NBA Roundtable

Cavs Re-Sign Big Z

In Free Agency on March 24, 2010 at 7:14 am

RealGM has the press release

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed free agent center Zydrunas Ilgauskas to a contract, Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry announced today. Per team and league policy, terms of the contract were not released.Ilgauskas 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 (six starts) this season with Cleveland.

“The entire Cleveland Cavaliers organization from our hard-working part-time game day people to our front office, to the coaching staff, players, ownership and everyone else are thrilled that Zydrunas is coming back home to help us with our upcoming playoffs mission and hopefully, beyond. Things didn’t seem quite right around here without the big guy. If there ever was a benchmark to measure what the franchise aspires all of its team members to be, whether they play on the court or off the court, that benchmark would be Zydrunas Ilgauskas. That’s why having “Z” back means so much to the Cavs, the city of Cleveland and the entire state of Ohio,” said Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert.

“Having the opportunity to bring Zydrunas back to the Cavaliers is very special for the franchise and our fans. We’re happy and we feel fortunate that Z wants to be here. We’re also very happy for his wife Jennifer and his children too, and we’re excited to see him back on the court with his teammates tomorrow,” said Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer adds

Zydrunas Ilgauskas said he had some unfinished business in Cleveland.

“I just wanted to get the deal done, finish the season here and win this damn thing,” he said, referring to an NBA championship. “We’ve been waiting long enough.”

That will end his 34-day exile — and not a minute too soon for Ilgauskas, his coaches, his teammates and his legion of fans.

“I just want to thank them,” Ilgauskas said of the fans. “Their support has been unbelievable. They’re one of the main reasons why I chose to come back here. The way people have treated me — not only after the trade, but throughout the years I’ve been here — they made me feel part of this community.

“I’m from Lithuania, and I will always be proud of it, but I always say this has become like a home to me. It has been really a humbling experience in a good way to see how people reacted. I really appreciate that, and that was one of the big reasons I chose to come back.”

“I’m obviously very happy to be back here with my guys,” said Ilgauskas, who rejected overtures from several teams, including Dallas and Denver. “It has been a long month. I’m just anxious to get back. I felt like I left a lot of good friends, friends who feel like a part of my family. I left a lot of good people behind. It just didn’t feel right going somewhere else.

“The reason why I came back is those guys in the locker room. I have a special bond with them. I just didn’t want to leave them out there. I wanted to be out there with them. If I would have left, and the team would have won a championship without me, I don’t think I could have ever forgiven myself.”

The finances involved

The Cavs used a portion of their biannual exception to sign him for about $1 million. Combined with the trade bonus he received as part of his contract, the new deal will make up for the $1.5 million Ilgauskas gave up to the Wizards to get out of his contract and become a free agent.

The Cavs offered him a two-year deal that could have been worth as much as $3 million, but Ilgauskas opted for the one-year deal.

The above article also has a video interview at the bottom of the article with Zydrunas Igauskas.

Notes

  • Cleveland used their LLE so they will not have that available to them next season.
  • Still no decision on whether Ilgauskas will return for one more season next year. If he does, it would likely be for a minimum contract and the Cavaliers are the only team he is likely to sign for.

Cavs Big Man Rotation

It will be interesting to see how Cleveland uses Ilgauskas upon his return. I believe he would have been a lock for a starting position prior to the Antawn Jamison trade but that move has clouded the situation some.

The main question is — How effective can an Ilgauksas + Jamison combination be defensively? And, do Cleveland want to continue giving JJ Hickson the starter’s role? — Anyway, it won’t make much of a difference to the minutes available to Ilgauskas or the other rotation big men.

Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao are both likely to play around 30 minutes a night with JJ Hickson and Ilgauskas taking the remaining time. Leon Powe will lose the minutes he’s been getting recently.

Playoffs — Shaq’s Return

Once Shaquille O’Neal returns, the Cavs will then decide between JJ Hickson and Ilgauskas for the fourth big role. The deciding factor will be matchups. Against smaller quicker big men, Hickson is likely to receive the role. Against big post players, Ilgauskas is likely to get the nod.

Hickson will likely be chosen ahead of Ilgauskas against all of the playoff teams in the Eastern Conference but Ilgauskas would likely move ahead of Hickson should they draw the Lakers or possibly the Mavs in the Finals.

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