Update 11:50 pm: The Mavericks are not alone, it turns out. The Atlanta Hawks would like to talk to Ilgauskas, too, if (when, really) Washington buys him out. His agent, Herb Rudoy, said the Hawks are a team Big Z would consider. He’ll probably end up back with the Cavs, but he can milk them for more of the exception money they left.
11:37 am: The deal for the Cavs was pretty simple. “Here, Washington, we’ll give you this guy’s big expiring contract and our draft pick in return for your best player who is not suspended for the rest of the season for doing something unimaginably stupid. Then you can buy out that player, and save yourself some money! Then we’ll re-sign him, and everyone’s happy!”
But if ESPN Dallas is correct, the Cavaliers may have to fend off some other title contenders if they want to get Zydrunas Ilgauskas back in the fold.
Losing Z would be a monster hit for the Cavs, who will need a true backup center against the Eastern Conference elite’s big men, including Dwight Howard. But the Mavericks would only be able to offer Ilgauskas a prorated portion of the veteran’s minimum, which Cleveland would of course be able to match. With Ilgauskas’ long history in Cleveland, his family and home there, it’s hard to imagine Ilgauskas not returning to the Cavs.
But the question has to be asked how much Z would want to go back “home,” after Coach Mike Brown denied Ilgauskas the opportunity to break the record for most games played by a Cav in front of friends and family he’d invited. This is on top of the fact that he’s been squeezed to the fringes of the rotation with the addition of Shaquille O’Neal. Ilgauskas’ return may be a foregone conclusion, but it’s still a development that warrants watching.