Can’t sign w/ Cavs until 3/22. Can sign with anyone else whenever.
Can’t sign w/ Cavs until 3/22. Can sign with anyone else whenever.
Link here. By NBA beat writer Art Garcia
If you’re the NBA’s most eligible bachelor, who’s knocking on your door? That’s the question facing Zydrunas Ilgauskas going into mini-free agency as contenders from across the league line up with promises and prorated salaries.
The Cavaliers are the prohibitive favorites to land the former two-time All-Star, and rightfully so. Ilgauskas has spent his entire career, nearly 12 years, wearing Cleveland’s ever-changing uniform. He could return to the Cavs — who dealt him to Washington at the trade deadline — as early as March 22 and still be eligible for the playoffs, after he agreed to a buyout with the Wizards on Thursday.
But Ilgauskas has drawn varying degrees of interest from a number of other playoff-caliber clubs, too, including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Miami, San Antonio and Utah.
Ilgauskas can sign with any team other than the Cavs as soon as he clears waivers Monday and still be eligible for the playoffs.
The recruiting began in earnest Thursday.
“He’s going to make up his mind at his pace,” agent Herb Rudoy told NBA.com Friday. “He’s in no rush. He could decide this weekend or sometime next week, but he feels no pressure to rush into a decision.”
The Cavs could use Z right now, not next month, considering former teammate Shaquille O’Neal suffered a “significant” thumb sprain Thursday night. No timetable has been set on O’Neal’s return, but he’s out for Friday night’s visit to Toronto.
Ilgauskas returning to Cleveland makes sense for a lot of reasons. His heart remains there, the organization stood by his side through foot injuries that nearly sidelined his career and the Cavs want him back. It adds up.
“He knows I would love for him to be back here,” LeBron James told reporters Thursday before Cleveland’s win at Boston. “I want him to be back here, especially while we’re contending for a title. He’s one of the main reasons why I want to win a title for this team.”
Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson, summing up the league sentiment, admitted that Z signing with a team other than the Cavaliers is a “long shot.” But that hasn’t stopped other contenders from wearing out Rudoy’s cellphone.
Rudoy has said he’ll listen to pitches, and other factors are in play. The waiting period, money and perhaps a new challenge could steer Z down a new road.
That’s at least the hope for interested teams that could use a playoff-tested, sweet-shooting 7-foot-3 center with career averages of nearly 14 points and eight rebounds. Ilgauskas has averaged 7.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 20.5 minutes this season backing up Shaq.
Z, alone, wouldn’t necessarily be a difference-maker in Cleveland or elsewhere. But the 34-year-old Lithuanian certainly can help.
Finances could play a major part in Ilgauskas’ decision. He forked over about $1.5 million in the Washington buyout. And while Z has the most emotionally invested in Cleveland, the Cavs can’t make the biggest economic commitment.
Cleveland has the $1.99 million biannual exception, but because Ilgauskas has to wait to sign with the Cavs, the prorated amount for the rest of the season amounts to about $1.1 million. The Nuggets, Celtics, Spurs and Mavericks also have the biannual to use, and their prorated share — because Z can sign immediately with them — is more, approximately $1.4 million.
The Hawks, Jazz and Heat are in the position of having their full mid-level exception of $5.9 million to spend, which prorates to $4.1 million, starting Monday. That’s a full $3 million more than Cleveland can spend and $2.7 above their other competitors.
Atlanta, Utah and Miami can use any portion of the mid-level. The Jazz and Heat are also in luxury-tax territory, so that could factor into their decision. The Hawks are not. Utah just traded Ronnie Brewer last week to lessen its tax burden, so signing Ilgauskas would signal a major shift in their financial philosophy.
Other Ilgauskas suitors over the salary cap and without the biannual have the prorated share of the $1.3 million veteran’s minimum, or about $344,000 to offer, starting Monday.
The longer Z waits, the less money is an issue because the prorated portion of those competing against Cleveland shrinks with each passing day. Utah and Miami, though, still have much more to offer, if they so choose.
Ilgauskas isn’t the only player who was waived or bought out since the trade deadline. Larry Hughes, Brian Cardinal, Kenny Thomas and Brian Cook are also out there. Hughes will get the most interest, with Charlotte emerging as an early favorite. Veterans such as Mike James (Washington) and Tony Battie (New Jersey) may also be cut loose by Monday.
