lead someone to believe there was a pre-arranged deal.
    the options and desires of the parties seem so obvious to me that side talking would have been specifically avoided by all, considering the risk.
    there was no need to depend on the nba turning a blind eye.

  • http://www.zfcomics.com dgriff13

    The old saying remains true: Z is the heart of this team. And every time someone writes a nice piece on ol’ Z, I get all misty-eyed. I know it’s a business and all.. but I do not want to imagine him anywhere else, especially at home when the cavs hoist the trophy. If that makes me an over-emotional hippie fan, so be it.

  • Harv 21

    Wait, did Michael Scott do the ‘Tawn photoshop on your pic?

  • mike

    the simple fact that Z has those 2 young Lithuanian newly adopted children means he would have no interest in leaving them while he heads off to dallas or denver. its not going to happen.

  • Harv 21

    @17: Yep, that’s what I’ve been repeating here ad nauseum. He won’t go elsewhere because he can’t. Not after adopting kids who wouldn’t have a chance to see him play at the end of his career, and he won’t leave little boys for months as he is bonding with them. No sane wife and mother would let him do that. It’s not the money. Z’s not going anywhere.

  • doug1121

    Z is no Boozer…it doesn’t make sense for him to go anywhere else, period. Listen to Ferry’s presser re the trade: He stated that Z is the Wiz’s property, and it’s up to them to buy Z out. No tampering; Ferry’s no fool. Just another case of C-town fans being worried for the sake of being worried. Eff me, will you guys lighten once one of our teams wins it all?

  • christopher

    Dear Cavs Fans,

    There is absolutely no reason to think that anything incriminating happens in the NBA behind closed doors.

    Yours Truly,
    Tim Donaghy

  • MattC

    Z is coming back, make no mistake.

    Can someone please explain to me how this purported controversy didn’t surround the McDyess trade to Denver last year when McDyess didn’t even attempt to act like he was traded? That situation seemed far more extreme than this to me, other than the fact that it was clear that the Pistons’ ride at the top was over by the time that deal went down…

  • stin4u

    anyone listen to windy’s podcast yet? He says Lebron hasn’t been the same since Z left….I tend to agree.

  • MattC

    @Stin4u – Interesting point, haven’t heard Windy yet, but will tonight.

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  • thedirtyone

    The loophole won’t be fixed. The players won’t allow it, and to be honest I don’t think the owners or gm’s wanna get rid of it that desperately either. The whole buyout and return to your original team is legitimized by the waiver process. YES! Even after Z’s bought out, he must clear waivers. Basically any team with the cap space can pick him up for his existing contract value…But they won’t, they never do. And then the player becomes a “FREE AGENT”. The only issue is that his original team(the Cavs) can’t talk to him for 30 days(from the original trade date). ***also note:the player doesn’t have to be signed by march 1st, his buyout has to finalized by then. He can sign with any team after that, and still be eligible for the playoffs.***That gives the player the upper hand, because he can use the idea of returning to his original team as leverage when dealing with offers from other teams.. Basically it forces other teams to really step it up, or he’ll just return to Cleveland, which I think he will, regardless of what’s offered..His wife owns her own physical therapy practice here, and his newly adopted sons are settling into school here, so I really don’t see him throwing a wrench into the family plans for an extra couple of million..

    All in all, assuming everything’s handled as soon as legally possible, the Cavs could conceivably sign him by March 21st(which is a Sunday), with that deal being finalized by the league offices the following day, and he could be back in his good ol’ wine and gold number 11 by the March 24th game at New Orleans…

  • Matt#2

    christopher

    Do instances of skulduggery mean that it occurs even to insure interests that already have a very low risk of failure (just because skulduggery is fun)?

  • christopher

    Matt#2,

    Skulduggery is an accepted form of practice in the NBA when David Stern says so.

    Sincerely,
    The 1992 and 1993 NBA Draft Lottery

  • Jake In Ohio City (Natty The Dog)

    Lets not talk about Z until he comes back…..its just too emotional for me.

  • Matt#2

    christopher

    where “skulduggery” (sorry for the silly term) is unnecessary, its acceptance doesn’t seem to me to get at whether it occurred.

    at the same time, if the NBA and pro wrestling are similar (and they could be), then I could imagine that nothing gets done without skulduggery – i.e., that there is no such thing as skulduggery in the NBA.

    I just can’t go there because I enjoy watching basketball, and thinking it was just rigged crap would cause me to stop watching.

    How, with your perspective, can you bother to watch games?

  • http://www.msblsim.com boogeyman

    @22 stin4u this isn’t saying alot for LeBron James I’m afraid. Personally I don’t buy this anymore then I bought the same types of things when they were said about LBJ’s relationship to Daniel Gibson or JJ Hickson. I could easily say LeBron hasn’t been the same since the All-Star break and noone could disprove that either. I wish people even those who cover this team and think them self experts would quit from playing Dr. Phil and just report what they see and hear. Opinion and fact get mistaken for each other entirely to much these days.

    I tend to think LeBron might be wearing down. Given how many minutes he has to log and the fact that he’s basically been carrying the Cavaliers on his back for the season plus the All-Star break being no break I think he’s in need of a blowout win where he can sit in the fourth. If anything Mike Brown the coach of the year should be looking to decrease The Chosen One’s minutes instead of riding him even more. Antawn Jamison’s production will be much needed I feel.

