Posts tagged: Z

Chasing Z (via

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 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.

I Grew Up Next to a Nuclear Reactor

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.

Interested Contenders


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.

Art Garcia has covered the NBA since 1999. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

Hawks Pushing Hard for Z

via Atlanta-Journal-Constitution

The Wizards and center Zydrunas Ilgauskas completed a buyout agreement on Thursday and the Hawks promptly made their pitch for the 7-foot-3 center to join them instead of returning to his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Once he clears waivers and becomes a free agent [on Monday], hopefully he will consider us,” Hawks general manager Rick Sund said. “We talked to his agent [Herb Rudoy]. He knows we are interested, as are a couple other teams.”

Hawks coach Mike Woodson and some key players said Ilgauskas would be a great fit.


Z is Relaxing for Now



“He’d bring ‘veteranship,’ ” Woodson said. “And he can still play. He’s a big presence on the block, he can make shots, he can make free throws, he can rebound and he can block shots.”

Hawks forward Joe Smith said he plans to contact Ilgauskas, who was his teammate during Smith’s two stints in Cleveland during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.

“I will try to reach out to him and see what he’s thinking,” Smith said. “I hope his mind is not made up.”

It is widely assumed Ilgauskas will return to the Cavaliers, who drafted him in 1997. He has said his “heart is in Cleveland” but Rudoy said Ilgauskas will consider signing with the Hawks and will take his time with the decision.

Dallas, Denver and Utah also are expected to recruit Ilgauskas. The Cavs have to wait 30 days after they traded Ilgauskas on Feb. 17 to re-sign him, while any other team can sign him as soon as he clears waivers on Monday at 2 p.m. No team in the league has the necessary salary cap space to claim Ilgauskas off waivers.

In order to become a free agent and join a contender, Ilgauskas gave back to the Wizards $1.5 million of the prorated portion of his $11.5 million salary due, according to the Washington Post. The Hawks have both their mid-level and bi-annual salary cap exceptions available to make room for his contract but it’s not expected that Ilgauskas’ prorated salary will be large enough to require them. That puts the Hawks and his other suitors on roughly the same level with salary offers.

Ilgauskas’ motivations aren’t clear beyond his desire to play for a team capable of making a deep playoff run. The Hawks and Jazz appear to offer him the best opportunity for minutes.

In Cleveland he was playing a career-low 20.5 minutes per game in a frontcourt that included Shaquille O’Neal, Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson. The Cavaliers now also have power forward Antawn Jamison, who was acquired from Washington in the three-team trade that included Ilgauskas.

Ilgauskas would stand to get significant minutes in the Hawks’ power rotation. Jason Collins, the only 7-footer on the roster, has played sparingly. Zaza Pachulia (6-11), the primary reserve at center, has struggled lately. Horford (6-10), the starter at center, could play power forward alongside Ilgauskas with Josh Smith at small forward.

Ilgauskas, 34, had foot problems early in his career but played in 73 or more games in each season from 2002 through 2008. He played in 65 games last season and 53 so far this season.

Among the teams pursuing Ilgauskas, the Cavaliers, who lead the Eastern Conference, would appear to have the best shot at reaching the Finals. The Hawks were seven games behind Cleveland in fourth place entering Thursday’s schedule and could try to sell Ilgauskas on being the player to help them break through to the East finals.

“We are playing well,” Joe Smith said. “We’ve got just as good of a shot at the finals as anyone.”

LeBron Goes Public With His Want for Z’s Return

LeBron is nothing if not loyal.  He has played with Z longer than he’s played with anyone else his whole life (including the fab 4)

via YahooSports!

WASHINGTON (AP)—Zydrunas Ilgauskas was waived Thursday by the Washington Wizards, and his old teammates want him to return to Cleveland.

“He knows I would love for him to be back here. I want him to be back here, especially while we’re contending for a title,” LeBron James said before the Cavaliers’ game in Boston. “He’s one of the main reasons why I want to win a title for this team.”


Big Z and LBJ



The 7-foot-3 Ilgauskas, who was acquired from Cleveland on Feb. 17 as part of the three-team trade that sent Antawn Jamison(notes) to the Cavaliers, didn’t play for Washington. He reported on Feb. 19, took a physical and immediately returned to Cleveland.

The 34-year-old is averaging 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds this season.

“We agreed to terms with Zydrunas on a contract buyout, giving us further financial flexibility and allowing our young big men to continue to develop over the remainder of the season,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said.