Ilgauskas wouldn’t be the first player traded to return to his original squad. Brent Barry (San Antonio), Gary Payton (Boston) and Antonio McDyess (Detroit) have done it before. There are examples of others who have gone on to a new team and made an impact, including Tim Thomas with the Suns in 2006 and Sam Cassell during the Celtics’ title run two years later.
Maybe that challenge is rattling around in Z’s shaven head. That’s at least the hope out for those contenders outside of Ohio.
Pros: The entire midlevel to spend ($4.1 million prorated). Could back up and play alongside center Al Horford, giving the Hawks more size to battle the league’s beefier frontlines. Outside shot adds another dimension.
Cons: Of the four best teams in the East, Atlanta is regarded as fourth best.
Pros: Would create a formidable tandem with Kendrick Perkins at center, and eases the workload on Rasheed Wallace as the primary backup to Kevin Garnett. C’s won a title just two years ago.
Cons: Playing for perhaps the Cavs’ fiercest rival would make Z enemy No. 1 back in Cleveland.
Pros: Loyalty and connection to the only NBA organization he’s ever played for. Best record in league and the city’s first title in six decades in sight. A chance to finish what’s he’s started.
Cons: Least money to spend and crowded frontcourt with Shaq, Jamison, Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson, etc. Oh yeah, Cavs traded him.
Pros: Another big is needed behind Brendan Haywood with Erick Dampier likely out at least a month. Close ties to general manager and former Lithuanian assistant coach Donnie Nelson.
Cons: Not as much money to spend as other top suitors. Tough to play three centers once Dampier returns.
Pros: Could use his length and skill in the anticipated showdown with the Lakers’ parade of 7-footers. Much like Chauncey Billups, Ilgauskas would add the calming presence of a veteran to the room.
Cons: Nuggets’ up-tempo attack not the perfect match for the halfcourt specialist.
Pros: Up to $4.1 million to spend outdistances most competitors. Z is a true center, allowing Jermaine O’Neal to play more power forward. South Beach and Dwyane Wade.
Cons: Heat are struggling to stay over .500. Title contention not likely this season with a roster with so many needs.
Pros: Immediately becomes best center on roster (if you don’t count Tim Duncan) and Gregg Popovich is well-respected by Euros (and everyone else). Championship pedigree, including a 4-0 sweep of Cavs in 2007.
Cons: Spurs’ sweep of Cavs in 2007. Going over the luxury tax not working out right now with Richard Jefferson. Would Spurs owner Peter Holt sign even a bigger check?
Pros: Also have up to $4.1 million to spend. Forget Monday against the Hawks, do you really trust Kyrylo Fesenko as Mehmet Okur’s backup? Z plays a similar style to Memo, so the transition should be easy.
Cons: As well as they’ve played the last two months, the Jazz might not be seen as a true title contender by the Z camp.
The visit was mainly to promote his new book “Shooting Stars” and the movie “More Than a Game”, but he also fielded questions about Shaq and next years free agency.
With Shaq, he’s excited to play with a “big kid” and thinks he may be the last piece.
With free agency, he said he’s excited about it but more excited about the upcoming year and will wait until free agency to answer speculative questions (he did all this while their weatherman shouted “Knicks” at him from off camera).
LeBron is the master of the tease. Is he teasing us? Is he teasing the rest of the NBA? Is he teasing Rachel Nichols?
Watch it here.
Here are my comments: Its the Summer. Nothing is happening. 2010 is a year away. WHY is this a story on TV right now?
Relax, it’s just him making the rounds for his movie. LBJ is smart. He knows he can get TV time with anyone if he dangles the promise of talking about free agency with them. In other words, he’s trading talking about the SAME OLD STORY for face time to promote “More Than a Game“
Powe asked his coach if James was in his graduating class. He was.
“Aww man,” Powe said. “There goes my No. 1 spot.”
He’ll gladly take a backup role to James again, as soon as his repaired left knee allows it. Powe signed a two-year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers onWednesday, even though he isn’t expected back on the court until sometime around the All-Star break. The Cavaliers are paying Powe the league minimum for a three-year veteran.
