Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the heart of the Cavaliers franchise for the past 14 years, is moving on.
Ilgauskas will accept the veteran’s minimum of $1.3 million for next season.
The Cavs offered Ilgauskas a guaranteed contract, but he elected to go to Miami, where his wife Jennifer has family, and attempt to win a championship with the re-stocked Heat.
“It was a hard decision for him,” said Herb Rudoy, Ilgauskas” longtime agent. “He has 14 years invested in the Cavs and he wants to win a championship. He’s going where he has the best chance to win a championship.”
Ilgauskas is the Cavs franchise’s all-time leader in games played (771), rebounds (5,904) and blocks (1,269) and
is second in points (10,616). He made All-Star appearances in 2003 and 2005 after recovering from reconstructive surgery on his foot.
Last season was a difficult one for Ilgauskas as he moved to the bench for the first time to back up Shaquille O’Neal. Then he was traded in February as part of a deal for the Cavs to acquire Antawn Jamison. He took a buyout from the Washington Wizards and returned to the Cavs a month later but had lost his rhythm and his spot in the rotation and he did not play strongly down the stretch.
He averaged 7.4 and 5.4 rebounds in his final year with the team.
One of the better offensive rebounders in NBA history with 2,336 of them, Ilgauskas also still is effective with his mid-range jump shot. The Heat has been looking for big men after letting its starting center, Jermaine O’Neal, leave in free agency.
The Cavs and Heat were one of six teams to show interest in Ilgauskas. Both were believed to be willing to offer him the same contract.