  • stin4u

    @boogey Good point it’s hard to tell at this point what’s really up but looking at him over the past few games you can tell just from the body language somethings up. Your right though hopefully they can lean on twan for some scoring and spell Lebron a bit.

  • christopher

    Matt#2, you think too much, it was a joke.

    But since you “axed”….yes, i believe that there is a level to business strategy made in every decision in professional sports.

    The reason i signed the last post “1992 and 1993 Draft” points to your definition of “skulduggery”. The Orlando Magic have one lottery ball in each of these drafts and still land the #1 Draft Picks yet it still does not win them a ring. Can the NBA help the Magic land two #1 draft picks…sure. Can the NBA rig an entire season to land them in the Finals….probably not.

  • http://www.msblsim.com boogeyman

    @30 stin4u I think LeBron’s tired even though he’d never admit it. I mean how could he not be given how much the Cavaliers rely on him for everything. I think that could be why your seeing him shoot alot more 3s which he’s missing more then he’s making. The fact that our guards are basically useless just puts more pressure on LBJ. It probably puts more pressure on him then before we added Jamison to strengthen the frontcourt. This is probably why some people were hoping Ferry could get another shooting guard the problem was you couldn’t get a SG and a PF too. Mo Williams needs to show up starting tomorrow. If he’s not 100% he needs to sit. If he’s just rusty how about shooting less 3s and perhaps driving to the basket or even better how about playing some defense. I know it’s alot to ask Mo to play defense but he was flat out embarrased last night by Collison. Good thing Chris Paul didn’t play.

  • Matt#2

    christopher

    joke accepted

  • christopher

    Matt#2

    Thanks buddy! =)

  • stin4u

    @boogey I couldn’t agree more with that statement. I think the finish of the game in Orlando you saw some evidence of that too. The fact that he may have been gassed plus the lack of fouls being called on Dwight Howard kept Lebron from putting the ball on the floor and heading for the rim. It’s weird seeing cameras panning over to the sideline and seeing Lebron with an blank stare plastered on his face instead of a smile. It seems like that’s been the case the past few days.

  • http://twitter.com/WayneEmbrysKids WayneEmbrysKids

    There’s only 24 games left in this season for the Cavs to successfully integrate Twan and Powe with Hickson and Varejao, get Mo healthy and figure out a rotation for the playoffs which may or may not include Delonte West, depending on the disposition of his criminal charges in Maryland (and what the NBA decides to do in suspending him). That 24 games is about what it took to work Shaq into the offense.

    Reinserting Z into the rotation with 10-15 games left in the regular season is really going to be pushing it. If he really intends to come back and contribute, he better be working on his jumper, because if he comes back tossing bricks like he did when he started the season, there’s really no point in bringing him back, because he won’t belong in the rotation.

    As for Lebron not being the same since Z was “traded”, everything I read said that Lebron was being consulted regarding trades. Everyone knew what the trades were that were being contemplated and Lebron certainly had every opportunity to come out and object to the prospect of Z being traded. He didn’t say anything. The idea that he is jacking up threes instead of running the offense because Z got traded seems a little hard to believe.

  • stin4u

    @37 The theory about the Z trade isn’t so much about Lebron’s shot selection as it is about his attitude. I think boogeyman made a great point about him wearing down and that certainly would play into the hoisting of ill advised three’s. Windy was simply saying that if you look at the body language and the facial expressions during the games, it really looks like something is bothering Lebron. I fully believe Lebron gave his blessing for this trade, but maybe it played on his head a little after reality set in and Z was gone.

  • Matt#2

    Wayne@37
    “As for Lebron not being the same since Z was “traded”, everything I read said that Lebron was being consulted regarding trades. ”

    I read that Lebron denied he was being consulted.
    I tend to believe him, as I think it would have been foolish for him to participate in the decision.

  • http://www.msblsim.com boogeyman

    @39 Where did you read LeBron denied he was consulted? That makes absolutely no sense based on the fact that almost everything the Cavaliers do is with LeBron James in mind. I hardly believe Dan Gilbert or Danny Ferry would make such an impactful move with LBJ in the last year of his contract when the team already had the best record if anything they’d have done nothing without consulting #23.

  • Matt#2

    boogeyman

    here’s a link

    http://m.si.com/news/nba_sp/wr_nba_sports/detail/2360912;jsessionid=4FD33049D51A63DE3C042C9D680DF928.cnnsi1

    from the article: “I don’t know any more than you know,” James said. “I only know what I read.”

    The writer was incredulous, of course, but I believe Lebron.
    I bet he had a high wall between him and the trade discussions.
    Why should he do anything to diminish the “free” in his free agency?
    If William Wesley had any advice for LBJ, I bet that was it – stay away from the trade talks.

    That’s my take on it.

  • Matt#2

    that’s not to say that Ferry and Gilbert would not want his input, they would. I doubt that he’d give it, and I bet they’d understand.

  • http://www.zfcomics.com dgriff13
  • http://www.msblsim.com boogeyman

    @41 Matt#2 you could read into that I saw it and didn’t pay much attention myself but again I think if you think based on what has been said and done since LeBron was drafted that it would fly in the sense of logic that the Cavaliers would not talk to LBJ about their plans. But again who knows.

  • Mark

    “…he was just a slow, lumbering, white guy who had the luxury of being tall.”

    Sounds like me, only I’m not tall.

  • Fat Ack

    Big Z is my fav, always has been. my b-day is the day the cavs can sign him back. all i want for my bday is big z!