“The money is not the issue with me,” Powe said. “The issue is I want to get my knee back healthy and go out there and play basketball. The money will come.”
The Celtics let the 6-foot-8 forward leave following a third surgery on his left knee, this time to repair a torn ACL suffered in the playoffs. Powe is strengthening the knee in Los Angeles and should begin running in about a month. He is expected in Cleveland in two weeks to continue his rehab.
“It’s always tough leaving the place you started,” Powe said in a conference call on Thursday. “I gave them every opportunity to have me over there, which didn’t work out. It wasn’t my fault. I had to move on.”
Powe averaged 7.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 70 games last season.
He is reuniting with James after the two stormed the country on AAU teams and at summer camps during their high school years. Powe, 25, watched James take over games long before he became an NBA superstar.
“Shaq is one of the greatest players of all time and ‘Bron is going to be right there in that category,” Powe said. “Those are two great personalities. That’s the fun thing about playing with guys like them. They’re easy to get along with and it’s easy to play with them.”
By remaining in the Eastern Conference, Powe might not have to wait long for a reunion against his old team. The Cavaliers and Celtics are likely to again be two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, and Powe admits he’s already dreaming of a postseason meeting.
“If that happens, that’s going to be fun for me,” he said. “I know Boston is a challenge, but our team, the Cavaliers got better and we’ll take on all challengers.”
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
“The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed free agent forward Leon Powe to a contract, Cavaliers General Manager
Danny Ferry announced today. Per team and league policy, terms of the contract were not released.
Powe, 25, played in 70 games (seven starts) this past season for the Boston Celtics and averaged 7.7 points on .524 shooting and a career-best 4.9 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game. In his seven starts, he averaged 14.3 points on .576 shooting, 8.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 25.9 minutes per game. The 6-foot-8 forward recorded career highs in scoring (30), blocks (5) and assists (3) and added 11 rebounds in 41 minutes versus Memphis on March 13th. He scored in double figures on 25 occasions and notched five double-doubles during the season. He experienced a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee during Game 2 against the Chicago Bulls in the First Round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs and missed the remainder of the playoffs. In 189 games (14 starts) during his three seasons in Boston, he has career averages of 6.6 points on .523 shooting and 4.2 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game.
“Leon is a high quality player and person. His tough, gritty play has already contributed in big playoff games during his young career,” Ferry said. “As he continues to work rehabilitating his injury, we would look to hopefully see him return towards the end of the season.”
The California native played 23 of his 25 career postseason games during the Celtics’ run to the 2008 NBA Championship. He averaged 5.0 points on .493 shooting and 2.7 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per game in the 2008 postseason, including a 21-point performance against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.“
Not a whole lot about him out there, but the Cavs are looking to fill the early season gaps left early by JJ and Powe being out. From his picture on NBA.com he looks like a pleasant fellow.
From blog.bulls.com here
“…The consensus among NBA executives is James will remain in Cleveland, mostly because there may not be anywhere better to go. The big threat was the Knicks. But the declining salary cap likely won’t allow the Knicks enough salary cap space to sign two free agents. The Knicks roster is awful, and it likely would be a major step back competitively for James to join a team like that. With Kobe Bryant back with a championship, it is now James—before it was Bryant when James made the Finals in 2007—who is most likely to be anxious to be with a team that has the best chance to win a championship.
The belief is the Cavs will be a better option, and, of course, can provide him the biggest contract. Toronto’s Bosh has been the other big name. But there are increasing indications he will remain in Toronto given an aggressive summer of acquisitions, including Hedo Turkoglu.
Should Bosh still look to leave, the consensus is it will be a race between the Cavs with James and the Heat with Wade to try to sign Bosh and combine two All Stars and Olympic teammates. The free agents who played on the 2008 gold medal team supposedly have talked about eventually playing together…“
via Denver Post here:
“Of the final three roster spots, Warkentien said he was “hopeful” Carter would take up one spot and the Nuggets “will go and get another wing player” to replace Kleiza. One name floating around is that of veteran guard Wally Szczerbiak, who last played with Cleveland. He is an unrestricted free agent and would fill the need for a perimeter scorer off the bench.
“Of our remaining roster spots, etch this in stone,” Warkentien said. “One of them will be a wing.“