No team is far enough under the salary cap to absorb Ilgauskas’ $11.5 million salary for this season, so he will become a free agent eligible to join any team once he clears waivers. He would be able to rejoin the Cavaliers in 30 days, but could sign with another team immediately.

“I’m expecting to talk to about half a dozen teams in the league, including the Cavaliers,” Herb Rudoy, Ilgauskas’ agent said.

“He’s not going to rush into anything. He has time. He’ll let me know what he wants to do.”

Though he lost his starting job this season after the Cavs acquired Shaquille O’Neal, a return to the Cavs could be attractive for Ilgauskas. He’s spent his entire career in Cleveland after he was drafted in 1996, and the Cavaliers are one of the favorites to win the NBA championship this season.

“I think any playoff team—and that’s what we, we’re a playoff team—any playoff team would like to have his services, so we’d be just as eager as anybody else,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.

Over his 12-year career, Ilgauskas has averaged 13.9 points and 7.7 rebounds.

What did Big Z do on his last day as a Cav? He visited kids with Cancer.

February 17, 2010 – The patients at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital had their spirits lifted this afternoon when some very tall visitors stopped in to say hi. Following their practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts, Cavaliers players Daniel Gibson, Danny Green, J.J. Hickson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Delonte West and Jawad Williams made a surprise appearance at the hospital going room-to-room to visit their young fans. They talked some basketball, gave out high-fives and words of encouragement before leaving behind a Cavs blanket, a smile and a memory.

He got the call about the trade in the parking lot of Cleveland Clinic right after he had finished his visit.


Z Tribute Week: “The Giving Z” by John Krolik of

Krolik’s Site is here.  He does a hell of a job and writes for ESPN’s Truehoop Network

Once there was a Z….

And he was drafted by a crappy team.

And every day the team would come

and he would score them baskets in the post

and find his teammates with sharp passes

and they would run the offense through him

and ask him to win games

and even after his feet were hurt

he came back

and he made the All-Star game.

And the team loved the Z

very much.

And the Z was happy.

But time went by.

And the team grew stronger.

And the Z was often not featured in its offensive game-plan.

Then one day the team came to the Z

and the Z said, “Come, team, feed me in the post and let me drain turnarounds and hook shots and benefit from my passing and rebounding and be happy.”

“We are too good to feed you in the post” said the team.

“We have a new player.

We need you to run the pick-and-roll and the fast-break and hit threes.

We want to build our offense around him and win games.”

“I’m sorry,” said the Z, “but I cannot explode to the basket or hit threes.

Take my 18-foot jumper, my passing out of the high post, and my rebounding.

Use me to defend the rim.

Then you will have a good team and be happy.”

And so the team put Z off the ball

and became an Eastern Conference contender

and won 66 games

and even went to the Finals once.

And the Z was happy.

Big Z hug

But time went by.

And the team grew stronger.

And the Z was often outmatched when trying to defend Dwight Howard.

Then one day the team came to the Z

and the Z shook with joy

and he said, “Come, team, feed me in the post and set me up with mid-range jumpers and be happy.”

“We are too talented to feed you in the post and set you up with mid-range jumpers,” said the team.

“We have a new center,” they said.

“He is one of the best of all time,

and so we need a backup center.

Can you be a backup center?”

“I am not a backup center,” said the Z.

“I have started my whole career,

but you can take my minutes

and use my shooting next to Anderson Varejao

to create an effective forward tandem off the bench

and use my size against the Lakers and then you will be happy.”

And so the team used the Z off the bench

and saw his field goal percentage fall

but have the league’s best record at the All-Star break.

And the Z was happy.

But the team did not need him for a long time

and when they came back

the Z was so happy he could hardly speak.

“Come, team,” he whispered,

“use me to space the floor offensively.”

“We are too talented and deep to use you to space the floor,” said the team.

“We want a stretch four that could give our team its first championship. Can you be that stretch four?”

“Use my large expiring contract and trade for Antawn Jamison,” said the Z.

“Then you can have an effective frontcourt partner for Shaq…and be happy.”


And so the team used the Z’s expiring contract as a trade chip and added Antawn Jamison and made a run at the NBA Championship.

And the Z was happy…

But not really.

And after a league-mandated 30-day waiting period,

the team came back again.

“I am sorry, team,”

said the Z, “but I have little left to give you.”

“I have little lateral movement left, and have had trouble finding the net on my jump shots.”

“I wish that I could give you something…

but I have little left.

I am just an old 7-3 center capable of drawing opposing bigs outside the paint.

I am sorry…”

“We don’t need very much now,” said the team.

