He may not be a Cavalier anymore, but many Cleveland fans are still interested in the health and well being of Ilgauskas. Big Z still has a home in Cleveland, and has said that he has no plans to leave the area when he hangs up the basketball gear.
Let’s face it, going to the Heat made it impossible for even the most loyal Ilgauskas fan to root for a championship for the Cavaliers’ all time leader in games played. But there is no reason to wish him ill health.
Zydrunas, it was originally reported stepped on a nail, which became infected and eventually sent the seven-footer to the hospital. Zydrunas stayed in the hospital for two days while they tried to clean out the infection. Ilgauskas said yesterday that the infection happened before he stepped on the nail, at least according to the doctors. He is expected to rejoin his team again when they come back from their road trip Friday.
It has been a long season for Zydrunas, who despite starting 47 games this season, is averaging a career low in minutes played, points, rebounds and assists. Then there was the talk of his pending retirement.
Zydrunas had reportedly told a Lithuanian source-
“Zydrunas Ilgauskas appears to be entering the final stretch of his NBA career. ‘I think I played enough,’ said Ilgauskas. ‘I don’t want to sit on bench and do nothing. I’m tired of long trips and tough schedule. I’m not a 20-year-old and my health is not that good, therefore I think that after this season it will be a good time to retire from the NBA.’”
The quote made it’s way to the US, and particularly to SLAM magazine. Later, Zydrunas said that he had not made up his mind and that the Lithuanian quote was taken out of context.
It’s hard to imagine Big Z playing much past this season. He simply doesn’t have the mobility to play effective defense over the course of a long 82 game season. It was about this time 2 years ago that Zydrunas said his body was breaking down and that he may need to ponder retirement. Then of course last season with the trade and buy-out he certainly was questioning his future.
I know that not everyone shares my views on Zydruas. Many fans lump him together with James calling him a sell-out. I think that is ridiculous. Yes, he chose to try and win a title in what is likely his last season in the NBA. There was no way that was going to happen in Cleveland this year. There was also no way that his style of play fit in with the style that Byron Scott wanted to run here. To be truthful, I’m not sure Zydrunas would have been offered a contract. If he was, it would have been for the farewell tour.
I would love for Zydrunas to sign a 15 day deal with the Cavaliers when he’s all finished and retire a Clevelander.
(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)