“Just a veteran to help team chemistry, help match up against bigger teams, and stretch the floor when Varejao or Jamison plays.

We are very talented.”

“Well,” said the Z, straightening himself up as much as he could, “an old center who is universally beloved is good for keeping the team happy and helping them match up against some tough playoff teams.

Come, team, sign me and sit me down on the bench and use me when you need me.”

And the team did.

And the Z was happy.

Z Tribute Week: Dramatic Z


Z Tribute Week: Z Gets Drafted

Z Tribute Week: A Young Z Gets Interviewed

Cavs Press Release on Z/Jamison Trade

CLEVELAND, OH – February 17, 2010 – The Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired forward Antawn Jamison from the Washington Wizards and guard Sebastian Telfair from the Los Angeles Clippers, Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry announced today. In exchange, the Cavaliers sent center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, their first round pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and the draft rights to forward Emir Preldzic, the 57th overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, to the Wizards. The additional components of the three-team trade included the Clippers acquiring forward/center Drew Gooden from Washington and Washington acquiring forward Al Thornton.


11 will hang next to 25, 22, 43, 42, 7 and 34


Z has been a cornerstone part of this franchise and his jersey will hang in the rafters here some day, not only because of his play, but because of the tremendous person he is and what he has meant to the franchise and the community,” Ferry said. “He has represented the Cavaliers, Cleveland and the NBA at a consistently high level for many years. We wish Z and his family the best.

Jamison, 33, has averages of 20.5 points on .450 shooting, including shooting .345 from three-point range, 8.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 block in 39.0 minutes per game in 41 games played (all starts) this season with Washington. He is the only player in the NBA this season with averages of at least 20.0 points and 8.0 rebounds while making 50 or more three-pointers. The 11-year veteran has been named an all-star on two occasions (2004-05, 2007-08) and won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award following the 2003-04 season. In all but two of his 11 seasons, he has averaged at least 19.6 points and has posted rebounding averages of 7.0 or better in eight of his 11 seasons. He has career averages of 19.9 points on .456 shooting, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 36.9 minutes per game in 839 games (732 starts) and is one of just five active players with over 16,000 points and 6,000 rebounds.

The forward from North Carolina has reached the postseason in five seasons and has averages of 19.2 points on .443 shooting and 7.8 rebounds in 37.1 minutes per game in 31 career postseason games (26 starts).

Antawn is a great pro. We are very excited to have an experienced all-star player of Antawn’s caliber and character join us,” Ferry said. “He has the ability to add a special, unique dimension to our team with a strong inside presence and the ability to stretch teams defensively, while impacting the entire court. We think he matches the culture we have built, and continue to build, and will fit well with our group on the court and off.”

Telfair, 24, is averaging 4.3 points on .404 shooting and 2.9 assists in 14.9 minutes per game in 39 games played (one start) this season. The five-year veteran has career averages of 7.8 points on .390 shooting and 3.9 assists in 23.6 minutes per game in 388 games (181 starts).

Ilgauskas, a two-time all-star, has averages of 7.5 points on .452 shooting, 5.3 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 20.5 minutes per game in 53 games played (six starts) this season. He departs the Cavaliers as the franchise’s all-time leader in regular season games played (760), postseason games played (64), rebounds (5,841) and blocked shots (1,259).

Drafted by the Cavaliers with the 20th overall pick of the 1996 NBA Draft, the 7-foot-3 Lithuanian played all 11 seasons with the Cavaliers and has career averages of 13.9 points on .475 shooting, 7.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 28.4 minutes per game in 760 games (673 starts).

The Great Trade I Didn’t Want to Happen

Well, it happened.  The day the Cavs traded away my favorite player to go for the ring.  I can only hope Z gets bought out. If not, it will sour my love of the Cavaliers for a long time.

For years if you went to a Cavs game you know the first offensive play would be a dump pass into the post to Ilgauskas and whole crowd would go “ZZZZZZZZZZZZ!” Its one of my favorite things in sports.

I know you root for the name on the front of the jersey and not the one on the back, but I like rooting for Z. Hope to see you in 30 days my man.


Why don't you love me anymore?

Here’s the details:

A 3 team trade in which the Wizards received Zydrunas Ilgauskas and the Cavaliers’ 2010 first-round pick as well as Al Thornton from the Los Angeles Clippers. They sent newly aquired Drew Gooden to the Clippers. The Cavaliers received point guard Sebastian Telfair from the Clippers and Antawn Jamison from the stupid Wizards.